It is difficult to overlook the varied styles of innovation driven by application programming interfaces (APIs), which are often thought of as "humble" technical interfaces. A lot has changed over the last couple of years, and surprisingly, technical connotations no longer remain the predominant theme for discussions about APIs. There is a growing realization that APIs can serve as simple and flexible interfaces for digital services and drive the development of Internet of Things (IoT)-centric business and revenue models.
Beyond integration, APIs enable development of IoT-centric business and revenue models
Lightweight, developer-friendly representational state transfer (REST) APIs can simplify interaction between devices connected to the Internet. In the context of IoT, these could be smartphones, tablets, monitoring sensors, or control systems connected to different networks. There are several examples of APIs facilitating a specific function that plays a key role in the realization of IoT:
- EVRYTHNG API: Creates a digital identity and profile to ensure that an IoT-connected consumer product is accessible and manageable on a 24x7 basis.
- iHealth API: Gives third-party applications and services access to iHealth users' health data. iHealth Labs is a US-based smart health devices provider.
- OpenXC API: An open source API allowing developers to access vehicle data.
- pvSense API: Enables real-time monitoring of photovoltaic (pv) modules.
- SenseIoT API: Allows integration of the SenseIoT platform with devices, sensors, or sensor networks that can connect to the Internet. It can be used for secure storage and processing of sensor data in the cloud.
- Zinc API: Zubie is a US-based company offering a device that allows drivers to access their car's onboard computer and synchronize vehicle diagnostic data with smartphones. The API allows Zubie's partners to access vehicle diagnostics, location data, trip activity, and driving data for the development of new applications.
IoT data monetization represents a huge commercial opportunity, although few entities in the larger IoT ecosystem have developed a compelling value proposition. In the automobile industry, vendors such as Carvoyant are using APIs to monetize data generated from subscriber vehicles, which it sells to insurance companies, mechanics, and other interested parties – clearly, API is the main product in this case. ProLease, a mash-up of Carvoyant and Edmunds APIs (Edmunds.com is a California-based online resource for automotive information), helps customers effectively manage their leased vehicles, meet compliance requirements, and buy out from lease plans.
Insurance companies can use vehicle data for pricing personalization, which involves determining insurance prices based on risk profiles created by analyzing driving habits (e.g., mileage, braking pattern, frequent and hurried turns, and acceleration). Depending on the target audience and end objective, there is a need for a simpler approach to securing, scaling, and normalizing IoT data publication. APIs offer a simple and flexible approach to data publication, and along with API management can effectively meet secure access and monetization requirements. There are several other examples where APIs enable the development of new applications/services for monetizing IoT:
- Michelin offers insights generated via sensors embedded inside customer vehicles on a per-vehicle, per-year basis.
- Volkswagen offers "Car-Net," an in-car assistance service offering location-based roadside assistance, automatic crash notification, remote vehicle unlock, and navigation tools.
- Nest smart thermostats, which can be controlled via mobile devices, learn customers' energy usage patterns and routines to create apersonalized schedule, which helps reduce energy costs.
Saurabh Sharma, Senior Analyst, Software – Infrastructure Solutions