Episode 80: Comcast builds an IoT network and Amazon streams music

Comcast has decided to bet big on the internet of things by investing in LoRa, a radio standard used for low power wide area networks. Kevin and I discuss the cable company’s plans in this week’s show along with Amazon’s new streaming music service, new Arlo indoor/outdoor cameras and wireless charging. We also point out that SmartThings may be the best bet if you are a UK smart home user with an Echo. It’s the only Echo-integrated smart home system supported in the UK.

Farmers have had self-driving tractors for a while. Sensor-fueled smarts make them better.
Farmers have had self-driving tractors for a while. Sensor-fueled smarts make them better.

This week’s guest, Eric Hansotia, is the VP at agricultural conglomerate Agco. He spends the first few moments discussing precision farming and the rest of the interview talking about how to transform your business. Agco is trying to move from selling farm equipment to selling outputs. Instead of a tractor a farmer would buy a specific yield of crops, for example. This is a big transition, and Hansotia walks us through it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Hansotia, senior vice president, global harvesting, crop care and advanced technology solutions at Agco
Sponsor: ARM

  • We’ll pass on Amazon’s new streaming service
  • Drama in the IoT standard world
  • Wireless charging is getting better
  • How to start building services instead of devices
  • Now product companies have to deal with churn

Episode 78: There are no dead dogs on the internet of things

There’s a new Wink hub heading to Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon, so Kevin Tofel and I unpacked the new features on the second generation of the smart home hub in this week’s episode. We also discussed Amazon’s delivery plans that could take advantage of your connected door locks and garage doors, and then hit Kevin up for his opinion on the Apple Watch 2. SAP’s $2 billion investment in IoT, an IoT botnet, The Wirecutter’s favorite connected camera and Snap’s (formerly Snapchat) new glasses round out the show.

The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.
The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.

Afterward Carlos Herrera, the CEO of PetNet talks about what happened when his company’s pet feeder stopped sending users updates in late July. He offers a valuable lesson on building connected devices and sets the story straight about what really happened during a 12 hour server failure. All pets were fed during the lack of internet access, which means for now, the internet of things didn’t kill anyone’s dog.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carlos Herrera, CEO of PetNet
Sponsors: HPE and ARM

  • What’s new with the Wink 2?
  • Amazon and August teaming up?
  • The Apple Watch 2 is a good fitness tracker
  • No dogs were kills during the loss of these servers
  • What a bunch of aerospace engineers learned when building a connected device

Episode 77: So much about security plus Canary’s new service

The internet of things is about services, not devices. This is why I had Jon Troutman, co-founder of Canary on the show this week to talk about Membership, a new service offering from the all-in-one security device maker. This week Canary joined the masses in offering an outdoor camera, but it also launched a monthly service that does for security what AAA does for autos. The service holds your hand after a burglary, repays your deductible if anything was stolen and yes, provides some cloud storage. We talk to Troutman about how the company figured out what to offer and its hopes for Membership.

The Canary Flex wireless indoor/outdoor camera.
The Canary Flex wireless indoor/outdoor camera.

But first, Kevin Tofel and I discuss more security related topics, from the governmental framework on autonomous cars to the Industrial Internet Consortium’s new security framework. I also clarify some things I said last week about the Kevo lock. We briefly discuss the idea of Google’s Assistant service getting a name so we can anthropomorphize it and cover ARM’s new chip design for industrial manufacturing, cars and robots. If nothing else, you’ll walk away from this show knowing that people are now thinking very hard about securing the internet of things.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Jon Troutman, co-founder of Canary
Sponsors: Macadamian and the Smart Kitchen Summit

  • What should we call Google’s Assistant in the home?
  • Cars and the industrial internet get new security frameworks
  • Security begins with hardware
  • Why Canary joined the outdoor camera gold rush
  • Rethinking a security service

Episode 74: More Nest distress and a primer on protocols

As IFA starts in Berlin, there’s a bunch of product news to cover, including a partnership between Sonos and Amazon, that will let you control your Sonos from the Amazon Echo … in 2017. But before we get to that, Kevin Tofel and I explore what it means that Nest’s developers are reportedly moving over to Google, specifically part of the Google Home team. We also cover Z-wave becoming a more open standard, which could lead to more Z-wave compatibility in products like the Amazon Echo or smart TVs.

Savant_03_Sonos

After Kevin and I hit the news, strap yourselves in for a primer on the pros and cons of different radios, protocols and even clouds for those designing a connected product. Chris Matthieu, VP of IoT Engineering at Citrix, and one of the creators of Citrix Octoblu, came on the show to offer his expertise. This is nerdy, but great for anyone who wants to understand some of the popular options out there for making a connected product, whether you are a developer, a product manager or just someone trying to keep up with the trends.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Matthieu of Citrix
Sponsor: Macadamian

  • The distress at Nest
  • Two great pieces of news
  • How do you pick a radio for a connected project?
  • A primer on protocols
  • Which cloud works for you?

Episode 71: Don’t panic over IoT hacks

Ransomware on a connected thermostat. Bluetooth locks that can be opened from a quarter-mile away. Cars that can be controlled at highway speeds. All of this and a Mr. Robot reference await you in this week’s show as I discuss the news from Defcon and BackHat with Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council. Woods’ advice for consumers was surprisingly comforting. And yes, you have heard him before. He appeared on Episode 52 with 9 tips to secure the smart home.

The Staples Connect Hub (plus assorted gadgets) in November 2013.
The Staples Connect Hub (plus assorted gadgets) in November 2013.

Before we delve into the insecurities of the internet of things, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the demise of the Staples Connect hub, which hubs we’re currently fans of and updates on several developer tools. We also talk about carriers’ efforts in the IoT, connected car data plans and a new device from Logitech.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Woods, Deputy Director Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council
Sponsors: Xively and ThingMonk

  • Are hubs like the Highlander? Staples Connect is done!
  • Dev news galore! Particle, MyDevices and Omega2
  • Introducing the Logitech Pop
  • So many hacks at Defcon, but don’t panic.
  • Good security advice for everyone

Episode 69: Amazon opens up about the Echo

The Amazon Echo is the gateway drug to the smart home for many folks. They start with Alexa and move to shopping for connected lights or outlets. So we brought Charlie Kindel, director of Alexa Smart Home at Amazon, on the show to discuss the Echo’s history, its future and what voice can and cannot do in the home. So turn off your Echo mics for this one because we couldn’t avoid saying “Alexa” for this show.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.
The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

Before we get to the Echo, Kevin and I discuss security challenges facing Osram light bulbs and security challenges from connected industries. We also explain why the Thread Group is teaming up with the OCF and what it means for developers. Finally, we discuss if companies should reimburse customers when their connected devices have outages or features are late.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charlie Kindel, director Alexa Home Services at Amazon
Sponsors: Xively and The Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Outages and security flaws abound
  • The Thread Group and Intel’s Open Connectivity Foundation get together
  • A modest proposal for connected devices
  • You can command August locks from your Amazon Echo
  • Charlie Kindel’s favorite Echo hacks (including one that works with Sonos)

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 51: This CEO killed his hardware startup to start a wireless network

This week we have a two for one in the guest portion of the show, with Daniel Conrad, the CEO of Beep Networks explaining how he decided to stop making a connected device, take his VC funding and find a new business model. That’s part one. Part two is all about LoRa, the wireless radio technology used for low power wireless area networks, which is what his business is now built on. Conrad explains a classic entrepreneurial dilemma and then educates us all on up-and-coming networking technology that transmits small amounts of data over fairly long distances. Is this the perfect network for the Internet of things?

The Bernooli bottle top.
The Bernooli bottle top.

Before you get to Conrad, Michael Wolf is guest hosting in place of Kevin, and we discuss the lack of HomeKit news at the Apple event Monday, some cool connected bartending gear I saw at SXSW and Bosch’s new cloud for the internet of things. Bosch is spending $548 million on R&D in innovation tech, which is less than 1 percent of its annual revenue, but still nothing to sneeze at. For the gadget lovers, Mike and I discussed b8ta, the new retail concept for selling connected devices and tried to consider what Target’s secretive Project Goldfish is.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Mike Wolf of The Smart Home Show
Guests: Daniel Conrad of Beep Networks

  • What’s the right retail model for selling the smart home?
  • Make a drink with Bernooli
  • Killing the dream of a connected speaker
  • What is LoRa?
  • The best startup opportunity around.
  • Episode 47: New money for IoT startups, new routers for homes and Eero’s CEO

    This week was so full of small news items Kevin and I could barely keep up. We kicked off the show with a review of the Eero routers that launched on Tuesday, that I tried for this show and wrote about for PCMag, and we also had Eero CEO Nick Weaver on the show to explain why previous routers have sucked for so long, what Eero is doing about security woes and why the company is not focusing on software to help manage devices … yet. Weaver has a lot to say about Wi-Fi in the home and the state of the industry, especially about security, so check him out.

    The Eero router 3-pack.
    The Eero router 3-pack.

    But first, Kevin and I heard back from Philips about its messed up Android app that we discussed last week, we covered Verizon’s surprising gains in the Internet of things and Nokia’s launch of a $350 million fund for startups interested in building technologies that help make a highly distributed and connected world a reality. We also talked about some Mobile World Congress news, such as AT&T’s partnership with Intel to test new LTE-enabled drones, a new IoT network from Ingenu, and a new chip design from ARM for wearables. We also snuck in a business idea for anyone who wants it. Maybe you can take it to Nokia’s new fund. So give a listen and we hope you enjoy.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Nick Weaver CEO of Eero

    • Why the I love the Eero routers (for my very specific home)
    • Verizon is doing really well in IoT!
    • MWC news round up with Nokia, a new IoT network from Ingenu, AT&T and more!
    • Why existing routers have weak security and lame software
    • How to focus on what really matters in designing your consumer product

    Episode 45: A Playground for IoT and how to buy a data plan for your device

    So you wanna build a connected device? If so, there’s apparently no better place for a startup to go than Andy Rubin’s new incubator/VC/design shop called Playground. With an in-depth profile in Wired, the former founder of Danger and the man behind Android has built a place for folks with a hardware idea. On this week’s show Kevin Tofel is out, so I called in my friend Carla Diana, a product designer of connected devices and robots to discuss Rubin’s new effort, connected coat racks, Max Braun’s Google Now mirror and fun projects in general. We have a good time, and you will too. Don’t get too attached to Carla (it’s hard, because she is awesome) as Kevin joins us again next week.

    The electron module.  - Image courtesy of Particle
    The electron module. – Image courtesy of Particle

    Our guest this week is Zach Supalla who is the CEO of Particle, which makes a series of development boards for connected devices. It seems like there used to be a dozen startups doing this, but Spark has so far, stayed around and added more products. The latest board out this week is it the Electron, which costs $59 and offers cellular connectivity for 99 cents per MB on a 3G connection. That’s pricey, but it has been pretty hard to find a cellular carrier willing to work with a startup or sell data in small batches, so this is a big deal. We ask Zach how he convinced the carriers to play ball. We also talk about other wireless standards out there for the internet of things, so stay tuned if you’re excited about alternative networks. And really, who isn’t?

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Carla Diana
    Guest: Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle

  • Playground. We want to go to there.
  • Mirror, mirror on the wall, what data should we install?
  • Pitfalls of building a connected coat rack.
  • How to make a telco salesman hang up on you.
  • LoRa, Sigfox and LTE? Which wireless do you want?