Samsung’s Smart Home Hub – The Galaxy SmartThings Station
Samsung’s new hub, the SmartThings Station, is designed to simplify the smart home buying and set-up process. It will onboard new devices to the system almost immediately after plugging them in and a series of pop-ups will guide you through the setup process.
Fastcompany vp Jaeyeon Jung Galaxy Smartthings also says it’s working with Google to make it easier to onboard Matter-enabled devices to both the Samsung SmartThings and Google Home systems. That means you can see all of your Matter-enabled devices from either the Google or Samsung SmartThings apps and control them from there.
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What is SmartThings?
SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home platform that allows you to control a wide range of devices. This includes not just Samsung’s own smart TVs, washing machines and robot vacuum cleaners but many other smart devices from different manufacturers too.
As well as being able to control devices remotely, SmartThings is also great for automating things – so you can have the lights turn on when you walk in the door and the thermostat automatically adjusts when it’s time to go to bed. It also works with voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The SmartThings app is available on both iOS and Android and lets you manage your devices from the comfort of your own phone or tablet. You can monitor the status of connected devices while you’re away from home, create “Scenes” to group a range of devices and set automatic programmes. You can even share control permissions with family members.
If you have a compatible Samsung device or SmartThings hub, all your smart devices can be controlled from the app. These include smart bulbs, switches, sensors and power outlets from the likes of Philips Hue and Ikea Tradfri, along with Innr, Osram, Belkin and Bose SoundTouch speakers, Honeywell and Netatmo thermostats, Yale locks and cameras from Ring and Arlo.
SmartThings is built around a mesh network that relies on devices in proximity to relay messages back and forth between each other. It supports Z-Wave and Zigbee, both of which are based on radio signals that can be transmitted over long distances.
As with all other smart home systems, you’ll need a Wi-Fi router or a hub to connect the SmartThings system to your internet. The app will then scan for SmartThings-compatible devices in your home.
Once a compatible device is found, you can add it to your SmartThings account and then add it to a room within the app. These rooms can then be assigned to specific locations within your house so you can then navigate your SmartThings setup via them.
You can then set up automations – ‘if x then y’ actions which can be triggered based on the time of day, a device’s status or the location of you or your family. These can be used to turn on your TV when it’s time to watch a movie, turn off your heating when you leave the house or send you an email if your washing machine hasn’t finished its cycle by 7am.
How does it work?
Samsung’s SmartThings is an umbrella smart home platform that can be used to control a variety of first- and third-party devices, including lights, speakers, cameras, thermostats, garage door openers, and appliances like washers, dryers, ovens, TVs, and dishwashers. It’s available on Android and iOS, and it works with a wide range of devices from different manufacturers.
You can use it to set up a range of automations that make devices turn on or off, change their settings, or send a message, all from the same app. You can trigger them by time, a device trigger (like a motion sensor), location, or location mode. You can also create routines and string multiple actions together that happen at certain times of day.
It’s a great option for anyone who wants to automate their home but isn’t willing to shell out for an Amazon Alexa or Google Home speaker or display. You can control these with the SmartThings app or using your voice through the Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets that support Bixby, the company’s voice assistant.
Another great feature is SmartThings Find, which lets you track down any of the more than 70 million “helper” devices that the platform supports. You can use this to locate a lost Samsung phone, or a missing pair of Samsung headphones or earbuds that are connected through the service, and you can even invite up to 19 other people as members so they can track down your devices if you’re not around.
There’s also a new feature called SmartThings Labs that lets Samsung engineers test out ideas before they hit the market. These features are only available in the US and Korea at the moment, but they’re a good sign that the company is thinking about how it can improve its smart home platform.
To add a device to the SmartThings hub, you’ll need to power it on and then wait a few seconds while it connects to the SmartThings app. You can then find and connect other smart home devices that are supported by the platform, including Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth Low Energy.
What is the price?
SmartThings doesn’t get the same level of attention as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, but it is still a pretty decent option for those who want a smart home hub. There are plenty of compatible devices to choose from, including the likes of Arlo, Bose, Sonos and Nest, as well as a wide variety of other brands in the home automation space.
Getting started with SmartThings is a breeze thanks to the free app for iOS and Android devices. The top notch interface is easy to navigate and offers a number of helpful features that make the experience as painless as possible. Among the most useful are the Life and Devices tabs, which let you see a more holistic view of your smart home at a glance. It’s also worth a look around the bottom of the screen where you can find a host of useful widgets, from weather to telematics to your favorite apps.
The best part is that it’s completely programmable, so you can change your mind about how you use it at any given moment. For example, you can set the display to tell you the time of day or even switch it on and off based on how long your kids have been at school or how close you are to an open door.
Are there any other features?
Fastcompany vp Jaeyeon Jung Galaxy Smartthings is offering a variety of other features beyond its flagship smart home platform, including a new Galaxy-branded remote location device called the Galaxy SmartTag and the SmartThings Station, a large button that distills actions from your entire home down to one button press. The company also plans to make it easier for people to use its Home Life services, which group smart home functions into energy management, cooking, pet care and air quality.
In terms of integration, the new Matter standard will make it much easier for users to set up and control devices from different platforms or apps. It will also help manufacturers like Samsung create a more integrated ecosystem for their devices, something that’s important as they seek to compete with the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon.
This month, Samsung will start rolling out an over-the-air update to all its v2 and v3 hubs and the SmartThings app on Android. The update will turn them into Matter controllers that can be used to connect with other Matter devices in the same network. It will also rebrand the current dongle as a Matter border router, and it will upgrade the software-based hubs in newer Samsung smart TVs, monitors and Family Hub fridges to support the new standard.
Fastcompany vp Jaeyeon Jung Galaxy Smartthings will also make it easier for people to use its new Home Life services, which group smart home functions like energy management, cooking and pet care into a single service that’s accessible through the SmartThings app. It will also support more devices in these services and integrate them with the Alexa voice assistant.
Lastly, Samsung says it will work to make the set-up process for the SmartThings Station easier. The station will act as an anchor point for all the Matter-compatible devices in a home, and it’ll make it easy to install new ones using a QR scan.
The Matter update also aims to make it easier for people to use the new Galaxy Home Life services, which groups smart home functions into energy management, cooking and pet care and offers actionable advice and control. This will make it easier for users to change their energy provider and track their overall carbon footprint, for example.