Thington is a concierge for interacting with a world of connected objects, at home and in the wider world. It's designed to help you get the most from your devices, by giving you a universal remote control, help setting up rules, welcoming your friends and letting you build relationships between the things in your home and things that are outside.
You're always welcome to ask us a question via our twitter account or by sending us an e-mail, but you might want to look here first. This is a list of the most common questions we get asked, with our best attempts to answer them for you.
Fundamentally, Thington is a service that helps you get the most out of your smart appliances and devices.
Today there are lots of cool new devices coming onto the market that let you control things about your home or office through your mobile phone or on the web. There are smart thermostats that let you control the temperature in your house when you're away, smart cameras that let you check that everything is okay at home when you're travelling, smart switches that let you turn on and off lights from your phone, and many many more.
But while these devices are very powerful, most people we know struggle to get the value out of them them. What they really want is more secure homes, homes that are cheaper to run, homes that are more welcoming and comfortable or sometimes homes with brand new super-powers. So we've built a service that helps you get those things.
Thington is an app that you can download for the Apple iPhone™ - it looks to see what devices you have currently in your home and helps you set them up, suggests useful ways that they can work together, gives you a universal remote control so you can look after them from one place, lets you add your friends to your guestlist and lets you—if you want—make things in your home react to information in the wider world.
New technology is bringing new devices and appliances in your home, your neighbourhood or even in factories onto the Internet. Fundamentally this is what people mean by "The Internet of Things". Having a device connected to the internet means that it can be controlled over a long distance, or tell its owner when its finished or if something has gone wrong. It means that a device can talk to other services to order new parts when they break or so that it knows to turn on when the electricity is cheapest. It also means that there are ways that the devices can start to work together so that everything works much more smoothly and efficiently. So in the end, the Internet of Things is really about finding new ways to make people's lives better. At the moment there are already millions of appliances out there that can connect to the internet in one way or another, and in a few years time we believe all devices will be connected. We're here to try and make the experience as nice as possible.
Thington currently works with devices made by five manufacturers - Philips Hue™ light bulbs and lamps, Netatmo™ weather stations, light switches, ground switches and motions sensors from Belkin Wemo™ and Automatic™ car adaptors. Here's a full list:
WEMO™ (requires Thington Desktop App )
We're working with a number of other manufacturers at the moment to get them integrated with us, and in the future our goal is to be completely open, so any manufacturer can add their devices to Thington.
If there are devices that you'd like us to support that aren't mention here-or if you have a specific idea about something new we could do with any of the devices above—then ping us on our twitter account at @thingtonhq or e-mail us at email@example.com
No, you do not need any new hardware to use Thington. Instead, Thington normally talks to your devices over the Internet through the cloud services of your smart device manufacturer. That is to say, once you've given us your permission, Thington will normally talk directly to the company that runs your device (say Netatmo or Automatic). There is one exception - if your want to use WeMo devices with Thington, then you have to have a small piece of software (the Thington Desktop app) running on a computer in your home. We're working hard to make this unnecessary in the future.
Some of you may be confused about what a 'hub' is. So here's a quick explanation: many smart devices can't by themselves talk to the Internet. So often these devices talk to a box in your home that's called a 'hub', and then this 'hub' talks to the Internet. Most of the time hubs are made by the company that sells you the smart device. But sometimes other people make hubs, including people who make Universal Remote Controls for Smart Devices. Thington doesn't do that.
When your friends arrive at your house we ask you if you'd like to add them to your Guestlist. People on your Guestlist can control things when they're physically in your house and only then - your device controls simply appear in their Remote Control tab. We think this is a super fun feature and to make it work we need to have some idea of who your friends are. We get this by collecting a list of your Twitter friends when you sign up. We also use Twitter's login to get your name and your icon - basically to make sign up even faster.
We're also thinking of letting people login through Facebook. If you'd like that, please let us know!
When you first sign in with Twitter they will show you on screen what information we ask for. We do not ask for permission to tweet on your behalf or anything like that - we just want to get your icon, name and a list of your Twitter friends for use in the Guestlist.
No - we'll never post anything to your Twitter account at all.
When you set up the Thington app, it will scan your phone for apps that control smart devices. If it finds one, Thington will ask you whether you want to set it up. If you say yes, you'll be taken to their website, where they'll ask for your permission to share your device information with Thington. Then Thington will ask you a few more questions to make sure everything is working okay, and then you're all set up.
If you want to add another smart device later on, then go the Profile tab on the Thington app and scroll down until you see 'Add a New Thing', which will lead you through the process again.
The Thington Desktop App is used to help you connect Thington to Belkin WeMo devices. At the moment we cannot connect to the cloud services of WeMo devices and so to control them you need to have a little app running in the background on a computer in your house.
To use it, simply download the app to the computer you want it to run on and launch the app. It will ask you to connect to your Twitter account and then it will scan for WeMo devices in your home. At this point, go back to your mobile device and run the Thington app and it should guide you through the rest of the process. If it doesn't, go to the 'Your Profile' tab, scroll down until you see "Add a new thing" and then tap on the WeMo icon.
Unfortunately, this app needs to run all the time and we know this isn't the best solution for a lot of people so we are working on alternatives that give you access to all of this functionality without needing the app at all. Please bear with us!
This one is strictly for enthusiasts. If you don't have a spare computer at home, we've made some code that lets you run the code behind the Thington Desktop App on a Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pis are very cheap computers - they cost about $40 - and they often come without a box or cables or anything. Setting them up is a bit too complex for us to recommend it to normal people, but if you are a tech enthusiast and would prefer to run the Desktop code on a Raspberry Pi then ping us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you and explain how to do it.
The Thington Concierge is what we call the bot that asks you questions and sets stuff up for you. The Concierge looks out for your friends and lets you know when they visit, so you can add them to your Guestlist. The Concierge also looks at the devices you have and will occasionally suggests a way that they could work together. Activate the Thington Concierge by tapping on the 'Hi' logo in your stream. We're always looking to add new features to the Concierge so if you can think of something you'd like it to do, please let us know.
We believe that every home and office is a social space, and almost every device in someone's home is a shared device. So we've built Thington to work really well in places with multiple people. Your home or office in Thington recognizes two different kinds of people - 'owners' (called 'office managers' if you're running a business) and 'guests'. An owner can control all the things in a place at all times, can see all the updates from that place and can add new things or set up new rules. If you've set up a place in Thington then you are already its owner. A 'guest' on the other hand can only control things in the house or office when they're physical present. When they leave the house their controls disappear. They see no information about what's going on in the house and can't delete or edit any things or rules. If you're interested in learning more about the Guestlist, read What is the Thington Guestlist?.
If you share your house with another adult, you may wish to make them an 'owner' in Thington. This will mean they can control all of the house's devices whether they're at home or away. It means they can add and delete devices from Thington, and set up new rules. It also means they can see all the updates from every device and add people to your Guestlist.
To add someone as an owner, go to 'Your Profile', tap on the name of the place you want them to be able to control and you'll see a section right at the top called 'Owners' with a button you can tap to 'Add an owner'. That will show you a list of people that you can add. If they're already a Thington user, you can just tap on their name and you're done. If they're not a Thington user yet, tap on their name, then add their e-mail address to invite them to Thington. And then when they sign up they'll find they've already been made an owner.
Once they're an owner, all of the device will magically appear in their remote and all the updates will appear in their stream. They don't have to go through all of the set-up processes again.
PS. If you're adding an owner to a business, then we call them 'office managers' instead.
One of the things we've noticed with connected devices is that they're often really terrible when you have visitors or people to stay. For them to be able to control the temperature or even turn off the lights in their bedroom you have to give them an app and then login with your account. Sometimes when they go home they can still control things!
Thington makes this all much easier. The adults who live in a house are the 'owners' and they can set new stuff up, control things wherever they are, set up new rules with the Concierge and all kinds of other things. People on the Guestlist can only control things when they're physically there. That's all.
They can't control things from down the street, they can't see anything that goes on in your home, they can't change any rules or add or delete things. When they're at your house they can control things, and when they leave they can't. And everything they do shows up in your stream, so if they're being a pain you can delete them from your Guestlist straightaway.
The world is full of smart devices and we think it would be super useful for you to be able to make things in your home react to other accounts in the wider world. For example, if you have allergies it might be fun and useful to have a smart lightbulb in your house change color to reflect the pollen count outside. Or you might help save the planet by only turning on the sprinklers in your garden on dry days. Or you might like to have a light flash in your house when it's time to leave for your train in the morning.
The Explore Screen shows you some nearby things that you might want to follow or connect your devices to. If you tap on one of these 'public things', you can see all its recent updates. If you'd like you can 'follow' it, which will put updates from it in your stream. And we have a few rules that the concierge can suggest for you that use data from nearby things.
The very short version is that looking after your data is the most important thing we can do. We take it incredibly seriously. In fact we make a special effort to not collect data from you that we don't need to give you a good service.
For example, we need location information to make things turn on or off when you get home, but we don't need—or want—to know everywhere you've been. So instead we ask a cool feature on your phone to only tell us your location when you're at home or another place you're on tne guestlist. The rest of the time we know absolutely nothing about where you are or what you're doing. Which is just how we like it.
Thington is only available for the iPhone at this time. We hope to have web versions and Android versions for you soon.
It really is lovely, isn't it! The photo was taken by Jeremy Levine and it's of Manna House in Los Angeles. The photo is a subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License and you can see it in its original form and with lots of other photos of the beautiful building and its surroundings in Jeremy's Manna House Album on Flickr. We thought the house looked beautiful and welcoming and it happened to have gorgeous Thington-style colours too.
We're much too modest to say that yes, yes it is. But it would be rude for us to disagree with you when you're being so lovely. So yes, yes it is.