While Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco this week had plenty of payments- and eCommerce-related news, one set of announcements that didn’t seem to have much to do with money, retailing or even Facebook’s bread-and-butter advertising business was the social network’s unveiling of new programming tools for the Internet of Things (IoT), using the Parse mobile app development tool set it bought in 2013.
How will Facebook connect with IoT? The company may simply not know at this point, according to Forbes.
Parse’s new IoT software development kit — helpfully named the “Parse for IoT SDK” — makes it (relatively) easy for programmers creating network-connected devices to make a connection with a mobile app and send data back and forth with, say, a smart thermostat, garage-door opener or even a smoke-detector battery. That last one isn’t hypothetical: One of Parse for IoT’s first users is Roost, a startup making a lithium battery with a Wi-Fi radio inside that will send an alert to a user’s smartphone if the alarm goes off or the battery charge is low.
Roost will use Parse to handle its cloud, security, analytics and data tracking systems — but not to connect to Facebook’s data stream. That wouldn’t seem to have much point — yet.
But in a couple of years? “A couple of years from now, all of the devices connected to us and each other are going to be just one seamless flow of information,” Roost CEO Roel Peeters told Forbes. “Facebook is making a major play in positioning themselves as a central cloud backend for IoT,” he said, adding that the social network “is embracing a new category of devices that will be coming online over the next 10 years.”
Network-connected garage door opener Chamberlain said it will use Parse for IoT to simplify push notifications across many different types of phones, but more is coming — and Facebook has a place in it. “From our perspective, there’s an interesting opportunity that a social network can provide in terms of managing who we interact with,” Cory Sorice, VP of marketing for Chamberlain Connected Products and Ecommerce, told Forbes.
“We’re not ready to unveil our thoughts on how that works,” he added. “But if you look at how Apple and Google are looking to expand beyond the phone, Facebook can look at parts of IoT as an extension of Facebook in the same direction. Facebook is just another thing we connect to.”