Smart Home

Creepy but Fun Surveillance Ideas with SmartThings

Brad Jones 27-07-2015

Where would James Bond be without his gadgets? Luckily for the super-spy, he could always rely on Q to outfit him with the latest high-tech tools The Best Bond Gadgets Of All Time James Bonds gadgets are legendary. In this article, we run down some of the most futuristic gadgets from the films, and see how they stand up in the era of the iWatch. Read More to carry out his espionage, but anyone not on the MI6 payroll might not be so fortunate.


However, today it’s easier than ever to get your hands on top-notch tech. With a set of Smart Home devices like the SmartThings suite, you can spy and snoop to your heart’s content. Here are some fun ways to use a SmartThings Hub with a SmartThings Presence to keep a watchful eye over your surroundings.

Snoop on Someone

The easiest way to use a SmartThings system for surveillance is via a Presence. The Presence is likely one of the first accessories any SmartThings user will buy following the Hub, and it’s simple functionality offers quite a range of possibilities.

Pair your Presence with a Hub, and you’ll be able to track when it comes within range of the device, as well as when it leaves that perimeter once again. To connect a new Presence, press the plus symbol on the Dashboard of the SmartThings app, select Connect New Device and follow the process.


Once that’s in place, you can either set up notifications that you’ll receive on your smartphone 5 Simple Ways to Be a More Mindful Smartphone User It's easy to get sucked into the smartphone world in the modern age and forget about the real world. Here's how to take back control of your life. Read More or via an SMS message when the Presence enters or leaves the area surrounding the Hub. You can also access a log of those various coming and goings, as well as the time that they occurred by navigating to Activity in the Settings menu for the individual device within the SmartThings app.


The recommended functionality of the Presence is to keep friends or family members in the loop as you go to and from your home, but anyone looking to perform a little espionage might find that it’s small enough to be slipped into a bag or the glove compartment of a vehicle without the intended target noticing.

That sort of behaviour might strike you as unethical — and in most situations, you’d be quite right to think so. That being said, there’s plenty of reasons that you might have the best intentions for your snooping 3 Ways to Protect Your Family and Home With SmartThings Presence 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. Read More . For example, what if you were sure that your teenager was sneaking out at night, but you couldn’t prove it?

Expedient use of a SmartThings Presence would give you the evidence you need to catch them red-headed!

Tweet Upon Arrival

Say you wanted to track the comings and goings of several individuals to a particular location — this could be family members and your house, or co-workers and your office. There are plenty of different ways to make this happen using SmartThings, but for this example we’re going to use a useful website called IFTTT Capture Your Creative Ideas Instantly with the Simplicity of IFTTT Setting up a central system to track your ideas is worth the time and effort it requires. Your creativity and productivity will thank you for it. Here is a simple way. Read More and a Twitter account to make it easy to set up and readily accessible.


First, create an account on IFTTT, navigate to My Recipes and then Create a Recipe.

From here, click this and search for SmartThings in the trigger channel input field. Select Presence detected from the large list of options that you’re presented with, and select the SmartThings Presence from the dropdown menu.


Now, click on that and we’ll set up the response that will run when a Presence is detected. Search for Twitter and select it as you did before, and select Post a Tweet. You’ll be presented with an example tweet to show you how it will look in practice, so you can make any edits that you might want to.



The important thing about this step is that it uses generic placeholders for the name of the device and the location, which will be replaced with specifics once the recipe is active. Automating this aspect of the procedure means that you’ll be left with a Twitter account that acts as a timeline of the various individuals’ movements.

Click on Create Recipe and you’re done. This recipe really only scratches the surface of what can be accomplished with IFTTT and SmartThings working in sync — check out MakeUseOf’s Ultimate Guide to 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 for more information on just how powerful the site is.

Monitor Your Staff

Smart home devices are typically used domestically, but there’s no reason that they couldn’t be implemented as part of a smart office. Using a Hub and IFTTT, you can set up a digital “timecard” system to make sure your staff clock in and out on time, everyday. Best of all, you don’t even need to outfit them with Presence devices — any smartphone can be used in its place, as long as the SmartThings app is installed.


To do this, you’re first going to need to connect your IFTTT account to your Google Drive account. Then, create a new recipe and select SmartThings as the this component, then choose Presence detected. Choose the first Presence that we’re going to add to our timecard from the dropdown and click Create Trigger.

Now, select Google Drive for the that component, and select Add row to spreadsheet. In most cases, this will be the best way to set up the document, but depending on your particular needs Append to a document might make more sense. It’s really a matter of personal preference, boiling down to whether you want to use a text file or a spreadsheet.


Next, you’ll be given control over several Action Fields, as you can see above. Name your spreadsheet something sensible and choose your preferred Drive folder path, but leave the Formatted row field as it is. You can change it later on, but for now the standard set-up is ideal for our uses.

Select Create Action and then Create Recipe. Then, repeat the process for as many individuals you want to track on the timecard, and do the same procedure using Presence no longer detected as the this component if you want it to monitor staff leaving the office as well as arriving.


Now, you have a spreadsheet that will keep a log of all this information without you having to do any of the legwork How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half. Read More . When the document reaches 2000 rows, it will simply create a new spreadsheet and start the whole process again.

Have you found a novel way to use SmartThings for surveillance? Found a great recipe on IFTTT? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

Related topics: Smart Sensor, Surveillance.

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