Samsung Is Turning Its Smart Home Platform Into a Tinkerer’s Tool

Samsung Is Turning Its Smart Home Platform Into a Tinkerer’s Tool
SmartThings looks and acts the same, but tinkerers are getting new features for home automation. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

Samsung isn’t making any more SmartThings devices, but it’s still plenty invested in its smart home platform. The company is rolling out a new architecture called SmartThings Edge, which promises to be “more reliable, faster, and more secure” by utilising localised automation.

Users won’t see any explicit changes to the SmartThings app. But on the backend, SmartThings Edge lets you execute commands without having to ping the cloud. The concept is similar to the time that Google moved some of the most common Assistant actions on-device within the Android OS instead of relying on the cloud to process them. In this particular case, SmartThings enables local device support within your home network. Any automation commands you set up are stored locally for Zigbee, Z-Wave, and LAN-based devices.

A diagram showing how localised automation works with SmartThings. (Image: SmartThings) A diagram showing how localised automation works with SmartThings. (Image: SmartThings)

SmartThings also mentions support for Matter, the forthcoming smart home standard that’s supposed to unite the different ecosystems. Though its launch is delayed to 2022, SmartThings supports those attempting to transition over in preparation.

When SmartThings announced it would stop making hardware, it also changed the way folks could build device handlers. As reported by StaceyonIoT, the SmartThings platform initially used Groovy along with a forced API for accessing different features, devices, and controls. SmartThings had also rescinded the ability for developers to use its integrated development environment, or IDE, to build custom device handlers.

Smart home tinkerers can rejoice in the fact that SmartThings Edge brings back some of that homebrew ability. In addition to the emphasis on local control, developers can now build device handlers in Lua. It’s a lightweight programming language meant for embedded use, like in the case of a smart home hub and its accessories. It will work with versions 2 and 3 of the Samsung SmartThings hubs and the newer version made and sold by Aeotec.

SmartThings has been under a severe overhaul in the past few months to help maintain its standing as traditional smart home hubs went out of style in favour of assistant-based ones from Amazon and Google. It recently pushed out a new interface for the SmartThings smart home app on Android, offering a new look and a renewed focus on home controls and automation. With SmartThings Edge, it seems the trajectory for Samsung’s smart home vertical is to offer an accessible platform for tinkerers and enthusiasts who want a respite from the rest of the noise.