SmartThings is one of the newest additions to the home automation marketplace. Their tagline is “The easiest way to make your world smarter.” Checking through their offerings, they do seem to make home automation smart and fun. Fire up the mobile app and let’s take a look at what they are and have to offer.
Control Your Home Over the Internet
Like many other home automation products on the market, SmartThings uses a mobile app to give you control over selected electrical devices in your house over the Internet. The app allows you to control everything you’d expect to have control over. However, it also gives you control over some things you wouldn’t expect.
Here’s an example for pet owners: As a pet owner myself, I know you worry about your dog or cat quite a bit when you’re away from home. SmartThings allows you to stop worrying. Replace your dog or cat’s drab everyday collar with an enabled collar, and the system will tell you when your pet roams too far from home.
SmartThings Community Collaboration
As far as I’m concerned, this is the best part of the whole story: It’s a collaborative effort with the community of users. Many of the newer capabilities of the system are coming — not from the company itself — but the user community. There will soon be full X10 and ZigBee compatibility, thanks to people outside of the company wanting to make the system better.
Here’s another example aimed at the pet owners out there: How many times have you discovered, after it’s dried and stained, that your four-legged family member went potty somewhere they shouldn’t have? One of the members of the community of users created a plug-in for the app that, combined with an alarm and a moisture sensor, lets you know when Rover is doing his thing in one of the worst places possible. It’s called “Potty Train.”
From what I’ve seen, the possibilities with this home automation product are only limited by the imagination and your programming skills. Imagination is a constant. Programming skills can be learned or improved.
Another example: One of the users decided he wanted a way to turn on certain lights when he (or someone else in the family) came home late at night when it was dark out. So, he created an app called “Lights on When Garage Opens.” Then he posted it to the community forum for others to use. Now, when it’s dark out and his garage door opener starts opening the door, his house lights up for him.
This is all reminiscent of the beginning days of computing, when those of us that created programs for them (DEC anyone?), shared them with everyone else in our community. I mean, how else could we ensure that our programs were constantly improved for the benefit of everyone? We’d right a program, slip the note for it in the keyboard drawer and ask our colleagues if anyone knew any ways to “hack our program.” This was back in the days when “to hack” meant to improve a program. This makes the way these guys do business near and dear to my heart, bringing back numerous fond memories.
There are currently 46 projects listed on the site that are either in progress or completed, with project notes and the code you need to make the desired results possible. How many other home automation products can say their user community is working to continually make the product more capable?
What the Online Reviewers Are Saying
Online reviewers decry the difficulty factor in installation of other home automation systems, but laud the ease with which the average consumer can get up and running with the SmartThings system. They also applaud the lower price of the system as a whole versus other systems. One of the things I like is that the consumer decides which sensors come with the starter kit purchase, not the supplier or vendor.
Like I said above, this is by far my favorite home automation product so far. I love the idea of being able to imagine new sensors and things to automate or have control over and then being able to make that imagination a reality because of the collaborative open source nature of the product. It appeals to my innate creativity and techno-geek.
What can you imagine as the next “newest and greatest” sensor for the SmartThings marketplace? No doubt, this is a gamechanger in the home automation world.