Your Ideas for New ST-compatible Security Products Needed for Academic Project

Hi Everyone, I am currently completing a Product Design, University project where I need to look at redesigning a domestic security product…

The Design Brief says:

‘A domestic security product designed as a replacement house alarm unit found in the average home across the country. Existing units are traditionally basic and functional, the replacement will utilise recent developments in technology, offer up an aesthetically pleasing alternative and be desirable on a limited budget.’

I was considering using SmartThings as a starting point and was wondering whether any of you had any suggestions as to how the product could be improved or what you would like changing?

At the minute, I’ve been looking at redesigning an external siren box, a keypad and some redevelopment of keyfob presence sensors.

Any physical aspect of SmartThings that you would like to suggest being developed would be greatly appreciated!

I want to consider smart security in the broader sense as I think home automation and security are becoming ever more integrated. For instance light automations, sounds and curtains act as deterrents to burglars just as much as external sirens do.

If you’ve got any ideas of things that you would like to see in amongst the following areas:

  • key fobs and presence sensors (charging ability for instance?)
  • pir sensors/ IP Camera integration (or even a different way of triggering automations)
    -external and internal sirens
    -central hub/ keypad interface
  • minimising the need for multiple hubs (eg including IR/ RF learning?)
  • Door mat presence sensor

Any ideas will be supportive even if they may appear far fetched!

Thanks in advance :smile:


PIR sensors are generally inexpensive, but have way too many false alerts outdoors because of changing weather conditions. Even a gust of warm air or cloud passing over the sun can set them off.

The sensors that rely on video evaluation that are built into many outdoor security cameras tend to work much better, but cost 3 to 5 times as much.

There are a couple of alternatives that people have tried. One of the simplest is to add a tube over the lens narrowing the detection field and helping protect the lens from crawling insects. I haven’t seen a commercial product sold with this as an accessory, but I think it might make sense for the DIY market. This approach is particularly good when you have a very specific area that you want to monitor like the front entrance or even a post box.

Another good option is to set up two or even three sensors in a “zone.” Obviously this is increasing the cost significantly, but might still be less than the cost of a camera based sensor. And it allows you to monitor a much wider field then the tube option.

Another option for which there has been quite a bit of demand, in which people cobble together with multiple devices, is a beam device to catch activity across the drive that is then combined with some kind of Z wave radio device to allow interaction with SmartThings.

All three of these are discussed in the outdoor motion sensor FAQ, and I think if you read through that thread you might get a number of ideas that would be pertinent to your project. :sunglasses:

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Thanks JD, I’ll look into this! I might discuss this with my tutors tomorrow and see if they have any ideas on how to solve this. I mean it is possible to achieve as the Xiaomi sensors can be bought for under £10. I guess if people had expensive cars on their drive they would be willing to pay for a product that covered this.

I was also thinking of whether there is a sensor that you could put in your car? Not sure if it would mess up pairing if you put any SmartThings motion sensor in your car?

Second things first: a car is a big metal box. And a lot of the time it’s a moving big metal box.

Most home automation systems are based on very low power, low traffic messaging protocols like zigbee home automation and Z wave. These can have a lot of trouble getting a signal out of the car. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not usually a first choice solution.

OK first thing second… It’s really important to note that the standard IOT protocols are:

Zigbee Home Automation
Zigbee Light Link

( read the following if you don’t know the difference between profiles:




Some Bluetooth profiles

Lutron ClearConnect

Lots of proprietary stuff in the 433 and 334 MHz ranges

Of these, zigbee and Z wave have standardized third-party protocols, making it easy for multiple manufacturers to design devices that will all work together.

That brings us to Xiaomi. Xiaomi designed their devices to work with their own hub, not with third-party hubs. They are well engineered, but they are not usually certified to a third-party standard. This helps them keep costs down.

The xiaomi cheap sensors are not certified to the protocols that smartthings uses. Consequently they are what engineers called “idiosyncratic.” Meaning they may work together, they may not, they may do you unexpected things like not work with a particular repeater… People still use them just because they are so cheap but I certainly wouldn’t base a commercial or mass market product on a combination of Xiaomi and smartthings. I would just use the Xiaomi Gateway if I wanted to use their sensors.

See any of the community threads on the Xiaomi devices for more discussion


Thanks Robin, I was also thinking the same about the outdoor lock. I’m not sure whether I trust the idea of smart locks and have not purchased one myself but I have thought about that such a product would be handy for bringing my bike out of my yard door.

Is there anything you would like to see in an External siren? The one from Popp seems quite innovative as it is solar powered and has a temperature sensor inside:

I was thinking of going full on weather station?

It seems that a lot of smart alarm kits have internal alarm systems but this wouldn’t do much to deter a potential burglar if they are not aware that the home has one (making external sirens an important feature in a smart home set up)

I know Yale use IFTTT with their locks and such but none of their other products appear to be all that well integrated.

The battery back up and 4G sim is also a great idea. If a more purposeful keypad/ tablet device could be developed (similar to Action Tiles?)… This could perhaps have the 4G sim in it as a backup? Many thanks for your response

Thanks again JD, a very thorough response. Lots of food for thought there! Really appreciate your input :smile:

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Good luck with your project, here are some comments for you to consider.

I have not seen any alarm systems for things like sheds and outdoor buildings that integrate with a main house alarm system. There are battery powered alarm systems for sheds etc - including one from Yale but they are completely standalone.

Traditional alarm systems - even many so called smart alarm systems are still using ‘ye olde’ numeric keypad. This obviously works for turning the system on/off it is however for most alarm systems also used as the means of configuring the alarm system by typing long series of digits e.g. disable sensor 1 in zone 5. These days people are used to touch screen user interfaces (smart phones) and these are far more flexible and can therefore also display far more information as well as provide superior user interfaces. For example show a picture representing the layout of the house with the sensor that has been triggered flashing on it, or highlight the location of a faulty sensor. Also if being integrated with a smart home system you can then also display other sensors, e.g. water leak detectors, temperature, etc. I am therefore looking for an alarm system with a touch panel, a numeric keypad is so 1970s.

These days it seems the trend is for wireless battery powered sensors and sirens. Whilst I can see the convenience of this the need to keep changing batteries which in the case of an outdoor siren might mean getting a ladder out and climbing up to a considerable height is not desirable. I would therefore want - even for a smart home/alarm system the option of a wired and therefore powered siren, and the same for a dummy one. A compromise might be to provide power via a cable and signals via wireless, this could then be fitted by an ordinary electrician just like an external light.

It seems the traditional alarm companies have the following attitude -

  1. We don’t want anything to do with anyone else because we are scared, stupid and don’t want to change
  2. Any one else’s stuff is a potential security risk (possibly justified)

Frankly whilst I am not an expert in the alarm field it does not look like it has had any advances for decades.

ADT claim to have a smart home alarm system - even here in the UK. This is in my opinion a lie, their UK product only works by itself and has zero smart home integration, they do like the Yale systems have their own smart phone app and cameras but like the Yale will not integrate with smart home platforms. Even in the US where they have a partnership with Samsung Smartthings the integration between the Smartthings side and the ADT side is very limited, you don’t seem to be able to use the ADT sensors to trigger other Smartthings operations. I would however have been willing to buy it except it is not available in the UK.


Something that is blindingly obviously needed and would be a huge benefit - possibly greater than even a burglar alarm system is a water leak detector linked to an automatic electronic stop-cock valve. There are such systems available in the US but effectively none here in the UK. By far the best I have seen is this one they have now expanded their product range so they also have one specifically to go between your water supply and your washing machine, I am sure many people would agree washing machines are probably one of the main causes of leaks. Sadly this company like far too many is a member of the flat-earth society and does not believe there is life outside the USA and therefore only sell to the USA.

Yes I am aware of this - but it is clearly far inferior. Even British Gas with their Hive product range have not addressed the issue of smart stop cock valves. In the US insurance companies would give you a discount if you had such a solution since it would reduce the amount of damage. Arguably UK insurance companies are also like UK alarm companies still very backwards and do not do this.

Another gap in the market is that there still does not seem to be any smart locks for external gates. Whilst the reason is obvious in that it both has to cope with weather and also possible wireless range issues there certainly is a gap and based on the numerous posts I have seen a demand. Existing smart locks are all designed to have the main components fitted indoors e.g. August, Yale, etc.

Going slightly off brief, there are numerous smart home electronic blind systems for traditional vertical and horizontal blinds. For example various Lutron products and there is also this from Soma however there is currently no solution for the increasingly popular choice of Plantation Shutters. Yes due to the style of Plantation Shutters you need far more motors but people including myself are still interested in such a solution. The security related aspect here is that you could automate their opening/shutting to give the appearance the house is occupied.

Note: Another common issue is battery life for shutter motors. However technology supposedly is getting more power efficient so maybe this can now be addressed.

There was this but like all the other motorised Plantation Shutters I found they have ceased to be available.

Most burglar alarm sensors fall in to the following categories -
PIR (changes in infra-red i.e. heat caused by a person moving)
Video (motion detection)
Noise (glass breaking)

However I not yet seen any alarm systems utilise a new technical possibility. It is now possible to measure the disturbance to WiFi signals to detect the presence and movement of people in a building. See

Regarding putting a sensor in a car, other possibilities are to have a camera pointed at the car and detecting motion, or to use something like the Smartthings Presence sensor and trigger an alarm if it leaves the house. Neither of these approaches is really suited to alerting you if your in the house as the camera option would likely generate too many false reports and would be best for evidence, the Presence Sensor would only trigger as the car is already being driven away. Again this perhaps is an area were companies are way behind the times, theoretically the car industry could do something here to link the cars own alarm system to the house, so if the cars alarm system detects motion it would trigger an alert to the house system. Since many new cars have built-in 4G connectivity and obviously have built-in alarm sensors this only in theory requires software.


man, who cares if your door mat is present

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I think you are right about Yale… they seem somewhat reluctant to integrate their products in the Internet of things… If they were to allow for better integration many of their products would form ideal solutions to a lot of people. I think companies also may see it as a strategy as to try and keep their system insular so that customers will remain loyal to a brand and not mix and match their products. SmartThings is pretty good in that sense as it works with a plethora of devices.

-In regards to the Keypad, I’ve found this to be one of the most popular areas that I could work on developing. Tablets are fine for somethings but I feel that I dedicated device would be better in controlling the different zones that users have in their homes. I also feel that if potential customers had a visual display of their home automations in action, they would be more persuaded to buy into products such as SmartThings as it would give a visual representation of what is happening. Although SmartThings is well established (and possibly the most established of the smart home hubs?) there are still a huge amount of people who are alien to the smart home.

-The Konnected device seems a great idea for solving the problem of batteries. However for people like myself it would mean having to wire your alarm with a an old wired alarm system and then connecting it to the wired system. If I were to own my own home and not rent, this is definitely something that I would look into:

-I’ve looked at the ADT system and the USA product looks interesting. I’m just discouraged by the monthly fees that they state.

It does appear that new smart home products are slow to reach the UK.

-I think automated shutters are relevant to securing your home as these give an impression that people are home. The Police even state that such things are good as acting as a deterrent. I’m looking at getting some of the RF ones and automate with the Broadlink RM Pro. I’ve thought that it would be good for SmartThings to have a RF and IR learning system built in as this would do away with the need for multiple hubs but might upset Logitech in the process.

-Thank you for the idea in regards to WiFi signals. My tutor did have a conversation with me about how burglars can cover up to go unnoticed by Infra-red systems.

  • I also think that it is a missed opportunity for car companies, in not having a built in SmartThings presence sensor. I doubt it would cost too much to develop on the scale of things and could give people incentive to both purchase their brand of car and into SmartThings.

Really appreciate your input here! Some valuable ideas for research given :sunglasses: :thinking:

Meant it as a contact/ motion/ pressure mat sensor for when someone steps on a doormat. Seen people doing DIY ones using Fibraro Contact sensors and thought that it was a good area to develop? :upside_down_face::crazy_face:

I get the impression the Smartthings/ADT bundle does not require a subscription. The subscription would be for a monitored alarm service, the Smartthings page says this is optional. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page listed below and look at the FAQ points it clears this up.

Here is the same product but on the Smartthings website - it gives perhaps a better explanation. It also shows their touch screen panel.

Note: It replaces the standard Smartthings hub.

Guess there’s not much that could be designed here but think there definitely is scope for someone to manufacture a legitimate product without all the DIY soldering.

As far as bed sensors go, Nokia has one. A few community members have it.

Samsung actually designed announced one three years ago And a few staff members had prototype models, but for whatever reason they never brought it to market.

FWIW there’s usually no soldering required for a project like that with external inputs on a z-wave contact sensor.

They have screw terminals, so just insert a wire and tighten.

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The next steps are not in the devices; most of them already do the job well enough.
What’s lacking is the natural rules maker.

Currently, to make a rule that turns on a front yard sprinkler 30 seconds after the last family member comes in the door or at 8pm requires moderately complex programming. Yet what I just said is incredibly simple!

Seems to me a voice (or other natural language) interface should be able to do this, and if it can’t do it immediately then it would ask the questions that will allow it to do so.

Ok… but now I’m thinking of a device that needs improvement. The smartthings 3-axis/acceleration sensor is incapable of detecting the slow movement of a motorized skylight being opened or closed. I would love to have it detect when it has reached position A, and call that ‘closed’. Then detect when it has reached position-region B, and call that ‘vent’. And then detect when it goes beyond B, and call that ‘open’.

The main issue I have is detecting when I leave/ arrive, even though I use two present sensors each with a complicated piston to decide what has triggered. The issue is they fail and with no alarm delay I have not been able to use a siren. On top of a delay before the alarm triggers it would be good to have a NFC fob to allow the house to disarm even from the door handle?

I also have a ZigBee fob for my guests but even though the mesh ZigBee network is good even that can trigger 2-5 second too late and the alarm goes off then when I try to turn it off it is already disarmed but still sounding. On top of that the fob battery only last about a month or so.

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With regards to a motorised skylight. I am planning to do a loft conversion and as part of that to fit some Velux windows. Velux already do motors for them and use the io-HomeControl system to control them. They have also partnered with Netatmo to do an Apple HomeKit system meaning you can then use Siri to control them.

I believe some people have come up with other methods of linking to Velux, this some times involves adding your own relays to the motors, or getting your own bridge to io-HomeControl - possibly a Somfy TahomA. Apparently the TahomA box can link to both RTS and io-HomeControl, however you might need to do some work to get a suitable device handler for this. See TaHoma® by Somfy and

If all your worried about is a sensor to confirm it is open or shut and not to control the window then a standard door/window magnetic sensor will do the job I would have thought including the Smartthings one -

Hi everyone, I’ve had a few problems with my course so my project got postponed. Just revisiting this now.

I’ve considered a few different strands but one that I have currently settled on is developing some wired connected alternatives.

I’ve seen several posts were users have complained about reliability and signal interference.

Wired instances would not be ideal for everyone but I felt that it was a viable avenue to research and there appeared to be a market for this.

POE (Power over ethernet) only appears to be widely used in connecting IP cameras.

Most POE switches generally appear to be able to provide up to 30watts over an ethernet connection.

This method would provide more than enough power for contact and IR motion sensors, therefore more functionality could be added?

POE could solve some of the problems already discussed:
-Not having to rely on batteries
-External motion sensors could be developed (IP cameras are not always desirable in every instance)
-External sirens and other devices could have a more reliable source of power

I’ve also been looking at the idea for battery and 4G back up and there are POE switches that have battery back up:

… and there are other devices that have 4G backup:

…so I assume that it is possible.

It just seemed a little silly to me that if you want a wired connected smart home you would have to go down the Konnected route and either install and old fashioned alarm system then apply the Konnected device to it or live somewhere with a pre-installed alarm system already.

There are a few POE devices available other than IP cameras that link in with home automation:

Tablet computers:


Contact Sensor:

Unconnected to the POE idea but could possibly be combined, I really like the idea given by jelockwood about the alarm system that detects changes in wifi signals:

Maybe could consider combining this with a POE device.

I need to produce some more sketches over the next few days but was intending upon posting them here and would really appreciate your thoughts, ideas and feedback.

Many thanks

Allen (previously alcopop2006)

Hey Robin, can you briefly explain your setup? I’ve been waiting for the Velux active but it still doesn’t work with non-homekit, so I’m thinking of setting up a KLF200 to control my 5 skylights. Would love some advice on how to do that and get it hooked up to ST (and Google home)

I can find tips on KLF100 online but nothing on the 200.