Episode 73: AI is just a buzzword

Can we change the way companies use our consumer and personal data derived from connected devices? Gilad Meiri, the CEO of Neura, discusses a new model for data privacy and a way to apply machine learning to connected devices. The results he’s after sound like magic, but we explore how it could be made real in this week’s show.

Would you spend $60 on this NFC-enabled ring?
Would you spend $60 on this NFC-enabled ring?

Before we talk about AI and privacy, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the possible reasons behind Amazon’s reportedly new streaming music plan for the Echo, news in the world of connected cars and a new Ecobee thermostat spotted at the FCC. Kevin may also buy some connected jewelry made with NFC chips inside. Finally, we talk about turning your home into a smart house ahead of putting it on the market. It’s pricey, but is it worth it?

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Gilad Meiri, CEO of Neura
Sponsors: ARM and the Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Amazon wants to charge $5 for an Echo-only music service?
  • Staging the smart home with August, Lutron and Nest
  • Kevin’s eyeing NFC jewelry
  • AI is mostly a buzzword at this point
  • Consumers alone will not be able to preserve their data privacy

Episode 72: Your IoT efforts can expose you to legal risks

Hell hath frozen over at Intel, with the big news this week that Intel has taken an ARM license so it can manufacture ARM-based chips. We talk about what this news means for Intel, its IoT strategy and more. We also try to make sense of Fucshia, a reportedly new OS that Google has dumped in Github. And for those less enamored of the big companies’ strategies, I also share my review of the Brita Infinity water pitcher that uses the Amazon Dash Replenishment service. You can see if it’s your thing.

The Wi-Fi connected Brita pitcher sells for $44.99.
The Wi-Fi connected Brita pitcher sells for $44.99.

Our guest this week explains why you should call your lawyer before deploying sensors or flying drones to collect interesting data. Elizabeth Wharton, an attorney at Hall Booth Smith (@lawyerliz on Twitter) has been working on IoT issues and security for the last decade. She talks about the regulatory environment, things companies should worry about, and a future fight over end user license agreements.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Elizabeth Wharton an attorney at Hall Booth Smith
Sponsor: ARM

  • Intel’s new deal with ARM is the tip of the iceberg
  • What is Fuchsia? We take a guess.
  • Is this pitcher for you?
  • A word of warning for drone-happy entities
  • Insurers and lawyers may be the reason we get rules for the IoT

Episode 71: Don’t panic over IoT hacks

Ransomware on a connected thermostat. Bluetooth locks that can be opened from a quarter-mile away. Cars that can be controlled at highway speeds. All of this and a Mr. Robot reference await you in this week’s show as I discuss the news from Defcon and BackHat with Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council. Woods’ advice for consumers was surprisingly comforting. And yes, you have heard him before. He appeared on Episode 52 with 9 tips to secure the smart home.

The Staples Connect Hub (plus assorted gadgets) in November 2013.
The Staples Connect Hub (plus assorted gadgets) in November 2013.

Before we delve into the insecurities of the internet of things, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the demise of the Staples Connect hub, which hubs we’re currently fans of and updates on several developer tools. We also talk about carriers’ efforts in the IoT, connected car data plans and a new device from Logitech.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Woods, Deputy Director Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council
Sponsors: Xively and ThingMonk

  • Are hubs like the Highlander? Staples Connect is done!
  • Dev news galore! Particle, MyDevices and Omega2
  • Introducing the Logitech Pop
  • So many hacks at Defcon, but don’t panic.
  • Good security advice for everyone

Episode 70: Distributed computing comes to the smart home

Wearables make a return to the podcast with Philips’ news of a suite of medical-grade devices to measure health. Plus, I give my impressions of the UnderArmor Fitness box after a few months living with it. Kevin Tofel and I also talk about Black Hat and IoT security, including a $9.4 million grant to study the electromagnetic noise made by hacked devices as a means of detecting hacks. There’s also new lighting tech from Philips on the Hue light bulb side! We end our segment with a first look at the Brita water pitcher connected to the Amazon Fulfillment service.

The Plum light switches in their package. The switches cost $289 for three.
The Plum light switches in their package. The switches cost $289 for three.

Our guest is Utz Baldwin, the CEO of Plum, the maker of a Wi-Fi light pad. Smart home aficionados will appreciate the quality Wi-Fi light pad that accepts dimming and other commands, while nerds will be excited by the fact that this light switch runs Erlang and acts as a node for a distributed compute network in the home. Baldwin also is the former head of CEDIA, which means he gives a professional installer’s point of view on DIY smart home devices. You’ll enjoy this episode!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Utz Baldwin, CEO of Plum
Sponsors: Xively and ThingMonk

  • Thoughts on Philips’ new consumer medical device suite
  • Thoughts on UnderArmour’s products
  • Brita’s Amazon Dash water pitcher in the real world
  • How a CEDIA president views the smart home today
  • Why the smart home needs a fog

Episode 69: Amazon opens up about the Echo

The Amazon Echo is the gateway drug to the smart home for many folks. They start with Alexa and move to shopping for connected lights or outlets. So we brought Charlie Kindel, director of Alexa Smart Home at Amazon, on the show to discuss the Echo’s history, its future and what voice can and cannot do in the home. So turn off your Echo mics for this one because we couldn’t avoid saying “Alexa” for this show.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.
The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

Before we get to the Echo, Kevin and I discuss security challenges facing Osram light bulbs and security challenges from connected industries. We also explain why the Thread Group is teaming up with the OCF and what it means for developers. Finally, we discuss if companies should reimburse customers when their connected devices have outages or features are late.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charlie Kindel, director Alexa Home Services at Amazon
Sponsors: Xively and The Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Outages and security flaws abound
  • The Thread Group and Intel’s Open Connectivity Foundation get together
  • A modest proposal for connected devices
  • You can command August locks from your Amazon Echo
  • Charlie Kindel’s favorite Echo hacks (including one that works with Sonos)

Episode 68: The future of food and ARM’s buyout

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank making an offer to buy chip design firm ARM in a deal worth $32 billion kicks off our show this week, as Kevin and I weigh the merits and opportunities presented by the deal. We then skip over to ZenReach, the Wi-Fi provider that uses Wi-Fi as a means to capture more data about you. Kevin and I share some tips to ensure privacy. On a somewhat related note, the Federal Trade Commission is eyeing the longevity of connected devices and the marketing practices uses to sell them to consumers.

Arable's sensor in the field.  Image courtesy of Arable.
Arable’s sensor in the field. Image courtesy of Arable.

We also touch on a White House plan for $400 million in “IoT” funding, but it’s really for 5G wireless research, some doorbell camera news and a bit on why your garage door and LED lights might cause interference problems. Then we have a guest who is building a sensor for farmers to discuss how farmers are adopting technology. It’s not actually the farmers doing the buying in all cases.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Adam Wolf, CEO of Arable Labs
Sponsor: Xively

  • What happens with ARM post-SoftBank?
  • The FTC is not impressed with bricking consumer devices
  • Skybell works with SmartThings and August doorbell disappoints
  • How data changes the business of farming
  • Is more data the future of food?

Episode 67: New Nest gear and a shocking experience

For the first time since it became part of Google/Alphabet, Nest has released a new product. It’s an outdoor camera for home security. But Nest has added a bit of a twist. We discuss the $199 camera and the ideas behind it with Mehul Nariyawala, a product manager who was in charge in building the camera.

The new Nest Cam Outdoor.
The new Nest Cam Outdoor.

Before we dig into the deets on Nest, Kevin Tofel and I share this week’s news. First up, Kevin installed an Ecobee 3 and learned some valuable lessons. (This is the Steve Jenkin’s post that Kevin wished he had seen.) And because we felt left out of the general hubbub about Pokemon Go we talked about the game and augmented reality. It probably could have helped Kevin with his install. To make sure we got into the IoT news of the week, we ran down the partnership all-in-one security device Canary signed with an insurance company, GE and AT&T’s partnership with Microsoft Azure and bit more depth on Alibaba’s new smart car. Also, he’s a link to my new favorite app, Lexa.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mehul Nariyawala of Nest
Sponsors: Xively and wolfSSL

  • Kevin’s shocking Ecobee experience and some good advice
  • Pokemon whoa!The game taking the world by storm
  • Microsoft’s Azure is cleaning up with the enterprise IoT
  • Is this the Nest security product you were looking for?
  • Outdoor cameras are so hot right now!

Episode 66: The smart home will make you love your insurance company

Insurance firms might be the savior of smart home technology. Because the price for many connected gadgets are so high, and consumers are uncertain if they are worth the investment, insurance discounts and programs are one way connected devices could find their way into a home. But they also could help the insurance companies totally transform their business. This week, we discuss the future of the smart home and insurance with Ryan Rist, the VP of Innovation at American Family Insurance.

Ryan Rist of American Family Insurance
Ryan Rist of American Family Insurance

Before we get to that, though Kevin and I talk about how manufacturers should kill connected devices using the end of EyeFi as our case study. Then we offer consumers some advice on how to kill their accounts for connected devices when they want to return them to stores or just leave them behind based off the experience a Redditor had with an Arlo camera from Netgear. And just for fun we also covered the Nest patent for a baby crib, the expansion of LoRa networks and my thoughts on the Arlo camera.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Ryan Rist, American Family Insurance
Sponsors: Ayla Networks and Wolf SSL

  • The end of EyeFi and how to kill a product.
  • Don’t return your connected device before doing this.
  • LoRa, LoRa everywhere!
  • Taking insurance from reactive reimbursement to proactive protection.
  • Will your insurer make an app for that?

Episode 65: All about Wink and Alexa’s new Skills

Are you curious about Wink? On June 11 it started selling its Relay switch, a light switch that contains a screen and two soft programmable switches for $99 each. Two cost $149 and also double as an intercom. So we talked to Nathan Smith, Wink’s co-founder and CTO, about what happened to bring Wink out back into the game and what to expect next.

The Relay switch from Wink.
The Relay switch from Wink.

Kevin Tofel and I also discussed another Wi-Fi light switch from Plum as part of a discussion on switches and a home without hubs. Before we got there we cover Amazon’s makeover of the Alexa App to highlight Skills, the new Dash buttons and an update on Wi-Fi. Just for fun, I covered my doorbell review that ran in the Wirecutter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nathan Smith of Wink
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

  • Alexa’s new skills
  • Here come new Wi-Fi light switches
  • Wi-Fi is getting better!
  • What belongs on a glanceable interface?
  • Some fun Wink robots for y’all

Episode 64: How a VC views the internet of things

Do you need money? Want to buy or sell an internet of things startup? Then this week’s interview is must-listen stuff. Matt Turck, of FirstMark Capital came on the show to give some advice to those seeking financing, discuss the overall funding landscape and try to pinpoint where the next big exits are going to come from. Why Turck? Because a few months ago he covered this who topic in amazing depth. So listen up to see what has changed!

Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.
Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.

Before you listen to Turck, Kevin shares his karaoke picks, we dig into the upcoming Bluetooth 5.0 specification and lay out what we think Apple’s HomeKit and Home app mean for the industry. We also talk about Samsung’s plan to invest $1.2 billion into the internet of things, its cloud, and Elon Musk’s offer to buy SolarCity. It’s not that crazy, y’all!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Turck of FirstMark Capital
Sponsor: WolfSSL

  • Kevin’s karaoke nightmare (also the latest on Bluetooth)
  • Apple’s Home app is somewhat demoralizing
  • What Samsung needs in IoT
  • We’re in the second wave of IoT exits
  • Don’t quit your day job to rush to build a new product