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!
  • Published by

    Stacey Higginbotham

    I am a journalist who has covered technology for over a decade at publications such as Fortune, PCMag, Gigaom, The Deal and BusinessWeek.

    2 thoughts on “Episode 60: Everyone takes on the Amazon Echo”

    1. Hi Stacy and Kevin,

      I just finished listening to Podcast 60 and enjoyed the interview with Chris Klein, CEO of Rachio. I found your podcast thanks to Richard Gunther and my interest in IOT. My wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a second home in a southern state and our respective employers allowed us to work remotely during the winter. So now we spend the summer in our home in the mid-atlantic and the winters in the south. This brought about my sudden interest in IOT. This was two years ago and I decided on Insteon for remote control/automation of both homes while we are are not in residence, Foscam cameras and Blue Iris software to monitor the homes, Z-wave Kwikset locks to remotely control access, and Simplisafe for our alarm systems. I also have a Honeywell WiFi thermostat in our southern home and intend to install a Carrier WiFi thermostat in our mid-atlantic home. It is a proprietary system and my vendor is unable to install the thermostat I want so I am going to do it myself. I am an electrical engineer/software engineer so I like to do things myself.

      I wanted to share with you both my experience with Rachio. The home we purchased in the south had a Rain Bird dumb timer and during the rainy season last year my lawn guy told me that the lawn was being watered too much so I decided when we got down here in the fall to install a smart irrigation unit. I researched all the available units and decided on the Rachio 16-zone unit. It was an easy install for the most part with the exception of the WiFi connection. I had to add a WiFi extender to ensure a good signal outside where the controller is located and that fixed my connection issues. I added a Netamo weather station and have been very happy with the interaction between the two. When it rains at the set level or the weather reports heavy rain the Rachio skips the watering. I am not really too concerned about water usage as our system uses a well pump and the only restriction I have is local allowing me only to water one day a week. I just do not want to overwater the yard and kill the grass. I have had a couple of issued with my Rachio but their support is first rate. I am very happy with the unit and am kicking myself for not purchasing the second generation controller when it was offered at a reduced price to current owners.

      One another note I have been upgrading my WiFi coverage and pre-purchased the Luma mesh system. Unfortunately I was not able to get in time for my southern home so I purchased two Securifi 2015 routers. They are excellent and along with a 2012 model I as able to ensure that my outside cameras have excellent WiFi coverage. I am looking forward to trying the Luma system in our mid-atlantic home as it is a 5-level split and currently I am using three routers to cover the home.

      I enjoy your podcast and look forward to each show.

      Best Regards,

      Alan Booth

      1. Thanks for the input, Alan. I’ve heard nothing but positives from folks who are using the Rachio. And I can’t wait to hear what you think about Luma routers. I know Kevin is excited about those too.

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