Atul asked: “Home Automation – I’m interested in buying one of the smart hubs, but there is a lot of confusion as to which one to buy? Could you provide me some guidance? Some talk about IFTTT capability. If you can explain what that is, it would be great.”
There are a couple smart hubs we might recommend to you, and the good news is that one of them only costs around $100.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub costs between $90 and $100, and works pretty well for something at that price. One of the best things about it being a Samsung product is the stable of associated products to use with it. Everything from motion sensors to water leak sensors to a multipurpose sensor that can monitor a wide variety of things are all available under the Samsung SmartThings brand and are guaranteed to work with the SmartThings Hub. And it is indeed IFTTT compatible.
The other recommendation we’d make is the extremely popular and well received Amazon Echo. Complete with Alexis, its voice controlled virtual assistant, the Echo is not just a smart hub, it is a smart hub that can TALK to you and take instruction by voice as well. The Echo runs around $180 on Amazon. It costs more than the Samsung SmartThings Hub, but arguably it does a LOT more. And it is also IFTTT compatible.
So, IFTTT. Those letters stand for If This, Then That. IFTTT is a free web service that connects with thousands of other services and devices, and uses something called recipes to create actions. For example, you could create an IFTTT recipe that sends the same photo to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so you don’t have to do it three times. Another recipe might call you when the weather is predicted to be bad and remind you to carry that umbrella. You might use a recipe to alert you to any time someone tags you on Facebook. According to the company behind IFTTT, its users are cooking up millions of new recipes every single day.
Think of it as a brain in the cloud that can talk to your social media, home automation, smartphones, cars…hey, wait a minute. Basically, IFTTT is Skynet! Well, it works, and it’s cool, so all hail our new robot overlords. IFTTT compatibility is indeed highly desirable in a smart hub.