Trigger-Action Programming: Brown


For those of us who are not programmers, internet based applications such as If This, then That provide an intuitive means to control devices through a trigger-action approach.

Homes already have semi-intelligent devices inside; your smartphone for instance, has much greater computing power than the computers inside the lunar modules of the Apollo Program.

Anything from your TV remote, garage door opener, coffee maker, and laundry machine can be considered a semi-intelligent device capable of receiving inputs which lead to a specific action. Research at Brown and Carnegie Mellon University have found that users receptiveness to programming methods which rely on trigger-actions (If This —> Then That) is much greater than than methods based on the traditional code-based approach (duh, it’s harder).

Furthermore, this research has shown that trigger-action programming provides a powerful and intuitive means of talking to smart home gadgets. Posting a twitter message with a specific hashtag could turn on your coffee pot for instance. Or, you may be inclined to receive an email when you miss a call from a specific number on your home phone. Automating certain internet actions such as posting to Instagram and retweeting tweets are also possible using trigger-action programming.

Here are a few examples you may be interested in:

Print a Dropbox Photo

Automatically Upload iPhone Photos to Google Drive

Or, our favorite, Get Yourself Out of an Awkward Situation. (A discreet way to trigger a phone call to yourself so that you can politely excuse yourself from any awkward situation).

Visit and make some of your own trigger-action recipes. Post your favorites below and don’t forget to follow @Illifestyle for awesome content and @IvyScience for regular updates on Ivy League research.



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