Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things. But what does it have to do with APIs?

The internet of things is made up of physical devices with an internet connection. The devices are controlled by software via their actors or the devices can collect data via their sensors. So the device itself does not need to be “smart”, however, it can behave like a smart device. The device connects to smart functions, which are exposed on the internet via APIs. Examples of such API solutions include smart wearables, smart cars, smart homes or smart cities.

Several APIs may be involved in an internet of things solution. Some APIs are deployed in the cloud and receive the data, which was collected by the sensors of the physical device. Other APIs are realized on the device itself and expose the actors of the device. Software, which is not necessarily running on the device itself can deliver the smart functions and implement the “brain”. It analyzes the collected sensor data and sends appropriate commands to the actors on the device via API calls. APIs are the glue. They connect smart functions via the internet with the “things”.

In summary, APIs have two functions in the internet of things. APIs are the “call center”, which receives all the calls from the devices for leaving their sensor data. APIs are also the “remote control” for steering the devices from a distance.

Understanding the applications and use cases for APIs is crucial when setting up an API Architecture.

APIs and the Internet of Things

Also published on Medium.

Matthias Biehl

As API strategist, Matthias helps clients discover their opportunities for innovation with APIs & ecosystems and turn them into actionable digital strategies. Based on his experience in leading large-scale API initiatives in both business and technology roles, he shares best practices and provides both strategic and practical guidance. He has stayed a techie at heart and at some point, got a Ph.D. Matthias publishes a blog at api-university.com, is the author of several books on APIs, and regularly speaks at technology conferences.