Remember how I said the internet of things would be big at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? It didn’t take a genius to figure that out, but I laid out four questions to ask about all the hyped objects at the show to help people understand the challenges and question facing the glut of connected gadgets that would be on display.
And one of them — especially important for startups — was about ecosystems and control points. Basically I wanted to know where the possible toll bridges are in each ecosystem. Maybe a company charges for access to its data or maybe it charges for access to its API. In a New York Times story on Friday about the ivee voice-controlled alarm clock, my concerns about how well devices and companies would play together were beautifully illustrated.
From the story:
But in the booth itself, things were a little more complicated. Jonathon Nostrant, the company’s founder, had connected an ivee Sleek to a Nest thermostat and a Belkin smart plug, which can turn lamps on and off. But neither of these companies have shared their application programming interfaces, or APIs, with ivee, so Mr. Nostrant had a programmer build a work-around. It was glitchy, working sometimes but not others.
And this is why I’m hoping to see some large market players enter the space with open APIs or access to data. The internet of things is going to need an Android to counter the many versions of Apple’s closed ecosystem. They may be slightly less perfect when it comes to the UI, but they will help open the field for innovation at all levels, so companies like ivee don’t have to build glitchy manual workarounds instead of focusing on building cool projects.