Saturday 28 November 2015

SmartThings home automation kit

It has been a long time before posting anything on this blog. This was so, because of a lot of activities and responsibilities that I have been engaged in since late last year. However, that has not stopped me from playing around with a lot of tech. over the months, I have had pleasure trying out a number of prototype smart watches, liquor dispensers (really?  some new smartphones and cars.

You may have followed my earlier posts on home automations from some 3 or 4 years ago, where I used to talk of smart tvs, before they became mainstream, also X10 home automation, and probably the LightwaveRF kit which has been the central lighting and heating control system in my home.

Recently I got my hands on the Smart-things home automation kit by Samsung.

Smart-things kit

This kit is really dynamite, which comes in small packages, but with ability to do much much more...
The starter kit, which is the most basic set of devices that can get you started, usually consist of;
- a hub, which is the main brains and control centre,
- a on/off socket that can be plugged onto wall sockets and then in turn be used to control(switch on of any connected appliances)
- a motion sensor (which also doubles as a temperature sensor)
- a multi-sensor which can work as a magnetic open-close sensor as well as a temperature sensor.
- a presence sensor, which registers its presence whenever its in proximity to the hub.

The smart-things kit is based on industry standards like z-wave, which makes it compatible with other existing devices and sensors. This allows one to buy other sensors from other manufactures, which can be used or controlled via the smart-things hub.
These can be;

  • smoke detectors/alarms, 
  • door bell/chimes, 
  • heating control systems, 
  • other light bulbs,
  • network/ip wireless cameras
  • other security systems
  • etc etc
The best part is, all smart-things devices can be controlled via your smartphone, using a very sleek and responsive app, whether you are at home or away.

SmartThings Android App

You can also integrate your smart-things kit with IFTTT (if this then that) and use the already made recipes that can make your lights automatically switch off at dawn, or when you play a movie via your home cinema system, get a call when the smoke alarm goes off while you are away, etc etc, the list is endless.

Other companies that have tried total home-automation (lighting , heating, doors/widows open-close, energy consumption monitoring, temp/humidity etc etc) like LightwaveRF, however use proprietary standards which makes it hard to integrate or mix their devices with other vendors' and that is a major disadvantage that I think smart-things is trying to address.
Also smart things devices are quite smaller that most devices out there. However, when it comes to wall sockets and lighting control, their socket switch looks bulky and it sits between your wall socket and the appliance that's being controlled, in this case a lamp. For bulbs, obviously the assumption would be that one gets a compatible bulb, which can be controlled by the hub (and you have to leave the wall switch on all the time) So in that regard, smart-things is beaten hands down by LightwaveRF, which has got VERY sleek wall dimmers (which replace you wall switches) and also sleek wall sockets with their tech integrated in, which means the finished work looks very neat and subtle.

LightwaveRF kit

If there was a way of integrating these two systems, that was going to be a compelling proposition and direction as far as home automation and smart homes is concerned, but that is very unlikely.

Below are some videos that can demonstrate what you can do with the Smart-things kit;