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Cloud Services Offer Hubless Alternatives

NEW YORK — Smart-home products that don’t share home-automation standards can still be connected if tied together through a Cloud service such as that provided by

IFTTT “is a path to interoperability,” said Parks Associates analyst Tom Kerber. “Consumers who buy individual products can get them to work together without a hub, he explained.

WeMo’s upgraded app incorporates IFTTT functionality, which enables connections to Philips Hue lights and Nest products through the Cloud.

GreenIQ also plans to add IFTTT compatibility. IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, is an web service that lets consumers create automated “recipes” on the web to connect home automation products within a house and connect them to social networks, online calendars, and even the Microsoft Office calendar, said Kerber. Consumers create “recipes” for, among other things, having a smart LED light blink when a Facebook message is received or sending an SMS message when someone enters the house. Uses can also create scenes in which, for example, a fan turns on automatically if room temperature hits a certain point.

Through, consumers can write their own recipes or choose recipes written by other consumers, by vendors such as WeMo, or by itself.

IFTTT extends home-automation integration to web-based services such as Facebook, though a vendor has to open up its API to enable such integration, Kerber explained.

At WeMo, the brand didn’t initially use IFTTT “as a way to connect to other devices without a hub but to link WeMo to other services like social media, SMS, etc,” the spokesperson said. “We essentially used IFTTT as a sandbox to see what rules people were creating so we could then build them into our app directly. An example of this is the sunrise/sunset timer rules, which came directly from IFTTT users linking the WeMo Switch with the channel.”

However, “as more and more hardware devices partnered with IFTTT, the ability to communicate with them through the service has certainly been one of the benefits,” the spokesperson said.

For suppliers that don’t offer a complete suite of home automation equipment other than lights or smart plugs, IFTTT offers a way to increase their appeal, Kerber added.

In lieu of turning to, cable company Comcast opened up its Xfinity home security/automation system to other-brand products through its own Cloud-communications setup, said Kerber. The system will be able to connect to such branded products August Smart Locks; Cuff smart jewelry; Leeo’s Smart Alert Nightlight; and Lutron Caséta Wireless dimmers, remote controls and batterypowered shades. The branded products will be able to interoperate with a series of unbranded homeautomation products already offered by Comcast, thus expanding the company’s ecosystem of Xfinitycompatible products.