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The Easiest Way to Automate Your Home With the Web

The Philips Hue iPhone app
The Philips Hue iPhone appImage courtesy of Philips Cimmunications

The early adopters in your life have been using a service called IFTTT to automate various aspects of their Web experiences over the last several years. The service stands for “if this, then that,” a phrase used by programmers to indicate that a specific action should happen after a certain trigger. For instance, if you post something to Instagram, the service will automatically e-mail a copy of the image to your mother, who will never figure out how to see those photos otherwise. Or if you change your Facebook profile photo, it will change your Twitter photo as well. (This is the service’s single most popular function.)

This week, the service jumped into the physical world, thanks to Web-connected bracelets, light bulbs and other devices. Now with a few minutes online and a Philips Hue light bulb, you can program an alert to have the lights turn on in your house at sunset each evening, or set them to flash every time you get an e-mail. (No one said these ideas would all be good ones.)