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Why IoT Needs Communication APIs
December 16th, 2016

Why IoT Needs Communication APIs

Hailee Franco

Chances are you have heard the term, “the Internet of Things” or IoT over the course of the last year. But do you know what it is and how it works? The Internet of Things is more than just a catchy bu...

Chances are you have heard the term, “the Internet of Things” or IoT over the course of the last year. But do you know what it is and how it works? The Internet of Things is more than just a catchy buzzword used by tech companies. It is actually a concept that enables objects used every day like thermometers, security cameras, and lights to communicate via the Internet. If you have heard of Nest and know how it works then you understand, in a nutshell, the IoT.

The ability for these ordinary devices to communicate without needing a human intermediary is extremely beneficial. So how exactly does this communication occur? Through the use of communication APIs.

Not sure why the IoT needs communication APIs? Well, we are here to help!

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. This interface gives programmers the set of protocols, tools, and definitions they need to build a certain software program or application. When done correctly, APIs make it easier for developers to take advantage of certain tech by giving the programmer only the information they need.

When used together, the IoT and communication APIs give the end user access to their device either through a web interface, mobile app, or other means.

Why do these APIs matter?

APIs have the ability to add functionality to a device or application that it didn’t have before. It could be a simple function, like sending an SMS message to multiple numbers when an alarm is triggered. Or the functionality can be more complex like the ability to view videos through your alarm system or WebRTC.

Whatever the case, APIs give the IoT endless options for connectivity and features. Imagine you are a home security company that sells alarm systems. Your system has the ability to notify a user if an alarm wasn’t set and any time it sounds. Business is good, but you know it would be better if you offered video capabilities.

This is where an API can be useful. You can partner with a camera manufacturer that has an API that integrates into your alarm, giving users additional access to cameras. You don’t need to create a new product or develop software because there is an API already written by someone else.

Bear in mind this is just one example of the endless ways APIs work. They can also be used to add other media features like voice and notifications to IoT systems, as well as to transfer data from the device to a dashboard for easy viewing.

APIs also make partnering with other companies easier because most of the development work is already complete. A good API should integrate seamlessly with other technology to allow the two to communicate and work together.

Programmable Voice created an API that gave eHarmony and Uber the ability to permit voice calls using masked numbers. This allowed for users of the services to protect their personal phone number but still talk via a phone interface. Pretty cool, right?

The IoT needs communication APIs to, well, communicate. Without them, voice, SMS, and video capabilities wouldn’t be possible for certain systems, and innovative communications solutions would cease to exist.


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