You’ve probably seen portable Bluetooth speakers on sale, but never thought you’d have much of a need for them. Well, after reading this article, you may discover that you want one of these little technological wonders after all.
The beauty of many Bluetooth speakers is that they are compact, and come free from the tangle of annoying wires. This makes them convenient to place anywhere in the house, and as you’ll see in this article, by pairing it up with an extra smartphone or tablet on hand, you can make a simple notification system for your smart home.
In my case, I’ve set up a G-POP wireless Bluetooth speaker on a counter in the middle of my house, next to an extra old smartphone that I’ve paired with it.
As you’ll see, the setup is very easy, and by making use of IFTTT, the usefulness of the speaker gets multiplied many times over.
Setting Up Your Bluetooth Speaker on IFTTT
Most of the inexpensive little Bluetooth speakers you may find at the store aren’t normally compatible with the IFTTT service.
However, if you grab one of your old smartphones that you aren’t using anymore, plug it in and link it up via Bluetooth to the speaker, you’ve just enabled that speaker to work with IFTTT. Just download the IF app to that phone, sign it into your IFTTT account, and you’re good to go.
Keep the phone and the Bluetooth speaker both plugged in and paired up, and they’ll serve you well for all of the uses described below.
Celebrate When You Reach Your Steps
If you own a Fitbit, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is how addictive it is to try and beat your daily step count.
The downside of the Fitbit is that you have to check it to see if you’ve hit your goal. Sure, you can tap the device to see the five LED lights (or the count if you bought a pricier model), or you could log into your Fitbit account online to check the total, but why not have a little more fun than that?
Using the fun IFTTT recipe below, you can trigger your Bluetooth speaker to play a celebratory song whenever you reach your daily step count! The first step of course is to connect your Fitbit account to IFTTT to activate the Fitbit channel. Next, choose the “Daily step goal achieved” trigger.
Finally, click on the Action (That) link, and choose the Android Device or iOS Device, and choose the “Play a specific song” action. Type in the title of the song you’d like to play whenever you hit your step count for the day. I chose a fun diddly that’ll hopefully make me smile every time I accomplish my fitness goal!
So long as the song is stored in your music folder on your phone, the action feature on IFTTT will be able to find it and play it with your default music player (make sure you’ve set a default).
It’s a lot of fun to hear music from the speaker when you least expect it, only to be reminded that you’ve just reached a fitness goal that you’ve set for yourself. In some small way, it’ll drive you to work that much harder during the day so everyone can hear your victory tune that evening, and you can take a victory lap around the kitchen!
Nest Protect Battery Low
This technique of using a song on your phone doesn’t have to be limited to just playing actual music. You can load any MP3 alert sound onto your phone and trigger it with IFTTT.
One area this really comes in handy is with simple notification alerts triggered by smart home devices. For example, I have a couple of Nest Protect smoke detectors. Since the battery may go low on these units after time, and since it’s possible you may not hear the warning from the Nest when the battery goes low, you can enhance this by having the low battery notification trigger an alarm sound on your Bluetooth speaker.
Setting this up is really easy. First, you’ll choose the “Battery is low” trigger from the Nest Protect channel on IFTTT.
Next, you’ll once again add the Android “Play a specific song” action from the Android Device (or iPhone Device) channel.
In my case I configured it to play a very loud “Burglar Alarm” sound effect so that I won’t try and ignore it. Low batteries in smoke detectors are no laughing matter.
Signal Alert When Home Temp Over Limit
Another device that’s convenient to “plug” your Bluetooth wire in to is your Nest thermostat. We’ve explained here at MakeUseOf how to install a Nest and cool ways you can automate your home with it, but there are times when all you really need to know is whether your home is at a certain temperature. You may not want to get up to check the Nest, and maybe you don’t have your phone with you.
One scenario where this could be useful is if you live in a home with a lot of people, and certain individuals (kids) tend to turn up the thermostat without permission. Well, you can set up an IFTTT temperature threshold to get an alert whenever the home’s temperature goes above a certain point.
This trigger is easy to find in the Nest channel on IFTTT. It’s called “Temperature rises above”, and all you do is type in the temperature limit at which you’d like to be notified.
Using the same method as the examples above, you can then set the Android Device to play any MP3 sound, letting you know that your home’s temperature has gone too high and that you’ll need to adjust the thermostat lower if you hope to save energy (and money).
Play a Song When It’s Bedtime
If you’re a night owl like me, you may find that you end up staying awake at night far later than you intended, mostly because you completely forgot what time it was. That is, until you look at the clock and discover that it’s past one in the morning, and you’re going to suffer another day of grogginess tomorrow.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
If you haven’t yet signed up for an IFTTT account, I highly recommend it. We’ve covered IFTTT (If This Then That) often here at MakeUseOf – we’ve even offered a full IFTTT guide to help you make the most use of the service.
Once you have an account, create a new recipe, and choose the Date & Time trigger, and set it to trigger each day at the time that you’d like to make sure you go to bed.
Choose the Android Device or iOS Device as the action, and “Play a specific song”. Type in the title of the song you’d like to play as your “go to bed” reminder alarm each night.
Now, when you find yourself deeply engrossed in a video game, reading a book, or some other activity that usually makes you lose track of time, the speaker will play music that’ll bring you back to reality, and ensure that you go to bed on time every night.
Get Alert When International Space Station Passes Over
This may be kind of a novelty automation, but your kids will absolutely love it. Wouldn’t it be fun if every single time the International Space Station passes over your home, your Bluetooth speaker plays the theme song from 2001 A Space Odyssey?
Okay maybe not cool, but wonderfully geeky. Right?
Yes, there is a trigger for this inside IFTTT. It’s in the Space Channel and it’s called “ISS passes over a specific location”. Just look up your address using the map’s search field, and you’re done.
Finally, all you have to do is put an MP3 of the theme song for 2001 A Space Odyssey, and set up the Android Device trigger to launch that song on your phone.
When visitors come to your house and hear the music, you can explain to them what it means — and they’ll look at you like you’re the biggest geek they’ve ever known (because let’s face it, you probably are.)
Trigger “Great Job!” When Completing Tasks
If you’re one of those people who takes great pride in accomplishing tasks, but don’t have anyone around to give you a pat on the back each time you finish a project, why not create an audio back-clap using your Bluetooth speaker?
This one is fast and easy. Just create an MP3 recording of yourself saying “Great Job!”, or something else that’ll make you feel awesome. Save that on your phone that you’ve got connected to your Bluetooth speaker, and then find your favorite to-do list in IFTTT.
In my case it’s ToDoist. In the ToDoist channel, there’s a “New completed task” trigger that fire off every time you mark a task as completed.
Next, just trigger your connected phone to “Play a specific song”, just like in all of the examples above.
Now, all you have to do is complete any task in your to-do application and your Bluetooth speaker will give you kudos and make you feel awesome!
Play Alert For Tomorrow’s Weather
There is nothing worse than heading out to work in the morning in a t-shirt and jeans, and then arriving home in the afternoon having to race into the house, getting drenched by an afternoon thunderstorm.
With a simple IFTTT automation, you can make sure that never happens to you, by getting an audio warning in the morning. Just choose the Weather channel on IFTTT, and select the “Tomorrow’s forecast calls for” trigger. Set the Condition to “Rain”.
Set the Action to play a song on your phone. Choose something that will remind you that it’s going to rain that day. I used the song “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” by B. J. Thomas. It alerts me that rain is coming later in the day, and it makes me smile in the morning. It’s a win-win!
If you think about all of the things that an audio sound or a song can alert you or remind you of, it’s easy to see how all of the ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, you could get a lot of these alerts on your phone, but it’s not always convenient or fun to keep your cellphone attached to your body the whole time you’re at home. Instead, attach the phone to your favorite Bluetooth speaker, and let sound keep you connected to the world.
Do you have a Bluetooth speaker? Did you ever imagine there could be so many fun uses for it? What are some other ideas of things you can do with sound and IFTTT through your Bluetooth speaker? Share your ideas in the comments section below!