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SmartThings: The Kickstarter Idea That Can Automate Your House

By Joe Hewitson | Small Business

SmartThings: The Kickstarter Idea That Can Automate Your House image smart thingsSmartThings: The Kickstarter Idea That Can Automate Your House

People do dumb things, like not turning the stove off after scrambling some eggs, forgetting to lock their front door before a long vacation and leaving their garage wide open for the world to see (or steal from). We need guardian angels, and thanks to Kickstarter, we’ve found one in the form of modern technology. Introducing SmartThings, a variety of sensors and switches that puts users and their smartphones in control of every object in their home.

What SmartThings can do for you

The basic premise of the SmartThings project is to connect an array of household devices under a unified management platform. The central SmartHub device can support up to 100 connected devices, allowing you to wirelessly control and automate otherwise mundane objects like door locks and light bulbs. As the world around us continues to move towards constant connectivity, the SmartThings Kickstarter struck the right chords at the right time. More than 5,000 backers helped the company raise over $1 million, four times as much as their $250,000 goal.

The power of open source standards

One of the biggest attributes SmartThings has going for it is the open source standard it wholeheartedly embraces. By giving users the power to create standard interfaces for any number of household items, SmartThings is taking a crowd supported approach not only to its funding, but also the continued success of the project. Just like Google did with Android, SmartThings is relying on creative developers to contribute meaningful solutions that will carry home automation into the future.

The crux of this collaborative development effort is SmartThings’ SmartApps, but you don’t have to be a hack-a-thon champion to design one. For people with remedial coding abilities, SmartApps has a web-based interface that provides full access to existing triggers and actions stored on the SmartThings cloud. If you know how to modify a blog, you can most likely create a SmartApp.

If you’re the kind of coder who can turn a scientific calculator into a personal computer, SmartThings is releasing an SDK for turning devices of lesser intelligence into automated geniuses. And if you’re really, really proficient in code and construction, SmartThings wants to give you everything you need to reach your full potential. They’ll supply you with their ThingModule so you can put cloud intelligence in your Frankenstein-esque creations; give you ThingShield and Sketch for Adruino to make your existing brainchild even smarter; offer a Cloud-Platform API so you can integrate your device or app directly with the SmartThings platform; and provide a Mobile App Extension Template so you can embed the controls for your project in the SmartThings app.

While some companies do everything in their power to keep their back end behind closed doors, SmartThings is taking the “strength in numbers” approach. As more brilliant minds climb aboard, SmartThings’ future gets incrementally brighter.

SmartThings in action

Of course, SmartThings’ sensors and switches don’t just empower developers. They also give users the power to accomplish household tasks that traditionally require a physical presence. While timed lights and electronic locks have served homeowners well in the past, the ability to control everything from the palm of their hand — and receive timely notifications too — brings convenience to a whole new level.

Some novel uses of SmartThings so far:

  • Beds that know when you’re awake (turning on lights, brewing coffee, etc.)
  • Pet collars that inform you when the dog’s jumped the fence
  • Driveways and doorsteps that tell you when someone’s approaching

As you can see, SmartThings provides a promising platform for innovative automation through its reliance on open source technology. And if the project’s sold-out status is any indication, our living spaces are about to get a whole lot brainier.

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