APIs and the Internet of Things – Science Fiction will become real

I admit that I am a bit of a science fiction buff. What has always fascinated me is that although basically fiction, a figment of the author’s imagination, good science fiction is also rooted in scientific principles and assumptions. Not only that, but some portion of the science fiction of yesteryear is now a tangible reality that we take for granted – one of the earliest such examples being Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.

A few months ago someone asked me what I thought the world would look like in 5 years? Completely unfair question of course, as with the speed of change we see every day, no one can predict 5 years ahead! I thought about how to reply for a few seconds….. then ended up giving the quip answer “In 5 years Science Fiction will be real”. As we started discussing what kind of crazy answer that was, it dawned on us that perhaps the answer was not so crazy after all. At the heart of most science fiction literature and movies is the basic assumption that human, software and device will blend seamlessly into a connected intelligent society. There are more spectacular postulates in the science fiction genre of course, such as faster than light travel and abundant alien races…. but even there the undercurrent of everything being connected remains strong.

What does all of that have to do with APIs and the Internet of Things you may ask? Actually quite a bit. APIs and the Internet of Things are what enables the seamless integration of human, application and machine and in that sense Science Fiction is no longer fiction at all, it is tangible reality. Let me give just a few examples of solutions that cross the boundaries of these three domains:

- Wearable’s that can monitor your heart rate and calorie consumption and feed it into a fitness program

- Intelligent city operations that monitor traffic congestion and re-route traffic through real time notification of human drivers

- Fingerprint readers that provide secure access to software and data

It so happens that each of these three examples is something that I have seen in…. you guessed it… in a science fiction movie

The combination of Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social is a powerful cocktail that allows us to meaningfully process and act upon an ever changing dynamic world around us. We take for granted that devices are programmable, that analytics can make sense of a plethora of input sources, that people socialize virtually and much more. Each of these capabilities is enabled, one way or another, through APIs. “APIs of things” make devices programmable, “APIs of things” are input sources for analytics and “APIs of social software” lets us interact virtually… with a touch of “APIs of things” mixed into the mobile part of that social story.

The trick to all of this, to making science fiction real, is how to cross the boundary between device and software in a scalable and secure fashion. That will be the topic of my next blog, so stay tuned.

Connect with me on @ClausTorpJensen or read my earlier blogs. You can also subscribe to the blog list here