Meet a SmartThings Developer: Tim Slagle

We’re proud to support a growing community of developers who collaborate with each other and invent new ways to use SmartThings. This community is propelling the open Platform for the Programmable World.

In the latest in a series shining the spotlight on developers in the SmartThings community, we’re going to get to know Tim Slagle, who was inspired to start using SmartThings to secure his home after he and his girlfriend were the victims of a horrifying break-in.  

ST: Tim, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

TS: I’m just a simple guy who likes things simple. Not touching a light switch is pretty simple to me, so I got into home automation way back in the X10 days. As a kid, I remember seeing GE’s “Home of the Future,” or whatever they called it. I loved it and have been into home automation ever since. Outside of that, I am just a normal IT professional who cooks and whose favorite meal is a cheeseburger and a good beer.

ST: Do you primarily write software (hacker) on the SmartThings Platform or create new devices (maker)?

netatmoindoorTS: I’m definitely a hacker. I love to take the devices everyone has and tweak them to see if there are new and valuable ways that I can use them in my own home and in other people’s homes. I love the idea that I can take a Netatmo Weather Station and have it control my dehumidifier, thermostat, and tell that if the temperature outside is cooler than it is inside, then it’s time to shut off the A/C and open up some windows. (I use an app called “Smart Windows” by egid for this.)

ST: How did you first hear about SmartThings and what attracted you to it?

TS: I heard about it in the Kickstarter days. I was an original backer. I saw the potential of the platform almost immediately and backed it immediately. The openness of the platform is definitely the end-all-be-all for SmartThings. It is the reason why SmartThings has had so much success, in my opinion.

ST: How do you use SmartThings in your daily life?

TS: I think the better question here is, ‘How don’t I use SmartThings in my daily life?’ Well, I don’t use it to cook my steaks, take out the trash, or drive my car… yet! But in all seriousness, I automate just about everything in my home–from my garage to my stand freezer and from my lights to feeding my dog. I absolutely love the fact that I haven’t needed to touch a light switch in a very long time. I also haven’t needed to empty or turn off my dehumidifier in months. (I run a hose straight to the drain and use a Z-Wave switch to turn it on and off based on the humidity using my Netatmo. I never touch it now. It’s a beautiful thing really, haha).

SmartThings is my security blanket as well. I use my Foscams to alert me when things move outside and all my motion sensors inside are active when I’m gone. Our house got broken into before we got SmartThings and now SmartThings provides a ton of peace of mind when we are away knowing that our home is safe while we’re gone.

ST: That sounds awful. Would you mind telling us about how that experience led you to start using SmartThings to secure your home?

I had my home broken into about two winters ago. The whole event was horrifying.”

TS: I had my home broken into about two winters ago. The whole event was horrifying. People tend to assume that because their doors are locked, that their valuables are safe. Unfortunately for me (and my girlfriend, Nikki), that was not the case. We had our back window smashed in and many valuables were taken.

As a result, we got Insteon controlled lights to add some basic “we’re home” protection. Then, we got some Foscams to keep an eye on things. Since then, we’ve gotten SmartThings, which has been INCREDIBLE. It creates an unbelievable amount of peace of mind for Nikki and I when we are away from home.

I have multiple modes for when we are home and when we are away.  Different things happen at night when we are away versus the daytime when we are home. This automatically changes when people come and go based on presence sensors using an app I wrote called “Auto Home/Away with Night Modes.” This sets up an alarm when we are away and lights to function differently depending on the sunrise and sunset while we are away. Lights turn on and off at random times to make the house look “lived in,” and that alone gives us piece of mind.

in-use-motion-1To top it all off, we have motion sensors in every room of the house as well as SmartSense Multis on every door and window. When we are away, we know when someone is knocking on the front door. If someone jiggles the back door and opens it, then it will alert us and motion sensors track the movement throughout the house. As that happens, images from our Foscams are uploaded to a FTP server I set up and I can go view the images through my phone. The “Smart Alarm” app by statusbits/Geko ties this all together and alarms our Foscams that face outside when we are home and away, but only arms interior sensors when we are way.

SmartThings has turned my once vulnerable home into a  “Fortress of Solitude.”

So in a nutshell, SmartThings has turned my once vulnerable home into a “Fortress of Solitude.”

ST: What one thing would you like to see added to, removed, or changed about SmartThings?

TS: This is an easy one. I wrote a rant on the forums about this awhile back and recently it was on the blog. I can’t wait to see what kinds of “smart communities” we can develop with SmartThings. I think it would be cool to participate in a community of SmartThings owners that would correlate and display a bunch of data. Things like, Tim’s house was the most efficient today because his central air ran for 15 minutes, 37% less than everyone else’s. Make it a game of sorts. Also, you could participate in community watch programs that would alert neighbors of things out of the ordinary while you’re away. Also, the historical data that can be represented about your local community is super cool. Anything from temperature to rainfall and earthquake measurements to wind speeds. The possibilities are endless and the future of this kind of stuff is amazing!!

ST: What tools do you use most often when developing for SmartThings?

TS: I’m a purest: GitHub and the IDE for me. I’m a no-frills kinda guy.

ST: Nice. Anything else on your mind that you’d like to call out?

TS: SmartThings is absolutely the BEST home automation system out there. The support you get from the Community and the SmartThings team is awesome! If anyone reading this is debating whether or not to get on board with SmartThings, take it from a guy who has had X10, Vera, Comcast, and a few more: just go with SmartThings, you will not be disappointed!

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