Using IFTTT With Smart Buttons, Part 2

This week we’re taking a look at how you can incorporate physical buttons into your home automation workflow with the IFTTT service, since sometimes pressing a button is still the simplest way to turn a light on or off. In part 1 we discussed the Logitech POP smart button and looked at how to set it up and what some of its capabilities were. Today we’re going to delve into some practical examples of how you can use the Logitech POP to control your home.

As we discussed earlier, Logitech’s IFTTT service for POP actually provides three different triggers that fire off depending on how the button is pressed, along with some more advanced configuration options to let you create some more sophisticated workflows.

As with other IFTTT services, it’s worth noting up front that each IFTTT applet you create with the Logitech POP (or other smart buttons) can only trigger a single action — normally a single device or scene. However, you can create multiple IFTTT applets that all use the same trigger — or variations on that trigger — to control multiple devices with a single button press.

A simple light switch

While some lighting solutions provide their own switches — Lutron’s Caséta for example — many other solutions like Philips’ Hue are based on smart bulbs, requiring you to either rely on voice assistants and smartphones or add your own switch into the mix. The same is true for things like table and desk lamps that may be connected to smart plugs, so this is one area in which IFTTT can be a big help — let’s face it, for most people it’s both habitual and usually easier to reach for a switch when you walk into a room than to have to pull out your smartphone or call out a voice command.

In a basic configuration, the Logitech POP sends alternating ON and OFF triggers with each press; the first time you push the button, an ON trigger is sent. When you push it a second time, it will send an OFF trigger, after which the next push will go back to sending another ON trigger. Much like you’d expect a normal push-button light switch to work.

If you’re using an IFTTT service that provides an action to toggle lights, setting this up is dead simple and can be done with one applet — just set the IFTTT trigger for Logitech POP to respond “Always” and then set the IFTTT action (in this case, for Philips Hue lights) to toggle the lighting. This also has the advantage of ensuring that your lighting doesn’t get “out of sync” with your switch if you turn it on or off using another method. If you don’t have an IFTTT action to toggle lights, however, then you’ll need to resort to using two separate applets, as we explained earlier this week.

More advanced lighting control

Since the Logitech POP button responds to different types of presses, however, you can do a lot more than simply use it as a fancy light switch. For instance, while you can use the example above to turn your lights on or off with a single button press, you can create additional IFTTT applets that respond to double- or long-presses of the button to do things like dim your lights or change their colors.

Further, because the alternative button presses also have the same ability to configure ON/OFF trigger actions, you can take advantage of these by creating two separate applets. For instance, if you wanted to be able to adjust between two lighting levels, you could create a trigger for the ON trigger to set your lights to, say, 70 percent, and then use the OFF trigger to set your lights to 30 percent. The result in this case would be that each double-press of the Logitech POP would alternate between the two intensities.

However, this is also where you might want to get a bit more complicated with your standard ON and OFF routines; since the original single-press applet we created above will simply toggle the lights, the result of a subsequent single press after adjusting the intensity would turn them back OFF again. While you could program another button trigger — maybe a long-press — to set it to 100 percent, there’s actually another clever workaround you can use: simply create a second IFTTT applet that only triggers on the single ON press that sets your lights to 100 percent.

This second applet triggers alongside the “toggle” applet that we originally created to ensure that the lights are also set to 100 percent whenever an ON trigger is received. This is also especially useful to ensure that your lighting comes on at full intensity, since the ON/OFF toggle action will simply turn the light on to its last setting (a similar method can also be used if you want to ensure that light comes on to a specific color when you press the button).

Trigger a ‘Bedtime’ scene

Another useful trick is to place a Logitech POP button on your bedside table to turn off all the lights when you go to bed. In its simplest form, this would be a simple “OFF” applet like we’ve already described, but we can get a bit fancier by again using different button presses to do different things.

For instance, you might use a single press to set a “Bedtime” scene that turns off all of the lights in your house while dimming your bedside lights to a lower intensity and relaxing color temperature, and then use a long press to signify that you’re actually going to bed.

This is where IFTTT’s ability to trigger a “scene” in platforms like Philips Hue and Lutron Caséta can be extremely useful, since it will save you creating multiple IFTTT applets to turn off every light or room individually. One applet is used, and the scene in turn does all of the heavy lifting of making your adjustments.

Of course, if you’re using multiple lighting platforms, you may still need more than one applet to cover each one, especially if you want to perform other tasks, such as adjusting your thermostat when you go to bed.

Summary

Smart buttons are almost a requirement if you’re serious about automating your home, and this is even more true if you have family members who are not on board with calling out to voice assistants or fumbling with smartphones just to turn on the lights. While Apple HomeKit users probably won’t need to resort to IFTTT to add in smart buttons, for just about every other home automation platform, the amount of value — and the number of possibilites — that IFTTT adds can’t be overstated, and we’ve only scratched the surface here.

Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington is based in Toronto, Canada, where he lives with his daughter, Victoria. He is the author of iPod & iTunes Portable Genius, and works as a senior editor for iLounge.com. Prior to becoming a writer, Jesse ran his own information technology consulting practice and served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve.

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