Controlling your smart home is often more difficult than it needs to be.
The benefits of changing your lights to any color on the fly or intelligently automating something like air conditioning to save money usually far outweigh the inconveniences of needing your phone, tablet or computer to control the arsenal of smart devices in your home.
Still, it would be nice if there were an easy way to quickly toggle common settings. A new device that offers just that is the Pebblebee Stone.
What is Pebblebee Stone?
During the successful Indiegogo campaign, Pebblebee described the Stone as a shortcut for your life.
First and foremost, it's a smart button that fits on your keychain or in your pocket. It's battery powered and uses Bluetooth LE to communicate with your smartphone (either Android or iOS). Beyond the button, it also functions as a two-way item tracker, so you don't lose your keys or your smartphone.
But the truly compelling feature of the Stone is its integration with IFTTT, which effectively turns the tiny stone-sized button into a very simple remote control for certain smart devices.
Pairing the device with your phone, is extremely simple. Download the application onto your smartphone, ensure Bluetooth is enabled, open the app and press the button on the Stone. The app will discover nearby Stones and the rest is as simple as tapping a few onscreen prompts and pressing the button on the Stone once more.
Setting up simple, native functions for the Stone is straightforward, as well. You can set the Stone to alert you when it reaches a certain temperature, when your phone moves out of range or when the Stone itself is moved.
However, the most compelling feature of the Stone is the button's integration with IFTTT. First, activate the channel on IFTTT. Go to ifttt.com, click the Channels link in the upper right corner, search for Pebblebee, login to your Pebblebee account and authorize the connection. To activate IFTTT control within the app, select IFTTT as the action for both Press and Hold functions.
Controlling your smart home
It's probably already obvious how this works. You press or hold the button on the Pebblebee Stone to trigger just about any action with IFTTT.
For example, I have a single press of one of my Stones toggle all the LIFX bulbs in my house on and off. Pressing and holding one of them will activate a specific scene (the one I use for my video set).
It's pretty great, even if there is about a 2- or 3-second delay with each button press. But for simple actions like toggling lights, it's probably easier (and faster) to create a home screen widget on your Android phone or use the Today Widget in iOS.
What makes the Stone more compelling, however, is the ability to trigger multiple actions at once, across multiple smart devices that may not otherwise communicate, all with the press of a single button.
Say you're about to watch a movie with your family. Pressing and holding the button on the Stone can dim the lights in your living room or activate your Movie scene, turn off all other lights, turn up Nest one or two degrees (to make it cozy, of course) and silence your Android phone. All you have to do to set this up is create multiple IFTTT recipes set to the same action on the same Pebblebee.