5 Cool Things You Can Do With Home Automation and IFTTT

IFTTT. For those not familiar, IFTTT is a free service that allows you to create recipes to automate your life. For example, when you are tagged in a Facebook photo you can create a recipe to save the photo to Dropbox or you can ask to get an email every year on your birthday from yourself, automatically! With all the silly things you can do with IFTTT there are uses for it in home security and automation. The first step is checking to see if your system has a channel. In fact, I keep a list of all such devices that have an IFTTT channel here. The list is limited right now but growing. Even big players like ADT are taking notice of IFTTT. Currently, there are channels for Nest, Philips Hue, Life360, SmartThings, and more.

While home automation companies have started to open the door for developers to create products that play together, IFTTT takes it a step further by letting you connect stupid things with smart things in an extremely easy to use 1+1=2 formula. The downside is that IFTTT is like making a cake from a box and not from scratch which means that you have to play by the rules and may not get exactly what you want.

IFTTT is like making a cake from a box and not from scratch.

ONE: IFTTT Rules with the Life360 Channel

I love SmartThings, they are my chosen hub for home automation BUT I don’t love their app. It frustrates me…terribly. For simple tasks, I’ve started creating rules/recipes directly from IFTTT. IFTTT simplifies the process of connecting different things. For example, with the Life360 channel, you can create a recipe…”if I arrive home then unlock the door” or “when I leave home, adjust the temperature”. Sure these are all things you could do using Nest or WeMo or SmartThings but that’s just it. Why do it in three different apps? Why not take the brain power of all the users and companies and combine them into one system that works together? It makes sense. I could certainly set these rules from SmartThings and sometimes I do if I want to get more complicated meaning 1+1+1=3 but if I have 1+1=2 … I use IFTTT.

I could certainly set these rules from SmartThings and sometimes I do if I want to get more complicated meaning 1+1+1=3 but if I have 1+1=2 … I use IFTTT.

TWO: IFTTT Rules with the Weather Channel

You can easily create a rule to turn on your lights at 7pm but how natural is that? Do you remember in the first Home Alone where the burglar realized that the lights at the McCallister’s house were automated to turn on at the same time every day? A more natural way to create the rule would be using the IFTTT Weather Channel. With the weather channel you can create interesting scenarios like “turn on coffee when the sunrises” or “if the outside temperature drops below 60, adjust the indoor temperature to 70”. With the light scenario I decided that it would be more natural to turn on the lights when the sun sets as this is generally a moving target. If you want to get fancier you could create multiple rules. Maybe on Mondays the lights turn on at 7, Tuesdays at 7:11, Wednesday at sunset, etc. Unfortunately 1+1 means that you must create a rule for each possible scenario but fortunately it is easy to do. If you’re in the market for some new lights, check out our review of the best smart light bulbs and try out this cool IFTTT rule.

The Weather Channel can do more than light automation. You can tie back weather predictions to adjust pre-scheduled events using an ingredient called “current condition”. For example, “turn off sprinklers if the weather condition changes to rain”.

THREE: IFTTT Rules with Phone Calls

One of the complaints I hear from those interested in self monitored security systems is that they want better notifications. With IFTTT this is possible. You can enable SMS or phone call alerts. Phone calls can be the result of multiple activities like a garage opening, a door opening, or a kid arriving home from school. With IFTTT you are no longer limited by what a device can do because it can text you, email you, call you, upload activity to your Google Drive, or post to your social media account. Pretty cool right?

FOUR: IFTTT with SmartThings

The SmartThings team has created a whole list of popular recipes for those not feeling creative. There is a list of Triggers and a list of possible Alerts. Think switched on, off, open, closed, locked, unlocked, activate siren, motion, presence, temperature, humidity, moisture, or brightness as ingredients you can cook with. There are hundreds of possibilities. These ingredients can be used to make your life safer and easier if you want them to. Here are some recipes made by others that I found innovative:

  • Use FourSquare to unlock your door with a #hashtag.
  • Call your phone if motion is detected.
  • Email you if it is freezing!
  • Log events to your Google Drive.

FIVE: Jawbone Connect Your Home to You

Connecting Up by Jawbone to your smart home can open up a world of possibilities. For example, when you wake up you can have the lights turn on and coffee brewing. You would no longer be bound by time but instead events are triggered by your body. If you decide to sleep in until 9am one day, no problem! You wake up knowing your coffee will be hot not a few hours cold.

My brain is exploding from the possibilities but I would love to hear your ideas. Check out more Internet of Things Recipes on IFTTT.com.