The eternal enemy of [James Puderer]’s pockets is anything that isn’t his smartphone. When the apartment building he resides in added a garage door, the forces of evil gained another ally in the form of a garage door opener. So, he dealt with the insult by rigging up a Raspberry Pi to act as a relay between the opener and his phone.
The crux of the setup is Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) — a Google service that allows messages to be sent to devices that generally have dynamic IP addresses, as well as the capacity to send messages upstream, in this case from [Puderer]’s cell phone to his Raspberry Pi. After whipping up an app — functionally a button widget — that sends the command to open the door over FCM, he set up the Pi in a storage locker near the garage door and was able to fish a cable with both ethernet and power to it. A script running on the Pi triggers the garage door opener when it receives the FCM message and — presto — open sesame.
Why not try Bluetooth or a simple WiFi connection? As it turns out, the former was impossible due to distance, while the latter meant leaving his Raspberry Pi on an open network — not a comfortable option. As [Puderer] notes, this is an alternative method to get some of your devices at home onto the Internet of Things while avoiding some of its security pitfalls.
With Internet of Things devices cropping up everywhere, it’s not surprising they can even take the shape of trash cans.