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?
  • Episode 43: This smart home needs an email address

    Freak out! This week’s episode isn’t about disco, it’s all about the security of your things. Or insecurity as the case may be. We talk about Shodan, the search engine for connected devices and the creation of a security framework for connected devices by the researchers at I am the Cavalry. Go read the story at Ars Technica and scroll all the way down to the Cavalry stuff. After we talk about that, we discuss a new programming interface for Raspberry Pi’s from myDevices called Cayenne, Amazon opening up its new Dash Replenishment Service to everyone, and the big news that could shake up the building automation market.

    The Cayenne dashboard.
    The Cayenne dashboard.

    For those of you guys who love thinking about the smart home, I brought Scott Jenson, a UX designer from Google, to join us to talk about his personal thoughts on how connected devices change a home’s design and how to avoid having to give your home an email account just to make it functional as a connected entity. Jenson blogs about some of these topics here, such as why he doesn’t think we should look to smart homes to recreate butlers. Find out why he thinks that, and some of his other ideas in this week’s episode.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Scott Jenson, Google

    • IoT security blows up or just blows
    • Sensors that phone Amazon and the birth of a new industrial internet powerhouse
    • The smart home isn’t a butler, but it still has plenty of value
    • Why Jenson had to give his home an email address

    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.

    Episode 39: CES bound and the Internet of postage

    If you haven’t gone totally paper free on your bills yet, it’s highly likely that the envelope that arrives via the mail has been touched by a Pitney Bowes machine. Pitney Bowes is a $4 billion company that makes mail its business, and Roger Pilc, its chief innovation officer, came on the show this week to explain how it thinks about the Internet of things, how it works with startups and invests in them to rethink how it manages mail. He also talks about how he’s challenging the company to improve by signing up startups as customers who demand services that are a year or two ahead of the curve.

    The Samsung /SmartThings line up. Courtesy of Samsung.
    The Samsung /SmartThings line up. Courtesy of Samsung.

    Before we get to Pilc, Kevin and I talk about Samsung’s decision to turn its 2016 Wi-Fi TVs into hubs for the connected home and its introduction of the SmartThings Extend dongle that will add Z-Wave and ZigBee to the TV. In the show we were trying to figure out if the current hub was running Tizen, and the answer is a definitive no. The SmartThings software is ported to run on Tizen OS for the TVs. As for the rest of the show, we hit the anticipated high points of CES and I delve into my experience with the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti Bluetooth Connected Coffee Maker. We also discuss a new idea in why non of our gadgets work together from Bruce Schneier who penned a good article over at The Atlantic.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Roger Pilc, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes

    Episode 29: The smart home may one day have a debt to NASA

    If you’ve ever wondered how to get started on a smart home of your own, Kevin Tofel and I share a few ways to get started, answering some questions about hubs outlets and how to think about buying connected gadgets for the first time. We also discuss a few new development boards and why I went on a rant about the issues with the smart home in Fortune last week. Finally we talked about Korner, a really simple to use home security product for $98 that seems to have a lot going for it.

    Korner tag being applied to a window. -- Image courtesy of Korner.
    Korner tag being applied to a window. — Image courtesy of Korner.

    For those looking for my SmartThings review, please wait another week. I set it up and became a little too ambitious and didn’t test out the more common use cases before going straight to some really fancy things that most people wouldn’t do and caused some problems for myself. Next week it will be ready for the full run down. As for this week’s guest, We have Jim Hepplemann, the CEO of PTC, whose company just said it would acquire the Vuforia augmented reality platform from Qualcomm. PTC has also acquired ThingWorx and Axeda, both IoT platforms for businesses as part of remaking the former industrial design software company into a one-stop-shop for the connected world.

    Heppleman shares this idea of creating a digital twin in AR for every physical product, chock full of data that product might be generating. So under AR, your smart devices might one day share information about their connections with other devices and services, their histories and stats that aren’t visible to you and more. In industrial settings it’s far more powerful. So listen to the podcast and be wowed.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Jim Hepplemann, CEO of PTC

    • Let’s put the consumer first and stop issuing new standards that require people to constantly buy new stuff.
    • How to set up a smart home? We tell you how to think about it.
    • Check out new dev boards and a the Korner home security set up.
    • Thinking about how to use augmented reality in the smart home and industrial internet.
    • The concept of a digital twin and the IoT’s debt to NASA.