Here at Waterfall Mobile HQ, we have the ability to integrate not just other software with our flagship product, Msgme, but hardware as well. The sms-to-garage-door-opener project was born out of an internal need – many at the office always faced problems getting into the garage because building management only gave us two remotes.

The project used only off-the-shelf hardware and took an afternoon to complete. The key was a USB-to-serial converter. This module converts USB signals into lower level digital signals that low-level electronics, such as a garage door opener, can understand. Then it was just a matter of writing some simple code, in our case using PHP, to activate the remote when an SMS message is sent to Msgme.

By using Msgme’s dynamic content keyword feature, every time a request for the garage door opener’s keyword is received, Msgme forwards the request to the opener’s web service hosted within our office. The web service then validates the phone number requesting the service as a security precaution to prevent unauthorized openings. If the number is valid, the web service triggers the hardware and voila! The door opens. An added feature is the ability to make the keyword interactive, so whomever is first to arrive and takes one of the two parking spots, can text their name. This way everyone in the office can know whether a spot is open and adjust their commute accordingly.

The only problems that we ran into were mostly caused by the delay of message delivery from the carriers or aggregator into our service. Usually it’s near instant as soon as the SMS leaves the handset.

The model is designed to be completely portable. If our building management decides to switch garage door opener models, we can adapt the hardware to the new remote with a few simple tweaks. We also are planning to build a smaller and more integrated version to make the garage door opener even more portable.

The sms-to-garage-door-opener project only scratches the surface of what SMS and simple integrations can do, especially with physical hardware. Currently there are numerous services available that tote the virtue of using SMS to do everything from mobile payments, to location-based marketing, and robust search services. However, few projects out there address how convenient it is to have SMS physically control the every day objects we use.

But with Msgme’s ability to integrate with other web services, and even physical hardware, a developer can easily extend SMS into every facet of daily life!

5 Responses to SMS-to-Garage-Door-Opener

  1. Hiten says:

    Very cool! I’d like to be able to ask the garage door “Are you closed?” Certainly that and many more things are possible!

  2. GSW2 says:

    Hi there, we have literally just launched a product called GSW2 which is exactly what you are talking about and more. Generally SMS isnt used to open the garage; a call is made free of charge and the device recognises the caller id, hangs up and opens the garage.

    In response to the second post, it can also SMS you if a) it has been left ope longer than usual, has reclosed, or you can actually sms to ask if it is open or closed.

    Its a universal GSM controller with so many applications its unbelievable. Ours is also an intercom for 2 way audio between your call point and mobile or landline phone.

    Check our site


  3. GSW2 says:

    check I think you may be interested to know what we’ve developed…

  4. Quora says:

    Are companies using SMS/text messaging for employee communications?…

    We are a mobile marketing company that provides a mobile communication platform – so we live to use mobile for our internal communications. On the operations side, we used our API to trigger our garage door opener. Once someone opens the garage door th…

  5. Oh my! That’s really cool. And I guess it is very convenient
    too since you only need to send a message just to open it. But what will be the
    safety feature of this kind of garage door? Will it be affordable too?

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