After ProgrammableWeb's first ever API conference (APIcon) this past May in San Francisco exceeded everyone's expectations, we couldn't wait to do another one which is why APIconUK in London (Sept 24-26, 2014) is now only a couple of weeks away. We have room for around 200, maybe 250 people and, if the last APIcon is any indication of how registration ebbs and flows, we could be sold out by early next week.
A new feature of this, our second edition of APIcon is ProgrammableWeb's Innovation Showcase. As any of the conference session speakers will tell you, I minced no words during the call for papers process. There's no pitching allowed. Too many conferences are marred by speakers who get on stage under the pretense of some problem they're going to solve, only for it to turn into a 45 minute pitch for whoever employs the speaker. Yes, many of APIcon's conference session speakers work for solution providers in the API industry. But I have personally reviewed this rule with them while also vetting their proposed session titles and descriptions for any hint of a pitch.
But in the case of ProgrammableWeb's Innovation Showcase, there hasn't been a call for papers. While we still have room for one more entry (email me using the address below if interested), the four innovators that are so far presenting were personally invited by me on the basis of their API innovations; solutions or ideas that will cause you to completely rethink your approach to APIs and what they could mean for your business. In the case of these personally-selected presenters, I'm essentially asking them to pitch because there's no better way to bend the minds of our attendees without hearing about these journeys.
One of my selections is ElectricImp CEO and co-founder Hugo Fiennes. ElectricImp is all about the Internet of Things (IoT). With predictions estimating that there will be anywhere from 26 billion (Gartner) to 50 billion (Cisco) "things" connected to the Internet by 2020, three giant questions remain.
First, like the path that cell phones took to become smartphones, we're taking ordinary devices from a relatively dumb world to a smart world. With few exceptions, some logic will have to control each thing which opens up the question of the entire nature of that logic, where it lives, and how it gets managed. Take updates for example. As of this week, the functionality of Nest thermostats is now deeply integrated with the functionality of Dropcam cameras. Somewhere, logic was updated. Probably more than one place.
Second, when considering what's involved in order to connect devices with keyboards and screens (computers, smartphones, tablets, etc) to a secure network, how will that be achieved with devices that don't have keyboards and screens? Even though there are are existing devices (ie: Nest thermostats) already doing this, this isn't as simple as it sounds. Different use cases involve different models of connectivity. Smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Moto 360, and the Apple Watch (announced today) involve proxy models that depend on tethering (in their cases, to a smartphone) for functionality, connectivity, and roaming. Zigbee is another proxy model (for home automation) that is similarly roam-challenged.
The third question has to do with the API. In the Internet of Things, there's no such thing as a "thing" without an API. But where does the endpoint live and how is it consumed? Does the API live on the device or its proxy and is that API RESTful (thereby implying that the device or proxy are also Web servers) or not? Or, can the endpoint live in the cloud?
Last year, I met the company's co-founder, Fiennes, at a Broadcom public relations event. It was there that I not only became sensitized to the connectivity challenges for the Internet of Things (Broadcom favored the WiFi route and was showing off its low power WiFi silicon), I also saw how Fiennes and ElectricImp were embracing the new offering to provide an entire IoT platform that takes most of the guesswork out of the three big questions. I haven't seen anything else quite like it since then which is why I invited Fiennes to be one of ProgrammableWeb's Innovation Showcase presenters.
So, hopefully, I'll see you there at APIcon in London. Not just to see what all of our Innovation Showcase presenters have to say, but also to see all of the other great workshops and sessions that I and the ProgrammableWeb team have been preparing in anticipation of a great event.