So you want to turn your lights on and off with an SMS? It’s never been easier with these simple steps and a ClickSend account.

Home automation is about convenience; the easier it is to execute a task, the better. This has been something of a conundrum for smart lighting because unlocking your smartphone, finding the app, launching it and hitting the “on/off” button is far more cumbersome than simply flicking a light switch (although you do have to get off the couch to do that).

While there are automated solutions available that will turn your Wi-Fi-enabled lights on and off at pre-set times or based on other actions occurring, sometimes you just want to say, “Lights, turn off ” and have it happen.

When I installed a set of Philips Hue lights in my living room, I quickly realized how helpful it would be to simply tell my phone to turn my lights on or off. For those not familiar, Philips Hue is a personal wireless lighting system that can replicate any color in the spectrum and be controlled remotely via a smartphone app. Along with the manufacturer’s app, there are hundreds of third-party apps that will do everything from turning your living room lighting into that of a movie theatre to offering up the perfect color spectrum for your current mood. But none of them works with voice activation.

So, I turned to Siri, Apple’s digital personal assistant.

First, I just thought I’d ask her to turn the lights on and see what happened. Her response was “Hmm, I don’t see anything connected but I can help once you’ve set something up.” Intriguing. It turns out this was not a reference to my lack of technical ability, but a subtle reference to Apple’s soon-to-be-released HomeKit.

HomeKit is Apple’s smart home protocol. Intended to help your smart home accessories connect with each other, HomeKit promises secure pairing, the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house, and integration with Siri. For example, you will be able to tell Siri you are “going to bed” and it could dim the lights, lock your doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat.

Philips has already said it will work with HomeKit, so whenever it arrives (Apple says early 2015, so any day!), we should all be able to control our Hue bulbs via Siri.

But, like most techies, I’m impatient. I want to be able to turn my lights off with voice activation right now. So, I did some research and discovered a simple workaround, using IFTTT, text messaging and a little bit of set-up.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to getting your Hue lights to turn on via Siri:

  1. Sign up for an account with IFTTT. If This Then That is a service that lets you connect your various devices and software together via the Internet in order to perform pre-set actions.
  2. Connect your Hue lights to IFTTT by creating a Hue Channel
  3. Create a new recipe
  4. For the ‘This’ trigger channel, choose ‘Maker’ -> Receive a web request
  5. Choose an event name, say ‘toggle_lights’
  6. For the ‘That’ trigger channel, find the Philips Hue channel and choose the lights you want to be turned on.
  7. Save the new recipe and find your Maker trigger URL here. It should be something like:
  8. Now it’s time to connect IFTTT with ClickSend. Open up your ClickSend Settings page and select Incoming SMS settings. Select ‘Forward to URL’ and enter the trigger URL.
  9. All done! now it’s ready to test. Simply send an SMS to your ClickSend dedicated number and you’re lights will be toggled! If you don’t have a ClickSend number yet, you can set one up on your account dashboard.
  10. OPTIONAL – ask Siri to turn on/off your lights. To do this, add your ClickSend number to your contacts list. I suggest naming it “Lights” for ease of use, but you can call it whatever you like.
  11. Now all you need to do is ask Siri to “text Lights #ON.” Siri will then send a text message to IFTTT with the trigger to activate the Hue channel and turn your lights on.

Once you have this setup and working, go back into your IFTTT account and create different versions of the recipe for the different actions you’d like to complete. Currently, the Hue IFTTT channel allows you to dim lights, change color, and turn on a color loop as well as a few other basic actions.

We’d love to hear what you’ve created with your ClickSend account. Get in contact with us for some free SMS credits.