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Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the smartest of them all?

Mirror mirrorIn what ways do a mirror and painting resemble each other? Both have been around for ages, and nowadays we see the first digital versions of these products. Let's start with the digital mirror. This type of mirror allows to brush your teeth and it sort of overlays information that is relevant to you and to the time of day.

So, for instance you might be shaving and at the same time you can see that there is a traffic jam between your house and the office. The mirror might suggest a different route. Mirrors like this are for sale already … however they are not cheap.

During CES Las Vegas, Netgear (a prominent manufacturer of consumer and business-to-business computer hardware like routers) introduced a digital picture frame which is called Meural Frame. The Meural Frame actually retrieves art, in other words paintings, photos and so on from different collections / museums around the world and displays them on your wall. According to Netgear, it is like having a 3-billion-dollar art collection in your home.

21st century versions

What we see here is a combination of a number of technologies to make it into a 21st-century version of an existing product. You might say that digital picture frames are not new. And you are right! We have seen them as consumer products for many years already. The big difference is that the version on your mantlepiece or dresser relies on you to supply the content, either on a stick, email or via a website. Newer frames have an Amazon Alexa integration, touchscreens and so on. But in most cases, you supply the content. Although I assume that you take great pictures, it is a different story when you talk about masterpieces like paintings by Rembrandt, famous photos or any digital masterpieces from past centuries and of course the present. In case of the Digital Frame there is a subscription fee to get the (curated) content for the frame. We see more and more of these combinations of product and services appearing. If you are not interested, you can always upload your content without incurring any cost.

API galore

Of course, the hardware part is only one part of the equation. The hardware makes sure that the information is presented, but it really is the software APIs, (Application Programming Interfaces) that does the real magic. Without software the hardware would simply be a frame or a mirror. The software allows the content to be selected, retrieved and displayed. API’s that make sure that the information is retrieved only for paying customers, not for everyone, in case of a subscription.

Managing the APIs

There are actually in many cases two APIs that are being used. By this I mean that the mirror of frame has an API that will talk to the API of the content provider. What kind of information is supplied to such APIs? Well, there is of course an API description online for the Meural Frame where we can see the complete description of the API and all of its possible API calls. If you are interested take a look at all of the things you can do. It is exactly that sort of interface that you are looking for with these smart devices. You want control the device and have the option to do that via a site or via an API. You do not want the vendor dictate what you can do with it. 

API Management Solution

To be able to offer a set of APIs you need a powerful solution to manage, monitor and perhaps even monetize the APIs. Maybe even with the capability to allow the API to connect to other systems that do not have the capability to natively communicate using APIs HTTP protocol.

There are many other features that you should be looking for. If you want to know what these are, please take a look at our API Management Selection Guide.

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Picture of Ruben van der Zwan
Published June 4, 2019

Ruben van der Zwan

Ruben is CEO and founder of Yenlo. He is an IT visionary from the first hour, and always working on creating better ICT solutions. Ruben believes that with technology, we can bring the people in this world together and bring prosperity to everyone. Ruben is an evangelist of open source technology, integration platforms, and WSO2 in particular. He is a frequent speaker on international conferences.

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