The open nature of “If This, Then That” (IFTTT) makes it easy to combine devices, link features and enable tricks that the original makers never thought of. IFTTT is also a great way to get a smart home device working with a controller or hub that it wasn’t specifically designed for.
Anyone can create and IFTTT command, so there’s no need to reply on experts or the release of some official patch or update. All in all, IFTTT is a brilliant piece of innovation that keeps the smart home world ticking along.
These 10 tricks can help improve the typical smart home, or make running devices easier for the user. Even if you don’t own the specific products used by these applets, there are bound to be similar examples for your device, or by studying the applet, you should be able to create one that works in your smart home ecosystem.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Goodnight All
- 2 Nest as a camera
- 3 Blink your lights to end a countdown
- 4 Turn an old smartphone into a security camera
- 5 Get the air moving when pollution is high
- 6 Saving water and the planet
- 7 Create artificial sunrises or sunsets.
- 8 Check Nest away modes
- 9 Improve the awareness of dumb lights
- 10 Lock up when you drive off
Instead of turning off gadgets and devices one by one, you can get Alexa to shut everything off or down at the end of the day with one simple command. Sure it would take a little effort to set this command up yourself, depending on how many smart home devices you have, but being able to end the day on a cheery, simple, note is a pretty cool way to close down your smart home.
Nest as a camera
Nest thermostats have a sensor in them that by default is only there to adjust the temperature if people are seen moving around. However, you can also gimmick it to use the sensor as an ad hoc camera, ideal if you don’t want to have something as obvious as most smart home cameras lying around or have no where to easily wire one in. .
Download the IFTTT applet here and you can get a notification sent to your mobile device when someone triggers the sensor. Okay, that might not be the best move when you share a home with family or pets, but it could come in useful if you want a stealthy detection system at home.
Many people set a timer for a countdown or event, but are moving around or might not notice the timer has ended. This IFTTT applet will blink your Phillips Hue lights when the timer hits zero, which can be very useful in a noisy environment, say you’re working out with the stereo up, or cooking while entertaining at the same time.
A practical use is if someone at home is hard of hearing, they can be alerted to the end of the timer visually. These types of IFTTTs are incredibly useful for the less abled and a great way to engage and encourage them to accept smart technology.
Turn an old smartphone into a security camera
While mounting an old iPhone or Android, somewhere useful, and keeping it powered might be a bit of a chore, this trick is pretty brilliant. Download this applet and it will send you a video clip whenever any motion is detected.
Again, this is a pretty niche idea, but if you have a phone to hand, why go out and buy a smart home security system that likely has poorer quality cameras?
Get the air moving when pollution is high
Making our environment better is one of the big ambitions for smart homes. For now, we are a bit limited, but there are some practical steps that IFTTT can help us take. For example, this applet will turn on a fan when a Foobot sensor notes a rise in pollutants.
Simply moving the air should help minimize the impact, with the Honeywell fan’s UV Air Purifiers and high-MERV filtration, of any harmful chemicals until you can either close windows, or open them depending on what’s causing the problem. Hopefully we’ll soon see devices that can better explain where the pollutants are coming from, but until then this will help a little.
As a bonus, this applet will notify you automatically if there is a high pollen count in your area.
Saving water and the planet
Another environmentally friendly IFTTT applet is this one that works with Rachio sprinklers and will cancel their operation is rain is in the local weather forecast. Reviews of these products used to complain that they would ignore local weather, so this is a good example of IFTTT coming to the rescue of products that were not quite as connected as they should be.
Create artificial sunrises or sunsets.
The cool Nanoleaf cluster wall lights we reviewed recently are a great way to create light themes in a room. If you want some help getting up in the darker mornings, then you can use this IFTTT applet to help create an artificial morning to make it easier to get up.
With a little tweaking you can probably create artificial sunsets too, if you aren’t able to enjoy the real thing, making this a splendid way to improve your morning/bedtime routines.
Check Nest away modes
Sometimes you’re home and your Nest thinks you’re away, or you’re away and your Nest thinks your home. This applet will send you an alert when your Nest goes into away mode, and if you don’t get an alert then you’ll know the thing is still warming up the rooms needlessly. A quick and efficient way to sort out one set of smart home false positives, it can help your Nest be more effcient.
Improve the awareness of dumb lights
This applet requires a WeMo switch, but you can probably get it to work with others. Quite simply it adds location awareness to the switch, so when you come home, you can have a light turn on, or similar. Clever and simple, just the like best IFTTTs should be.
Lock up when you drive off
Even the likes of BMW are getting into the spirit of IFTTT with this applet that will turn off your SmartThings-powered locks when you leave the property, ideal if you’re one of the more forgetful smart home owners.
For more IFTTTs, check out the official site that maintains the language and (https://ifttt.com/discover) and if you want to understand how to make your own IFTTTs, then this guide provides a layman’s guide for the channels and recipes you can use to link services and devices. .
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!