While many of us are preoccupied with texting apps and anonymous messaging apps, a little known company named MachineShop is focused on how devices and machines communicate.
MachineShop, a Boston-based company aiming to take the Internet-of-things by storm, is today emerging out of stealth and announcing $3 million in its first institutional funding round.
To understand what MachineShop does, think of a security camera and motion sensors you might find in a bank. Both of these types of devices can communicate over the Internet, but they do so in their own proprietary languages.
If you wanted to create a web application so that your security center could pull and analyze information from all of these, you’d need to learn each device and manufacturer’s language, then find a way to patch your application together.
MachineShop wants to simplify this by providing you with standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) — think of them as interpreters through which you can communicate with the devices in friendly and universal languages.
“Our old tagline was ‘the API for the Internet-of-things,’” chief executive Michael Campbell told VentureBeat on a phone call.
But MachineShop wants to do more than just enable various devices and machines to communicate through standard APIs. Additionally, it will let you apply business rules, events, and more to the information gathered from the devices, and it provides tools to help developers manage these APIs and business rules.
It calls its line of work “the Internet-of-services,” with APIs being the “services.”
MachineShop even has “Service Exchanges” which essentially form an “app store” for the unique APIs, whether authored by MachineShop, its customers, or even other third-parties, through which customers can access these services.
Traditionally, to accomplish what MachineShop now enables, a company had two options: either add a piece of middleware from companies such as IBM and SAP to the devices, or make its developers figure out the proprietary protocol and implement it themselves.
“We’re saying you don’t need to do either — use the paradigm of web services and APIs to bridge that,” said Campbell.
As for its funding, MachineShop picked it up from existing customers and partners CSR, Diebold, and Xchanging. It previously sustained itself with about $2 million it received from the first customers who signed on when MachineShop was still just an idea.
After focusing its first money entirely on developing the technology, the company now plans to start building out its sales and marketing teams, and it predicts it will have enough fuel for the next 18 months.