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IF This Then That

A little more than five years ago, a couple of tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco got the idea to develop something new. The idea was to create a free web-based service which allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called applets, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, or Weather Underground. They called the idea IFTTT, an abbreviation of “If This Then That”. It sounds complicated, but you will find it simple after I provide some examples.

A simple example is about weather. If wunderground.com shows a forecast of rain where you live, then you would receive an email. A variation would be if the forecast is rain, then the forecast would be placed on your Google calendar. Following are a few more examples. If the President signs a bill into law, you would receive an email about it. If the New York Times has an article about the Affordable Care Act, then the article would be sent to your inbox. If you are within 10 miles of your home, the thermostat would be changed to your desired setting. If you receive an email with an attachment, then it would be saved to your Dropbox.

There are millions of possibilities and the idea is growing rapidly. You can browse through available applets at IFTTT.com. Applets can be a convenient way to gain daily productivity, but The city of Louisville, Kentucky had a bigger idea. They have created a family of applets, called Smart Louisville, to benefit asthma sufferers. One of the Smart Louisville applets will retrieve the Air Quality from Louisville Metro Government’s Air Pollution Control District. The applet works with a Philips Hue smart lightbulb which can change color. If the air quality is good, the bulb turns green. If it is moderate, the bulb turns yellow. An unhealthy air quality turns the bulb red, and a hazardous condition turns the bulb dark purple.