While writing custom Alexa skills has been necessary for some of the hyper-specific home automation tasks I’ve wanted to do, there are often much more straightforward ways to integrate different smart home platforms. The best of these is IFTTT, which stands for if this, then that. It allows you utilize pre-built (or create new) applets, which activate a feature of one home automation platform in response to input from another. For example:
The first thing I used IFTTT for in my house was integrating Alexa and Arlo, since Arlo does’t have an official skill for Alexa. I wanted to utilize Arlo’s motion sensing capabilities to trigger lights, and also allow Alexa to arm and disarm the Arlo security system. I usually have the Arlo set on a timer, but if I am running late for work and the Arlo has kicked in before I left, it starts to blow up my phone with push notifications, and it’s useful to just be able to tell whichever Echo I’m nearest to, “Alexa, trigger disarm Arlo” to make the notifications stop. In order to set this up, I added my Amazon and Arlo accounts to IFTTT via their SSO integration, and then I created a custom applet. First, I picked Echo/Alexa as the base technology:
Then, I selected a trigger to activate the applet based on a specific phrase:
Now that my trigger was defined, I had to select Arlo as the technology that would be activated in response to the trigger:
Arlo only gives you a few options to activate via IFTTT, but one of those is disarm, which is what I was looking for:
I selected the ID for my Arlo base station, and I saved and activated the service:
Just like that, I was able to disarm Arlo with my voice, no programming required! After that, I created an applet to turn on Wemo switches by IFTTT (no Echo required), and integrated Alexa with several other web-based services.