IFTTT and the Internet of Things: Creating an Intelligent Backbone of Connectivity

IFTTT, If This Then That, is a powerfully simple service that allows users to connect the apps and devices they use every day to enhance their usefulness. The Internet of Things is an explosive market. Cisco, in a 2011 White Paper, predicted this juggernaut. They forecasted that by 2020 there will be over 50 billion IoT devices which amounts to about 6.5 devices per man, woman, and child on this planet. There are a few fundamental challenges to having this many devices in service. Having these sensors, intelligent assistants, and other hardware operational is one thing. It's an entirely different and difficult proposition to provide a common thread of communication to allow these devices to talk to each other efficiently. IFTTT hopes to be the service that becomes that link that everyone uses and so far they are very successful.

The reason why IFTTT has gained massive popularity is its ease of use. Anyone, without any programming skills, can create an Applet (or recipe) that allows devices and apps to trigger actions. Instead of creating a common language for IoT devices, which is nearly impossible with all the competing interests in the market, they sidestepped that issue by having a database of all of them and they just provide the push services to connect them. For example, your IoT sensor that monitors fuel efficiency in your car doesn't speak the same language as your Google Sheets app, but IFTTT can provide the necessary connectivity to automatically create a sheet and append it with the latest gas mileage data provided by that sensor in your vehicle.

IFTTT started with 2 IoT channels in 2012, and that number has rapidly increased. By 2014 they had about 40 channels, and by the end of 2015 that grew to 104. The last data they provided indicated they have around 160 IoT channels. The category is so popular they now have a curated collection of Applets for IoT devices. It's apparent that IFTTT is quickly becoming the hub of choice for IoT device users.

At the end of 2016 IFTTT released the results of a comprehensive user survey. They wanted to find out how people are using the service. The top 5 devices for IFTTT users are fitness wearables (47%), voice-activated assistants (39%), connected lights (37%), smart thermostats (34%), and home security (24%). Together, users made around 1.3 million connections with IFTTT between these device categories. A connection is defined as setting up an Applet to connect one device to another. In some instances a single connection can affect a large number of devices if the recipe allows for it.

It is clear that IFTTT is providing, for free, a great service that is providing added value to IoT devices. The simplicity in making applets, combined with the powerful actionable results, is a winning combination that so far no other service can match.  Every IoT professional should become familiar with IFTTT.


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Tags: iot   ifttt   connectivity  

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