Tips and advice

IFTTT and smart home: What is it and what are the options?

4.5/5 - (66 votes)

IFTTT is becoming increasingly popular with the advent of all kinds of smart home products. We list all the information about the technology and explain how you can use it.

IFTTT: what is it?

IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That”, is an application that allows you to automate certain processes using simple commands, “if” and “then”. This is done in a simple way by linking with all kinds of devices and services. There is also an entire online platform for the service where you can use “recipes” (programs with commands) created by others.

The idea is quite simple; an action takes place, and then you set up some other action, a consequence. For example; the temperature outside is below 10 degrees, so the smart thermostat has to switch on. A recipe is a pre-set ‘if, then’ idea. For example, you can find a recipe that you will receive an email if there is a chance of rain tomorrow.

To use the service, you must first register . Then you can get started in your browser as well as with the free apps for Android and iOS . By logging in you can already link various online services, such as Facebook or Twitter, to your account. In this way, you can, for example, set your Facebook statuses to be automatically shared on Twitter. Or that your Android smartphone automatically switches to airplane mode after a certain time.

Which services and devices work with it?

Almost all social media platforms, as well as mobile operating systems, are supported by the service. Where it really gets interesting is when you link the service to all kinds of smart home products . This allows you to have these devices perform an action when something happens or when you take something. Because of the communication between devices it is even possible to have the other device perform an action when one device does or perceives something.

Most well-known brands, including Philips Hue and Nest, are supported. But also thermostats from Honeywell, devices from WeMo, and a lot of others can be connected. This collection  of recipes for smart home devices is an interesting starting point. Below we highlight some nice examples.

Integration with Philips Hue

The now well-known Philips connected lamps can be very useful for automating a few simple tasks. For example, a most obvious recipe is one that automatically switches your lights on  when you get home, and switches them off when you leave. This can easily be done using the location facilities on your smartphone.

Some more original recipes can also be found for the intelligent lamps. For example, you can let the lights turn blue when it starts to rain. You can also make them flicker when you are “tagged” in a photo on Facebook. We like the recipe that makes the lamps change color when the ISS, International Space Station, floats above your house .

Integration with Nest & Nest Protect

The Nest smart thermostat and smoke & dioxin detector in combination with IFTTT have a lot of extra options. If you also have smart Hue lamps from Philips at home, you can already connect them in a convenient way. For example, you can automatically  dim or switch on the lights when Nest notices that you are or are not present.

If you’re on vacation, you can also use your Nest to keep an eye on things, for example, you can receive a notification if Nest notices that someone is in your house. You can also have your Nest automatically reach a certain temperature based on how hot or cold it is outside . Similar recipes are also available for Honeywell ‘s smart thermostats  .

Nest’s smart smoke and dioxin alarm, Nest Protect, can also be linked to IFTTT. For example, you can receive a text message or phone call  if a problem is discovered or the battery is low. But for example, you can let all Hue lights entering when discovered dioxin or smoke problem.

Other integration

Many other possible integrations are also possible with IFTTT, such as the intelligent switches from Belkin WeMo . For example, you can ensure that your  coffee is prepared as soon as you wake up. With Parrot’s intelligent plant sensor, the better hobbyist can also ensure that his plants receive water automatically when needed.

Also nice is integrating Harmony , Logitech’s intelligent remote control. For example, you can switch on your stereo system automatically as soon as you get home. A big miss in IFTTT’s file is integration with the speakers from Sonos, which would make a lot of nice things possible. The better hobbyist can get started with a Raspberry Pi, although that is really work for advanced users.