SmartThings Community

Will SmartThings have a future? (2019)

iotindustry

(Duccio) #1

This year installed two Samsung Air Conditioners and bought a Philips Hue lamp, so it made sense for me to go for the Samsung Hub instead of buying the Philips Hue Hub to control just the lamp.

I wish I could say that I found SmartThings to be a thriving environment… but in truth, it looks like a bunch of people fighting against Samsung inertia, lack of interest/resources, …

You want one example? MQTT support. It is really possible that in 2018, if you want to interface with MQTT devices, you have to buy a RaspberryPi and install Smart Home on it, just because Samsung didn’t bother to support a ISO communication standard that was created in 1999, and also put in place “security” rules that blocks anyone willing to implement it by him/herself?

But Samsung is doing so because they are investing tons of money in integrating themselves all the products on the market nowadays… yeah right! 90% of the devices on GitHub are just ignored. Sonof/Shelly/Tasmota/countless products just are “not interesting” to them.

Terrible documentation for users, terrible documentation for developers, two concurrent apps none of which is working great. There are posts from 2015 from developers asking where to find the icons, and the problem as of 2019 is still not solved!!! Not some monster-supertechnical-feature, but the icons!!!

And, btw, SmartThings is not sold in many markets, I’m in Europe and had to buy it via Amazon US and pay international shipping costs.

I managed to get my Shelly working, but honestly it was a pain, and in the same amount of time I could have installed and configured another hub, maybe a cheaper RaspberryPi.

The feeling is that, once they’ve sold you a couple of motion and water sensors, they don’t really care about the product that much. I would bet that in a few months/years, it will be discontinued. Not because of the product, which could be really great, but because of myopia from Samsung.

What do you think?


(Dan P Parker) #2

That’s odd. It (and several other ST products) is available via Amazon’s UK site:

Which country are you in? And are you sure you got a hub with the correct Z-Wave radio for your location?

Well, who can say what will happen in a few years from now. But a few months? I’ll take that bet.


#3

The name “smartthings” definitely has a future For as long as Samsung is selling expensive televisions and refrigerators. :wink:

But as company employees have said many times in this forum and elsewhere, their typical home automation customer has fewer than 15 devices and never uses any custom code of any kind.

And they’ve already announced that they are moving to a new cloud architecture which will not support the groovy programs anymore. They just don’t know exactly when.

So as far as things like MQTT integration, I agree with you: I doubt if smartthings will continue to put many resources towards anything that enables that, other than an REST endpoint integration.

But as far as an app-enabled Internet of things that lets you tie simple lighting to your television and your smart washer, I expect that to be around for the forseeable future. But as @dparker said, we will see. :sunglasses:

( also, as he said, the current hubs are only officially supported in the UK and in parts of North America. You can certainly buy the products from Amazon.co.uk They aren’t warranted or supported yet in other parts of the EU, so that’s not surprising. And you definitely shouldn’t have bought one from the US, as it will have the wrong Z wave frequency. Unless you were just buying Zigbee devices, and again, they should be less expensive from the UK. )


(Glen King) #4

Addressing the OP’s ending paragraph: that is samsung’s known modus operandi.
Samsung is a sales company.
Samsung is most assuredly NOT a service company.

Expecting Samsung to fulfill the promises of their marketing is an exercise in futility.
Expecting Samsung to make good on issues where there are obvious design flaws is a fool’s errand.

Were I to buy into the smart home thing right now, I would bypass Samsung.

Then again I have no doubt they are correct that most of their customers are doing no custom automations and do not have many devices.I know plenty of folks who have Echo devices, but none of them have so much as a door sensor. The only folks I know who have window sensors have them attached to commercial security provider systems.

Most folks won’t know what a real smart home is for a very long time.

That said: the reason for it is that smart home building is not very smart!

Think about, for example, Echo Speaks. Great great addition to our environment, and kudos to its creator for cobbling together all the components. But look at how difficult it is to install and maintain! It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Maybe smart home tech will only begin to take off when setting up such a system becomes far more ‘natural’ and easy for users.


(Josh Fink) #5

So, if not SmartThings then who is creating the platform that will allow growth and future sustainability while still allowing the customizations?


#6

There are several that could be considered in this market. The one with the most long-term stability is probably Homeseer. Robust, full featured, definitely not looking at other markets. Steep learning curve, though. And it costs more than many people with smartthings are willing to pay.

Hubitat Is the new kid on the block. Basically started with everything good about smartthings, including the groovy platform, made it all run locally, and added much better integration for Lutron And better developer options. But it’s a very small company just starting out, and essentially still in extended beta. The good news is that even if the company disappeared tomorrow, because it is not cloud-based, whatever you already had running should keep running. Quite a few people are running this in combination with smartthings, as each has some features that the other doesn’t and they do play well together. :sunglasses:

Then there are several open source options for full on programmers, including home assistant (HASS).

Open source home automation that puts local control and privacy first. Powered by a worldwide community of tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts. Perfect to run on a Raspberry Pi or a local server.

There are a couple of other options, but those are the ones that come to mind first for this particular market segment. :sunglasses:

But note that all of these assume that you are a tinkerer with some technical background. These are not plug and play systems, have not spent a lot of time developing phone apps, but do have thriving developer communities, and do p seem unlikely to move away from their developer base.


(Jimmy) #7

Do any of those platforms support Ring cams or Arlo cams? I think that’s where Samsung being a huge company has the advantage, working with other IoT companies that don’t have an open API.


#8

I don’t follow all the details, but Homeseer does have an IFTTT channel, and I know some people do Arlo and ring integration that way.


#9

Even though I’m fairly well invested/imbedded into ST/Webcore, I suspect at the end of the day the only thing I’ll be able to salvage is the generic z-wave/zigbee devices to use on some other platform(s).

I also agree with the Alexa/Google Assistant mention above. I read an article the other day comparing Zigbee vs Z-wave i.e. which is best. In the comments I suggested wifi is a protocol and IMO likely to “win” due to its cheap and simple integration with smart speakers. The devices are fractions cheaper and everyone knows how to get things connected to wifi these days. Hubs and unknown protocols, not so much. And as Samsung mentioned, this is really all that about 99% of the population wants to do, tell Alexa to turn some (most likely) WIFI device on or off.


#10

All true, But Amazon has added zigbee because of the number of people who wanted two things that don’t work well with Wi-Fi: smart locks and battery operated motion sensors.

But they made adding a zigbee device just as easy as adding Wi-Fi:

Echo Plus connects to and controls smart lights, locks, plugs, sensors, and more. Just power on compatible products and say, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Echo Plus will automatically detect and set up those devices so you can control them with your voice. This simple set up process works with dozens of compatible smart home devices that use Zigbee. Echo Plus also supports every Works with Alexa smart home device.

I’m pretty sure that’s why they chose zigbee over Z wave.

I also think it’s really interesting that the Amazon show second generation is a " stealth hub" – – it now also has a zigbee coordinator in it, but they don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just there when you’re ready to use it, again, for mass market probably when they want to add a smart lock or battery operated motion sensor.

I don’t think everything can be Wi-Fi right now, just because of the power management issues for battery operated devices. So it’s interesting that Amazon is betting on Zigbee.


(Chuckles) #11

Another likely key driver is the fact that Zigbee uses the 2.4Ghz band and thus the same hardware can be used in almost any country around the world, whereas, as discussed earlier in this thread, Z-wave suffers significant market fragmentation due to different frequencies being required for different countries and regions.


#12

Are you going to use all US z-wave devices? Its not the same frequency in Europe. Unless you bought an EU SmartThings hub on Amazon US and had it shipped to Europe.


(Duccio) #13

If you just want to drive wifi devices, then you don’t need a Smartthings hub. Or better, you don’t need Smartthings at all. I could drive my Samsung AC with Google Home well before buying the Smartthings hub or installing the (two) Smartthings App.

If I have to rewire my whole house, I have to invest a significant sum. Doorbells, window sensors, rollers automation, lights, controls… For such an investment, I am looking for a long term support, like 10 years or more, so that I am sure that whatever I want to change, I will change it because I want something better, and not because the seller changed its mind and my system became unusable. With Philips Hue, I have such a guarantee: they started in 2012, always updated and improved the system, but whatever it was working back then, it is still working now and will continue to work (and be integrated in the system) in the foreseeable future. With Samsung, it’s a completely different story.

Samsung has a history of tossing everything in the trash and starting something “new”, which is later either again tossed in the trash or just abandoned to itself. I’m old enough to remember Samsung Cloud, Samsung Notes and Samsung Note (the “s” is what makes all the difference),…

Now with Samsung Connect and Samsung Smartthings… because improving Samsung Connect was just too difficult, better to start brand new and abandon the old one. Now better to abandon the Smartthings Hub and go with the Smartthings Cloud.

I watched the presentation that JDRoberts posted, and in November 2018 they talk about Bixby and Tizen… are they serious? Bixby doesn’t work in 85% of the world and is years behind Google Assistant and Alexa, but it’s anyway a Samsung brand, so ok, let’s talk about it. But Tizen??? From its Wikipedia page: “Latest release: 3.0 / May 20, 2017; 19 months ago”

Would you seriously invest in a IoT brand that in November 2018 is betting on a system that was abandoned 20 months ago and never received an update since then?

My impression is that Samsung has no idea what it’s doing, they are moving cluelessly, tossing a few millions in development here and there with no clear path nor long term plan. They have a great product, that could be something valuable, but I’m just scared that the “Samsung mentality”, treating apps as dishwashers, will just ruin it.

Right now I’m using Smartthings for driving the Shelly “while I wait” for the Shelly to improve its Google Assistant integration, then I will keep the Smartthings Hub just as a “dumb” Zigbee hub without investing anything more on it

(Ryan, I don’t have any Z-Wave sensor nor am I planning to buy any. The UK version has a terrible plug and, strangely enough, on amazon.co.uk was more expensive than on amazon.com, even with shipping and taxes )


#14

Agree on the power management issues which is why I haven’t bought $7 wifi plugs at this point. I wonder if some of the newer wifi standards coming down the pike will attempt to address the power usage issue. Probably not though. I suspect it simply comes down to the fact that wifi, once connected, is always connected and draining power, whereas I would think zwave/zigbee just [re]connect as necessary, right? Thus using less juice.


#15

Yes, exactly. As one of my engineering professors used to say, “physics counts.” :wink:

It’s the sleepiness of the zigbee and Zwave Devices that allow them to conserve battery.


(Arthur V) #16

I agree with what you say, I experienced Samsung’s abandoning few things my self, Tizen is a horrible OS furthermore replacing sVoice with Bixby is the same as flooring the gas pedal in neutral.

Something that in my opinion will help is to add official integration for Xiaomi products.
There’s a huge selection and for the price it will be crazy not to buy, out side of the Asian-European market SmartThings hub looks like a good option

Also any smartthings hub in Israel renders Z wave useless, I just hope they enable BLE sooner rather than later.


(Jimmy) #17

They’re actively working on this for the new generation Xiaomi devices that are zigbee 3.0 compliant.


(Arthur V) #18

What about older xiaomi products and what’s the source for this?


(Jimmy) #19

Older Xiaomi products don’t use standard zigbee profile, so probably never for them. Source is SmartThings own GitHub. https://github.com/SmartThingsCommunity/SmartThingsPublic/pull/3790

No guarantees, but this looks promising.


(Glen King) #20

Returning to this thread, I won’t again take the opportunity to bash Samsung. First because it’s too easy to do that, and second because despite their bashability the company is enormously successful on the world stage while I am here in my little office.

Instead, I will focus on the future of the smart home itself. Obviously, the “smart home” has a future. Sales of ‘smart’ devices show us that very clearly.

But what is that future?

I will compare myself to a couple that my wife and I spend time with on a regular basis.
They love what I’ve done with my smart home. They envy it, and wish to have similar capabilities.

But they utterly lack the ability to create these capabilities, given the existing tools and processes. They are not stupid people, but they also are not ‘systems’ people. Absent familiarity with the toolsets we take for granted, they simply cannot accomplish this sort of thing. They can’t get Alexa to integrate its lists with the lists on their smartphones, let alone write the code for a device handler. And with having to manually install relentless updates, using the tools provided by programmers is still daunting. And it’s not important enough for these folks to pay the fees required for ‘professional’ smart home capability.

What is required to enable these people to create smart homes? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Power. It’s been phrased in terms of “sleepy zigbee” vs power-hungry WiFi - but the real issue here is consistent power. And let’s face it, coin batteries (and other) are annoying as heck not to mention cost a few bucks. Ultimately, you’d be better off with a centralized low-voltage power supply on a battery backup. Yes the battery devices are fine for pre-existing builds, but there needs to be a way for a centralized power distribution system to be added into new builds and renovations. (there’s plenty more here of course, but that’s a baseline.)
  2. Security. What good does a window sensor telling you the window is ‘closed’ do if the sash has not been locked?? Yes companies like Anderson now have window locks that tell you they are locked - but then of course they’ve chosen a proprietary communications protocol (really??? How foolish) and it’s pricey.
  3. Simplicity. By whichever interface you choose, it has to be much more simple to do. I’ll use voice as my example, but this idea is portable to tablets or computers or whatever. I can say to you “I want my house to remind me every Tuesday night that garbage and recycling have to be put out on the curb, and to have it remind me again the next morning, unless it’s a holiday” and you would understand that easily. But to do that in Smartthings? You have to load the Webcore app. You have to maintain the Webcore app; it does not auto-update. You have to delve into computer logic; it is very nearly a programming exercise in itself. You have to maintain the Echo Speaks app so it works.

There’ s far more. But you get the picture: in short, this is NOT something the average housewife or accountant is going to be inclined to do.

Returning to the survey data: some would imagine the data portrays a populace that does not care about having a smart home. Returning to Samsung: if they are taking it that way as a reason to scale back the abilities of their systems, they are foolish. Large swaths of the population would LOVE to have a smart home, but are daunted by the effort involved.