SXSW API Roundup: Devices, Data and Developers

Guest Author
Mar. 13 2014, 08:00AM EDT

This guest post comes from Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President of SOA Software, a renowned executive in the API, SOA, Internet security, governance and compliance fields. Prior to joining SOA Software, he was CEO of PoliVec, general manager at HP Software, President of Finjan, Vice President of Avnet Inc. and Marketing Manager at Sun Microsystems. Medrano holds an MBA from UCLA, an MSEE from MIT and a BSEE from USC.

Among other things, SXSW is a celebration of where we are going. Be it art, music, technology, the environment, education ... the people at SXSW tend to have their finger on the pulse of those things that are changing the way the world works, plays and interacts.

It's no wonder then that APIs are a hot topic of conversation around Austin this week. It seems that the buzz is focused on data, specifically the data that typically drives the apps. What's interesting is that few are spending time looking at actual apps, because it's understood that that's the ends. The means is the API and the data in transports.

With our ears close to the ground, we picked up on some interesting and enlightening commentary this week. To note:

Nielsen

Television ratings and media demographics leader Nielsen announced that it will open its API so that developers can use their massive storehouse of data to fuel all manner of applications around segmentation, e-commerce and advertising (and for that matter, anything that can be derived from their user and profile data). This is especially significant because Nielsen plays in a lot of areas where it isn't necessarily a leader ... yet (gaming, music, wearables). But considering the power of their growing data repository that informs trend, advertising and purchasing behavior, the impact of this will likely be huge. Remember, Nielsen doesn't product much in the way of typical products, but their ownership and segmentation of data is of huge value.

Google

Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Android strategy, talked about his company's plans to extend their platform and reach. Clearly, Google is the first to market with an actual plan for wearables and devices, so this is significant. Well, perhaps not a full scale strategy, but with the Nest acquisition, some leadership with Google Glass, and the brainpower of the Googleplex behind it, one cannot ignore what Pichai calls "APIs for hardware." To further this goal to use APIs to connect devices with Android, he announced Project Ara, which will be a skunkworks project to look at "... the layer which will connect devices together."

APIs on the move

Robert Scoble gave a riveting keynote where he talked about the reaches of where data is going, and what it's enabling. The Automatic device, for example, "turns your car into an API" in its ability to basically connect your driving experience at every turn. He talked about the connectedness of all types of applications and how, when properly applied, can change the user experience so one isn't even thinking in terms of apps; rather, they are just beneficiaries (and the API is the giver). Boing Boing and Ford partnered to bring developers a hackathon that sought to find solutions for devices, cars, data, music, art and other types of innovations to see the light of day in practical ways.

And possibly the best thing "heard" this week came in the following Tweet:

The reason for the excitement is that APIs can bring us into a working and functional world where we truly can use data in a meaningful way, but do so when, where and how we can consume it.

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