For the better part of the decade, home automation has been limited to those with padded bank accounts and a tolerance for proprietary systems that don’t always work as they’re marketed. Creston is an example of that. And while we can’t say empirically since we’ve never performed a hands on review, we’ve heard countless stories that report that it’s not only expensive and difficult to install, but works a bit like a leaky ship.
Though we can’t speak for the reliability for the SmartThings, we can speak to its price and ridiculously simple install process. Unlike other home automation system, which generally require wiring and a general contractor, the SmartThings connects to your home using a hub that plugs into your home’s router. The hub then connects wirelessly to a variety of individual “devices” allowing you to can control lamps, detect when someone walks into a room or opens a windows, exits the property (provided they’ve got a fob attached) and many more. In fact, these are the launch devices that will be available at the end of this year. Come some time next year they’ll add a door locking mechanism that appears to be compatible with NFC enabled phone, thermostat control, and a whole host of devices that will allow you to monitor your home’s well being (think flood, earthquake, or fire). They’ve also developed a Dev Kit that allows anyone, with a penchant for soldering no less, to create additional devices.
All of this can be controlled or monitored using your smartphone. According to SmartThings, the hub as well as the devices will support a a variety of connectivity methods, including Ethernet, cellular, Zigbee, Z-wave, and Bluetooth. Cellular is still TBD, but in light of them exceeding their funding goal by over $100,000 so far, we’re gonna assume it’s a given at this point.
It would seem the sky is the limit. And the cost, at least initially, is very reasonable. However, there will be monthly fees that range from $5 to $10 a month, a big deterrent in a freemium world. That said, if you invest via their Kickstarter campaign, they’re willing to wave the aforementioned fees on up to 3 devices for their lifetime. We’re still waiting on Belkin to release their version of home automated gear, though from what we’ve seen it won’t be as extensive as SmartThings, but may not include those pesky monthly fees.