IFTTT and Automation

Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

I’ve been playing around with the idea of automation in my home. I don’t think I want to invest too heavily in the IoT mechanisms. That only invites more tech waste. Using tool APIs allow me to connect disparate things, using only a modicum of ‘glue’, and make my home a bit smarter.

Currently, I’m using If This Then That. Known more commonly as IFTTT. I looked at Zapier, but it didn’t seem to have the integrations I needed. While I don’t have many ideas for automation right now, I do have one that I kind of like:

“Hey Siri, Have Jinx Vacuum”

(yes, my Roomba’s name is Jinx, also, this post is inspired by instructions provided by @kelsonv)

Having a robot vacuum is unbelievably freeing. Eliminating a tedious chore class from the list of things to clean around the house is just shy of magic. While it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, I can live with some of the minor inconveniences.

To that end, I discovered that IFTTT has support for iRobot’s Roomba line of products. The way you actually drive the device on a normal basis is to open the app, configure the type of cleaning you’d like to do, then away it goes. Great, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with my phone. Having a spoken phrase is a good alternative. I also don’t want to buy a device like Alexa or Google Assistant just to do this. Thus, my Rube-Goldberg-esque configuration!

CLEAN!

Basically, it works like this:

  • I have a iOS Shortcut that makes a web request to IFTTT’s webhook endpoint for this action.
  • This Shortcut has a Siri Shortcut attached to it, allowing me to trigger it with just my voice.
  • The request triggers my Roomba to start a full clean.

It requires a bit more work than I’m sure Alexa or the like would need, but it also doesn’t require anything crazy outside what I already have. Just IFTTT, which is free for the first three actions. Though, if I end up needing more, a paltry $~4 a month is a worthy price to allow more automation.

Right now, I’m up to two actions. One for my Roomba (though, I could easily add more to stop, pause and send Jinx home) and one for posting the contents of this blog onto Mastodon. Are there any other really handy, killer actions I should be looking at?

By Nathan DeGruchy

IT Support extraordinaire. FOSS lover and proud Husband and Father.