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Today’s Show:

Home Automation in the Cloud and IFTTT

We’re starting to see a strong push to merge two of the hot topics in technology today, the smart home and the cloud. As home automation moves to cloud enabled devices and services, it certainly gets easier for the average user to install. But does that convenience come at the cost of performance, flexibility or reliability? Perhaps, like MP3 audio and streamed video, it won’t matter. Convenience could trump quality once again.

The Changing Architecture of Home Integration

The movement from smart systems to smart devices.
by Julie Jacobson

Exerpts taken and italicized.

HOME AUTOMATION has been around for more than 20 years and the dominant architecture has been a type of hub-and-spoke topology with a meaty, multipurpose CPU that communicates with and controls a house full of devices. Traditionally, the CPU has a Web server built in for two-way communications with computers and smart phones.

For the top professionally installed systems today, that’s still how things work and there are several advantages to that architecture, most notably fast processing and rich two-way diagnostics of the entire ecosystem. Then came a more distributed architecture with smaller CPUs… In this model, intelligence is offloaded to dongles and/or personal iDevices, often with some of the processing performed in the cloud. We call this cloud-enhanced model HAaaS, or Home Automation as a Service.

Increasingly, we’re seeing a shift to an even more distributed architecture in which there is no CPU at all (with the exception of a protocol bridge) and the processing is done in the user’s smart device and in the cloud.

There are a few good reasons for this cloud-to-cloud architecture. First, if each smart device has its own cloud and own app, each can operate nicely on its own, without a whole-house solution. Another reason is for this approach is simply time to market…Had LiftMaster instead gone the Z-Wave route, it might have taken a year to build out the product and integrate it with various third-party controllers.

Nest has its own cloud service. So does Dropcam and Belkin Wemo and so many others. For something like Z-wave, those devices can communicate with an IP gateway like SmartThings, which also has its own cloud service. Each of these devices has its own app so they can be controlled individually with a smart phone.

Now, let’s add another layer of intelligence. What if all of these devices and their individual clouds talked to another cloud that aggregated their services? Then you could use your smart phone to create if-then scenes. Without any hub or central processors in the home, you could create conditions like: If you get a text message to turn lights on, then turn lights on.

IFTTT – If This Then That



What is IFTTT?

IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: If this, then that. We call ‘this’ the Trigger, and ‘that’ the Action. Together, it is a Recipe.


IFTTT is pronounced like “gift” without the “g.”



Channels are the basic building blocks of IFTTT. Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions. Some example Channels are: Facebook, Evernote, Email, Weather, LinkedIn,

121 Channels in all



The this part of a Recipe is a Trigger. Some example Triggers are “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “I check in on Foursquare.”



The that part of a Recipe is an Action. Some example Actions are “send me a text message” or “create a status message on Facebook.”



Pieces of data from a Trigger are called Ingredients. For example, the Ingredients of an Email Trigger could be: subject, body, attachment, received date, and the sender’s address.



Personal Recipes are a combination of a Trigger and an Action from your active Channels. Personal Recipes look like this:



Instagram: Any new photo by you: aderderian


Dropbox: Add file from URL to Ara’s Photos folder on Dropbox


Shared Recipes are useful templates shared by the IFTTT community.

Posted by The HT Guys, August 7, 2014 11:55 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.