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

Episode 63: Two summertime gadget reviews and wisdom on wearables

This week is all about health and wearables, starting with Kevin Tofel discussing his frustration with fitness trackers that aren’t sharing everything. This ties into this week’s guest, Ernesto Ramirez, who just received a doctorate in public health and is an expert on how people and companies are using wearables. Ramirez and I spoke about fitness trackers’ accuracy, their utility and then moved on to questions about how employers might use them for good and ill. We also talk about Kevin’s issue of being able to transfer your data because you should own it.

Kevin bought a Fitbit Charge.
Kevin bought a Fitbit Charge.

Aside from the health and wearables chatter, I reviewed the Ilumi color-changing outdoor BR30, which was pretty great, but had one flaw, and brought on my father-in-law who was testing the Rachio sprinkler system in his yard (since I don’t have one). Both of these gadgets are great for summer! Kevin and I didn’t get to the Apple HomeKit news this week, but we will next, so enjoy this show and you’ll have something to look forward to in the next one.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Greg Allemann and Ernesto Ramirez

  • You’ll never believe why Kevin bought a Fitbit!
  • 3 awesome things about the Ilumi and 1 bad one.
  • Never install a smart sprinkler without checking this one thing!
  • Check out how wearables are changing healthcare
  • This story about your boss and fitness trackers will terrify you!

Episode 62: Tony Fadell set to Away mode

This week we got to the big story of the last few days, Tony Fadell leaving Nest. We discuss what that means for any Nest buyers out there and what it says about selling connected device. And because Father’s Day is around the corner, we came up with three gift ideas for Dad. None of them relate to ties, golf or grilling. And for people who love lighting as much as I do, we found reports of white BR30 lights from Philips Hue, something I’ve been eagerly awaiting since the launch of the white, standard A19 bulbs.

The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.
The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.

Then we move to this week’s guest, Chris Penrose, the SVP of IoT at AT&T. He chatted with me about the carriers plans for building an IoT business beyond cars, and also talked about the opening of the latest AT&T innovation center devoted to medical devices. This AT&T Foundry is based in Houston, Texas and will tackle home health devices as well as challenges associated with connected hospitals. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Chris Penrose, SVP of IoT, AT&T

  • Next steps for Nest
  • 3 gift ideas for Dad
  • My dreams have come true
  • AT&T takes on medical devices
  • Why the last mile is now the last meter

Episode 61: Look inside Google Home and what’s up with Jawbone?

This week is all about chips and presence. First Kevin and I dig into the disclosure that the Google Home Device will have the same chip as the Chromecast, and we explain what that means. Then we dive into the Jawbone rumors and cover Atari’s plans for building IoT devices through a partnership with Sigfox. Finally, we ran across a presentation to add a wake up and receive technical spec to Wi-Fi, which was worth talking about since it will lower the power consumption of Wi-Fi connected “things”.

The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.
The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.

After the break, I interviewed Chris Herbert, the CEO of Trackr, a presence tag. Hebert’s vision involves making it easy to tell what room in your home something is, as opposed to just offering the address. But to do this, you’ll have to buy a $99 set of plugs that help offer fine-grained presence detection. It’s cheaper than Zuli, the other maker of presence detecting outlets, so I’ll probably give them a try when they come out later this summer. Please enjoy.

  • Bulk is better. What’s inside the Echo and Google Home?
  • Those Atari IoT devices may have a catch.
  • The Wirecutter reviews smart home hubs.
  • Taking Trackr from $70 to $30 dollars
  • The future of voice and instant gratification

Episode 60: Everyone takes on the Amazon Echo

Kevin is back from Google IO this week, and so of course, we discussed the Google Home product in detail. But since voice + a personal assistant is so hot right now, we also talked about the recent Apple rumors that said it was building its own Echo-like device and opening up Siri to developers. We then talked about Pebble’s new gear, how much power my devices are sucking and Samsung’s possible decision to use Tizen instead of Android Wear on its smart watches.

Google's proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.
Google’s proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.

In the spirit of Father’s Day and the start of summer, I spoke with Chris Klein the CEO of connected sprinkler maker Rachio, who talked about how a municipality could use connected sprinklers to control water usage, how to talk to your vocal users and what he learned selling Rachio in a Big Box retailer. You’ll also get my first impressions of the device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rachio CEO Chris Klein

  • Who will command your smart home?
  • Pebble pivots
  • An update on vampire power
  • How to take a connected device from the home to the city level
  • Hanging out in Home Depot is fun!
  • Episode 59: Chipmakers love the smart car

    This week I was at the NXP Technology Forum interviewing the semiconductor company’s CEO Rick Clemmer about smart cities and smart cars. The most interesting fact he shared was that the BMW Series 7 cars have about $300 worth of silicon inside them. To compare the estimates on the cost of chips inside the Apple iPhone 6 come to roughly $120.

    The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon.  --Image courtesy of  BMW.
    The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. –Image courtesy of BMW.

    Kevin was at Google IO this week, so next week’s episode should be full of great insights, so Janko Roettgers from Variety was my cohost. He has just been to CES Asia, so we learned about the Amazon Echo of china called Ding Dong and the size of CES Asia. We also discussed new integrations for the Nest, the Amazon IoT Dash button and a then I was kicked out of the room where I was recording. So we didn’t get a chance to cover Google Home and the sound quality isn’t as great because I was live with a wobbly connection. I hope you will bear with it.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Janko Roettgers
    Guest: Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP

    • So many more things work with Nest!
    • Tips on the AWS IoT button
    • Meet the Amazon Echo of China
    • How a chip company thinks about the internet of things
    • Cramming chips in cities and cars

    Episode 58: How to stop vampire power consumption

    Since a quarter of residential energy use is consumed by gadgets that are “off”, Kevin and I discuss how to measure and cut back on that power consumption with a few connected devices. We also talk about Apple’s rumored Home app for HomeKit, the launch of OpenThread, the open source version of Nest’s Thread protocol and the new Almond router from Securifi. We also touch on HP Enterprises‘ hop into the internet of things and Hitachi’s new formal IoT group.

    The Almond 3 router. --Image courtesy of Securifi.
    The Almond 3 router. –Image courtesy of Securifi.

    Then we go to Rich Brown, who is the executive editor of CNET’s smart home and appliance coverage, to discuss how the news site set up a smart house in Louisville, Kentucky, the site’s favorite gadgets and how the Amazon Echo has democratized access to the smart home. The big theme of our conversation was compromise, as in, if you want a smart home you are going to have to make compromises.

    Hosts: Ken Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Rich Brown, Executive Editor, CNET

    • A smart home may be a wasteful home
    • Deciphering OpenThread
    • Everyone is hopping into the Industrial Internet pool
    • CNET’s favorite smart home devices
    • The smart home isn’t a democracy

    Episode 57: A deep dive into OpenHAB and some problem devices

    We dove into the deep end of wearables this week discussing the dresses at this year’s Met Gala, where Kevin shared that Clare Danes’ princess fantasy gown took 30 battery packs to operate. It’s not all celebrity this week as Kevin and I dove into several devices that unfortunately didn’t all quite work as we expected. I reviewed the Pebblebee Stone, a bluetooth tracker and programmable button that was supposed to connect to If This Then That, but didn’t. Kevin talked about connecting his OnHub router to If This Then That, but also had some troubles. And once again we shared news of SmartThing’s troubles–this time with a security vulnerability. We ended with Microsoft’s acquisition of Solair and Oracle’s acquisition of Opower.

    The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.
    The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.

    Then for the open source, DIY smart home junkies out there, I brought Kai Kreuzer, the founder of OpenHAB onto the show. He discussed the projects ambitions–let people connect all their stuff without worrying about handing over control to a vendor–and how he might commercialize the project. The conversation exposed how tough it is to get the ideals of the open source community to mesh with the reality of trying to connect your home. Listen up.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Kai Kreuzer of OpenHAB

    • You must match your LEDs to your dress
    • Some bumps in the road for IFTTT, OnHub and the Pebblebee Stone
    • Rick Osterloh returns to Google and Kevin and I disagree
    • Want to build your own home hub?
    • Ease of use means totally different things to me and to Kai

    Episode 56: How Ericsson plans to remake its business for a networked era

    After a beating on the stock market last week, I spoke with Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg to understand how the company’s 5-year-old plan to change its business is going. The company has just announced a restructuring as it tried to convince Wall Street that it was making progress, so Vestberg discussed that, the role of the internet of things in its new business, and how he defines 5G. Ericsson saw the shifts in its business from the internet of things almost a decade ago, and is working hard to adapt the 140-year-old business.

    Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson. Image courtesy of Ericsson.
    Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson. Image courtesy of Ericsson.

    Before we get to the interview with Vestberg, Kevin and I spend time discussing lights. Phillips Hue has a new app that actually is worthwhile. Stack Lights introduces a new ultrasound sensor that lets it do motion detection through a lampshade, and Ilumi offers an outdoor-rated color-changing floodlight. We also discuss Nokia’s acquisition of Withings, Tile’s impressive revenue and integration with a car, and products you should buy mom for Mother’s Day instead of a Nest.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson

    • So much lighting!
    • Nokia’s Withings buy is good, but the price seems low
    • Don’t buy your mom a Nest for Mother’s Day. Buy these gadgets instead.
    • Ericsson on its digital transformation
    • What the heck is 5G?

    Episode 55: Find out what Ford learned from Tesla

    With ride-sharing, electric vehicles and millennials who aren’t super keen on owning a car all converging, the auto industry is in a panic. But Ford, led by both Bill Ford and Ford CEO Mark Fields has created a plan to keep the carmaker relevant, even if fewer people buy cars. In this week’s show I chat with Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, about moving from making cars to delivering a transportation. Butler shares Ford’s thoughts on connecting the car, the integration with the Amazon Echo, and a few things Ford has learned from Tesla.

    The  2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford  has to offer said Butler.
    The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.

    Before Butler and I get talking, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Intel’s job cuts and internet of things strategy as well as a Zigbee chipmaker’s acquisition. We then talk about the challenge of matching tech components to the long lifespan of some home products. Kevin bought a Pine 64 development board and we talk about what he should do with it, we add a few other updates on devices such as the Philips Hue lights and cover a new deal to bring connectivity to your clothes

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    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Don Butler at Ford

    • Can Intel matter in the internet of things?
    • My smart bulb’s radio broke so now it’s dumb
    • Connected clothes are coming
    • What Ford learned from Tesla
    • Discover Ford’s biggest asset as it seeks to transform its business