1Why Samsung’s SmartThings Home Controller Is Under Fire
2What Exactly Is SmartThings?
SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home platform for connecting a variety of smart home devices to a single controller. SmartThings is the central hub for users to monitor security devices, such as locks, alarms and security cameras. It can also control lights, thermostats, home appliances and more. SmartThings is all about connecting “dumb” devices in the home and giving users more control over them.
3The Home Monitoring Kit Is Essential
4Samsung Says It Plays Well With Others
Samsung says its service will work with a wide range of products from third-party companies. In fact, the service supports thermostats from Honeywell, sound systems from Bose and security locks from Schlage. Customers will also find support for Philips Hue light bulbs and several other third-party products.
5University of Michigan Researchers Find Security Flaws
Researchers at the University of Michigan published a report claiming that SmartThings comes with several flaws that could allow a malicious hacker to gain access to a person’s connected devices. The hack would allow the hacker to set off smoke alarms, unlock doors and more. While the researchers blamed the service’s framework, Samsung responded, saying that while the vulnerabilities might be possible, they’re only “hypothetical.” Samsung added that it has already patched many of the issues disclosed in the report.
6Criticism Abounds Over SmartThings
The security report was just the latest in a long line of criticisms about SmartThings. Just recently, Bruce Ravenel, the developer behind Rule Machine, a third-party SmartThings app, posted a notice on the SmartThings community blog that he will stop supporting SmartThings because the platform suffers from “ongoing serious degradation” that prevents his Rule Machine app from working reliably. SmartThings has been similarly beaten up on Twitter by other developers and users.
7Samsung Has Acknowledged Some Trouble
SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson on April 14 responded to the SmartThings outcry, saying that his team is “fully aware of the issues that have been affecting platform reliability.” He noted that his team has made several revisions to the platform and will work at improving its service as time goes on. “We are in this for the long term,” Hawkinson said, adding that his company wants to build “the best, most open platform in the world.”
8Samsung Hires an Amazon Executive to Sort Things Out
In an effort to improve its standing in the smart home business, Samsung on April 25 hired Robert Parker, former head of engineering at Amazon, where he worked on that company’s smart home products, including the Echo voice-controlled assistant. In his new role, Parker will serve as senior vice president of engineering and manage SmartThings’ software and hardware efforts.
9SmartThings Technology Doesn’t Just Work at Home
While smart home technology is being heavily marketing to consumers, there is no reason why the same technology couldn’t be applied to the corporate world to control security and environmental devices in corporate offices, such as smart locks and security cameras. For now, though, Samsung, like other companies, is focused on building its presence in the home, which is expected to thrive in the next few years.
10Let’s Look at Accessories
Although the Home Monitoring Kit is one of the easiest ways to get started with SmartThings, users can buy a wide array of accessories from SmartThings to enhance their smart home. Users can acquire door sensors, motion sensors, and temperature and humidity sensors. In addition, SmartThings sells a water leak sensor to alert users to a problem before it causes serious damage. Since SmartThings was bought out by Samsung, it’s perhaps no surprise the company’s online store includes Samsung devices, including the SmartCam HD Pro.
11Smart Home Devices Aren’t Cheap
Going smart comes at a price. The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit, which includes the SmartThings Hub that talks to other devices, is available for $249. Those who simply want to extend their platform with more “things” can do so by picking up a multipurpose sensor for $40, a wall outlet for $55 and a smart camera for $189. Third-party devices are similarly expensive, with the Schlage Century Touchscreen Deadbolt setting customers back $215.