Tado, which is based in Germany and launched in November 2012, has become one of the leading smart thermostat solutions for heating applications in the EU and claims tens of thousands of personal and business users. It also offers tado Cooling, a smart thermostat solution for cooling applications, to users around the world.
Tado's offerings take advantage of apps its users install on their smartphones and wearable devices. These apps communicate with the users' tado thermostats, allowing heating and cooling systems to be turned off or down intelligently when users leave the building.
But tado recognizes that as consumers and businesses adopt smart, connected technologies to manage their homes, there will be a need to support new kinds of experiences that allow those consumers and businesses to interact with these technologies in more efficient ways.
"Connected devices and dedicated applications (IoT) are arising everywhere, and the future is clear: The vast majority of today's products will become online products,” tado founder and CEO Christian Deilmann explained. "The key differentiator between a good product and a great product will be the digital user experience — how good is the user interface, how seamless will it integrate into our lifestyles and how well do different devices and applications communicate with each other."
One of the ways tado is aiming to ensure that its products are great is by offering an API that allows developers to build their own apps that interact with tado's smart thermostats. Already, third-party developers have used tado's API to create tado apps for the Pebble smartwatch and Android Wear. Tado is also targeting utility, telecommunications and insurance companies with its API, providing them with the opportunity to integrate tado into apps they're building for their customers.
Concurrent with the launch of its API, tado also announced a partnership with IFTTT (If This Then That), a popular Web service that gives users the ability to create recipes for controlling apps and connected products. With the IFTTT partnership, tado users will be able to create sequences of actions that are kicked off automatically when certain events take place. According to tado, "In the very near future, when a tado user leaves the house, not only will the heating automatically go to savings mode, but simultaneously the lights switch off, the alarm system activates, the garage door locks and landline calls reroute to their mobile."
Smart Products Demand Smart API Strategies
APIs have fast become a fixture in the smart thermostat market. Nest, which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014, unveiled an API and partner program last year. Venstar, an established thermostat and energy management system supplier in the United States, also released an API for its residential and commercial thermostats last year. Manufacturers of other smart products, like smart locks, are releasing APIs and courting developers too.
Clearly, manufacturers are betting that third-party integrations are going to be crucial to the adoption of their products, and an API offering is arguably the best way to support those integrations at scale. Of course, APIs alone aren't enough. To succeed, smart product markers will need to ensure that their APIs are designed to support the most important applications and think about the ways they can encourage third parties to use their APIs.