Will Smart Things EVER do Consistent Presence Sensing? (2022)

After many years of struggle, I have two geopresence solutions that work reliably for me, but both require an iPhone, so that’s not going to help you. :disappointed_relieved: But at least I can confirm there are some reliable presence detection devices.

As far as Android/Galaxy solutions, I’m going to tag a couple of people who might have some ideas.

@Automated_House @joshua_lyon @SamsungZell

Also: what’s the brand/model of your WiFi router? There are some models that can easily identify when a specific phone connects to your own home WiFi and you may be able to use that, but the features vary a lot from router to router.

Right now we have a Galaxy S10, LG V60, and a Netgear R6900v2.

Another problem is that neither the wife nor I keep our wifi on religiously.

I see I can use Amazon Alexa app for presence detecting, might be able to flip a virtual presence switch with it.

Edit: Looks like I can’t personalize the Arrival for each phone. Kind of confusing.

For Alexa? You might have to be signed in to different Amazon accounts in the Alexa app.

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Yes, for Alexa. It’s not a centrally managed ruleset, so if we used Amazon family accounts, I wouldn’t be able to see wife’s location rules and she wouldn’t be able to see mine.

Kind of clunky.

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I have an Echo 4 that can detect presence.

I’m currently playing around with it and a virtual presence sensor in SmartThings to allow a light to turn off, or not turn off, depending on whether the Echo detects us.

Pretty sure that’s an occupancy sensor in traditional home automation terms, although I know some of the Amazon materials call it “presence.”

It’s just acting based on a body, any body, being nearby.

“Presence“ has traditionally been used for identifying a specific individual (or more technically, a specific device).

Also, occupancy normally works only when the person is in the same room with the sensing device. So you have to already be in the house.

Geopresence is typically used when a person enters a pre-identified geographic zone, so, for example, you can use it to turn on the porch lights or unlock the door or open the garage door as a specific person approaches the house. The Amazon echo type approach would only work indoors in the room the device is in, and would trigger for anyone.

Both can be useful, but I believe the OP is looking for identification of a specific person.

I need to check my wife’s phone settings, but in my case I am able to create a routine that detects when I’ve returned vs when my wife has.
We’re both defined in the SmartThings ecosystem, and it requires location sharing to be enabled.
We both have Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G phones.

When I first set it up, it did trigger the notification when I reentered the zone around our home.

I’ve also enabled SmartThings within Android Auto, but don’t use AA much; I prefer the infotainment system in our car over AA.

I haven’t looked into the geolocation triggered lighting aspect too much yet since I have to use smart bulbs (we rent, so swapping out switches is a no go) and need to find ones that can handle the cold of Canadian winters, dampness, etc. and still function.

Presence is one of those things that works great for some people, not at all for others, somewhere in between for many, even if each is using the exact same model phone. :thinking:

There are just a lot of different local factors that can affect it, including where the cell towers are near your house, what settings you have on your phone, how you use the phone and the app, local interference, etc.

Back in 2014, I selected smartthings over some of the other available home automation platforms specifically because it did offer a geopresence device (which has since been discontinued). But I always had some challenges with it, sometimes different ones at different times.

Ironically I eventually ended up using a third-party system for Geopresence which has been very reliable, and then I bring that presence into smartthings through A virtual device.

Unfortunately, the method I use won’t work for the OP, because it’s specific to iPhones. :disappointed_relieved:

But if presence is working great for you on your galaxy, that’s great. It does for quite a few people, just not for everyone.

As @JDRoberts has commented, it is a very individual thing and not working doesn’t even mean anything is actually broken.

I work with three Samsung phones on the same Location, with three ‘linked places’ also on the Location. All three are incredibly reliable with the home geofence. However they are hopelessly inconsistent with themselves and each other when it comes to the Linked Places.

All three also have Google Home configured for Home/Away presence sensing for the same geolocation (with a metre or two for the centre, and probably a different radius). That sucks beyond belief and will sometimes mark you Away even though you manually set Home and haven’t gone anywhere. Today it ran a Home routine that set a virtual device to present but actually still says Away. It is bonkers. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if others here find it rock solid.

I liked the SmartThings Arrival tags but a few months back I needed to change my Zigbee channel and could never pair them again so they went in the bin. However for many others those sucked.

The frustrating thing is that we must only be a gnat’s bits away from being able to do things better. The hubs have Bluetooth radios that could detect devices we carry. Google speakers can recognise our voices but don’t let us use that to mark ourselves present. Samsung devices running the SmartThings app can detect ‘Personal Devices’ and tags are connected yet won’t let us do anything with that information.


Yeah, this one drives me crazy! :confounded: all the information is there, it’s just not actionable. It’s got to be some corporate attorney’s fear of liability, it’s obviously not a technical issue. And it should be good for marketing.

If you steal somebody’s car, the odds are very high that it has a garage door opener in it that will provide access to the house. So I don’t get why the tags are so much scarier for the liability folks, but they do seem to be. :thinking:

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I’m one of the ones that has always experienced good home and away sensing using stock smart things on Android. . . that is until a recent update completely broke three out of four phones in my family. Several updates later and it still didn’t start working, so I chose to start using the Google Home route with a separate “home” for each phone tied to a virtual switch for individual sensing. So far has been rock solid, but only been probably two or three weeks, so I can’t speak for the long haul.

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I still have a couple old SmartThings Zigbee presence sensors. We have them in the glove box of our cars and I put a Zigbee outlet in the garage to act as a repeater. Other then going through batteries relatively fast (6 months?) they detect when the cars are there or not pretty reliably. Not sure if that’s a option or not or if you can even find them these days.

Some insight into how the presence works. It may help you figure out why presence may not be working for you

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Yes, it’s definitely hit & miss.

I set up some rules to enable virtual switches when my wife or i return to the “home zone” after being away.

Both phones are identical and configured the same.
Last night when we got home, I checked the switch status while we were still in the car.
My presence triggered and set the switch, hers didn’t trigger.

Just ran across this thread. Would you mind sharing which 3rd party solution you’ve used? (Lack of a reliable presence solution for my iPhone is something I’ve learned to live with but would love to find a robust fix.)

I use two, but if you already use HomeKit and your iPhone presence is reliable, the easiest thing is just to use an inexpensive Meross device (which can be seen simultaneously by both HomeKit and smartthings) as a proxy. There’s a how to post here:

How to Use a Meross Plug to Use HomeKit Presence to Trigger ST Routines

My older solution involves using an ibeacon and the Geofency paid app. This has worked very well for me and doesn’t require setting up HomeKit. You can read about this and other possible solutions in the following thread. It was in response to a UK user, but all the same solutions will also work in the US:

Beacons+iOS+SmartThings (UK) presence (2020) - #2 by JDRoberts

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Not used HomeKit yet, I’ll check that out after the dust settles on the upcoming transition.

Frustrating thing is that my iPhone PD is rock solid on most apps (Life360), just never has been on ST.



Would you mind giving a brief description of how you are using Google Home with ST for presence with multiple phones?

See this post I made in another thread. Something to note, GH has unfortunately gotten less reliable lately. Still works great for me and 1 other person in my house, but has gotten delayed on the 3rd and really flaky on the 4th to the point where I have had to turn their sensing off and back on to get it working again. What’s strange is 2 of us that work have a Pixel and a Samsung S22 and 2 that don’t have the same devices on the same version of OS.

Thank you. I figure it was something like that. I just had to remove my wife from our GH and create her own. I find it’s working, but a bit delayed compared to my ST presence. It’s very frustrating that her presence doesn’t work in ST. Thanks for the info.