As you all very well know, Halloween is the 31-day celebration of spookiness and candy that lasts all of October. In celebration of Halloween, I’ve designed my dream house! My dream haunted house. With home and product automation, you can turn any house into a spooky den of ghosts, so I’ve put together a list of automated pranks that you, me, or more likely someone with unlimited money could hide amongst their own furniture while unsuspecting victims set off traps, one by one. (Disclaimer: Please do not use home automation to trap unsuspecting victims.)
The key pieces to a hauntomated home will be motion detectors, cameras, and switches, but things like sirens, speakers, lights, and even phones can be incorporated into the total experience. D-Link’s Connected Home Camera and Motion Detector would be my choices, because through IFTTT, they can set off any number of devices and lights. Each room in the haunted house would be set off with these sensors, so that things only happen when your victims walk past them. The motion detector can turn on lights, lower or raise Hunter Douglas Powerview shades, or my new favorite, the Microbot Push. The Microbot Push will push any button, basically turning your non-smart devices into smart devices, by pushing buttons you’d otherwise have to push with something as archaic as a finger. I’d say that you could use this, in combination with a motion sensor, to turn on a staticky tv, giving a good jump scare to your victims, but I’ve been informed that tvs no longer produce static when disconnected, so you can use it to turn on a blender instead.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you all know that the Sphero Force Band connects with IFTTT, and that you can now use the Force to do things like turn on lights, lower shades, turn on and change the volume of music, or make your phone play the Imperial March. It also, in case you didn’t know, controls a small robotic BB-8 that learns and plays games and follows you around filming holograms. It’s ok, you can keep reading when your heart settles down. So, in case you wanted to make your haunted house a haunted Death Star, complete with Hue LED light strips that light up red when you stalk by in your cape and helmet, you can! Even better, you can lurk menacingly around a corner, before slamming the door closed behind your prisoners, and using the Force Band to lock your Danalock door behind them, then Force Pull the shades in the room closed, and Force Push the WeMo Maker or WeMo Insight Switch to turn on a fog machine, or trash compactor.
A key component in a good haunted house is atmosphere control. Of course, ghosts make things cold, and demons make things hot, and you’ll find a lot of both extremes with regard to temperature. The Honeywell Single-Zone Thermostat is a good option for making an individual room super hot, so you can pack it with candles, and devils, and torture devices lit by individual Stack lights, which sense room occupancy to turn on and off. The Samsung Floor Air Conditioner, however, will be good for your creepy, ghost-filled dungeon, so that it can deliver quick blasts of cold air whenever someone walks by the camera, but also so that your guests can see their breath freeze in front of them as they approach the HP Printer alone on a dusty desk, which of course, will start printing endless pages of “All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy” the moment they walk in.
Now, I really haven’t made it through a single article without mentioning Lifx lights, and this is no exception. In fact, Lifx lights have a setting specifically for this specific purpose. When you set your lights to “Spooky,” they will flicker at random intervals, culminating in a timed complete blackout of all lights. It is by far their best feature. Coming soon, though, are Lifx’s new Lifx Z LED strips! This was the main thing separating Lifx from Hue as far as product diversity, and I truly can’t wait to see what the strips can do. If they have the “spooky” feature as well, I think we can predict a lot of “Stranger Things” style haunted homes decorated with these strips. That said, if you can’t wait, you can do the same thing with Philips Hue LED strips, and automate the blinks and blackouts yourself!
Jump scares and long hallways are very important when making a terror gauntlet out of your house where you live. While long hallways are something that you can’t really create – your house has to be born with them – jump scares are easy to manufacture with loud noises or sudden motion. The D-Link Siren was made with the purpose of being synced to water sensors and carbon monoxide detectors, to keep you safe. In my dream haunted house, I’d hijack it to create fear instead, by connecting it to my phone via IFTTT. That way, if at any point the people trapped inside try to call or text me, the siren will go off immediately. Of course, if you’re feeling cruel, on the way out, you can douse your victims with water from RainMachine, a connected-home sprinkler system.
Cold, frightened, with lights flashing in their eyes, petrified by doorways that might set off more sounds or sights, your friends run screaming from your home, certain that it’s haunted, or at least, that you set up a bunch of very strange traps for them. Your friendships are weakened, maybe even ruined, but you know you’re awesome, and that your super cool, death trap home was worth every dollar of the maybe $2000 it cost to set up. You settle back into bed at the end of the day, in your booby-trap free room, knowing that it’s likely nobody will ever come over again. You close your eyes, and drift off to sleep, only to be awoken by the sounds of your traps downstairs being set off one by one…