Stay Connected to Family Without Sharing Your Account

A customer writes in to ask about how he can stay connected to his kids without giving them access to the family’s SmartThings account.

“I’d like to have the ST hub detect when my children arrive home. They both have iPhones. I really do not want them to have the ST App at the risk of changing the setup. How would you approach this situation?” – Tony


Setting up a “Geo-fence” allows you to get a push notification when people’s smartphones enter and leave a set area.

Good question. The easiest way to stay connected to family members who have smartphones is to share your account with them*. Why? Well… just like sharing pictures or anything on your smartphone, it’s easy and free.

However, if you’re worried that they’ll go in and do things like turn lights on or off, etc., another option is to not share your account with them and instead to give them SmartSense Presence sensors.

SmartSense Presence sensors work much in the same way as a smartphone in that they can send you a push notification whenever they come in and out of a certain range. However, the difference between using a smartphone as a presence detector vs. using a SmartSense Presence sensor is that, with the former, you can create a Geo-fence circle around a location and that will trigger notifications when a phone comes in and out of this range; and with the latter, it will only send you notifications when the Presence sensors come in and out of range of the SmartThings Hub. That is, a Geo-fence can detect presence within a larger area than a Presence sensor.

Hope that that helps. And final tip: If you have two children and need two Presence sensors, you should get this solution–it’ll save you some money vs. buying two individual Presence sensors.

To learn more about how to know when family members, pets, and cars come and go, check out this Spotlight post.

* – To share your account, simply tap on the Menu icon on the top-left of the Dashboard, then select “My Account,” “Manage Users,” and “Add User.” The person will receive a notification from you, and once they accept, voilà, they’re in.

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Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. SmartSense Presence sensors they may forget intentionally or not. Their smartphone is less likely to be forgotten. Looking forward to better user privileges in Smartthings

    • This is definitely something we are working on.

      • I agree.. I’d really like to have my son’s iPhone be used as presence sensor and also allow him access to certain devices.. So Previlege Management feature is key. Any ROUGH timelines on when is it planned for – 2014 ? 2015 or beyond ?

      • Other smart locks allow you to issue codes that expire or are only valid during certain times/days. Id like to see smart things recognize people who come and go (like my nanny or exhusband) and allow access according to when they are allowed to enter. The nanny, for example, shouldn’t be coming in on the weekends and the ex should be able to enter on certain days when he’s picking up our kid. This seems like something you should be able to control.

      • So it’s been two years. Any update on this….?

  2. This is a little out of my knowledge area (as I’ve not used Life360), but would it not also be possible to use a different app, like Life360, and trigger a SmartThings notification through IFTTT?

  3. We use Presence Senors for our kids. They are tucked away in their backpacks that they take to school and the bus stop is one house down. It’s reassuring to be at work 45 minutes away and know that as they get to the front yard, my phone notifies me that they are home safe. My wife is home watching for them, so when she gets notified, she knows they’ll be coming through the front door in seconds.

  4. In the iPhone app when I follow the above instructions to add a user I get an error “this feature is coming soon”!

    • I just got the same error! Trying to add the wife to the setup and then get this. Perhaps a delay in adding this to the Hub 2.0?

  5. Bringing this thread back to life. This seams to now be possible with onhub + IFTTT + ST with the onhub telling me when their phone connects to the wifi thus allowing me to trigger an IFTTT command and communicating through ST using a custom app. Very complicated but it technically works. It’s pretty sad that after 2 years we still don’t have the ability to use a device as a presence sensor without giving them full abilities. I have a Nanny & parents that frequent our home as well as a child with a phone and would like certain things to happen when they arrive but not give them access to my full account. The fact that this has not been implemented makes me very weary of the future and speed of innovation


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