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SmartThings Platform News from the Samsung Developer Conference

SmartThings Platform News from the Samsung Developer Conference

The Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) for 2019 has wrapped up in San Jose. For Samsung’s home automation and IoT platform, SmartThings, there were several overarching themes that came through during the two-day conference focused on developers, partners, and device manufacturers.

SmartThings Continues to Evolve

The new Rules API supports apps and wearables

The biggest SmartThings announcement at SDC 2019 is the new Rules API. Automations have always been a strength of SmartThings, and this brings them into the next era. This API will allow both the SmartThings team and third-party developers to write automations to control SmartThings devices. Having a path forward for developers to build their custom automations is important to the SmartThings community using popular third-party apps like webCoRE, SharpTools, and Rboy Apps.

SmartThings Platform News from the Samsung Developer Conference

Samsung specifically called out webCoRE as an example of a third-party app that can use the Rules API by creating a proof of concept for a revised webCoRE. The Rules API will also run locally on SmartThings hubs in the future. Current SmartThings automations rely on the cloud unless you use a very specific combination of devices and SmartApps. While we’d prefer to see Samsung commit to a date for Rules API local execution, it’s good news that SmartThings sees the value in moving automations out of the cloud on a larger scale. 

From a device partner perspective, the SmartThings Device SDK for direct-to-cloud devices has been updated to support the MQTT protocol. This means device makers can now connect their Wi-Fi devices directly to the SmartThings cloud via MQTT. Adding MQTT support to the other standard protocols—like Z-Wave and Zigbee—is a good move for SmartThings. This way it can support a wider range of devices with less effort from the manufacturer.  

SmartThings as a Service

The other big theme for SmartThings at the Samsung Developer Conference was a push from Samsung to use SmartThings as a service. This came through in both platform and hardware examples. Some examples from the show were the UK-based aging in place company Billy, apartment management company iQuue, and short-term rental management company Rabbu. These companies are all using the SmartThings infrastructure to run their businesses.

SmartThings Platform News from the Samsung Developer Conference

This is an interesting use case we’ve never considered for SmartThings, but it makes sense for Samsung. Convincing an apartment management company to outfit all its units with Samsung appliances, keeping maintenance staff informed of issues via the SmartThings cloud is somewhat compelling. Or how about the new SmartThings Vision sensor that has person detection and fall detection without using a camera? A company like Billy could see value in that without having to worry about its own hardware and cloud. Part of this initiative is making changes to the SmartThings cloud to allow more granular control of data and devices so that privacy can be maintained for tenants. 

At the Samsung Developer Conference, Vodafone, Calix, Sercom, Technicolor, Arris, Ruckus, and Silicon Labs are all show as part of Samsung's Works as a SmartThings Hub program

SmartThings is also looking to collaborate with companies on the hardware side with its Works as a SmartThings Hub (WASH) program. WASH allows partners’ hardware to act as a SmartThings Hub by either embedding the Z-Wave and Zigbee radios or by working with a new version of the SmartThings Link dongle. Currently, the Nvidia Shield is the only product on sale that does this. Calix will be embedding a SmartThings hub in its GigaSpire gateway as part of its EDGE system for smaller ISPs. Vodafone will use The SmartThings Link dongle with its latest gateway to continue its partnership with SmartThings.

More Supported Devices

At the Samsung Developer Conference, a slide shows new brands, including Globe, Tuya, and Acuity Brands, that will with SmartThings.

SmartThings also announced some new brands that are joining the already existing list of 5,000 SmartThings-compatible devices. Tuya is probably the biggest. Globe Electric will be the first of several brands that use the Tuya cloud to add SmartThings support via a cloud-to-cloud integration. Wi-Fi smart lock maker Gate is also adding support for its combination door lock and video camera. Acuity Brands is partnering with SmartThings on an entire Design Studio in Atlanta to add support for new products from its vast lighting portfolio. Acuity’s Lithonia Lighting brand is the most familiar to the residential market.

A Samsung Developer Conference keynote slide shows some of the many brands in the SmartThings Ecosystem

Closing Thoughts on the Conference

Overall, this year’s Samsung Developer Conference was enlightening to the direction of the SmartThings platform. While this was our first SDC, the developers we talked to would agree. Two years ago, Samsung had a vision for SmartThings but no concrete plans that the user community could understand. Last year, things started to come together with new developer and partner tools. This year it’s clear that Samsung has a plan for its SmartThings platform. Having a third-party app like webCoRE in the keynote at SDC proves that Samsung is finally listening to users and developers, while still executing on its internal goals of leveraging SmartThings to grow the company as a whole.