APIs: How they Power the Connected Display Industry
The standard that enables software to speak the same language
Sometimes, we take technology for granted. You watch content on a flat screen at a bank or order food from a digital kiosk in a restaurant and it’s almost second nature. However, there is sophisticated technology that allows these systems to be easily integrated with other systems, enabling the flow of information across a dispersed network. Application program interfaces (APIs) allow Zero-In and other companies in the digital display industry to create the software and systems that market, inform, and engage with customers in an entirely new way.
What is an API?
An application program interface is a set of protocols and tools for integrating software applications. In the simplest terms, APIs determine how different software components interact, or “talk to each other.” They’re also used to program the components of graphical user interfaces (GUI). A computer has many APIs that enable different programs to be written that are consistent with its operating system. They are essentially a standard that enables different software to work in concert, much like varied electronics and appliances can easily be plugged into different electrical sockets.
APIs and digital displays
APIs have made the digital display industry (among many others) possible. Their use in programming and integrating many systems across a diverse network allows users to quickly and efficiently download, serve, and update information. Indoor and outdoor digital signage, video walls, kiosk stations, restaurant point-of-sale systems, campus event management systems, electronic fitness class schedules, and more would not be able to talk to each other without APIs. They also enable a network to easily be broadened and reconfigured, such as when a new bank branch or second restaurant location is added.
The many ways APIs can be applied
APIs enable digital signage to be integrated with a restaurant’s management software, which in turn allows the display of wait times; they empower customers to look for nearby attractions at kiosks by interacting with mapping software; and they integrate the point-of-sale system (POS) with digital displays to reflect accurate prices, availability, and specials.
API technology in a medical practice allows integration with the electronic health records (EHR) system; patients can enter personal information into IPads or digital kiosks in the waiting room instead of using pen and paper, and that data is instantly reflected in the EHR.
In banks, APIs allow customers to connect with loan calculator software, look up information on real estate prices in a desired area, and interface with the bank’s loan application software to begin the application process.
Communicating instant information to a large number of people is only possible through APIs. Displays are able to “talk” to calendar apps to dynamically display schedules and events across a school campus. Mall displays use APIs to access way-finding technology, which can help shoppers find their way to a store. The technology also enables displays to interface with a store’s website to show what’s on sale that week.
These are just a few of the many number of ways APIs have enabled the digital display industry. Every aspect of digital signage – from dynamic updates to interactive displays and wayfinding – relies on APIs working seamlessly in the background to make the communication happen.