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Smart Home

ADT teams up with IFTTT to automate home security

With a channel planned for the popular online automation service, ADT Pulse users will be able to sync their systems with a wide number of Web services and smart home gadgets.

Josh Miller/CNET

In a move to help users "put their homes on auto-pilot," home security giant ADT announced today that it'll soon be unveiling an ADT Pulse channel on IFTTT, the popular online automation service.

Short for "if this, then that," IFTTT is a free tool that lets its users craft cause and effect-based automation recipes from a wide array of integrated Web services, social networks, and smart home gadgets.

Plugging ADT Pulse into that network means that the security offering's more than 850,000 subscribers will soon be able to program their smart security setups in countless new ways, from using a wearable sleep tracker to disarm their systems when they wake up, to controlling the thermostat based on readings from IFTTT-friendly environmental sensors.

The move reflects IFTTT's growing influence, as tech companies both large and small are increasingly using the free service as an easy means of offering fairly comprehensive third-party automation capabilities. ADT will easily be one of the biggest and most mainstream channels IFTTT offers, which should only help continue to grow the service's appeal.

By integrating with IFTTT, ADT suddenly becomes compatible with dozens of new Web tools and third-party connected gadgets. It's potentially, a very savvy defensive play, as small-scale, forward-thinking security startups with an eye on automation seem to be gaining traction -- though no notable competitors offer IFTTT support yet. Additionally, as IFTTT continues to grow, ADT can continue adding feathers to its cap and extending its list of products and services it can claim compatibility with.

Exposing an existing home security system to so many new devices at once could potentially expose it to new vulnerabilities, however. If a third-party device that's capable of turning the alarm off through IFTTT is easily hacked, for instance, that's a real problem.

ADT's team acknowledged these sorts of concerns when I spoke with them, and is promising to take things slow. The new IFTTT channel will go through several months of beta testing before ADT opens it to the public next year. By then, the company hopes to have closer relationships with the services and devices that seem to be an especially good fit for ADT Pulse, and to be in more of a position to promise its user base a high standard of security through recommended recipes.