Meet @icanhazAC. What does it do?
This is a Twitter account which controls and reports on the current state of our apartment’s air conditioner. For example, here is what it tweets whenever it turns on:
It’s made possible by two things:
- WeMo, a digital power switch, which lets us control the power to the air conditioner remotely. Belkin has shipped an iOS app which controls the WeMo and thus toggles the power to whatever is plugged in.
- If This Then That (IFTTT), a webservice which links together various APIs, including WeMo’s. Here’s where it gets fun, since IFTTT allows us to add other functions:
- Tweet from the handle in order to change state (turn on/off)
- Send out automated tweets when the AC is turned on/off
- Toggle the AC based on time of day
- Text to IFTTT to turn on/off the AC
1) Tweet from the handle in order to change state (turn on/off) A tweet from @icanhazAC with either #ACon or #ACoff will take the appropriate action. If the machine is already on/off, then no action will be taken.
2) Send out automated tweets when the AC is turned on/off Our friend @icanhazAC will also alert us when someone else takes an action on the AC. More specifically, it will tweet whenever the AC is switched on (with the text you see at the top of this post) or when it is switched off it will let us know it is taking a nap:
3) Toggle the AC based on time of day
IFTTT has its own syntax around Recipes, Triggers, Actions and Channels. In short, you create a Recipe which looks for a Trigger and then completes an Action based on the Channels (services) which you have paired to IFTTT. In order to accomplish the time of day task with IFTTT, for example, the WeMo and Date & Time Channels must be activated. Then, you can enable automation such as daily routines. (Note: you can actually set-up time-based actions with WeMo
4) Text to IFTTT to turn on/off the AC
Another IFTTT Channel is SMS. With the SMS Channel enabled, I can text to the AC with very low latency to turn it off
if I forget to do so on the way out the door or to turn it on
just as I am getting out of the subway a few blocks away so that when I enter the apartment it’s a bit cooler. #SummerConsiderations
To some, this entire project may seem a bit frivolous. And in some ways, it totally is. First and foremost, to me this is something really fun to geek out about. However, I think this is part of two larger trends:
- Objects tweeting their view of the world
- Personal analytics
First, look at the #London2012 Olympics cameras or @NBABackboardCam
that captured awesome moments in sports. These have far richer content than my air conditioner but show how #ObjectsThatTweet is a trend.
Second, look at examples
like Steven Wolfram (of Wolfram|Alpha) and his measurement of his personal analytics
. He started with email but it became so much more (phone calls/meetings/exercise).
At the high level, the next step for @icanhazAC
is for it to learn my daily routine (like this
) or parse my calendar (like Google Now
) to turn on/off without my needing to set-up these IFTTT Triggers. I think the idea of controlling and recording my AC is a first step towards this greater trend of monitoring items in one’s life and tailoring them to one’s needs.
Tags: #london2012, #objectsthattweet, Actions, air conditioning, automation, belkin, cameras, Channels, ifttt, olympics, personal analytics, Recipes, SMS, sports, steven wolfram, Triggers, Twitter, weather, wemo