How APIs are powering the Internet of Things

With more than 50-75 billion devices predicted to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020, APIs are the glue to the 9.4 connected devices that each of us will own by then.

Just take a look at the connections counter and feel in awe of the possibilities that swarm our tiny little minds.

(There are more than 120 connections per second at the moment, up from 80 per second in 2013!)

The IoT speak or think with each other via web APIs or REST APIs, being the underlying technology enabling them for interconnectivity. Devices that expose their information will provide us with access to data that goes beyond app integration and allowing for interoperable systems.

More and more APIs are emerging, with close to 13,000 currently listed on programmableweb.com, supporting the projected increase in demand and requirements for the IoT in a variety of ways.

APIs will allow front-end developers to build production-ready apps using an API client library as a bridge, without knowledge of the backend code. It also provides syntax for every programming language, allowing cross-platform experiences such as software, screens, and platforms to be seamlessly integrated, lowering development time. With multiple APIs in unison, we are able to create a synergy of applications with a mix of functions to create fresh user experiences.

These integrated APIs will be the nucleus of the IoT.

The automotive, home automation and wearables sectors are early adopters in the IoT space. The trend is growing to the point the IoT will soon outnumber connected smartphones, tablets and PCs. (Click on images to expand)

Automotive: The truly connected car goes beyond having a wireless infotainment system. APIs such as Carvoyant allow for interactivity and real time information with the data from existing diagnostic ports in cars. The information is available for the driver and partners such as mechanics to allow for efficiency and accurate reporting. Certain car models can also connect to the Nest API. (below)

 Nest + IFTTT integration of up to 160 different channels

Nest + IFTTT integration of up to 160 different channels

Smart Meters/Home automation: 89% of programmable thermostats waste energy and Nest has pushed for the smarthome revolution with its own developer program, linking our apps and devices from bulbs to locks and even more excitingly with the IFTTT (If This Then That) API for custom situations to trigger other products or apps to act based on connections.

Wearables/Health: 80 million wearable sensors will be used for health related functions by 2017 and APIs will play a hugely important role in providing healthcare data we never had access to. The Withings API allow developers and third parties limited access to users' data from connected activity trackers and scales through RESTful calls and JSON responses. Alternatives include Fitbit or Jawbone trackers that can in turn give information back to the Nest API.

These automotive, home automation and medical sectors are no longer separate with a fixed boundary of experiences. They are in fact converging with the Internet of Things and mashing up to speak to each other via APIs in unique ways, allowing us to have a smarter, more seamless human experience.


Data sources

IoT connections: Cisco, Business Insider, Forrester
APIs and health: McKinseyJournal of Sensor and Actuator Networks
API information: ProgrammableWeb