Who isn't familiar with this? You arrive at your office in the morning and your colleagues are already sitting with a cup of coffee in front of their screens. So you have to go again and get the coffee from the kitchen yourself. As a rule, you are then allowed to bring your dear colleague the second cup of coffee with you. If you have an e-mail account and you happen to be a driver of a BMW with ConnectedDrive, we will change that now, because BMW Labs provides an appropriate service for the automation service IFTTT, which you can use to have these and other tasks done without any problems.
With the help of so-called No-Code / Low-Code automation services, it is possible to create and manage workflows to automate certain processes without having to use a programming language. Since the "program" is omitted, the workflow, recipe or applet is used here to orchestrate the "flowchart". Mastering a programming language is not necessary. For example, it is possible to send messages to your mobile phone if the heating fails at home, to switch surveillance cameras on or off, when leaving the house or coming back or to switch on the light in the office when an e-mail with certain content arrives. Almost anything is possible. These services are often used in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector. Limits are only set if the automation service provider (Microsoft Flow, Tasker, IFTTT, etc.) does not provide the appropriate service (or connector). But even in this case, the Providers offer APIs and developer areas to build missing services as so-called user-defined services or gateways.
In the current case we use the IFTTT service - derived from IF This Then That. Further information (introduction and registration) can be found at:
IFTTT offers a wide range of services and ready-made applets for immediate automation of tasks. Popular applets and services can be found here, for example on Amazon Alexa, Philips Hue and Spotify, to name just a few. Here you can also find the already mentioned service of BMW Labs, which can fire the following triggers among others:
|Arriving soon||each time you are X minutes away from the target.|
|Enter an Area||
every time you drive into a defined area.
|Exit an Area||
every time you leave a defined area.
every time you exceed the speed of X km/h.
every time you leave "P" in automatic mode.
|Car is parked||every time you select "P" in the automatic mode.|
The "Enter an Area" trigger, which is to be fired when the vehicle enters a predefined radius on its way to the office, is therefore ideal for this task. This automated triggering of an action, after crossing a predefined boundary line, is also called geofencing, which is often used to de/activate alarm systems or surveillance cameras.
As another service we use Office 365 Mail to send a message to the colleague in my office who is supposed to put the coffee in my place, when the trigger selected above is executed 😉. Of course, you can also use other e-mail services, which are represented by corresponding services in IFTTT.
The prerequisite for successful implementation is, of course, prior registration with IFTTT and BMW ConnectedDrive. Here are a few pictures of how to set up the applet and how to activate the BMW Labs widget in your car.
Via IFTTT the applet is created and set up as follows (picture gallery):
The applet is thus created in IFTTT and ready for operation. In the next step, the opposite side, the vehicle, must be set up accordingly.
In the vehicle, the BMW Labs Widget must be set up in the Multi Media Interface (MMI) Splitscreen (picture gallery):
The BMW Labs Widget is now installed in the MMI. By default, the split screen always remains visible. If the split screen is deactivated, for example to see a larger section of the map during navigation, the BMW Labs Widget will not work.
Further information about the widget used by BMW Labs can be found at IFTTT or at the following URL:
After starting the vehicle, the BMW Labs Widget is initialised and loads all IFTTT recipes.
BMW Labs Widget is loaded and displayed on the split screen
In the event history you can see that the IFTTT recipes have been loaded. This means that the vehicle or MMI is now ready to trigger the corresponding events. Let's go and see what happens.
Event triggered / The e-mail is sent ;-)
Shortly before reaching the office, the desired event is triggered (Enter area - Trigger sent). The name of the "Location description" is also displayed. We called this "Work". According to the composition of our applet, an e-mail is now automatically sent to the colleague in my office.
Now all you have to do is put the coffee on the table.
The compilation and setup of the IFTTT applet is very easy and can be done with a few mouse clicks. Due to the large number of integrated services and the applets already available, there is an almost infinite number of use cases that are just waiting to be automated. Especially in the areas of Home Automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and Office Automation, there are very good possibilities to make everyday life easier with the help of workflows or applets.
The automation services mentioned above can also be used to automate much more complex workflows. As a rule, this does not stop at No-Code or Low-Code solutions. In order to automate more comprehensive production processes, for example, or to be able to better control employees in the field service and to meet the respective security requirements, the use of competent software developers is indispensable.
The purpose of this article is simply to show what possibilities the integration of services and devices that we use in everyday life can bring. One can well imagine to set up a derivative of this applet for coming home. It's up to you to decide, what you want on the table 😉