If you've known me for more than a few moments you'll know one of my favorite uses of tech is home automation. I believe one's home should work for them and that living in a smart home should be intuitative and...well, smart! I've recently decided to make my home a bit smarter with some gear from SmartThings.
My first foray into home automation was the Nest thermostat. There have been a few (at least one) revision of the Nest since I purchased mine, but I have to say its some incredibly simple, intuitive tech. Set it like you normally would and it eventually learns what you want and just does it. The web / smart phone app is also great for the lazy (see: me) who don't want to have to get up to change the temperature. I eventually purchased a Nest protect as well - while not as feature rich (I mean, its a smoke detector, what can it really do?) as the thermostat, I still think its a great addition to my "smart home".
I recently decided to expand beyond the Nest ecosystem and purchased a SmartThings hub. The SmartThings hub the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols to connect with a wide range of sensors, locks, lights and other cool stuff. I made use of the Zigbee protocol in my weather station, it worked flawlessly so I was eager to use it for something more.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the SmartThings hub - its simple and gets out of the way when it needs to, but offers some pretty great features when you want them. I purchased a Ecolink door sensor along with my SmartThings hub - I wanted to use it to monitor the front door of my home. The setup was a little painful, I suspect this is because this was a third party product and not a SmartThings...thing, but with the help of the great SmartThings community I had the sensor all connected and mounted on the door in no time.
Once the sensor is connected, you do everything else through the app for your smartphone. You can set up a wide array of rules and conditions to receive notifications and do things with other smart things. For example - the SmartThings hub uses your smartphone as a presence detector by default (it uses it to determine if you are present), with that information you can then say "Turn on the lights when I get home and it is after sunset". If you also added a lock, you could say "Unlock the door when I get home and turn on the lights if its after sunset". You can purchase other presence sensors for other members of your household, so you can change things up depending on who is arriving or departing.
These features are great, but they are not what sold me on this particular ecosystem - it was SmartThings decided use of standards for interoperability as well as their fairly extensive development platform.
SmartThings is currently employing Zigbee and Z-Wave interoperability standards, meaning that any other compliant device should work with the platform as well. You don't have to buy SmartThings things exclusively - in fact, it feels like they encourage you to shop around. This is great for us as consumers because we can probably find lower prices elsewhere, but also great for the smart home industry - we don't need closed ecosystems, we need platforms that are compliant with standards so things can work with eachother. Selling somebody a closed platform is difficult, but selling somebody a platform that is standards compliant and open should be a no brainer.
Beyond the open platform, SmartThings also has a nice open development platform so you can do neat things with the triggers and data your sensors record. I haven't had a ton of time to experiment with this, but I did get a taste in researching how I could connect the aforementioned Nest and Nest Protect to my hub - it involved a defining a custom device, but the community had already figured all of this out long before I purchased my hub so I just had to copy and paste.
I'm super excited for the future of home automation - I think it is an excellent use of technology that will really make things look very futuristic very quick. The implications of having a home that reacts to your needs and desires is a revolution - I can't wait!