Smart Home #APIs: A Marketplace Approach
Smart homes are houses that are equipped with software that lets its residents control the lighting, heating, appliances and an ever-growing assortment of entertainment systems. The branch under which the technology of Smart Homes falls in is called domotics or home automation, and it was a thing science fiction about a decade ago. With the advent and development of IoT (the internet of things) appliances, big or small, can communicate with each other as well as parse and forward assistive data around their networks to function and perform better. And now it all can be integrated into one singular unit called a smart home.
A New Industry: The Internet of Things
The smart home industry propelling the technology forward with research and developing new APIs has made a breakthrough in the market with products already out on the shelves such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and Alexa with each offering a diverse experience.
Smart home systems have since continued to grow regarding integration, scalability and, management. The industry has even taken into accounts issues like security by implementing automated alarms and surveillance systems that run on artificial intelligence and powerful image processing algorithms. Smart home systems also help churn out a lot of smartly organized data that helps with budgeting and management. As technology and AI become much more efficient, they might not even require manual control and instead have the devices learn and then automatically adjust to your preferences.
With every smart device and appliance hitting the shelves, it expands the domain of Smart Houses such as new toxicity and pollutant detectors or even APIs. Developers have come on board to start making third-party APIs for the cause, writing and coding protocols and tools for building the houses of tomorrow. They consider integration and security foremost, striving for interoperability to let the Smart Home come together as a platform instead of an independent module which allows a plethora of new products such as lights, speakers, thermometers, and detectors integrate into the system and enhance the overall experience. The ProgrammableWeb has a list of APIs for a variety of needs on their website that developers can look into or even contribute. But the five most widely known Smart Home APIs in the industry are:
Philips is one of the most well-known companies in the market of smart lighting products and solutions such as the official Philips Hue App that allow you to control the devices from your mobile device on the go or in range. After Philips, a lot of other developers got into the scheme of smart home APIs and offered a large number of third-party mobile and web-based solutions to get the most out of your products which give you a degree of control not provided by the company. What also helps the cause is the answers being out for various platforms from Android, iOS to Windows Phones and web-based applications. The API is free to developers so anyone can register and start building their software.
Launched in 2014, the Nest Developer Program welcomed developers to build solutions to help everyday appliances integrate and communicate with Nest products. Popular Nest products ranging from monitors, cameras, smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, ceiling fans to their smart thermostats were given third-party software providing the user some actions they can invoke using the app such fetching data graphs from devices to alerts about their battery life.
The NST Manager, formerly known as Nest Manager which provides options for a lot of devices in one neatly packed application is an example of what can be accomplished by using the official API.
Netatmo has offered developers three API programs under the banner for Netatmo Connect API. These feature applications like Netatmo Weather for monitoring weather services, Netatmo Smart Home for enabling linking and interactions between products, and Netatmo Enterprise entertaining their commercial customers.
The entire range of Insteon appliances including thermostats, LED bulbs, plug-in devices, and wall switches can be monitored via your smartphone or computer via the all-in-one Insteon Hub. Using which you can check the data from the sensors in real-time or a cumulative result from the data, create and manage scheduled boots and power-offs and also configure alerts regarding the status of most of your devices. The Insteon program extends their API to manufacturers and software platforms letting them get into the Insteon Hub experience. Companies like Amazon, Sonos, and Apple, are even on-board for this.
Amazon Echo being heralded in the smart home industry as one of the most popular products credits it all to Amazon’s Smart Home Skill API. This tool allows developers to create products or design routines that can directly communicate with Alexa. Amazon’s Smart Home Skill API is a real game changer as it gives the developers full liberty to focus on just the integration and interface of the appliances while leaving the tricky bits such as voice recognition and hardware routines to Amazon’s voice recognition software. This innovation speeds up the development process, so the core module gets the most attention such as using speech to control the lights, door locks, temperature and entertainment devices like screens and speakers. The cross-platform linkage has also been a significant contributor to Smart Home Skill API’s popularity as substantial stakeholders in the industry have products that can engage and interact with Alexa such as Philips Hue, Echobee and Samsung’s line of smart appliances.
Developers can download the API for free and start developing right away.
The API works by identifying requests that users make to Alexa and issuing a directive based on that request to the smart home skill that deals with the device the application are associated. The developer can also receive this requests and parse it to further test it on the cloud as a success or failure message that further sets things into motion. Along with support for voice-based commands and requests, the API also lets you log and publish updates when the state of a device changes.