Being active on the social media platforms and having a strong social media presence sounded too mainstream for a 40-year-old techie from San Francisco, US as he made an active account of his house on the social network platform Twitter.
One look at Tom Coates’s house in Downtown San Francisco and you could never realise the amount of brains that has gone behind “giving life to the house”. But, a close look will pull attention towards few of the unusual things that one would notice.
For example, the ficus tree in the corner of the living room carried a sensor that popped out of the dirt which was connected to a little box. Fascinatingly, the sensor monitored the moisture content in the plant while the little box transmitted the readings to the Internet. This was one of the many such devices that help to keep Coates’s house active on Twitter.
House with Twitter feed
Coates said that he had programmed these sensors to keep the Twitter account active. The house often tweets things like ‘It's getting warm in here today. I'd say it's probably reached something like 73. That's a little warmer than I usually like it.” Or it might tweet questions like “Hey @tomcoates, I just noticed some movement in the sitting room. Is that you?”
Coates said that bringing his house on Twitter didn’t affect his budget much. The Belkin WeMo switches helped him to have a command over the lights in his living room, bedroom and office through his iPhone, while a WeMo motion sensor recorded the people'e presence in the room. He then used a Twine device to track the change in temperature and also the moisture content in the earlier mentioned ficus tree.
“For a long time, the Web was like a brain in a tank, in that it couldn’t interface with the real world. But the arrival of Internet-enabled products like the ‘Lockitron door lock’ and ‘Nest thermostat’, with devices like Twine and WeMo, which can add Internet connectivity to otherwise dumb devices, things are changing.” added Coates.
Interestingly, all the above recorded readings or movements in Coates’ house were brought on to Internet using a free web tool called If This Then That (IFTTT), which allowed the user to set online actions in response to specific triggers – if someone added me on twitter, I could post a message on my Facebook account.