There is this thing I noticed in my neighborhood: when Sam is waiting for his not-so-automatic door to open, he stops the traffic for 20 or 30 seconds, due to the street configuration.

I want to buy a house in this neighborhood (I now own a flat there), and the seller already installed an automatic door with an infrared remote control, making the sell easier and faster. Please understand here that I am not able (and I do not want to) choose or change the automatic door model, otherwise I would have picked up some pre-equipped IoT-ready model.

I do not want to be like Sam and be a pain in the ass to every other driver in this street, and I am looking for any idea to be able to remotely/automatically open the door when getting close (like 150-200m) to my house.

You can assume that, once the house "knows" I am approaching, it can open the door. What I am looking for is a way to let my house know that I am approaching. Plus, if a car is already parked in my garage (like my wife's car), the door won't open. There is obviously safety-issue there (like a door giving access to my house when no one in front of it), but I do not want to deal with this right now.

Thanks for your help of for any idea you can give!

  • 3
    Have you looked at IFTTT? This can use your mobile phone for geofencing, superficially this seems to meet your requirement. Feb 16, 2017 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


I'd go for OwnTracks (iOS + Android) which lets your phone send GPS-data over (preferably MQTT) the internet. You may set up this to poll your phone and let a server see if the signal is approaching the house which indicates that the phone is traveling in a car or the best would be to have an (old) phone inside the car at all time which only is used as a locator for the car.

Here's the link to the app that I use.

You may also want to use the Beacon function within OwnTracks which lets your phone know that it is in the car if it is close to the car Beacon. You find them online here and here.

  • Have you tried my solution? Feb 22, 2017 at 12:11
  • not yet, as I do not own the house at the moment. I foresee to make some test with the app you gave me, but I am currently busy with morgage papers etc. Be sure that I will let you know as soon as I find a solution to this question :)
    – le_daim
    Feb 23, 2017 at 9:51
  • I have now made this myself (except the automatic opening of the garage door). Feel inspired here: My blog... Oct 9, 2017 at 8:34
  • I use OwnTracks too, with my Fibaro system., It works really well,. The only issue with newer phones is that location is not available to apps unless you start them yourself. I am using Autostart to start OwnTracks, and it appears to work most of the time. Jan 14 at 4:54

As noted by Sean Houlihane in a comment, you're looking for geo-fencing:

A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. [...] The use of a geo-fence is called geo-fencing, and one example of usage involves a location-aware device of a location-based service (LBS) user entering or exiting a geo-fence. This activity could trigger an alert to the device's user as well as messaging to the geo-fence operator. This info, which could contain the location of the device, could be sent to a mobile telephone or an email account.

There are various ways that you can implement this, depending on what sort of device you use and how much code you're willing to write:

  • How-To Geek has an article on how to use geo-fencing with IFTTT. You could then connect that to something like the Maker channel, which can send POST requests to your garage door.

  • Android also provides a geo-fencing API which you could use if you were so inclined. This would be far more involved than using IFTTT, though.

Of course, this answer neglects the other side of the question: how do you make the garage door open when it receives a message? That aspect would probably be best addressed in a different question, but if you used the IFTTT Maker channel to send a request, you would need to have some sort of networking capability on the device that opens the door. Your current door opener is probably not that advanced if it just uses an infrared detector, so custom hardware might be needed.

  • 1
    Agreed on IFTTT/geo-fencing but there is also the part of the question where if there is already a car parked in the garage it should not open. I suppose metal/presence detection should be used instead of tracking the car especially if there is nobody inside to be geo-fenced by phone...
    – Goufalite
    Feb 17, 2017 at 12:32
  • 1
    Thank you for this answer. Obviously IFTTT is a protocol which is very interesting for this kind of application. @Goufalite you are right about the already-parked car, but I think I may detect car presence with some basic sensor (ultrasoun?) and link the output to my IFTTT.
    – le_daim
    Feb 17, 2017 at 13:25
  • @DamienMarty: that solution sounds really complicated. And IFTTT is great but it's a closed source if-this-than-that service and not a general information protocol. I'd go for my solution that I posted. :) Feb 17, 2017 at 13:41

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