Customizing Home Automation Devices With Third-Party Tools

By Erin Vaughan

Hackster Staff
3 years agoInternet of Things

What does the ideal smart home look like? A cup of steaming hot joe prepared for you by robots — without having to mumble at a barista in the drive-through? Lights that automatically dim when it’s time to catch up on your latest Netflix binge?

Unfortunately, we’re not exactly there yet. As you’re probably already too aware, compatibility has been a huge thorn in the side of smart home device manufacturers. There’ve been all too many hubs, communication channels, and proprietary apps for real seamless M2M communication to happen.

That’s kept developers busy coming up with some really smart third-party software and APIs that will allow you to get your devices on the same page, and create cool custom commands and actions. Check out some of our favorites below.

Get the M2M Communication You Want With IFTTT Applets

You could wait for device makers to get their technical ducks in a row, or you could use IFTTT. This useful app has been helping developers and other computer-minded folks manage PC tasks for years now, so it’s not too surprising to see them make the leap over to smart devices, too.

IFTTT doesn’t solve all your device problems, of course, but it does give you some brilliant ways to manage your smart home without ever getting off of the couch (or in some cases, even without even needing to be at home!).

For instance, you can set up an applet that automatically turns on your lights when you unlock your smart locks, or one that activates your smart coffee maker when Fitbit detects that you’re no longer asleep. There’s even one that serves as a tribute to The Purple One himself: an applet that uses Weather Underground and Philips Hue to turn your lights purple every time it rains. So basically, you can party like it’s 2999!

Using Smart Code for Your SmartThings

SmartThings, Samsung’s stab at the smart home, not only manufactures a variety of standard smart products, they also let you write custom code and personal apps to manage your devices — essentially turning your home into an automated powerhouse.

The system’s not for code-newbies: you’ll need to be familiar with Groovy, an object-based programming language used with Java. Essentially, you designate an inciting event and an action (or a string of actions) and test it with their simulator to build a custom app. Then, on your phone, you set the app to work with your desired devices. Pretty cool to see your coding take shape in the 3D world.

Maximizing Voice Commands With the Ubi Portal Tool

The best news we heard at 2017’s CES Conference was the number of new products getting Echo Integrations. Since Amazon seems to be edging out a lot of the competition in the digital assistant market, it’s great that more and more systems won’t need third-party intervention to get Alexa to recognize them.

However, for those devices that could still use some help, there’s the Ubi Portal Tool, which lets you create customized voice commands for your Echo. All you have to do is tell Alexa to talk to the portal. For instance, you can say “Alexa, tell the portal it’s bedtime,” and you can lock the doors, switch off the lights, and turn down the temperature your central air unit in one fell swoop. That way, you can maximize Amazon’s natural language recognition software without waiting for a bunch of integrated devices to come out.

These programs will give you the home base you’ve always dreamed about — or at least something to tide you over until we all have our own personal bot!

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full-time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

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