I started adding smart devices to my house without any real regard for consistency. As a result, my system is a veritable hodgepodge of Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth-enabled tech that work just fine as individual units but much less so as a cohesive whole.
The IFTTT (If This Then That) service has done a lot in joining together all these disparate gadgets, acting as middleware between devices that otherwise wouldn’t recognize each other (much less communicate). My big break came when IFTTT integration was added to the Piper home security and automation system. Long the very heart of my smart home, this allowed me to expand the scope of what I could do with my Piper and how I interacted with the device itself.
In fact, after an initial bit of dabbling with IFTTT—which included turning my Leeo into a simple weather station—my first big project was to set up geofencing to arm and disarm my Piper as I left for and returned from work. I’ve been using the Lyric smart thermostat‘s own first-party geofence features for a while, and I’ve been very pleased with the results.
Things seemed to be following suit with the Piper—for a time. After a while, though, I realized that it was difficult for me to find a precise distance for how far away I needed to be to trigger the system. This is due to both the winding, circuitous nature of rural southern roadways and my reliance on Google’s Project Fi as a mobile carrier. (Fi uses a number of different cellular and Wi-Fi networks for service, and the constant switching from one band to the next sometimes made my location a little fuzzier than it may’ve otherwise been.)
Piper’s latest update, however, added yet another dimension of functionality and helped solve my armed-disarmed-armed again-no, wait, disarmed problem by allowing communication between my Piper hub and my in-house kitchen assistant, personal DJ, and occasional knock-knock joke-teller, Alexa of Amazon Echo fame.
Using the IFTTT app, I was able to set up a couple of simple recipes that allow me to talk to my Piper using Alexa as a proxy. Now when I leave for work I can say, “Alexa, trigger ‘arm my Piper,'” and she’ll respond that she has sent that command to IFTTT. Sure enough, after a few seconds, I can hear that familiar countdown tone.
Best of all, using the same verbiage, the alarm can be disarmed when I return home—even my kids can give the command. I know I could expand on this, setting the arm and disarm commands to coincide with me locking or unlocking the door, having my smart lights/outlets respond as well, or any number of other configurations, but I really like just getting Alexa in on the conversation.
Thanks to IFTTT, my two favorite smart devices are now fast friends, and I think Piper and Alexa are going to have a long and fruitful relationship.