How to turn your home into a Smart Home
A quick guide to the devices you need to turn your home into an amazing Smart Home
A Smart Home is one in which household gadgets (everything from lightbulbs to central heating, deadbolts to power sockets) gain the ability to 'talk' to you about what they're up to via clever little sensors, a Wi-Fi hub and your smartphone. And in return, you can talk right back to them using wi-fi and the internet – from the next room, the next town, or from across the globe.
Imagine a coffee machine that starts brewing while you're in the shower; getting an automatic text reassuring you that your child is safely back home from school; a security system that not only tells you if someone breaks in, but also records and streams HD footage to your phone, enabling you to guide the police to an arrest; plumbing that alerts you if that dodgy pipe bursts or the washing machine overflows so you can respond and make the necessary calls before it becomes a major repair job. Just a handful of real-world examples made possible by Samsung SmartThings – a range of plug 'n' play devices and sensors designed to give your home a serious IQ boost.
So what do you need and how do you begin? Thankfully it’s straightforward as you can build up your Smart Home capabilities by connecting together the SmartThings family of devices:
The SmartThings Hub
This unassuming little box is the brains of the operation. Whether you have one smart device or 100, the SmartThings Hub is like C3PO, acting as the translator between you and all the objects at your command (only without the superior attitude and tendency to irritate wookiees). It plugs into your broadband router and 'talks' wirelessly with all your SmartThings products along with a growing range of compatible gadgets made by other companies too.
The Hub tells your smart gadgets what you want them to do and it alerts you whenever anything important happens, like you’ve left the house but a window is still open.
The SmartThings app
Free to download for Android or Apple phones, the Samsung SmartThings app is the control centre for your system. When SmartThings has something to say it shows up here and, of course, you can check in on your home from the app anytime.
The app’s straightforward interface lets you very quickly combine your devices and set the rules on what they do for you. For example, tap the tile for the SmartThings Motion Sensor and you can arm or disarm it, set how it responds to movement (and when you want it to turn on and off), and even link it to other smart devices to create routines: motion detected = Philips Hue smart lightbulbs flash on and off, for example.
SmartThings Motion Sensor
Small, discreet and wireless, the SmartThings Motion Sensor can be placed pretty much anywhere you want to keep a virtual eye on within your home: on the mantlepiece overlooking your lounge, on top of a kitchen cabinet, sitting on a bookshelf outside the bathroom.
Once connected to the SmartThings Hub, you can tell the sensor how it should behave. Tell it which hours you want it to be vigilant, and if it senses unusual movement, how it's to alert you. Push notifications and texts are good, but the beauty of SmartThings is you can combine several smart devices together to create 'routines'. So, as well as sending you a text, the SmartThings Motion Sensor can, for example, trigger a Samsung SmartCam HD Pro to record footage and stream it to your smartphone. Or flash all the Philips Hue smart lights in the room on and off while playing the sound of intruder-scaring dogs barking on your Sonos wireless speakers.
And home security is just the beginning. How about putting a SmartThings Motion Sensor by your bed so that, when you blearily swing your legs out onto the floor in the morning, it tells your coffee machine to brew you a fresh pot that's ready by the time you make it downstairs? Of course, to do that you'll need the next sensor in the range…
SmartThings Power Outlet
We love this one. Why? Because the SmartThings Power Outlet makes smart devices out of any appliance you can plug into a wall socket. Take that coffee machine for example: plug your Power Outlet into your regular wall socket, and plug the coffee machine into that. Now you have a smart coffee machine that you can schedule to turn on when you hit the kitchen in the morning, or you can set it to start brewing from the bathroom or the number 15 bus. And that's just the coffee machine. Imagine what else you could control with the Power Outlet.
SmartThings Multi Sensor
This very talented sensor measures changes in movement, vibration, orientation and temperature, making it an essential part of your smart home. Put it on windows or doors as part of your home's security system; on your front door to alert you when the post arrives; in the kids' bedroom so the portable heater fires up when the temperature plunges, or even place it on your cleaning products cupboard so you know if little ones are rummaging where they shouldn’t be.
SmartThings Presence Sensor
Small enough to fit on a key ring or child's backpack, the Presence Sensor triggers the system when it arrives at or leaves the home. Use it to let you know when little Timmy has made it back after school, or you can set up a SmartThings routine so that your lights turn on as you walk up the footpath and your favourite playlist starts up. How's that for a warm welcome home?
SmartThings Moisture Sensor
So much of the damage associated with burst pipes, broken washing machines and backed up mains could be avoided if we were able to act the moment water starts escaping. By placing the SmartThings Moisture Sensor in an area prone to leaks you can rest easy, knowing that if the worst happens, you'll be notified immediately, enabling you to take action to stop a headache becoming a costly disaster.
What you need
- SmartThings Hub
- Free SmartThings app – iOS or Android
- SmartThings Presence Sensor
- SmartThings Motion Sensor
- SmartThings Multi Sensor
- SmartThings Moisture Sensor
- SmartThings Power Outlet
- A good starting point is the Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit which contains the Hub and three sensors to begin your Smart Home transformation.