Samsung SmartThings with the Shield TV
If you have been around LanOC recently you might have noticed that I have been toying around with a few different smart home products. We bought a new place and along with some renovations and changes around the house, we have also been looking at ways to integrate some new technologies. Switching to Shield TVs for all of our TVs is one way, I also upgraded our thermostat to the Nest, and we have a few smart lights. To really start to expand things though I would have to buy into an ecosystem and use a hub. So when Nvidia and Samsung announced their Samsung’s Smart Things would turn the Shield TV into a hub I had to try it out. Nvidia sent over a small kit that included the dongle as well as two lights and a motion sensor.
The dongle is called the SmartThings Link and along with a two-step instruction manual, you get the dongle and a USB extender. I found it interesting that they bother at all to put a cap on the USB dongle though. It's not like this is a flash drive that you might put in your pocket and take places. Anyhow the cable is there so you can get a better signal, plus it helps you have room to plug something into the other rear USB port on the Shield TV.
The motion sensor they sent over is the Samsung SmartThings branded model. It isn’t very large and like most every other SmartThings or z-wave device, it is battery powered and completely wireless. It has a motion sensor bubble on the front so if anyone sees it they will know what it is, but the whole device isn’t much more than an inch and half square. The back pops off and you can use that as a mounting bracket with the included screws or with double-sided tape. They also included a mounting guide as well. The sensor is interesting though because beyond motion it does also have a built-in temperature sensor as well.
The bulbs Nvidia included were Sengled Element Classic LED bulbs. These are the cheapest SmartThings integrated bulbs that you can find on Amazon so I was especially curious to see how well they would work. They look like any old LED bulb with a metal bottom half that is used as a heatsink and a plastic globe on the other. They screw into your standard socket and are 60 watt equivalent in light output. The downside for me though was their color range. These are only available in a 2700k Soft White range where we use a more neutral 4000k range around the house. In other words, these put out a yellow light. I’ll touch on that more in a minute.
So setting up the SmartThing dongle wasn’t difficult. You plug it in and then download the app on your Shield TV. From there you get a code and have to input it into the SmartThings app running on your phone. Basically, the hub runs in the background all of the time with the Shield TV, even when you have it off. I thought the Shield app might also let you set things up but it doesn’t have any of the front facing features that your phone app has.
So how can you use all of these together? It really depends on how far you buy into the ecosystem. I ended up playing around with them in a few ways. Because I have a full RGB TP-Link bulb in one of our lights in our living room already I put one of the Sengled bulbs in the other lamp. Using IFTTT I set it up that if one of the two bulbs was turned on the other would come on. This saved me from having to walk across the room to turn the second light on at night. Then from there in SmartThings, I used the motion sensor to pick up movement in the living room and if it was after dark it would turn on the lamp that then turned the other light on. Talk about making things simple!
But the color difference was bothering me, so when I ended up doing is moving both of the Sengled bulbs out to our back porch. Our front porch lights are already automatic with light sensors, as is the light on our garage. So with the back porch lights, I could set it up to turn on automatically at a specific time or mount the motion sensor and only have them on when needed. Though honestly, I haven’t bothered to mount the sensor yet, it is still in our living room. This had an extra benefit though, our living room can sometimes feel colder than the rest of the house. I used the built-in temperature sensor to keep an eye on that. In the future, though I think the motion sensor outside would help more, plus I could then check the outside temperature as well.
My time with SmartThings being integrated into our Shield TV is still early but I’m hoping to play around with more integrations this summer. Once you start adding more hardware into the mix you can do some crazy stuff. You can setup water sensors under sinks to warn you ahead of time of leaks and there are even a few options available where you can even turn off the house water automatically when a leak has been detected. The Works with SmartThings list has a lot on it and that doesn’t count all of the homebrewed stuff that you can find that people have written. Because it has Z-Wave Plus and Zigbee built in, just about anything that supports those wireless formats can be integrated with a little programming, assuming it hasn’t already been by someone in the community.