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Getting Started with the LIFX Remote API and Losant

Taron Foxworth
Taron Foxworth 3 minute read

Here at Losant HQ, we are building out our smart office. One of the problems I am working on is conference room indicators. In the office, we would like an open, visual indication if a room is occupied or booked.

This article is first of three demonstrating how to build conference room indicators using Losant.

While doing some research on smart lights, I found the LIFX Tiles:
Lifx Tiles

The LIFX Tiles are beautiful, controllable lights that work perfectly for this use case. What’s even better is that LIFX has a remote API to control the lights.

In this blog post, we are going to walk through controlling a LIFX light using a Losant Workflow.

Why Losant?

With services like IFTTT that make it super easy to control the lights, I want to talk about why I’m controlling the lights with Losant. Overall, the plan is to interface with the smart office by viewing a dashboard, triggering a Slack bot, or a smart office web application.

Losant Smart Office Dashboard

Building apps like this on top of IFTTT would be unbelievably difficult, but this is what Losant was built to do. With Losant, I can connect different devices and services together and build applications on top of this information using Losant tools.

Calling LIFX Remote API

Let’s talk about how the LIFX Remote API works. To set the state of the light, we simply make a PUT request to this URL:

https://api.lifx.com/v1/lights/:selector/state

In the URL, we replace :selector with a LIFX selector, which is essentially an identifier for the light(s). The most broad selector is all. We can make a request like this to control all of the lights:

https://api.lifx.com/v1/lights/all/state

Then, in the body of the request, we specify what we want the lights to do. In this case, If I wanted to turn the lights on, set the color to purple with full brightness, and animate this action for a duration of five seconds, here is an example body:

{
"power": "on",
"color": "purple",
"brightness": 1,
"duration": 5
}

Lastly, authentication is done using a Bearer Token. You can generate an access token in your LIFX account settings. Be sure to protect this token.

Building A Workflow

To begin, you’ll need to sign into Losant. If you don't already have a Losant account, sign up for a free Developer Sandbox, which has very generous limits for most applications. Once there, go to an application or create a new one. Then, create a workflow.

Drag, drop, and connect three nodes:

Losant LIFX Workflow

You can think of workflows as visual programming. All workflows start with a trigger, and that trigger includes a payload. The purpose of the workflow is to make decisions based on this payload, modify the data if needed, and eventually result in some kind of output. So, we can trigger lights based on a virtual button, timer, HTTP, and a whole lot more.

Losant Lifx Workflow Settings

To keep things simple, we can use the Virtual Button Trigger NodeSince we need to send the message to LIFX via HTTP, we can use the HTTP Node to do exactly that. 

First, we configure the request:

Losant HTTP Request Settings

Here is what we need to configure:

  1. Set the “Request Method” to PUT.
  2. Add the URL https://api.lifx.com/v1/lights/:selector/state with the correct selector.
  3. Update the body with the appropriate action.

Next, we need to configure the authorization headers:

Losant HTTP Node Header Configuration

We need to add one header:

  • Name: Authorization
  • Valve: Bearer APITOKEN

Important: Be sure to update your token with the token you retrieved from your app settings.

The last node is a Debug Node, it allows us to take a look at the workflow payload. Now that we are done building our workflow, we click “Save & Deploy”.

Losant Workflow Save and Deply

Now, our Virtual Button is available to press and trigger our action to LIFX. Here is a working demo: 

 Now, I can build more complex workflows to control the lights. For example, when a motion sensor in the conference room is triggered, I can update the Smart Office Dashboard, update the status of the conference indicator light (LIFX Tile), and post a message in our Smart Office Slack channel all within a workflow.

What’s Next?

In this blog post, we took a look at controlling a LIFX light using a HTTP Node in a Losant Workflow. But this opened up a slight issue, if another team member wanted to control the LIFX lights, they would have to go and learn how the API works. Instead, here is what I really want:

Losant LIFX Custom Node Workflow

A LIFX Custom Node allows all the interactions to LIFX to be abscrated in a node. This allows other team members and I to easily build complex interactions and logic that communicate with my lights. In the next blog post, we are going to walk through building a LIFX Custom Node.

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Taron Foxworth

Taron has been the Technical Evangelist at Losant for over two years. He creates demos, leads meetup events, gives engaging talks, and more. He loves whiskey, learning, and handstands.