Wearables based on APIs, an excellent business opportunity

5 min reading
Wearables based on APIs, an excellent business opportunity
Wearables based on APIs, an excellent business opportunity


The whole world of technology has the feeling that the future will take the form of a connected individual who has wearables implanted in their body. It would be a somewhat disturbing outlook – a human being conceived as an object of the Internet of Things, as a source of data information by means of an API.

The whole world of technology has the feeling that the future will take the form of a connected individual who has wearables implanted in their body and the ability to transmit data in real time. It would be a somewhat disturbing outlook – a human being conceived as an object of the Internet of Things, as a source of data information by means of an API, and as a transmitter of data for third-party applications. And this is sure to go beyond the industry since it represents a fantastic business opportunity.

The number of wearables in the market is forecast to grow. Sales will increase and the growth rate will rise over the next few years. A report by the consultancy firm Gartner (January 2016) indicates that the number of devices will go up from 232 million in 2015 to 322 million by 2017. A breakdown of the various wearables can be seen here:

To get another perspective into what will make up the future market of wearables we only need to look at the growth by operating system. At the end of 2015, a study by the consultancy firm IDC forecast that the growth rate by 2019 would be higher in wearables with Android Wear (up by 80.5%), Linux (up by 54.5%) and watchOS (up by 36.5%). It becomes apparent that smartwatches take center stage among consumers. Here is the breakdown:

In the context of this new business that is yet to be harnessed, APIs play a starring role. Large technology companies that are investing in health- and sports-related devices such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Sony; companies that have more specific interests such as Garmin; multinationals connected to sportswear such as Under Armour and Adidas; smaller companies such as Pebble, Misfit, Fitbit and Rithmio; or companies that invest in mobile operating devices such as Tizen (Linux) are creating their own wearable market by launching APIs. The Programmable Web repository currently contains 37 application programming interfaces which are linked to the universe of wearables and aimed at external parties.

There would be no wearables without APIs

APIs are the most effective way of sending data from a sensor to a team of developers who need the information to design an application. They act as the vehicle for device manufacturers to generate business around smartwatches, virtual reality headsets or wristband/chest bands that measure your heart rate. Without them, wearables wouldn’t make a lot of sense. It’s absurd to collect data from the body without giving it a shape.

At the moment, Google has several APIs connected to wearables. The first one is Google Fit REST API, the app programming interface for Google Fit, the platform for the users’ physical activity; the second is Android Wear APIs for the company’s operating system for wearables:

● Google Fit REST API: REST API that allows you to store and access data from Google Fitness Store using an external application. This interface offers you the possibility of carrying out operations (creating, aggregating or deleting) by using the data sources/sets gathered by the sensor. Google’s API works with three types of data: completely public (standard data provided by the platform for any application), private data and information that can be shared with others. This API operates under the OAuth2 protocol. For this reason, developers must have a Google account, go to the Google Developers console and request their credentials through an access token; they will then receive a client ID to use Google’s APIs.

● Android Wear API: Android offers a series of APIs for developing applications and games for Google devices. This is always done within a development environment in Java programming language.

Samsung also has an API for the Simband wristband, the company’s wearable that collects data about the users’ health. Simband runs in the Tizen operating system. The data are then processed and accessed through a platform developed by Samsung called SAMI. The wristband connects automatically with SAMI and loads information to the cloud. The device is controlled using a touchscreen.

Simband API allows developers to access sensors and data collection algorithms in real time from Samsung’s wristband. This interface has been written in C and has C++ functions for designing products. The API is supported by Doxygen, a tool for creating resource documentation in C++ which is compatible with other languages such as Objective-C, C #, PHP, Java, Python and Fortran. Also for the operating systems Mac OS X and Linux and executables for Windows. The authentication protocol is also based on OAuth2 and uses an access token.

Microsoft also has its own API: Microsoft Health Cloud API. This is an application programming interface for Microsoft’s Microsoft Band, a wristband that collects data from the body for medical and sports analysis. A RESTful API with information in JSON format, it uses OAuth2 as its authentication method.

APIs to fight against technology companies

Around large technologies companies such as Google, Samsung and Microsoft, there are companies whose core business is wearables; they release APIs for the community of developers. Some examples are Pebble, Misfit, Fitbit and Rithmio. They all have their own application programming interfaces aimed at generating business volume in the IoT.

●      Pebble API: Pebble is a smartwatch that connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth technology. The API and software development kits (SDKs) have been designed to allow third parties to develop specific applications for Pebble or other phones with which the smartwatch can connect. The idea is to be able to manage the information collected from the user’s body, send or receive added data such as photos or text, control the smartwatch…

●      Misfit Cloud API: third-party applications can use this API to connect to an open platform which contains real-time user information. It’s based on HTTP. Misfit’s application programming interface offers a wide range of documentation for you to start any project.

●      Fitbit API: as with all other APIs, Fitbit’s API allows developers to connect and develop applications and services from the data collected by the brand’s wearables (wristbands or smartwatches). Its authorization protocols are OAuth2 and OAuth1. It’s able to interpret several languages: Spanish, French, German, Japanese and English.

●      Rithmio API: REST API which allows you to integrate third-party applications with the company’s platform and devices.

●      Tizen APIs: the Linux-based operating system for mobile devices has all kinds of APIs – authentication functions, linked to the framework, content, graphic development, user experience, interface, among others.

More information on APIs here.

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