Smart Home technology gets a lot more interesting when you can integrate it all together. Some smart home kit can link up with other gear you have directly. For when it can't, you'll need to find a way to make that happen. That could be a home controller or hub, or it could be using an online service like IFTTT. Here, I'll go through a brief overview of what it is, and how it works.
You're using online service A, and you'd love it if that could plug into online service B. If only there was an easy way to make that work!
Thankfully, there is - in fact, there are several, but the most popular is 'IFTTT' (or, 'If This Then That'). What IFTTT lets you do is setup what they call 'applets', that monitor for a particular event that you define in one online service, and then trigger an action in another. So, you could for example setup an applet that sends you an email whenever a particular person posts to twitter.
This is interesting from a smart home perspective because it lets you integrate some of your equipment together. If an event is detected in one piece of smart home equipment, it can trigger a reaction in some other piece of equipment.
For example, one applet that I've setup detects if anyone rings our new Ring Video Doorbell, and turns the Philips Hue lights on in the kitchen. This in turn gives the appearance that someone is home, even if they're not.
This whole process is achieved with no programming of any kind. All the hard work has been done for you - you just say which event to watch out for, and what action to trigger when it occurs.
So, in the above example, the process of creating a new applet required only a small number of steps. First, pick the service for my event - in this case, Ring. Then, sign-in to Ring via the IFTTT website. After that, I simply chose that I wanted to monitor for rings of the doorbell.
The next stage is to choose the action to trigger. I searched for Philips Hue, and again signed in. Then I chose that I'd like the lights to turn on, and I was presented with all my rooms and scenes that I could activate..
For any future applets I create using either Ring or Hue, the process will be simpler, as I won't need to sign in again.
I've been testing out a few different applets using Ring, Hue, and Alexa. Sadly Sonos integration isn't there directly, but can be enabled via a few other routes which I may explore in future.
It's not perfect, you can only specify a single action to trigger in each applet. Also, in some cases the action doesn't trigger right away. So for example some of the Alexa / Hue applets I setup trigger instantly, whereas the Ring ones only trigger within an hour. This is down to the integrating partner as far as I can see.
There are a huge range of online services and technologies plugging into the IFTTT platform. If you're online - you're probably using services that are on the IFTTT system. The possibilities are endless!
I'll follow up here of course, possibly by doing some more in-depth posts on how I've gotten things working with each aspect of our smart home technology using IFTTT.