And while APIs and hardware don’t necessarily go together from the start, there are signs that in the consumer space, APIs are on the agenda.
Brunner gave two examples of everyday smart things in his keynote for Solid: Leeo and June.
“What we ended up doing for the first Leeo product was to rethink the humble night light,” Brunner told the Solid audience. Leeo is a smart hub device that listens for CO2 and smoke alarms and communicates any warnings via a mobile app to the homeowner.
“The Leeo uses existing infrastructure in the home and makes it smarter. We will be expanding its capacity to other types of alarms in the future — for example, alarms warning of intruders,” Brunner explained. The LED display can also be set to glow at any of 16 million colors.
Brunner said that part of Leeo’s mission is to incorporate home automation-type capacities or connective intelligence into existing home furnishings.
“Leeo is really a platform. We will have connective humidifiers, space heaters, air purifiers, ceiling fans that integrate with HVAC and lighting more broadly. This is a concept with everyday things. A security camera is not an everyday thing, so we think, what can we integrate it into?”
While much of emerging hardware being presented at Solid is focused on a siloed approach to connectivity (at least for now), devices like Leeo may be early front runners in using APIs, as their platform approach will necessitate some capacity to communicate and connect with a range of home devices.
Brunner’s second showcase item, June, is clearly already showing the thinking about how an API will help a product to grow.
The June Intelligent Oven is a smart oven that can take photographs throughout the cooking process, identify what items are being cooked, and more accurately adjust temperatures based on recipes and what sensors see as happening inside the oven. One example given was the oven knowing how to roast a chicken at a higher temperature at first and then reducing it so that the skin could be crispy while the meat is juicy and not dried out.
Already, June is looking for an oven frameworks engineer who will be able to create APIs to support new features.
Brunner — whose Ammunition Group was named one of Fast Company’s World's 50 Most Innovative Companies at the start of the year — summed up the design labs’ learnings in creating smart everyday objects:
- Technology enables, but design establishes
- Seek purity of purpose
- Make it a better thing
- Don’t ask people to do too much
- Build relationships with design and data