Episode 139: The 2017 IoT Podcast Gift Guide!

You guys, this week’s podcast is all about the toys. Specifically toys for your kids, your dog and your loved ones. In the last year Kevin and I have tried many devices and have compiled our experiences into a gift guide for the connected life. You’ll find both our favorites like the June oven and utilitarian objects like the Ecobee 4 thermostat among a $20 smart camera and $30 motion sensor for kids. We also handled the few news items for the week– namely Apple deciding to delay the sale of the Home Pod.

This is the $20 Wyze camera. It’s a solid gift.

We also took on an incredibly topical question from Aaron in Ontario who asked about heating cables for his roof and recommended switches for automating outdoor holiday lights. As a Texan I’m drawing a blank on the remote control for the heating cables, but I shared my favorite outdoor-rated smart plugs with him. This year there have been a bunch of new Wi-Fi options, which is awesome. Enjoy the show.

  • I’m losing faith in HomeKit again
  • This year’s best gifts for the smart home
  • The best connected gifts for kids
  • Cool connected stocking stuffers
  • Crazy expensive stuff that is hard to justify

Episode 138: Wink’s security system review and Las Vegas is a smart city

There was a lot of small news this week including updates to the Google Home/Assistant ecosystem that Kevin and I discuss on this week’s podcast. I share my feelings on the Google Mini and then we segue into a conversation about Google’s new AI framework for embedded devices that launched this week. We also discuss the push by smart home and lock companies to give delivery or service people access to your home. SmartThings gets local control for some devices this week. Kevin reviews the Wink Lookout security bundle and we take a listener question about what to look for in a smart home camera.

The Wink Lookout bundle works right out of the box.

Our guest this week is awesome. I speak with Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas, about plans for a traffic light that detects pollution and can send cars along before it builds up, and what it really means to build a smart city. Sherwood shares a lot of good insights about the challenges of building a smart city that we don’t often see. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Sherwood Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Google’s making some changes to Now and Google Assistant
  • Who would you let into your home alone?
  • Wink’s new security system has one big flaw
  • How a smart city gets that way
  • This is the biggest challenge halting innovation in smart cities

Episode 137: Is Nest breaking Thread?

This week’s show has flying cars and lawsuits. What more can anyone really ask for? Kevin and I kick off the show discussing Waymo’s autonomous minivans, Uber’s plan for helicars, and the injunction that ADT won against Ring. There are plenty of other bits of security news that span the smart home all the way to a new survey full of dumb things industrial shops do related to security. Finally, Congress is trying again with an IoT security bill. This week also had a huge chip deal, bad news for Logitech device owners and an insightful question/comment related to the Amazon Echo on the IoT Hotline.

One of the Notion sensors that now works with Nest.

Our guest this week is Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group, who tried hard to convince me that this week’s news out of the wireless standard organization wasn’t bad. Thread is implementing an official certification and something called “Thread Ready” which is like some kind of royal bastard. It won’t have all of the features of Thread and certified Thread gear won’t recognize it. I’m worried it will break the standard, but Erickson explains what it means. You’re gonna want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Why minivans are good autonomous vehicles
  • There is no such thing as an airgapped network
  • Can we please get an expiration date for devices?
  • Did Nest just break the Thread protocol?
  • We’ll see tens of Thread devices at CES next year.

Episode 136: Sony’s Aibo is back and Chamberlain’s CEO explains its moves

The best news of the week is that Sony is bringing back the Aibo robotic puppy. The bad news is that it will costs a pretty penny. Kevin Tofel and I discuss the pup, San Diego’s smart city efforts, the Apple HomePod, and funding for Ayla’s IoT platform as a service. I emailed companies to find out who has updated after KRACK and Kevin shares smart home data from Mozilla. Finally, we review the Amazon Echo Plus with ZigBee and Amazon Alexa’s new smart home interface.

The new Sony Aibo has OLED eyes and so many moving joints.

This week’s guest is JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group, who came on the show to explain where Chamberlain is heading with new commercial products, and its new subscription plan for IFTTT. Sohovich has been at Chamberlain for 20 months and in that time she’s focused on turning what was only a product business into a service business. Part of this is to better align with costs, but there is also a chance to boost margins by offering software features and integrations. We also hit on the future of smart home subscriptions. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Bring on the monthly subscription fees
  • Ayla gets $60 million and a Chinese joint venture
  • Why you may not want to buy an Amazon Echo Plus
  • Why Chamberlain is charging $1 for monthly IFTTT access
  • Chamberlain’s plans for the commercial market

Episode 135: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The home security train just keeps on rolling in the smart home with Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. Also on the home front Kevin Tofel and I discuss the new lighting startup Noon, which launches Thursday. We also talk about some new devices including a $20 camera and a Google Assistant intercom system before answering a question from Derek about how to integrate a bunch of devices together using an Android app. And because today ends in Y we also have a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

The Noon lighting system on a wall.

The guest this week is Phil Skipper of Vodafone who shares the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. I learned a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Phil Skipper of Vodafone
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Amazon’s Key and Wink’s new security system are part of a trend
  • Noon’s lighting system is pretty cool
  • It’s not IoT exactly, but you should fear Reaper
  • Why choose NB-IoT over other low power network options
  • A glass break sensor can teach us new business models for IoT

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 133: August’s new doorbell and Vitamix blends with Bluetooth

Both Dell and Salesforce made big announcements about their internet of things plans this week, so Kevin and I try to break that down for people. We then discussed Amazon trying to deliver things to the trunk of your car, Google Home going too far in recording conversations and updates to hardware for autonomous cars. We also review the latest August lock and doorbell hardware and answer a listener question from Sally about linking her Sonos with her August locks for some musical automation.

This Vitamix blender has Bluetooth and an app.

I was at the Smart Kitchen Summit this week, and ran into Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, which just launched a connected blender. I had a few moments to ask Ciepiel how Vitamix was thinking about bringing its blenders into the 21st century and why. He explained how to think about technology in a product designed to be an heirloom and what it means for the company’s operations to support a connected device. We also talk about sharing data across connected products and how technology changes blenders’ capabilities. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • Dell and Salesforce are adapting to the IoT
  • Cheaper LIDAR and smarter cars are coming
  • August locks are good but the doorbell made me angry
  • Why use Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi in a connected blender
  • Software can let you count calories even more granularly

Have a question? Leave a voicemail on the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and we might answer it on the show!

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. She also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10

Episode 131: Amazon’s new gear and Nest’s Matt Rogers

This week’s show features a quick rundown of Amazon’s new devices. It also has a lot of exciting news on the wearable front. Kevin Tofel reviews his Apple Watch with LTE and we also discuss a new program from the Food and Drug Administration that will allow nine companies to get pre-certifications for their devices. I’m optimistic that consumers will get more innovation and better data. We also hit on a stealthy new lighting startup from a former Nest co-founder, a partnership around autonomous vehicles and a fight between Google and Amazon.

The Echo spot has a camera, a screen and costs $129.99.

My guest is Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nest, who discusses the rationale behind the new Nest Security system and where Nest is heading. We also talk about efforts to build a closer relationship between the Google Home and Nest teams. Plus, he offers hope for an eventual HomeKit integration, although I am not going to hold my breath. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, Nest
Sponsors: Qualcomm and Eero

  • Which new Amazon device will you buy?
  • The FDA gets into wearables
  • Advice for a listener on creating audio-activated scenes
  • Why Nest is aiming at the high end for security
  • Will Nest gear ever get HomeKit support?

Episode 130: Nest’s a security company now and Hitachi’s new industrial IoT explained

Wow. This week saw some big news from Nest as it announced a new security system plus other devices. August also updated its line of locks and promised a better doorbell. Meanwhile, rumors of an Amazon Alexa security system or even glasses emerged. And Google leaked some news. We also talked about smart grid M&A and Comcast buying Stringify, a company that links together myriad devices and lets you create scenes. Kevin also shared his thoughts on the Apple Watch with LTE and we answer a reader question about garage doors.

A Nest Detect sensor in action.

On the guest front, we speak with Rob Tiffany, the CTO of Lumada, about Hitachi’s new industrial IoT play Vantara. He discusses the existential threat that faced Hitachi and why it needed to make a move as well as shared how Hitachi is offering trains as a service. There’s a lot to digest in this show, but it’s a solid overview of the big news this week.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Tiffany of Hitachi Vantara
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • The Nest Connect and Security is the return of Weave
  • So much hardware getting released and leaked
  • On the Apple Watch with LTE, manage your networks or manage your expectations
  • IoT posed an existential threat to Hitachi’s business
  • How to turn a train into a service