If you caught the recent article I wrote about my Twitter Burglar Alarm you might be wondering what the point is in using a message broadcast service like Twitter for communicating with your home. Broadcast messages are pointless for most home automation purposes – and in some cases you may actually prefer the messages to be protected from viewing by the public.
What was not obvious to some of those who read about the burglar alarm project, is that these home automation “twitterbots” generally do not broadcast to the world but rather use a separate account assigned entirely to the home automation device. This account uses protected updates so that you can control who is able to read the status. The result is a targeted delivery of status updates to only those who are interested in whatever information your home appliance is delivering. This might be simply the homeowner, or it could include friends and family if the information would also be useful to them.
There are many methods for sending these home automation messages. You could, for example, use SMS, IM, email or RSS feeds; Twitter is not necessarily any better than any of these, it purely depends on which one of these you are most likely to be watching. For something like a burglar alarm intruder alert, an SMS is clearly the more useful for sending an urgent update wherever you may be. But for more frequent and less urgent messages then a constant stream of SMS or email updates would quickly become tiresome, while they would not be quite so intrusive when floating past in a Twitter feed. The same could be said for an RSS feed or an IM message; it really depends on your poison. If you already watch Twitter, why not also add your home automation to that stream?