ADT: New partnership with IFTTT to make smart home smarter

ADT Pulse will be able to integrate with more connected devices through the service provider's more than 100 channel partners
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Homeowners already can make some rules for their home security/home automation systems, such as telling a thermostat that if the temperature goes up, it should adjust itself. But a new relationship that ADT has with service provider IFTTT could soon open the door to Pulse customers putting even more devices in their homes on autopilot, the company said this week.

“What IFTTT is doing is really unique and really powerful and we are fortunate to be partnered with them,” Arthur Orduña, chief innovation officer for ADT, which is based here, told Security Systems News.

IFTTT describes itself as a service that lets people “create powerful connections with one simple statement: If this, then that.” Its more than 100 channel partners include Facebook and LinkedIn, and the rules or “recipes” IFTTT users can create could, for example, say something like, “If I’m tagged in Facebook photo, send me a text message.”

But IFTTT also allows users to create recipes for interactions with the physical world. Its other channel partners include Belkin WeMo devices, such as light switches and motion sensors, Google’s Nest Labs’ smart smoke detectors and thermostats—and now ADT's Pulse.

Orduña told SSN that ADT is “the first in the security industry to look at connecting to this framework [IFTTT] this way.”

ADT announced Aug. 19 that it is “planning to test a beta version of an ADT Pulse channel on IFTTT, connecting a customer’s ADT Pulse-enabled home with more than 100 existing channel partners. Whether it’s adjusting the thermostat to react to local weather conditions, or arming the security system based on users’ GPS data, an ADT Pulse channel on IFTTT could enable users to put many aspects of their home on autopilot.”

Orduña stressed that the new relationship with IFTTT is still in the testing phase, but said the service could be launched to Pulse customers within six months to one year if all goes as planned.

Pulse and other home security systems already allow homeowners to make some rules. Orduña described rule making as “a tool for automation done by the consumer or customer that has typically been applied to a single platform or single system.”

However, he said, “IFTTT has taken that rule making and applied it to an entire world of different platforms.” Instead of making rules on one platform, he said, with IFTTT, a customer “can create rules that bridge multiple platforms.”

IFTTT calls the rules “recipes,” which Orduña called “a very smart play on their part.”

That’s because, he said, “by using the word ‘recipe’ instead of ‘work program’ or ‘application,’ it makes it much more accessible to a broader audience. By saying it’s a ‘recipe,’ they want anyone with any degree of technology acumen and skill to know they can create an IFTTT application and truly, anyone can.”

Some recipes that ADT believes its more than 850,000 Pulse customers could find useful include:

•    If a wearable changes from “sleep” to “awake,” then disarm the ADT Pulse security system.
•    If phone alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m., then turn on the ADT Pulse-connected coffee machine.  
•    If the doorbell rings, then send me an ADT Pulse real-time video clip of the front door.
•    If the sun sets, then turn on ADT Pulse-connected outdoor lights.

Orduña said being able to add such recipes would enhance the value of ADT Pulse to customers and make it easier for dealers to sell.

The company is developing a public ADT Pulse channel on IFTTT in three phases, he said.

The company now is in the first phase, testing the channel privately and developing relationships with other providers.

“We want to use this first as a means of prototyping and testing new partnerships with new devices and new services that could enrich the Pulse offering,” Orduña said. “Let’s see what kind of recipes we could create and let’s do it in an R& D kind of fashion.”

The second phase involves authorizing selected users among ADT’s 17,000 employees and also some loyal Pulse customers to start trying out some recipes. “We’ll start playing with the system and with recipes so through that [we can understand] more everyday interaction,” Orduña said. “And we also want to use these super-users, as we call them, to just start playing and coming up with their own recipes, but still in a very controlled environment.”

During that phase, he said, “we’ll also be working with IFTTT as well as with our own internal systems, just to make sure that all of this is secure. We have to. We’re talking about your Pulse home security and automation system. We have to be very careful about that. … We have a high degree of confidence, but we still have work ahead of us to do because we hold ourselves to the highest standards with regards to security.”

The third and final phase would be opening a public channel to Pulse customers. “Once that’s done,” Orduña said, “any Pulse customer would be able to download an IFTTT application onto their mobile phone. They would log in using their Pulse password, which they already have as Pulse users, and then that would register their particular Pulse system now as being on the IFTTT, ADT channel, which means that then they could start downloading and utilizing recipes that can interact with their own particular Pulse system.”

At that time, he said, not only would ADT “be very confident in the integrity of the channel and the network,” but also it would “already have a good library of recipes that we would have developed—or our partners would have developed—that Pulse customers could immediately start using.”

Linden Tibbets, IFTTT CEO, said in a prepared statement, “We’re delighted to welcome ADT to the IFTTT channel platform and are excited about the innovative use cases we’re building together. When launched, an ADT Pulse Channel on IFTTT would enable personalized and intuitive experiences for ADT customers.”

ADT has more than 7 million customers in the United States and Canada.