Smart Home

3 Ways to Protect Your Family and Home With SmartThings Presence

Brad Jones 08-06-2015

Want to use tech to keep your nearest and dearest safe? Check out what a SmartThings Presence can do to keep a watchful eye over your home.


Smart home technology Save Energy and Money With These Smart Home Devices One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is the energy saving technologies available. As well as saving money, you’ll also be pushing toward a more sustainable, convenient living situation. Read More  has gone from a sci-fi concept to a surprisingly affordable investment. The prevalence of in-home wi-fi makes it very easy for people to augment their residence with smart devices. Products hitting the market at present have dropped all the gimmicks in favor of tangible functionality.

SmartThings offers a range of products designed to integrate into your home life, with a focus on practicality. With a Hub and a Presence at your disposal, there’s really no shortage of things you can do. Here are some useful ideas to help you get started using the SmartThings Presence to protect your home — and its contents.

Pet Protection


For many households, animals are just as much a part of the family unit as anyone else — but it has to be said, adventurous pets can more difficult to keep track of than a human counterpart.

There was a time when a microchip implant was the go-to choice for any concerned pet owner looking to use technology to keep track of their companion. Now, there are plenty of other options to explore if you’re eager to find a non-invasive way to keep a watchful eye over an animal.


The SmartThings Presence is primarily designed for human use, but it’s robust enough to stand up to the active lifestyle of most dogs and cats. The device comes with a hardy rubber sheath that allows it to be clipped onto a standard collar. Once your pet is wearing its Presence, you need to open up the SmartThings app to fine-tune the way it keeps an eye on your pet.


From the Dashboard, navigate to Home & Family and use the Settings icon at the top of the screen. If you haven’t set up the Presence for the first time, now is the time to do so by selecting Add a person, pet, or car — if not, simply select their name from the list.

Select Get notified when ____ comes and goes, and you’ll be presented with the Presence Alerts dialog. Here’s where you’ll customize the process for your pet. You can decide how and when to track their comings and goings to and from your home.



For example, I’ve put together a set-up that would work well for someone who works, leaving their dog at home — but would appreciate a heads-up if the pooch flies the coop somehow. So, I’ve opted to be notified in case of a Departure rather than an Arrival.

I’ve entered a phone number to send an SMS notification to if necessary, and I’ve specified that this is only in effect when my personal mode is set to Away.

The result is a system that will send a text message to my phone if I’m out of the house and my SmartThings Hub detects that the Presence attached to my dog’s collar has travelled outside of its surrounding area. It’s a quick, easy way to keep an eye on your pet if you can’t do so in person — and it’s easy to customize so it fits the needs of you and your pet perfectly.


Did Kids Get to School on Time?


Working parents can’t always be around in person to monitor their child’s journey to school. If your youngster just needs to hop on the bus to get there, they can be fairly self-sufficient — but you might want to check that they did leave the house on time.

Any parent — or any son or daughter, for that matter — will tell you that a quick text to confirm the pupil is en route to school is too much to ask. However, a SmartThings Presence can keep you informed of the situation without your child having to put in any extra effort at all. All they need to do is keep the device either on their person or tucked away in a pocket of their school bag.

For your part, you’ll need to tweak its settings via the SmartThings app to make sure that you’re only going to be notified as much as you want to be. First, find the correct Presence device by navigating from the Dashboard to the Home & Family section. Then, press the Settings icon up top and select Get notified when ____ comes and goes.


Here, you’ll first want to stipulate that you only want to be notified about departures, since you’re looking to track when your child leaves the house — and whether you want to receive them as a text alert or just a regular smartphone notification. Then, select More options to dive into some of the more nuanced scheduling functionality that the SmartThings system offers.


Select Only during a certain time and stipulate a range that covers the period when your son or daughter is likely to be leaving the house. This will ensure that the Presence is only active during their commute, as notifications every time they step out of the door is likely to be more of a frustration than anything else.

Then, select Only on certain days of the week and select all the days that your child catches the bus to school.

With all that in place, you’ll receive a notification whenever the SmartThings Hub detects that your child’s Presence is no longer in the house on a schoolday morning. If your child has their own smartphone, it’s even easier — rather than having them carry a Presence, you can simply link their phone to the system and its GPS functionality will allow it to serve the same purpose.

Keep an Eye on Your Bike


Depending on where you live, cycling can be a great method of transport in terms of convenience, exercise, and doing your bit for the environment. However, bike theft is a common problem for metropolitan areas How to Easily Find a Quiet Place to Work in a Crowded City Find a quiet space to get your work done and move on with your day. Taking advantage of co-working spaces is the new trend for busy professionals who want put in focussed hours. Read More , and one that’s quite difficult for owners and authorities to fight back against.

A bike lock should be your first line of defence against thieves — but a SmartThings Presence can be a very effective fail-safe if the worst happens. Communities with a lot of cyclists tend to look out for one another’s bikes, and you can use SmartThings to give a missing ride an automatic signal boost.


First, set up your Presence for your bike and attach it to its frame somewhere. The device doesn’t look like a typical security measure, but it’s still best to keep it tucked away if you can. For this usage, we’re going to use the website IFTTT The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro If This Then That, also known as IFTTT is a free web-based service to get your apps and devices working together. Not sure how to build your applet? Follow along with this guide. Read More to link the Presence to a Twitter account. If you don’t have an account on the site, make one now.

Go to My Recipes, then Create a Recipe. Enter ‘SmartThings’ into the search box under Trigger Channels and select it. Then, find Presence no longer detected from the list of interactions. Select the SmartThings Presence from the dropdown and click on Create Trigger.


Next, pick Twitter for your Action Channel and connect your account to the service. We’re going to set up an automatic tweet that’s sent if your bike is removed from your house without your say so. Of course, if you prefer to use a different social network, just look it up and use it in lieu of Twitter.

However, if you are opting to tweet, select Post a tweet with image. Take a photo of your bike and add a link to it in the designated field, while writing a tweet that alerts your followers that your bike has just been stolen — remember to add hashtags for the surrounding area to make sure locals are notified to look out for the stolen item.

This recipe will then run in the background, staying vigilant while you’re away from home or even just asleep at night — just remember to turn it off via your smartphone when you’re the one taking the bike from its spot!

Have you heard of other novel ways to use the SmartThings Presence to protect your home and family? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Home insurance via Shutterstock

Related topics: Home Security, Smart Sensor.

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