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The Internet of Things Behind Your Christmas Tree Lightings

First, you can more than cut your electric bill by three-quarters by making sure your lights only come on when there is somebody around to see them. There are lots of ways to do this, from light sensors to motion sensors, but by far the coolest is to use a Belkin WeMo Insight Switch - full disclosure: I led the development of the WeMo system, but do not work for Belkin now - combined with your smart phone and some magic from a web site called "If This, Then That," or "IFTTT"-an online repository for "recipes" that make your various gadgets work together. This recipe, by the delightfully Dickensian-looking Lane Weatherford of Beaumont, Texas, uses the GPS on your phone to tell your WeMo switch to your Christmas lights off when you leave the house.

Unlike light sensors, motion sensors and timers, Weatherford's method also ensures your house will not burn down while your are out tolerating and being tolerated by your mother in-law. And if you are still waiting for Santa to bring you your first smartphone, or that all sounds too complicated, this recipe will turn your lights on at sunset, while this one will turn them off again sunrise. Whichever recipe you use, the WeMo switch will also tell you exactly how much money you are wasting on your holiday lights - potentially useful information that may make you feel like one of the three wise men this time next year...

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