The Internet of Things: APIs and Your App

The internet of things is a term that refers to the increasing connectivity of our smart devices. When planning out your next web or app project, this becomes relevant as you start thinking about the data you may need to power your app or the data you may want to make available to others through an API.

Full Transcript:

Andrew:

We want to take data from that device and share it somewhere else, make it accessible somewhere else. Some kind of physical device and connecting those devices to the internet so that they can have extended capabilities.

Cris:

Very much getting into these smart devices.

Andrew:

Smart devices. Yeah, exactly. We help identify what that benefit is and who needs that information, and what’s the best way to share that information.

Cris:

Talking about the Internet of Things. That’s a very broad kind of term. It also kind of seems like something that’s been up and coming over the last, I would say even a couple years, going to sales conferences and things like networking events that we’re all talking about the Internet of Things. So what is the Internet of Things in a rough description and how does that kind of relate to Bixly and how we see the Internet of Things?

Andrew:

The Internet of Things is really when you’re taking physical devices. And again, these could be light bulbs, they could be refrigerators, they could be DVD players, that’s so dated, Blu-ray players, whatever it is now, some kind of physical device, and connecting those devices to the internet so that they can have extended capabilities. On one hand it could be downloading software updates, or on the other hand, it could be something like allowing you to see from your phone when you need to get more milk.

Cris:

Okay. Gotcha. So very much getting into the smart devices.

Andrew:

Smart devices. Yeah, exactly. Think smart devices.

Cris:

Gotcha. So here at Bixly, we obviously are a big fan of project road mapping. So we’re laying out the overall how are we going to do the project. So when we are doing project road mapping and we’re talking about the Internet of Things, what does that research process look like when we’re settling in on the APIs, the ways that we’re going to integrate? Do we need to use an API? Do we need to write an API? That sort of thing. What does that process kind of look like in road mapping here at Bixly?

Andrew:

Yeah. So we see what kind of internet connectivity the device is capable of, and can it in fact, get on the internet, communicate with third party devices, third party APIs, and whatnot. So we work with the client to really understand what sort of benefit they’re trying to get by connecting that device to the internet. And typically that benefit involves, we want to take data from that device and share it somewhere else, make it accessible somewhere else; on a website, on a cell phone, maybe send it off to a third-party accounting software. But whatever it is, we help identify what that benefit is and who needs that information, and what’s the best way to share that information.

Cris:

Okay. So it could be something more like a Zapier type integration for instance.

Andrew:

Could be.

Cris:

Or we might need, the client might need us to actually write an API or some sort of a connection endpoint.

Andrew:

It really depends what they want to do with this information. If the best thing to fit their needs is it’s going to send an email to someone, well then maybe we do just use a Zapier or something that’s already just out of the box, if it’s a good fit for that. So if we can avoid reinventing the wheel and doing custom engineering, because it’s just not necessary, then we help the client identify that.

Andrew:

There’s lots of platforms for sending emails, for sending text messages, things like that, that we can leverage in many cases. Or maybe something more complex is they want to see, there’s a probe under the ground measuring water levels, and they want someone sitting on the beach to be able to see that from their iPad. Well, we’re probably going to have to create some custom engineering for that, a custom API, a mobile app, that kind of thing. So it really all comes down to asking the right questions of what do they want to do with this data and figuring out the best way to share that data.

Cris:

Gotcha. And cost probably comes into it as well, because depending on what you’re trying to connect, again, building an endpoint or creating some sort of an API for other people to be able to actually utilize and connect to the device.

Andrew:

And this is something we help the clients with in road mapping. We don’t expect them to come to us with all this knowledge. We help ask the right questions to uncover the requirements and really determined again, what do you want to do with this info. How’s it going to be shared? How’s it going to be digested? And what’s the most cost-effective way of doing that?

Cris:

Perfect. So someone that’s looking to work with us, of course, they don’t have to know right out of the gate, I have this device, here’s how it can connect. If they don’t have that information, we can help them build that out and we can help them make some of those connection endpoints. Is that correct?

Andrew:

Well, I mean, we don’t build physical devices, so really they would have to come to us with the device and it would have to have internet connectivity capabilities in it. But assuming that that exists, then yes, we can help them determine how best to share that information.

Cris:

Sounds good. Other thoughts on Internets of Things, pitfalls, things to look out for when you’re out shopping for a company that’s going to help you connect your devices to your applications?

Andrew:

Yeah. I mean, security is always a concern with the Internet of Things. So we want to make sure that any traffic that’s sent is encrypted, things like that. So we can help clients identify potential security issues, make sure the information is shared securely and in an effective way. And also help the client identify too, how do people digest this information, and does it make sense to even maybe build an API for the client so that other third parties can pull that information, because they may have partners that want to digest that and redisplay that information. And they don’t want to go to the client’s website to do it. They want to have their own website or own mobile app to do that. And so we can help them identify when does it make sense to build your own API, things like that

Cris:

Sounds good. Perfect. Well, it seems like it’s a very, I’m not going to say wild west, but there’s still a lot that’s happening out there. It’s always-

Andrew:

Relatively new.

Cris:

It’s relatively new. It’s ever-shifting, ever-changing. So it’s encouraging to know that Bixly obviously has experience working with us, and that we can help out.

Andrew:

Yeah, it’s a really fun area.

Cris:

It is.

Andrew:

I love doing projects like that. I think it’s a very cool area.

Alexandra:

Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. If you have any questions about what we talked about today, go ahead and leave those in the comment section down below. Also, you can find a link in the description to this video, to our free custom software guide that will put you on the track for planning out your project well. In addition, you can check us out at bixly.com, and even sign up for a free hour consultation with Cris to talk about your next app idea.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on April 27, 2021.

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