In this Article

We continue to be amazed at the many creative and valuable ways that people are using SmartThings to complement their unique preferences…

1. Hardware

2. Interface

3. Tablet Setup

4. Mounting Location

5. Future Plans

Share this Blog Post

We continue to be amazed at the many creative and valuable ways that people are using SmartThings to complement their unique preferences and lifestyles.

In the post below, a member of the SmartThings Community named “florianz” describes how he’s transformed a normal Android tablet into a sleek wall-mounted device to control his smart home. Check it out!

“All the lights in my house are controllable through SmartThings, but not all of them are wired up to wall switches. I do have a bunch of floor and table lamps, which are hooked up to GE receptacles and plug-in lamp modules. It’s a bit of a PITA to have to bend down to actuate the modules. Whipping out my phone to launch the SmartThings Mobile app to control the lights can be cumbersome and slow, and I’m not a big fan of the idea of having physical remotes floating around the house. I wanted a solution with the immediacy of a physical switch, but some of the flexibility of the mobile app. Here is what I came up with:




This is essentially a wall mounted Nexus 7 Android tablet3, which I was able to acquire for cheap. I built a custom frame using a laser cut premium walnut veneer from ponoko.com7. The frame basically consists of a face- and backplate which are held together by four chrome internal hex screws. There are also internal pieces that keep the tablet aligned and in place. Initially, I planned on gluing everything together in order to keep the faceplate clean, but I figured it might not be a good idea to permanently enclose the tablet. The chrome screws are a good compromise as they allow me to open up the frame, but also serve a decorative purpose. The tablet is firmly mounted using two key hole hangers1 attached to the back of the frame, which rest on screws inserted into dry wall anchors.


The interface consists of a Dashing12 installation running on a free Heroku16 instance. Dashing is a really cool dashboard framework. What I love most about it is how minimalist, yet customizable it is. It’s just a few hundred lines of code on top of some widely adopted web technologies, including Sinatra2, Batman.js3, Gridster3 and Sprockets2. You can easily create new backend services using Ruby, and frontend widgets using CoffeeScript, SASS and HTML.

I created a bunch of “touchable” widgets, which let me control lights, display temperature sensor readouts, see the currently set mode, set new modes and execute “Hello Home” phrases, as well as display information about the current weather and forecast. I also created a backend, which communicates with a basic SmartApp endpoint. Dashing uses Server Side Events3, so events handled from inside the SmartApp are automatically pushed out to the client. Basically, when you turn on/off a light using a switch or the SmartThings app, the dashboard will automatically and instantaneously update with the new state. It doesn’t need to bang on the SmartThings cloud or the backend to continuously poll for updates (apart from the weather, which is updated every 15 minutes).

The Dashing frontend can be displayed in any browser, so it’s relatively easy to deploy multiple clients (one in every room, if you want to go crazy) or get access from your computer.

Tablet Setup

The frame doesn’t expose the physical power button on the tablet. Instead, I am using the camera as a motion detector to wake up the Nexus 7, when someone steps in front of the screen. Tasker1 is used to handle the motion detector events and wake up the tablet using Secure Settings1 without requiring root access. It’s a bit hacky, but has been working reliably, so far.

The Dashing frontend is being displayed in Firefox, because Chrome suffers from a bug that severs the connection to the Server Sent Events source when the tablet goes to sleep, and fails to resume that connection when it wakes up. To hide the annoying Android on-screen navigation controls (and status bar), I have to force the tablet into “Immersive Mode”. I am using an app2 for that, because the feature is a relatively new addition to Android, and not all apps properly take advantage of it, yet.

Mounting Location

I mounted the assembly in the hallway, opposite to my front door. I chose the location because it is central, yet not obtrusive. I pass through the hallway when I go to bed, or leave the house so it’s very convenient to take a look at the weather or turn on/off some lights at that point. The front-facing camera has a great view of the front door and will eventually snap pictures of anyone entering the house unexpectedly. This is also the place where a security system panel had been mounted, before I switched to SmartThings.

Conveniently, there is a storage closet on the other side of the wall. I simply drilled a small hole through the wall to feed a Micro USB cable to a wall charger in the closet. The frame hides said hole in the wall. A cleaner setup would be to install a recessed gang box4 with a USB outlet4 behind the frame. I want to evaluate the current setup, before I commit to a bigger hole in my drywall, though. The current hole is easy to close wink


Future Plans

I am going to add more widgets in the future. The idea is not to replace the functionality of the SmartThings app, but to display useful information about what’s happening around the house, allow for making more informed decisions and enable some basic control over devices. For example, it would be great to be alerted about open windows, before leaving the house. Also, having a widget that shows current energy consumption and realtime pricing information would be cool (Is now a good time to do the laundry or run the electric space heater?) On top of that, I want to play around with speech synthesis in order to emit audible alerts.

Lastly, it would be cool to get some NFC tags2 to wave around to cause certain things to happen. I don’t really have any concrete ideas for that yet, though.” – florianz

Continue the discussion of this project on the SmartThings Community Site.

Subscribe for more articles like this!

Your email address
[contact-form-7 id="831e457" title="Contact form"] You may opt-out at any time. Privacy Policy.

Learn more about becoming a SmartThings partner.

Work With Us

Inspire the world and create the future of IoT at SmartThings.

You Might Also Like...

SmartThings Updates

August 14, 2014

SmartThings, Samsung, and the Open Platform

Friends, Today is a big day for SmartThings. I’m excited to announce that SmartThings has been acquired by Samsung and will operate as an independent company within Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group. It has always been our goal to create a totally open smart home platform that brings together third-party developers, device makers, and consumers. We’re thrilled that Samsung fully supports this vision. We will continue to run SmartThings the way we always have: by embracing our community of customers, developers, and device makers and championing the creation of the leading open platform for the smart home. Our growing team will remain fully intact and will relocate to a new headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. In short: SmartThings will remain SmartThings. (more…)
Read More
SmartThings Updates

March 31, 2015

Update: SmartThings Hub & Hardware V2

Earlier this year we announced that we’ll soon unveil the next generation of the SmartThings Hub and several sensors. We wanted to provide a quick update on our progress to date. (more…)
Read More
SmartThings Updates

September 3, 2015

The Next Generation of SmartThings is Here

We’re excited to announce that the next generation of the Samsung SmartThings Hub, a new lineup of products, and a brand-new SmartThings app experience is available today. Our mission has always been to create the easiest way for people to turn their home into a smart home. In fact, we started SmartThings out of a desire to know the answer to a basic but deeply personal question: is everything OK in my home.  We believe our latest product evolution delivers on this ambition. Here's a look at what's new and improved: The New Samsung SmartThings Hub and Sensors The new Hub enables video streaming, has battery backup that lasts up to 10 hours, and can run certain functions locally to improve performance and continue to operate without an internet connection. The Hub will continue to support ZigBee, Z-Wave, and local internet connected devices. Two USB ports and embedded Bluetooth will support future expansion. The new collection of Samsung SmartThings sensors are now smaller and have been redesigned with a sleeker, more contemporary look to fit seamlessly into the background of your home. The New SmartThings App Experience The free SmartThings app has been redesigned for easier navigation and a more intuitive experience.  You can now directly organize and control your connected devices by room, view live streaming from cameras, quickly set up and run routines, explore the marketplace of nearly 200 devices now compatible with SmartThings, and so much more. One of the exciting new features of the SmartThings app experience is Smart Home Monitor– an integrated home monitoring solution. Smart Home Monitor allows you to receive alerts and take action when SmartThings detects unwanted entry or motion, smoke or fire, leaks, or other important activity. Existing customers will be able to configure Smart Home Monitor from their dashboard within 24 hours after downloading the updated app. With Smart Home Monitor, our Hub version 2, and a connected camera, you can also get instant alerts with an accompanying video-clip when these unexpected events occur.  Video buffering in the new hub means clips can start prior to the event so you can see exactly what is happening in your home. Video clips will eventually be a premium feature within Smart Home Monitor but are available in beta as a free trial through 2015. After the free trial, a premium version of Smart Home Monitor, which includes video clips, will be available for $4.99 per month. Live streaming will always be free. The new SmartThings app will be available for free download on iOS and Android starting today, with Apple Watch, and Gear S apps to follow. Be sure to check out our post for a more in-depth look at the app’s new features. We would like to extend our heart-felt thanks to our customers, supporters, and developer community. Your commitment, feedback, and ideas are what make our open platform truly special. We hope you you enjoy the new SmartThings experience.    
Read More

Our Most Popular Categories