Episode 42: These are the two biggest challenges facing the smart home

There is no winner takes all in the smart home yet, because none of the products and services available have the scale yet says Om Malik, this week’s guest on the Internet of Things Podcast. Malik, who is a partner at True Ventures and wrote a great article in the New Yorker on the virtuous cycle of fast infrastructure leading to more users and more data, which leads to better algorithms, which leads to more customers and more data, ad infinitum. We talked about what it would take to get to that point for the Internet of things and the devices he would like to see. He also discussed the challenges ahead, and if you are making products you better listen up.

The UA Health Box sells for $400.
The UA Health Box sells for $400.

Before he and I chatted, Kevin Tofel and I broke down the week’s news including the Amazon Echo’s new ability to read your Kindle books aloud, Nest glitches, and Kevin’s random purchase of the Quirky egg minder. Kevin also reviews the new Under Armour health box that includes a Wi-Fi scale, a fitness band, a heart rate monitor and in his case a pair of running shoes. At the behest of a listener I also found the only two Wi-Fi leak detection sensors on the market to see if they made sense for his needs. So stay turned and listen up.

  • The Nest has new issues, so what is a homeowner to do?
  • Finding a Wi-Fi water sensor is harder than it looks
  • Reviewing the Under Armour gear kit (Now with IBM Watson!)
  • Will the Internet of things build its own monopoly players?
  • Om’s two biggest threats for the Internet of things startups are ….

Episode 41: Can a $20 device stop the spread of disease?

After a week at CES, the giant technology trade show in Las Vegas I’m beat, but full of observations about the future of the Internet of things. I wrote up a few over at Fortune, but Kevin and I talked about some of them on this week’s show as well. We covered some new news, including my conversations with Wink and the news that Amazon is planning to add support for thermostats to the Echo next. And speaking of amazon, both Kevin and I think a smaller Echo needs to have some way of offering always-on listening to really carry over on the benefits of the product. But if it does, we’d both buy it.

The $20 wired Kinsa thermometer.
The $20 wired Kinsa thermometer.

After spending most of our time on the smart home, we move into connected health with Inder Singh, the CEO of Kinsa, the maker of connected thermometers, as this week’s guest. But it would be a mistake to think of Kinsa a connected thermometer company, since the thermometer is merely a means to an end. It’s a way to get data about the spread of disease. Singh’s actual goal is to use that data to help stop the spread of disease, starting with childhood illnesses. To learn more about the future of epidemiology packaged as a $20 or $60 connected thermometer, listen to this week’s show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham

  1. Local control is coming for the Wink!
  2. Really tiny, self-sufficient computer at CES.
  3. What a tiny Amazon Echo needs to have to succeed.
  4. Kinsa is a disease prevention device disguised as a connected thermometer
  5. How to figure out how to build the right device for the data you need.

What will happen with Wink and a review of Zuli’s presence-promoting smart outlets

In episode 25 companies are spending billions trying to figuring out how to use wearables to help seniors age in place so we asked Philips Digital Health solutions’ Liat Ben-Zur on the show to discuss some of the things the health giant is doing to rethink medicine for a connected era. She discussed how the venerable Lifeline program must adapt and why today’s wearables aren’t providing enough context for doctors to use them in healthcare settings. We also talked about medical clouds, data analytics and a bit about the looming healthcare crisis. Good times.

The Zuli smart plugs in action.
The Zuli smart plugs in action.

Meanwhile Kevin Tofel and I discuss the not-so-shocking bankruptcy of Quirky and what it means for Wink. So far Quirky has a $15 million bid for Wink from Flextronics, the company that built the actual hub, but there’s still too much uncertainty for me. And after more than 18 months I have gotten my hands on the $160 Zuli smart plugs that offer Bluetooth-based presence in the home. Listen up to learn what I thought about them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Liat Ben-Zur, Philips

  • Why Flextronics isn’t going to try to destroy Wink
  • What are the best hub options if Wink does go down
  • Zuli smart plugs are a good way to bring presence into your home. But they could do more.
  • What’s next for Lifeline in an era of ubiquitous wearables and DIY
  • Why your wearable isn’t good enough for a doctor’s eyes just yet.