ebay’s IoT Collections: The Mashable Web of Things Home

Home automation, coffee machine

Welcome to our final blog from the eBay Internet of Things collections series!

In our penultimate post in this series, we were showing you how to implement a low-tech version of home automation using NFC and the EVRYTHNG engine.

This time we’ll look at the bleeding-edge version of our connected home! A home where appliances can be piped together easily to create a dynamically reconfigurable home. Just like you can use IFTTT or Yahoo Pipes to create smart workflows for your data (e.g. if I tweet this, post this to my LinkedIn profile and update this Google Spreadsheet) you should be able to configure the real world just as it suits you. This is what we call: Physical Mashups, i.e. the fast and easy composition of the services of physical devices to create unforeseen applications that meet our needs! Sorry for getting over-excited here but Physical Mashups were a big chunk of my PhD 🙂

The Web is mashable mainly because of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). This is a little revolution that started a few years ago whereby Websites slowly but steadily started to get APIs, making them Web apps rather than plain sites, the Programmable Web directory is here to witness it! So, the first step in building our futuristic house is to make sure all our devices are accessible via an API (a REST API Link), either directly or indirectly through a gateway or online service like the EVRYTHNG API.

While we won’t be able to review all appliances you have in your home here let us discuss three cases to see how they fit in the picture:

1) First, appliances that come directly with a Web API like the Hue Lamps we talked about in another recipe. These are very easy to integrate to Physical Mashups as they basically tick all the boxes: they are accessible on the IP network and offer a REST API!

2) Secondly, appliances that are hooked up to or proxied by a Web of Things Cloud service such as the EVRYTHNG API. As an example, consider the Smart Coffee Machine we created in a previous post in this series. These are also easy to integrate because the cloud service offers a Web API for the devices.

3) Thirdly, devices that are neither offering a Web API directly, nor through a Cloud service (how dare they in 2014? 😉 ). A good example would be all the not-so-smart devices that you have at home like your plain-old-lamps, fans, kettles, old-school-TVs, etc. Well, for those not all hope is lost: we can still make them smart at least at the basic level (on/off) without too much effort. For this we will hack an 433Mhz AM power-switch transmitter, no clue what this is? Well it is a set usually containing a remote control and a number of radio powered power-switches like the one in our collection.

Once you have assessed the type of objects you want to connect, we’ll need to actually start connecting those devices through Mashups! If you want to learn in detail how to implement a Mashable Web of Things Connected Home then head over to the Web of Things recipe blog post.

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