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IFTTT Recipes: Using Siri to turn on the Christmas lights

IFTTT Recipes is a new recurring column featuring recipes developed using IFTTT.com and their favorite IFTTT channels. Come see what TUAW bloggers cook up in the IFTTT labs!

In this latest installment of IFTTT Recipes, I'll show you how to use Siri to turn on your Christmas lights -- and amaze the little ones at the same time.

To perform this magic trick, you'll need a free IFTTT account, a Belkin WeMo Switch (US$49.95 from the Apple Store), the ability to send SMS text messages and a Siri-capable iPhone.

First, log into IFTTT and enable the SMS channel. When you do this, IFTTT will set you up with a special SMS phone number. If you send a text message to that number from your iPhone, that can trigger an action.

Next, set up a contact on your iPhone. To add fun to the effect, I set up a contact for Santa Claus, entering in his mobile number as the SMS phone number from IFTTT.

IFTTT Recipes Using Siri to turn on the Christmas lights

Now make sure that your WeMo switch is plugged in and ready to go, and that you've enabled the WeMo channel on IFTTT. The WeMo switch is designed to handle a maximum of 15 Amps at 110 Volts. My vague recollection of a university electrical circuits class reminds me that P=I*V, where P=power, I=current and V=Voltage, so you'll want to make sure that all of your bulbs (indoor or out) don't require more than 1.65 kilowatts of power. Otherwise, you may need to set up multiple WeMo switches...

In IFTTT, it's time to set up a recipe. I've blurred out the phone numbers, but you'll see it's as easy as this: if IFTTT's SMS account receives an SMS from your chosen iPhone, then it will turn on the WeMo Switch. In this case, my device's name is Living Room Lamp, but it's actually hooked up to the Christmas tree.

IFTTT Recipes Using Siri to turn on the Christmas lights

Finally, gather kith and kin around you while drinking wassail and singing carols, and invoke Siri. Say "Send a message to Santa Claus saying turn on the Christmas lights", acknowledge that Siri understood the message, and let the recipe work its magic. Within about 10 to 15 seconds, the tree or your outside lights will pop on.