Smart devices are marketed on the premise of convenience. But as you may have already experienced, these gadgets can sometimes be anything but.
Most problems crop up when you have multiple smart devices in your home.
Different companies use different protocols and have different degrees of openness. This makes it difficult to build a harmonious smart home where everything is working together perfectly.
The alternative is paying a smart home company thousands of dollars to set up and maintain a unified smart home system.
But not all of us have that kind of budget to splash on a smart home. Most people opt to build piecemeal, adding individual devices slowly over time.
It’s cheaper but at some point, when you’ve accumulated several smart devices, it’s going to be a headache to try and make them work together.
You could use a smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings or Wink but even those can be problematic.
Not all devices are compatible with them, forcing you to install bridges or extra hubs which of course means spending more money.
IFTTT – If This Then That – is an online platform that brings different services and gadgets together.
The beauty with IFTTT is that it doesn’t care what communication protocol your smart devices use, be it Zigbee or Z-Wave.
As long as a device has WiFi and has a service on IFTTT, you can control it via the platform.
If your smart home is proving difficult and tedious to operate, IFTTT can help make things much smoother.
It is incredibly easy to use. You don’t need to do any programming or configure complicated settings.
Instead, you simply select which two devices or services you want to connect and set up a trigger and action.
IFTTT uses simple conditional programs called Applets. If a specified condition is met, then a specified action is taken.
That may sound very simple and limited but you’d be surprised how useful it can be even in a large smart home with dozens of smart gadgets.
Creating an Applet
There are hundreds of services on IFTTT including iRobot, ecobee, Nest, Samsung, LG, Philips Hue and many others.
So whichever smart devices you have at home, there’s a good chance you can access it via IFTTT.
To start using IFTTT, visit their website or download their smartphone app.
Make sure all your devices are on the same WiFI network before you get started.
Now all you need to do is create a new applet or use one that already exists.
To create an applet you simply search for the service you need like Nest Thermostat or iRobot (for Roomba WiFi vacuum cleaner). This is the device for which you’ll specify a trigger.
After you set up the trigger, search another service for which you’ll specify an action.
For instance, you can select a trigger for your Roomba such as Mission Complete. This signifies the robot vacuum has finished cleaning.
Then select a notification service and set the action which in this case is getting notified when the mission complete trigger fires.
You have created a new applet. You’ll be notified every time the Roomba vacuum finishes cleaning.
You can create this kind of If This Then That connection with any two devices or services.
For instance, lights go on when you come home, lights change color when it’s about to rain or your thermostat turns up when you approach home.
Note: IFTTT has yet to add the ability to add more than one trigger and action. So you cannot control more than two devices/services with one applet.
Using Existing Recipes
In most cases, you don’t have to go to the trouble of creating your own applet. There are many recipes or applets that other people have already created.
All you need to do is turn one on, connect to a specific service if necessary and enjoy the new convenience.
Here are some of the best IFTTT applets for your smart home.
- Turn on Sonos when you arrive home
- Pause Roomba when you receive a call (Brilliant one!)
- Activate a comfort profile on ecobee when you approach home
- Get notified when your Nest thermostat detects motion (Great for home security)
- Turn on the TV using Google Assistant
You can create or activate as many applets as you want. So you can actually unify your entire home under IFTTT.
Of course IFTTT may not meet all your needs. But it’s perfect for things you can’t yet do with a smart hub or smart speaker.