While the latest home automation systems are capable of altering the very nature of the home, we have in recent years begun to notice a series of compatibility issues arise from the myriad of technologies on offer. With so many different companies selling home-automation devices that are not compatible with each other, users regularly find themselves having to switch through multiple apps on their phone or other control panels in order to use their devices. What is the point of having home automation if it is not simple? US tech company, SmartThings, has identified this problem and could be the one-stop shop to all your home automation devices on your phone.
Founded by Alex Hawkinson in 2012, the SmartThings Hub is a central point for all things home automation, and aims to make life easier, fun and more convenient for users. Hawkinson came up with the idea to connect the rapidly-growing list of apps and wireless technologies on the market after looking for a way to give his own house a streamlined “voice”.
The system’s hub, as well as its app, can be used to instantly connect to a variety of different gadgets, such as light switches, locks, alarms, thermostats, sensors, outlets, and other types of compatible devices in the home.
Once connected and streamlined, these devices can then communicate both with the home owner and with each other, thereby providing residents peace of mind when away from their homes, additional security, and, it seems, limitless technological possibilities.
It seems that the market has needed an idea like this for some time. SmartThings launched a Kickstarter campaign in September 2012 and was able to raise $1.2 million to begin shipping its hubs to customers, who number in their tens of thousands.
The Washington, D.C.-based firm so far has at least 5,000 software developers using its system to build apps and these new applications are combining a huge number of gadgets to support your home automation installation in order for them to run in more useful and creative ways.
So far, with an open-platform like the Ninja Sphere Smart Home Hub, SmartThings Hub supports hundreds of Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and ZigBee devices, from big-name brands such as Belkin, Sonos, Honeywell Lyric and Philips.
The app for SmartThings turns a user’s smart-phone into a remote that then controls all of the automated devices in the home. The easy-to-use technology can, for example, work with your fitness tracker to alert your coffee maker when you wake up, so that a fresh pot of java is ready before you even get into the kitchen. In another example, the SmartThings hub will work with motion sensors set up on piping to alert homeowners when a water leak has been noticed, averting flooding and water damage.
The organisation is also set to introduce paid apps next year, in a similar fashion to Apple’s App Store and the anticipated apple homekit . The company has raised more than $15 million in funding so far, from investors that include Highland Capital, Yuri Milner’s Start-Up Fund, David Tisch, Greylock, First Round Capital and SV Angel, amongst others. Last month tech circles also started buzzing with news that it looks likely that Samsung will acquire SmartThings for $200 million in the near future.
At this point in time, the hub for SmartThings can be purchased for a one-time cost of $99 USD from the company’s own website or from Amazon.com. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android systems, but there are varied extra costs for the additional products in the range, such as lighting kits and motion sensors. Starter Kits are also available from $199 USD.