• Bud

SmartThings Automation Use Smart Phones as Presence Sensors

Updated: Feb 20

In my previous article "Use Mobile Phone as Presence Sensor in NEW SmartThings App" I explained how to setup your family’s mobile phones as virtual presence sensors in the NEW SmartThings (ST) App. Once each mobile device set-up, you can use each member’s phone to trigger distinct automations in your smart home ecosystem. In today’s article, I’ll explain how to effectively use those presence sensing devices in a SmartThings automation.

If you are new to home automation and you would like to watch a good primer video, then tap on the following link. In that video I provide the three basic steps for creating an amazing smart home. You discover how easy it is to begin your smart home automation journey. Now let’s get into today’s content.

If you missed my prior article in which I gave instructions for setting-up your mobile devices as presence sensors, then tap on the following link to review that setup video. You’ll be provided with all you need to setup each family member’s device as a virtual presence sensor. You’ll also gain the ability to use each member’s device in SmartThings Scenes and Automations. This expanded capability will greatly enhance your ability to automate your smart home.

In the video below this article, I demonstrate how to use these Virtual Presence Switches created in my former video. The video provides instruction on how to use the ST App to monitor each mobile device for the arrival of each family member. The member’s arrival or departure is determined when the member enters or exits the ST’s hub’s geofence which surrounds your home.


When a member’s presence is detected by the SmartThings app, the member’s virtual presence switch is turned on. The status of the presence switch can now be used in a ST automation to trigger actions. If you have a connected voice assistant, such as in Google or Alexa, the status of your virtual switches can also be used to trigger announcements on your Google or Echo voice assistant. Since I use Alexa as a connected voice assistant, I’ll be demonstrating how to set-up family member arrival notifications via Echo device.

I’ll be using a Brian Pierron's Simulated “Alexa” Switch to have the ST automation trigger announcements on my Echo device. If you want to have the ability to use your connected voice assistant to make verbal arrival announcements and you have not set-up Brian’s device handler, tap on the following link and watch my video on how to get this set-up.


Links mentioned in the video:

🔵 Brian Pierron's Raw Code for Simulated Alexa Switch

🔵 Link to the SmartThings IDE

🔵 Using a Simulated Alexa Switch

🔵 How to Create a Smart Home 101


Shop are Amazon Store for Smart Home devices:

🔵 Bud's Automations Online Amazon Store (US)

🔵 Bud's Automations Online Amazon Store (CA)

🔵 Bud's Automations Online Amazon Store (UK)