Episode 98: Science fiction prepared me for spying TVs

This week we discuss the city of Louisville, Kentucky adding an If This Then That channel, a settlement over televisions that spy on you, and a possible new feature for the Amazon Echo that could bridge the gap between it and the Google Home. That last tidbit was contributed by Grant Clauser, the smart home editor at the Wirecutter who took Kevin’s place this week. (Never fear, Kevin will be back next week.) Grant also provides input on the professional installer networks like Control4, Crestron and Savant in case you’re wondering about those options. We also have some kitchen M&A and security embedded in the Almond3 router.

Image courtesy of Bruce Sterling.

Our guest this week is Bruce Sterling, a popular science fiction author and the co-creator of a smart house/maker lab in Turin, Italy. Sterling discusses Casa Jasmina, overlooked aspects of the transition to smart homes and how Europe is likely to react to the challenges of security and privacy in connected devices. He also offers up the name “Talking Donkey” for devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. To find out why, listen to this week’s show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Grant Clauser of The Wirecutter
Guest: Bruce Sterling
Sponsors: MIT IoT Bootcamp and Ayla Networks

  • Light bulbs for better health and evil TVs
  • Kitchen tech gets some M&A action
  • Don’t call it old-school home automation
  • What the heck is a talking donkey?
  • How Europe will take our smart tech and make it better

Episode 97: Enterprises will spend big bucks ($269 billion) on IoT

There’s a lot of money in the internet of things. No, not just in your smart home gadgets. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2020 enterprises will be spending €250 billion on the internet of things. We discuss the survey, news of the week, an update on my OpenHab project and answer the question of how one gets started with a smart home. Two cases caught our eye on the privacy and security front, with one dealing with self-incrimination and a pacemaker and the other being the hotel in Austria that dealt with a ransomware attack on its smart lock system.

A chart from the recent BCG report on the internet of things.

And for everyone who wants to know about how to get into the smart home as a renter, I brought on Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis to discuss things renters can buy to connect their (temporary) homes. She also laid out the future of smart apartments and explained what tech renters are likely to see from their landlords. There’s something for everyone this week.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

Episode 96: Okay Computer and Stacey begins with HomeKit

Talking to the Amazon Echo just got easier, after Amazon adds “Computer” as a wake word, while I test out the use of Google Home’s new partner WeMo (Honeywell also made a connection with Google Home). Ring managed to raise $109 million this week, and we put that in context with the state of the smart home market. We also put Jawbone’s lack of customer support in similar context. I also started my Apple HomeKit review starting with set up, and pledged to try the latest version of the OpenHAB open source smart home hub software.

The Ring floodlight cam is just one of a few new Ring products out in the last year.

In the guest portion of the show, we spoke with Susan Norris who is at PG&E about how connected devices are both a boon and a burden for energy conservation. In addition to fun facts about how solar power is changing the demand for electric power, she shared information on what she wants smart home device companies to think about when trying to work with utilities. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Susan Norris, senior manager for energy efficiency products at PG&E
Sponsor: June

  • Differences in Google Home and the Amazon Echo
  • Stacey makes a solemn pledge
  • What can we expect on regulating the internet of things?
  • How to get your product in front of millions of normal consumers
  • Why PG&E views IoT with hope and worry

Episode 95: The industrial internet is gaining ground

You asked and we delivered! This week Kevin discusses the possibility of using the Nvidia Shield as a smart home controller of sorts (and gives his impression of its gaming chops). I give an early review of the Stringify app which is now out for Android and iOS. We also discuss “The Big Show” as folks call the National Retail Federation conference that happened this week, hitting on how players like Intel and Zebra are staking out territory. There’s some Nest news, a bit on another service provider offering a smart home plan and our thoughts on Sonos’ new direction.

The Industrial Internet of Things Lab at National Instruments.

After the news, I brought on three industrial internet experts to talk about the state of the industrial internet of things, tips for smaller companies at setting your pricing in a negotiation with larger players and insights on PTC’s strategy after it bought all of those IoT and augmented reality companies. I’m curious if you guys see what PTC CEO Hepplemann sees when it comes to the future of AR.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Jamie Smith, Director of Embedded Systems at NI, Alex Davern CEO of NI, and Jim Heppelmann CEO of PTC
Sponsor: Dell

  • New Raspberry Pis boost compute
  • Can connected retail save the brick and mortar store?
  • Sonos, Nvidia’s Shield and Stringify thoughts
  • Who’s buying the industrial IoT
  • Taking Pokemon Go to the factory floor

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

Episode 93: Special CES Edition covering all the things!

This week’s podcast has too many guests to list (I’m going to list them anyway) and a format that’s totally different. We start off with a discussion on the state of the smart home and what we can learn from CES about mainstream adoption featuring commentary from Cory Sorice, VP of connected platforms at Chamberlain, Jason Johnson, CEO of August, and Ed Zitron of EZPR who is representing the normals among us.

The Stringify table at CES shows some of the myriad connected devices out there today.

From there we hit news from Lutron, Moen and discover what the new Dot Dot standard is all about. After a brief ad from the sponsor for this special edition of the podcast, The Open Connectivity Foundation, we talk to Dr. Michael Bjorn head of research at Ericsson Consumer Lab who shared predictions about technology trends facing us in 2017.

And we wrap with a few thoughts on business models for the internet of things from Zach Suppala, the CEO of Particle, a bit about changing standards from Grant Erickson of the thread Group and finally touch on the challenge of device longevity from Chamberlain’s Sorice.

You’re gonna love it.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsor: The Open Connectivity Foundation

  • What can CES tell us about the state of the smart home?
  • This smart shower feels dumb
  • What is Dot Dot?
  • Trends that matter in 2017
  • When can I safely buy a connected product?
  • Get ready to pay a subscription fee

Episode 92: At CES Amazon Alexa and robots rule

This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.

This is a $200 hairbrush slated to come out later this year that measures how healthy your hair is.

Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Tim Crawford, CIO speaker and consultant
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

  • Let’s talk about business partnerships and privacy
  • Routers to protect all the things
  • So much smart lighting news including news about Lutron and switches from WeMo
  • There’s a new IoT protocol in town … dotdot
  • CIOs have to understand the business, not just tech
  • You can’t just sprinkle security on an IoT project

Episode 91: The cops want your smart home data

This week’s big story was the Bentonville, Arkansas case where police were seeking data from an alleged murderer’s Echo history. Kevin and I share our thoughts on the case, what police could learn from connected gadgets and what this means for your privacy. We then talk about Google’s new smartwatches coming in 2017, two new open/close sensors I discovered and Intel’s work with Amazon to create a model smart home. We also debate what shape the smart home should take and I’m getting ready for CES next week.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

After a big thank you to the companies who sponsored the podcast this year, I interviewed Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC about how the fight to be the next big IoT platform will shape up. He has some surprising views on the roles startups will play and where the innovation in IoT will come from (and when).

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • What could your smart home tell the police?
  • Two discrete sensors for your doors from GE and Sensative
  • Is your ideal smart home controlled by a virtual wife?
  • Consumer electronics are too hard for startups
  • How to think about building platforms for the industrial internet

Episode 90: Spend the holidays with Stacey’s family

We’re heading into the holidays with a guest appearance from my family who share their thoughts on what it’s like to live in a smart home, the products they like and what’s missing so far. My husband has been on the show before, but I also invited my 10-year-old daughter on to talk about her favorite toys and what she thinks of Philips Hue bulbs and the Amazon Echo (and Google Home). It’s a short and sweet reality check for us all.

Zuckerberg’s Jarvis ties together several smart home systems. Image courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg.

Before bringing on my family, Kevin and I discuss Mark Zuckerberg’s smart home and how his Jarvis isn’t all that different from what’s already on the market. And because it’s Thursday, we’ve got another security flaw in routers to talk about. Then we hit a solid budget smart watch and the new GPS system that can fine tune location sensing to a few inches. Finally, Kevin and I share some of our go-to home automation tricks to help you get started in making your own home smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andrew (Stacey’s husband) and Anna (Stacey’s daughter)
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • Zuck built Jarvis and Stacey makes a confession
  • Check your router again
  • From toddlers to teens, we have some home hacks for you
  • The smart home needs more personality

Episode 89: Google’s IoT Strategy takes shape and Microsoft enters the fray

There was so much news this week, that we skipped having a guest in favor of just keeping track of some big moves in the sector. This week was Google’s time to shine since it launched both Actions on Google (an SDK for talking to its Assistant on Google Home) and its IoT operating system plus the Weave communications protocol. Not to be topped Microsoft released an SDK for Cortana it’s voice powered personal assistant and Amazon doubled down with AI for all on AWS. So Kevin Tofel and I spent the first half of the show discussing what this means.

The Plume WiFi pods
The Plume WiFi pods

For the second half we focused on all the little bits of news such as Fibaro’s new HomeKit sensors, Ayla Networks’ new ability to help customers build Alexa skills, GE’s decision to build networking gear for the industrial IoT and a new Bluetooth hub for the enterprise from Cassia Networks. Uber and Google also offered some exciting self-driving car news this week and the ZigBee and Thread groups achieved a feat. We also reviewed two Wi-Fi options with Kevin discussing Google WiFi and me talking about why the new Plume pods may not work for everyone. We’ll be back next week with a guest, but in the meantime, enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (Use STACEY50)

  • The 3 things every personal assistant needs to succeed
  • Radio news from Thread and Zigbee plus a new BLE hub
  • GE and Ayla are making IoT easier for the enterprise
  • We have Waymo car news than usual
  • Reviewing Plume Pods and Google WiFi