How to add a panic button with alerts for your smart home

How to add a panic button with alerts for your smart home

Our voicemail from this week’s IoT Podcast Hotline asks about a specific problem that’s actually not a bad idea for all smart home owners. John called in and left a message asking how to add one or more panic buttons to his home but without adding a monthly fee for any monitoring service.

John’s wife is wheelchair-dependent so adding a panic button for her in case of a fall or emergency is understandably important. Luckily, John has four different hubs in his smart home, which provides a range of choices to solve this problem. And the even better news is that it won’t cost that much.

Our thought is to use a $15 Samsung SmartThings Button, which has a Zigbee radio, for this situation. Pairing this small button to John’s SmartThings hub should be simple, and once paired, his wife can keep it with her at all times. Additional paired buttons can be put around the house as well. An in-app automation or third-party SmartThings app can then be used to send push or text notifications in the event of a button press.

John prefers to have up to six people notified by text, which is possible, but it might require six unique automations that he will need to configure in the app. However, if John is feeling adventurous and groovy, he could look into creating a custom SmartThings app to send multiple text messages when a panic button is pressed. Another option would be to use IFTTT for the text notifications, but that could introduce some latency issues that might not be ideal for a panic button. Additionally, when I checked IFTTT, I didn’t see native support for the Samsung Button. However, you can turn the button into a virtual device “switch” to that IFTTT will recognize.

In either case, there’s no monthly charge for the service and it’s a relatively inexpensive investment for the hardware at $15 per button. To hear John’s voicemail question and our discussion in full, tune in below.


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