I bought SmartThings some time ago. It was my first venture into the home automation market and the kit seemed like a good purchase. I got the Hub, to make it all work, some presence sensors for attaching to things that move in and out of the house, a water sensor, a door sensor, power plugs, and not forgetting the integration with the mobiles in the house through the app that also provide presence sensors themselves.
It was great. I set the water sensor up below the washing machine, the door sensor told us when the door opened and closed, and power plugs went on the ChromeCast, wireless printer, and the Sonos devices. Throw in some rules for when one thing activated another did, or when it was night-time, or we all left the house, certain devices were powered off.
A few years later and there’s a few more devices in the house, it’s all in constant use and we’ve found more rules to drive everything, however over at SmartThings not a great deal has changed.
They’ve been bought over by Samsung, and that made me think great things were to come, and there are a couple of new integrations such as Philips Hue, but not that much by way of new products. They have just announced a new LTE tracking device in the US, but to me that doesn’t sound much like home automation, and certainly not what I want and am crying out for in the automation of my home.
Their current product range still seems poor, I can’t believe that they haven’t thought about products such as:
- A multi-way power extension with individual sockets and/or the entire strip powered on and off remotely – everyone has power extensions in the house, and I certainly don’t want to buy six SmartThings plugs and plug them individually into an extension lead with plugs on top of them, after that it’s not easily put to the side or hidden away.
Power sockets – ones that fit in the wall, just like your existing power sockets, have a switch and can be operated through SmartThings. Oh yes, you can use LightwaveRF sockets like this, but I think they’re out of business now and it’s a third party extension to SmartThings that we’ve found isn’t that reliable at detecting on/off and only works as a toggle – whatever state it’s in now, change to the other.
- Power plugs and sockets that provide power usage statistics – we’re getting Smart Meters thrown at us by the energy companies, which aren’t very smart at all as they just measure overall house usage. So when there’s an intelligent device between the plug and the power in the form of a SmartThings plug, why not use it to collect statistics and analyse power usage?
- Light switches – again, integrated like the existing ones and allowing for SmartThings to see what state the light is in and to change it. Possibly working with dimming as well.
Physical plumbed water switch – if you’re going to provide a water leak sensor, provide a fully integrated valve that you can swap with one on a plumbed water pipe to automatically turn off the water.
To me these are no-brainers and start offering a real automated home. I can’t understand why the next product they’ve been working on, and the first one they’ve produced under the SmartThings banner in a very long time, is one that works for things away from the home. Especially when there’s so much more to the idea of in-home automation.
If Samsung built some of the products above, I could see many more people buying the kits, and those with them already buying more. I would certainly be buying adapters, light switches and wall power sockets galore.
I can’t help buy feel they’ve been distracted by this tracking device idea, you know when your phones are all capable of doing it already, and the idea that a company owned by Samsung can only develop one product at a time is quite surprising.