Mobile phones as presence sensors

My name is Bill White. I have been a Hubitat user for about a year now. Before that, i used Smartthings for about 3 years. I switched to HE because there were things that i wanted to do with Smartthings, but didn't want to learn IFTTT.
With HE and the rule machine, i have almost been able to do everything i could think of with ease. The only thing I cannot seem to do is setup our phones as presence sensors. My phone is an android and my wifes is an iphone. I have tried everything in the phones setup and just cant seem to get them to work properly. When i used Smartthings, i set them up as presence sensors and they just worked all the time. When i left the geo fence, my wife got a text and notification that said "Bill has left the home". And when i returned home, she got one that said "Bill has returned home". Likewise, i got the same messages when she left and returned.

I have not been able to make this work reliably in HE. Also, I placed a tilt sensor in my mailbox and it triggers Alexa to announce when the mailbox door is opened and when its closed. It also was sending a notification to my phone if the mailbox door was left open for 5 minutes. My wife's iphone never received any notifications and now, my android no longer receives them. I want to set up the HSM to arm away when we both leave the house and disarm whenever one of us returns home. But it wont work if we cant get reliable presence indications.

As i stated, i love hubitat and will continue to use it even without presence sensors if need be. If others reliably have presence sensors working with their phones, then im sure its me that does not know how to set them up. If anyone has a good tutorial on how to setup phones in the mobile app, please post links to these. If i could get these phones working as presence sensors and receiving text and notifications, then my HE hub would be able to do everything i would like to do.

Thank you for such a wonderful product and i love the way you keep updating and adding features. Thanks again to everyone in the community.

Do a search here on the forum for combined presence. There are many threads talking about this.

I use several devices to determine my at home presence, and you will find in these threads it's the same for everyone, There are serval options you just need to decide which one is best for you.

1 Like

Yep, this is one way to be sure that presence works correctly. You could do Hubitat phone app plus your phone's wifi, or Hubitat app plus Life 360, wifi plus a Smartthings presence fob, or numerous other combinations. Having 2 (or even 3) voting on whether you are home makes a big difference. There are actually multiple of these presence apps, but I prefer Combined Presence.

With my phones, the wifi and gps radios shut down in sleep mode, so no matter what I do, I needed some other way to determine presence. And I think that power saving mode is fairly typical of newer phones and/or newer Android versions (not sure about Apple). The Smartthings fob has been very good at doing this without involving a phone. So each of us have 3 items determining presence, then combine my presence with my spouse. So that is 6 devices between us that determine if someone is home. It never is wrong now. Probably overkill, but whatever.

Far as notifications go, for some reason a while back my phone stopped talking to the hub like your situation. I couldn't get notifications to it no matter what I tried, although it appeared to be working on the hub side. Long story short, to fix this I ended up deleting my Hubitat device (Mobile App Device) on the hub for this phone, and going into the Hubitat app and adding/creating a new device. That broke a few things that relied on that (broken) phone device, so I had to pick this new device in a few places. Been fine ever since.

Thanks. Been playing with our phones. I go to devices on the hub and send test notification to my phone and i get the notification. I opened wifes mobile device and sent test notification. I open her hubitat mobile app and hubitat received it under the last 20 notifications but her phone has nothing in its notification screens and i see this message instead:. Didn't send geoEvent for current location: HTTP Eooro returned from post attempt.
Anyone got any ideas about this.
I may try deleting her phone from the devices and recreating it, if i can figure out how. Thanks.

If your nor receiving notifications, as we battery optimisation is probably on on.your.phones


The hubitat presence never worked right for me, and still doesn't. I think the app has issues but I never cared to find out. I used the presence plus app and my problems went away.

1 Like

For my wife and I use a combination of Life360 and Hubitat presence sensor with unifi- wifi. Leveraging combined presence. This has made presence sensing more stable. I would also look at the power settings both in the IOS and Android if you use Life360 and/or Hubitat's precense sensor.

For my kids, I use Life360 and the unified Wi-Fi and again with combined presence application.

Another issue I have come acrossed in the past is Network health. If you have something monkeyed up like DNS queries or snooping or wifi optimization is not set right on your local network. I have seen where these other cloud-based sensors may not perform as expected. I believe this is overlooked quite a bit. I know I've chased many issues to turn out that something just wasn't right how the network conductivity queries those cloud resources. Many personal networks do not have the logging or notifications to show if something is just not right. If you have a fairly large personal Network, like I do, this could take a bit to figure out.

With that said, assuming that is truly all okay the other advices above should help.

With so monkeying around I have gotten this so stable and consistent and put security around it that we don't even own house keys.

I hope this helps.

I have found both Life360 and Geofency to be pretty reliable (though neither is 100%). I haven't had the same luck with the HE mobile app but honestly I haven't spent a lot of time with it. Tested it for a few days, moved on.

Geofency and Life360 have nice integrations with HE, though Geofency does require a bit more fiddly. However it also has support for iBeacon presence sensors, which I also use. This gives me what I call "micro-presence," or basically room by room. So I can tell not only that I'm at home, but that I'm on the front porch (or my iPhone is at least) and would dearly like HE to unlock the front door for me.

I have a ST presense sensor I've played with and I find it to be extremely reliable but the slowest to detect presence and the lack thereof. It often lags Life36 or Geofency by a minute or more. Too slow for my use cases. I'd be freezing my *** off waiting for the door to unlock!

I also use Presence Plus to do aggregation. Seems to work well.

I have tried a few different ways on using my phone as a presence sensor, as well as trying the SmartThings presence sensor, but had issues of the setup not seeing my phone leave or arrive, or having large delays when it would work.

What I have found that works best for me 99% of the time and is very fast to respond, is Geo-Fence within the Amazon Alex app under Routines.
I have created a Virtual Switch in Hubitat (home =on & away = off) to use in Rule Machine for different Rules based on when we are leaving the house or arriving, and what time of the day or night it is.

In the Alex app, I have a Alex Routine setup when I leave my house it will turn the Hubitat virtual switch Off (away) and when I arrive home, it will turn the virtual switch On (home). Been using it for over a year now, and I found it to be the most reliable presence sensor setup.

Here is a video I find very quickly just to show how to set up Geo fence in the Alexa app.

This sounds promissing. I think i will give it a try. Thank you for sjaring your success with me.

Update: Thanks for your great tip on using the Alexa app for geofencing. In Hubitat, i created a virtual switch for me and one for my wife. Then, i created two virtual presence sensors, one for myself and one for my wife.
Then in the Alexa app, i created 4 routines. When Bill Leaves, When Bill Returns, When Cheryl leaves, and When Cheryl returns. These 4 routines turn on the virtual switch for each of us when we leave the geofence, and turn off the virtual switch when we return home.
Then in hubitat, i created a rule with the virtual switches changed for the trigger, and sets the virtual presence device to arived or not present based on the virtual switches.

This works great. Now i created a rule that if both of us leave and the HSM is not in armed away, and HSM not in delayed arming away, then it arms HSM in away. And when either one of us or both return hone, it disarms HSM. Now, we dont have to set the alarm when we leave home unless we dont have internet access.

Ive been wanting this funcionality a long time but was unable to because of unreliable presence data. Hope this helps others who are having issues with this and again thanks for sending me in the right direction.

1 Like

You can simplify that a bit by using this device driver:

With one virtual device, it functions as both a presence sensor and a switch. Use the switch function in the Hubitat app, and the presence attribute in Hubitat. No need for a second virtual device and a rule to sync switch and presence state.


Exactly what I needed! Thanks.

Download the Hubitat app