We’re building Seam (https://www.seam.co), a universal API for controlling IoT devices such as smart locks, thermostats, sensors, and (soon) cameras. Our hope is to make device integration simple, with a Plaid-like UI flow for obtaining device authorization and standardized API/SDKs for device control.
We started Seam out of our frustration with the challenges of integrating IoT devices with software apps.
For example, my co-founder Dawn led Sonder’s efforts to integrate smartlocks with their reservation systems in order to automate access for guests. She struggled with poorly documented and unreliable device APIs along the way. Our founding engineer Max authored the popular TuyAPI library and has spent countless hours trying to build sensible interfaces on top of unreliable devices.
For my part, I was an early engineer at Nest and saw firsthand how manufacturers often lack the resources and motivation to support third-party developers.
As a result, most devices lack public APIs, and getting access to the private ones (if they exist) requires lengthy negotiations with manufacturers. This task grows in complexity with each additional device brand a developer may need to integrate.
Seam serves as a single API that works across dozens of brands and hundreds of devices.
We start by testing each device in our hardware lab in San Francisco. We study their behaviors & quirks, and faithfully reproduce those in our development sandbox. We take time to craft custom client libraries that maximize developer ergonomics while accounting for the asynchronous nature of the devices. We offer pre-built UI components (React, Web-native…etc) to let developers rapidly assemble complex UIs that can manage large fleets of devices. And we even have a small hardware gateway to connect on-prem and legacy devices.
A few app developers like Guesty (YC S14) already use Seam to connect to their end users’ devices. We have a generous free tier and charge a small fee for additional devices. We work closely with manufacturers to improve device reliability, add OAuth support, and patch security holes. We also spend time educating them on the importance of supporting open source projects like Home Assistant, OpenHab…etc and we will be contributing some of our own integrations to those ecosystems.
Seam is still very much a work in progress with many aspects that need to be improved. But our hope is that it will help push IoT devices from being (mostly) point solutions, to becoming a set of API endpoints software engineers can tap to interact with the physical world.