If you’re anything like us, we’re pretty sure you have a bucketload of different memberships to various websites and smartphone apps designed to help connect your digital life together. From an app to tell you how much energy is in your electric car’s battery pack to ones designed to make your lights come on in the evening when the sun goes down, there’s a seemingly neverending host of apps out there designed to bring the Internet of Things to your fingertips.
But while the Internet of Things is great fun, the majority of apps and platforms operate on a stand-alone basis, resulting in a less-than-perfect connection between all of the different Internet devices in your home. Which is where service like If This Then That (IFTTT) come into play, offering to link up multiple different services together in a simple, easy-to-understand platform that allows you to get all of your Internet-connected devices talking to one another.
And now, thanks to a new partnership between IFTTT and BMW, any BMW car with BMW’s ConnectedDrive telematics system — including the BMW i3 electric car and BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car — can be configured to work with the IFTTT service.
Following on from the announcement earlier this month of a partnership between BMW and Samsung SmartThings — a partnership which makes it possible for BMW electric car drivers to check on their smart home from within their car and eventually check on their car from their smart home — comes the news that BMW is integrating IFTTT into its BMW Labs portal.
Going live today, the BMW Labs portal is designed to give BMW ConnectedDrive customers the chance to test new features BMW is in the process of integrating into the ConnectedDrive system. Essentially a ‘customer beta’ program, BMW i3 and BMW i8 owners can opt into the trial, testing the software ahead of an official public release.
While the SmartThings platform integration we told you about last week relies on connectivity between Samsung SmartThings-compatible sensors and BMW’s ConnectedDrive service, IFTTT relies on bridging the gap between more than 260 different independent services. These range from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook through to smart-home appliances and sensors like automated garage door openers, lighting systems like Phillips Hue, and home security systems like SkyBell or Scout Alarm.
Each service — or ‘channel’ can be configured to pass specific data to IFTTT, which in turn can then trigger certain actions, sending control signals to other services compatible with IFTTT.
For example, you can configure IFTTT to let you know if the weather will fall below freezing, and if so, send you a notification, turn on a heater, or just send you an email to let you know to put an extra layer of clothes on before your head outside. With integration with BMW’s brand new BMW Lab, the same logic can now be used to tell your BMW i3 to turn its heater when the temperature drops below a certain level, or perhaps just move its climate control forward a half hour if traffic is expected to be bad on your way to work.
In its own special IFTTT channel, BMW makes its own suggestions, ranging from opening your garage door automatically as you arrive home, turning on or off lights depending on where your car is, and sending your children a text-message just before you’re about to pick them up from school or the local coffee shop.
Other possibilities would be to send you a message if your vehicle range isn’t enough to get you to your next appointment, or perhaps just use it to keep a log of when you actually drive the car.
So far, BMW has come up with a pretty big list of pre-made recipes customers can use today, but because of how IFTTT works, there are plenty you can create for yourself. Indeed, when this writer was based in the UK, I used IFTTT to notify me via text-message when my Nissan LEAF electric car had finished charging, since European Carwings never had the ability to use text-based notifications for charge completion, only email-based ones.
Are you a BMW i3 or BMW i8 owner? Do you use IFTTT? Will you combine your electric car with smart home automation to make your life easier? Or do you think integrating different services together through something like IFTTT is a recipe for disaster?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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