Simon Esslinger

6 min reading time

Connecting the digital worlds - part 3

In the previous article we implemented the flow of events from IFTTT to tapio-ready machines. Now we want to implement forwarding events from tapio-ready machines to IFTTT.

First of all, we need a way to trigger an event on our demo machine. We decided to go with a AM312 PIR motion sensor which can be directly connected to the demo machine through its GPIO interface. When properly connected to a ground pin, a voltage pin and a generic GPIO data pin it'll output a current on the GPIO pin when there is motion in front of it.

Now that our sensor is ready we have to monitor it for status changes in order to react to motion events. Microsofts GPIO library System.Device.Gpio provides a method RegisterCallbackForPinValueChangedEvent through which one can subscribe to rising or falling currents. Using this method we wrote a little wrapper to simplify things a bit:

public class MotionSensorMonitor : IMotionSensorMonitor
    private int _Pin;

    public event EventHandler OnMotion;

    public MotionSensorMonitor(int pinBoardNumber)
        _Pin = pinBoardNumber;
        var controller = new GpioController(PinNumberingScheme.Board);
        controller.SetPinMode(_Pin, PinMode.Input);
        controller.RegisterCallbackForPinValueChangedEvent(_Pin, PinEventTypes.Rising, (sender, args) =>
            OnMotion?.Invoke(this, new EventArgs());

Now that we're able to react to status changes we want them reflected in the OPC UA server of our demo machine so that these changes can get forwarded to tapio through the CloudConnector also running on our demo machine. So we have to a add a node to our OPC UA servers address space:

protected override void CreateAddressSpace()

    _MotionSensorState = new DataVariableState<string>(false, "MotionSensorState", RootFolder, SystemContextObject);


Then we have to add a method to our node manager which updates our MotionSensorState node when called:

public void OnMotionDetected()
    if(_MotionSensorState == null)
        throw new InvalidOperationException("Please create the base event state first");
    _MotionSensorState.StatusChanged("motiondetected", StatusCodes.Good);

Finally we have to hook up the motion sensor monitor with our event handler method:

static void Main(string[] args)
    var led = new Led(16, 20, 21);
    var ledController = new LedController(led);
    var motionSensorMonitor = new MotionSensorMonitor(10);
    var nodeManager = new NodeManager(ledController, motionSensorMonitor);
    var server = new Server(nodeManager);
    motionSensorMonitor.OnMotion += nodeManager.OnMotionDetected;

Now we're able to reflect motions in front of our PIR motion sensor to OPC UA node status changes. CloudConnector can forward these status changes to tapio if we configure the data module of the CloudConnector correctly. Keep the configured SrcKey in mind.

<SourceItem xsi:type="SourceDataItem">

As tapio supports streaming this data into an Azure Event Hub we deployed us one through the Azure Portal and configured an app in my tapio to forward the data to our event hub.

Data ingested into an Azure Event Hub can easily be processed, stored or served for third party apps. As we only want to process and forward events as they come in we opted for a serverless approach again with another Azure Function hooked up to our event hub (see blog post for connecting the digital worlds - part 2).

Below we can see how an event message ingested into our event hub looks like:

  "tmid": "741ab3a2-040a-44bf-b8ce-4333d567a99a", // machine id
  "msgid": "bf8610fa-a5e9-4ede-ad37-51082e7eb372", // message id
  "msgt": "itd", // message type
  "msgts": "2017-06-29T10:39:03.7651013+01:00", // ISO8601 timestamp 
  "msg":  {
    "p": "pi", // provider name
    "k": "MotionSensorState", // key, usually the node id
    "vt": "s", // data value type (string)
    "v": "motiondetected", // payload
    "q": "g", // quality of the value (OPC UA thing)
    "sts": "2017-06-29T10:38:43.7606016+01:00", // ISO8601 timestamp by OPC UA server
    "rts": "2017-06-29T10:38:53.7606016+01:00" // ISO8601 timestamp by CloudConnector

Streaming data messages from tapio received by our event hub can have different structures. We're only interested into item data messages because we just want to monitor status changes of our PIR motion sensor monitor node. We can recognize an item data message if we take a look at the msgt (message type) key. Every item data message has the type itd.

The property msg stores the actual item data message as JSON object. Here we're looking for messages with their k (key) being the previously configured SrcKey. The value we're forwarding hides behind the v key. Once again to keep things simple this is only a string (motiondetected) but it could be any complex event object when serialized as JSON object for example.

Below we can see a simplified version of our event hub processor Azure Function:

public static async void Run([IoTHubTrigger("ifttt", Connection = "EventHubConnection")]EventData message, Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.ExecutionContext context,
CancellationToken cancellationToken)
    var streamingDataMessage = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<StreamingDataMessage>(Encoding.UTF8.GetString(message.Body.Array));
    if(streamingDataMessage.MessageType != "itd")

    var itemDataMessage = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<ItemDataMessage>(streamingDataMessage.Message);
    if (itemDataMessage.SrcKey != "MotionSensorState")

    await SendEventToIFTTT(itemDataMessage.Value);

In similar fashion to our [other Azure Function][article_2] we're simply consuming messages from our event hub and then forward them to IFTTT. The SendEventToIFTTT method wraps a simple HTTP request towards the IFTTT Webhook service:

POST<name of the event>/with/key/<your accounts webhook service key>

The Webhook service key can be obtained here (if you're logged in). The Webhook service is also able to interpret an application/json body if it has the structure below:

    "value1": "some string",
    "value2": "#MWIGA",
    "value3": "hello world"

Taking advantage of the body structure one could transmit any kind of event data to IFTTT. Finally we have to configure an applet in IFTTT to test our implementation. We combined Google Sheets with the Webhook service for example:

HTW receiving-applet-config


That's it! Two Azure Functions, an Event Hub, a Raspberry Pi and three workdays later we were able to present a functioning prototype. For our demo on day four we logged motion sensor data through our tapio-IFTTT-Connector into a Google Drive sheet, turned on a RGB LED with the press of a widget button on a smartphone and configured a new IFTTT-Applet live. We didn't develop a shippable product but built a working proof of concept in the tapio ecosystem which can be transformed into a proper solution. Authentication, authorization and a web interface for configuring events are mandatory for a feature complete solution and our code base also lacks a huge refactoring... :D

But aside from resolving the actual challenges #hackthewood2019 was most notably a fun event with awesome attendees who helped each other out at any time and had a great time together in Berlin!

Read more about the blog post "connecting the digital worlds" in the previous blog posts:

Blog post "Connecting the digital worlds - part 2"

Blog post "Connecting the digital worlds - part 1"