One of the biggest trends we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show this year was every day devices that could connect to the Internet.
There was a fork that alerted when you were eating to much. A refrigerator with Evernote integration. A washing machine that sends a notification to your phone when the cycle is complete. And so on.
The trend is called the “Internet of things,” which is just geek-speak for connecting stuff to the Web and controlling it all from your smartphone or computer. SmartThings is one of the companies exploring the space, and it got a lot of buzz last year when it raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter, blowing past its $250,000 goal.
So, practically, what does it do?
SmartThings isn’t just one product, but an open platform software developers and gizmo makers can build into. Developers can create apps and devices that feed into the system to do stuff as simple as switching your lights on from your phone or as nuanced as starting your coffee maker when a motion detector sees you’re out of bed after 7:00 a.m. SmartThings has about 3,000 people signed up to develop for the system.
The startup does sell its own hardware kits for the basic stuff though, and it’s all controlled with a hub device that you plug into your Wi-Fi router. That hub can automatically talk to other devices in the SmartThings ecosystem.
Pricing varies. You can spend thousands of dollars to completely automate everything in your house Jetsons-style, or a few hundred to handle the basic stuff and build from there. SmartThings is currently sold out of starter kits at the moment, but you can reserve one here.
But it’s better to just show you how it works, rather than prattle on. Check out the gallery below to see some of the things SmartThings can do.
You can control everything using the SmartThings smartphone app. The app suggests a few packages (for lighting, security, etc.) to get you started. Eventually, you'll be able to order stuff directly from the app.
The SmartThings hub (right) connects to your Wi-Fi router (left). From there, it can automatically control all the connected stuff in your home.
One of the kits comes with this magnetic sensor that can be used to tell when a door or window is open.
See? The app tells you what's happening in real time. You can also set an alert system for certain action. For example, you can get a push notification every time your door opens when you're out of the house.
You can program the motion sensor to do stuff like set the thermostat to a certain temperature when it detects people in the room.
If you don't have the app, you can also use a text message through a service called Twilio to control your SmartThings gadgets.
This wall socket plug connects to Smart Things too. It's good for controlling lamps, coffee makers, etc.
Here's a moisture sensor that you can put under your sink or in your basement. It'll alert you when it gets wet.
The geo-fencing feature is pretty cool. This means you can set up a radius from your SmartThings hub to perform certain actions. For example, you can have your AC switch on when you're a mile away from your house.
SmartThings also has a dongle you can carry on your key chain and assign to an individual in your home or office. You can then program it to alert you when that person is in the building. The feature also works if the person has the smartphone app installed on their device.
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