As a rule, innovation should serve a higher goal. We develop better medicines to save lives, we design smart devices to make our jobs easier and we deploy APIs to streamline traffic. But apart from these o-so-important applications, innovation can (and should!) be used for fun. Some APIs, for example, will completely disrupt the way we do business, but they’re also perfect to turn on a barbecue or to create a database of your favorite beers. And that’s business too!
1. Brewery DB
Beer is hot, especially when brewed in a local brewery. Keeping a diary of all the beers you’ve tried is even hotter, so Shaun Farrell thought. He launched BreweryDB in 2009, a project that provides developers with information about beer. All the data is crowd sourced by users, and then re-used by others to create amazing apps about beer types, breweries and beer events. Developers can retrieve, add and edit information through an open API platform and share their knowledge, meaning BreweryDB is 100% community based. The standard API comes for free, and people pay a fee for so-called Premium Access. Cheers!
What if you could turn on the barbecue in your backyard while you’re still at work? Barbecue manufacturer Grillson developed an app that makes it happen. It uses a WLAN connection to tell you about the state of your steak and the temperature of the grill. You easily change temperature and cooking times, while doing more important things such as talking to your friends and uploading your beer to your beer app. You don’t have to worry about burnt meat and dry chicken: the Grillson app sends you push messages when you need to take action. Obviously, none of this would’ve been possible without the help of an API that speaks both meat and English and gets the message across.
3. Pokémon Go
Everyone has this one friend that spent the summer of ’16 chasing virtual creatures (or maybe this friend was you). But Pokémon Go revolves around more than just one application. When the Pokémon fun got seriously disturbed by all kinds of hackers who tried to hop on the success train through their own applications, Pokémon deployed a fine example of IAM and opened up its API platform. Today, external developers can get access to all Pokémon data and build relating apps that improve and extend the original game, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.
4. The CAT API
Speaking of APIs that will never save lives: there’s a wildly popular app that adds a random animated cat in your html page. People that sign receive an API key that they can use to gain access to a database of thousands of images of cats and kittens to brighten up the day of their page visitors (and themselves, obviously). As a user, you can add your own pictures too, meaning the database is continuously growing. The CAT API comes with applications to vote on images, retrieve votes, add favorites, and list categories so that photos are easily findable. Useless? Maybe. But now that cats are taking over the internet, you may want to reconsider your aversion.
5. Light switches
Admittedly, smart home apps are actually quite useful. They use APIs to help you save out on energy costs as you can manage your household appliances remotely. But when it comes to light switches, you can’t go around the fact that it’s mostly laziness and fun-driven. British company Den, for example, was founded because of their CEO Yasser who didn’t want to get out of bed to turn the light off. They did put a nice story on their website about saving the planet and our wallets, but they themselves admit that remote light switches are mainly meant to make our lives easier and more exciting. And people love it.
There you have it: five companies with silly ideas that don’t save the world but delight their customers. They’re all brilliant and they all use APIs to share their concepts with the world. We’re fan of each one of them, as silly things keep us sharp and creative. And who doesn’t want to live in a cat-dominated world with perfect steaks, local beers and remote light switches?
Whether silly or not, APIs help you transform your business into a database of valuable information to both internal and external developers. Read our whitepaper on how to select your API management tool!