A comparison of 4 presence detection methods

I use these currently four methods to detect my presence:

  1. Life360 (Ashok's Life360 Presence)
  2. Hubitat app (Ashok's Pixel Presence)
  3. Alexa app (turns on a Virtual Presence sensor with switch)
  4. Google WiFi (through IFTTT, turns on a Virtual Presence sensor with switch)

I had to made a quick run to drop something off at a friend's home, and I was curious to compare how rapidly each method would mark be as being "not present" when I left and "present" when I returned.

Life360:
Not present: 19:07:20 Present: 19:18:07


Hubitat app on phone:
Not present: 19:07:02 Present: 19:13:14

Alexa app on phone:
Not present: 19:07:01 Present: 19:13:14

Google WiFi (through IFTTT):
Not present: 19:05:02 Present: 19:13:13

The radius for Life360, Hubitat app, and Alexa app is about 0.4 miles. Off course, there's no radius for Google WiFi.

It's not surprising that my phone is out of WiFi range faster than anything else - so Google WiFi picks up my departure quickly.

But I'm surprised it picked up my arrival at about the same time as the Hubitat app and Alexa app. Logically, I should have entered the geofence quite a bit before coming into the Google WiFi range.

Also really shocked that Life360 was about 5 minutes slower than the others in establishing my presence.

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Interesting. I never really thought about it. I guess I'm gonna have to run a check tomorrow.

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I thought about it because of a post by @april.brandt (our Queen). In her experience Life360 worked pretty well. I think it is going to depend a lot on cell carrier etc. etc.

I'm just shocked that even after the delays imposed by going through IFTTT, in this one trial, Google WIFi was the winner by a second (for arrival).

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Life 360 sometimes takes up to 10 minutes to read my husband. I need to make sure gigs phone is set up right because it usually sees me pretty quickly. I also have Google wifi. Haven't thought of using that for presence.

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Nice test.

I spent months trying to get my presence working nicely (with two iPhones) and found that no one solution was ever reliable. Actually using arping to do network presence worked the best out of everything but it just didn’t pick up my phone fast enough ad you had to be within wifi range.

So I combine Life360 and lan presence and have no more issues I have it setup to send me welcome and goodbye notification and just never fails.

It would be nice if they would open up the tools so we could do network presence on the hub itself and not have to rely on other devices.

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I just started using it. Shocked at how well it works - even going through IFTTT.

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Yup. The http-ping method used by "iPhone WiFi presence sensor" is slow. Just being able to see the ARP table might be sufficient .....

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You can change how often wifi presence pings your phone, but for me, homekit presence always has me home about 30 seconds before I actually am, and the driveway light on before I pull in.

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I use the Hubitat app (arrival) to increase the frequency of the http-ping method (and now the Unifi presence detection) to every 5 seconds, so that HE knows I'm home within 5 seconds.

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I have tried HE iOS app, L360 with states, Wifi presence and now Locative.
HE has to be the worse performer for me hands down, even with the high accuracy battery toggle on.
Wifi presence is a no go as the OS sleeps the wifi now and then.
L360 has been ok, but for some reason bounces out and in every other times setting my house to home/away/home mutliple times a day.

I have started testing Locative today and the 3 tests so far have been 100% on a pair of devices. I am going to test it longer, but ive never had a reliable presence sensor which makes delving into HSM and sirens pretty hard. I showed my mrs where a killswitch is, im lucky she didnt rip it off the wall (Imounted it high enough she cant reach it) and toss it in the bin.

Fingers crossed this new app is the winner cause im kinda out of options.

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Can’t tell from your post if you’ve used several options but each one at a time, or also tried combining them. As @aaiyar described in the OP, using an app like Combined Presence or Presence Governor to aggregate individual presence sensors can substantially improve reliability vs. relying on just one method of presence detection.

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I do forced refreshes on Life360 every 5 minutes, on door unlock with code, and on garage door becomes open.

With that Life360 hasn't missed a single present/not present status in over 9 months. On all 4 people it tracks. And I do a lot of automation based on present/not present, so I would definitely know if it missed it...

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This is exactly it. Combining multiple presence sensors is 100% the solution.

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To be clear, I'm not claiming any misses. Nor am I claiming that one method works better than the other all the time. What I did not expect was that a WiFi method to detect presence (as opposed to absence) would be just as fast as GPS-based methods.

This is a really good idea!

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Agreed. I have never, ever, ever had a single presence solution that worked close enough to 100% for me (since well before I started using hubitat). Whether it was 50%, 75% or even 90%, still frustrating enough for it to not be worth it.

Combined Presence is a great option for hubitat, thanks for creating and sharing it!

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100% - this!

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Quick follow-up. After using @JasonJoel's rule, they're all equally fast at detecting presence. In fact, Life360 pips the others by 30 seconds. So thank you for the idea.

Life360 (10:39:21)

Hubitat mobile app (10:39:53)

Alexa app (10:39:53)

"Google WiFi" (10:39:53)

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I'm not shocked at all.... Google has invested a huge amount of resources to make sure that they know where you are at all times..... The devices aren't what they sell.... LOL

I do something similar. I let it default to pinging every 60 seconds, but when a code is entered on our zigbee lock it begins pinging every 10 seconds for a few minutes. It's quite reliable.

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I'll second HomeKit

For people running iOS phones, you can set up an old iPad, AppleTV, or HomePod to be a HomeKit server. Then on an old computer or Raspberry Pi you can run homebridge and the hubitat plug in. Using the virtual presence drivers, it is worlds better than any app (faster and iOS 13 can trick users into turning off location services for apps, but doesn't care about the phone itself).

It has failed once since the install and that is because I was updating the old iPad server and it was booting.

If you have none of these devices then it can be expensive (used iPad and RPi4 is prolly around $300), but if you are into tech and use Apple products you might have them already.

Also keep in mind that Life360 is nanny/spy ware. I'm surprised at how often it is mentioned. I'd have a revolt from the 19 and 15 year olds if I even suggested it. To be honest I wouldn't even ask my wife to install it and would feel funny is she asked me. It just feels mistrustful and domineering/overly controlling.

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