Episode 139: The 2017 IoT Podcast Gift Guide!

You guys, this week’s podcast is all about the toys. Specifically toys for your kids, your dog and your loved ones. In the last year Kevin and I have tried many devices and have compiled our experiences into a gift guide for the connected life. You’ll find both our favorites like the June oven and utilitarian objects like the Ecobee 4 thermostat among a $20 smart camera and $30 motion sensor for kids. We also handled the few news items for the week– namely Apple deciding to delay the sale of the Home Pod.

This is the $20 Wyze camera. It’s a solid gift.

We also took on an incredibly topical question from Aaron in Ontario who asked about heating cables for his roof and recommended switches for automating outdoor holiday lights. As a Texan I’m drawing a blank on the remote control for the heating cables, but I shared my favorite outdoor-rated smart plugs with him. This year there have been a bunch of new Wi-Fi options, which is awesome. Enjoy the show.

  • I’m losing faith in HomeKit again
  • This year’s best gifts for the smart home
  • The best connected gifts for kids
  • Cool connected stocking stuffers
  • Crazy expensive stuff that is hard to justify

Episode 138: Wink’s security system review and Las Vegas is a smart city

There was a lot of small news this week including updates to the Google Home/Assistant ecosystem that Kevin and I discuss on this week’s podcast. I share my feelings on the Google Mini and then we segue into a conversation about Google’s new AI framework for embedded devices that launched this week. We also discuss the push by smart home and lock companies to give delivery or service people access to your home. SmartThings gets local control for some devices this week. Kevin reviews the Wink Lookout security bundle and we take a listener question about what to look for in a smart home camera.

The Wink Lookout bundle works right out of the box.

Our guest this week is awesome. I speak with Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas, about plans for a traffic light that detects pollution and can send cars along before it builds up, and what it really means to build a smart city. Sherwood shares a lot of good insights about the challenges of building a smart city that we don’t often see. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Sherwood Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Google’s making some changes to Now and Google Assistant
  • Who would you let into your home alone?
  • Wink’s new security system has one big flaw
  • How a smart city gets that way
  • This is the biggest challenge halting innovation in smart cities

Episode 135: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The home security train just keeps on rolling in the smart home with Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. Also on the home front Kevin Tofel and I discuss the new lighting startup Noon, which launches Thursday. We also talk about some new devices including a $20 camera and a Google Assistant intercom system before answering a question from Derek about how to integrate a bunch of devices together using an Android app. And because today ends in Y we also have a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

The Noon lighting system on a wall.

The guest this week is Phil Skipper of Vodafone who shares the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. I learned a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Phil Skipper of Vodafone
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Amazon’s Key and Wink’s new security system are part of a trend
  • Noon’s lighting system is pretty cool
  • It’s not IoT exactly, but you should fear Reaper
  • Why choose NB-IoT over other low power network options
  • A glass break sensor can teach us new business models for IoT

Episode 131: Amazon’s new gear and Nest’s Matt Rogers

This week’s show features a quick rundown of Amazon’s new devices. It also has a lot of exciting news on the wearable front. Kevin Tofel reviews his Apple Watch with LTE and we also discuss a new program from the Food and Drug Administration that will allow nine companies to get pre-certifications for their devices. I’m optimistic that consumers will get more innovation and better data. We also hit on a stealthy new lighting startup from a former Nest co-founder, a partnership around autonomous vehicles and a fight between Google and Amazon.

The Echo spot has a camera, a screen and costs $129.99.

My guest is Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nest, who discusses the rationale behind the new Nest Security system and where Nest is heading. We also talk about efforts to build a closer relationship between the Google Home and Nest teams. Plus, he offers hope for an eventual HomeKit integration, although I am not going to hold my breath. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, Nest
Sponsors: Qualcomm and Eero

  • Which new Amazon device will you buy?
  • The FDA gets into wearables
  • Advice for a listener on creating audio-activated scenes
  • Why Nest is aiming at the high end for security
  • Will Nest gear ever get HomeKit support?

Everything you need to know from CEDIA

Grab your headset for a special bonus edition of the Internet of Things Podcast from the CEDIA show floor in San Diego. Last week I attended the show, which is aimed at the professional AV installer market to understand what’s hot, what’s not and how the business of home automation will evolve. I saw some beautiful televisions and more light switches than I even knew existed, while I walked away despairing of ever getting the smart home experience right.

This OLED screen is actually two OLED screens mounted back-to-back in a sheet of glass. It costs $20,000 and is designed for high-end retail.

I spoke with Julie Jacobson, the founding editor of CEPro to find out what she thought was cool, met with Tim McInery of Savant to talk about the benefits consumer tech has on the installer business and asked Richard Gunther of the Digital Media Zone to explain the changes in business models. I also interviewed the CEO of Josh.ai to understand why the smart home industry has progressed so slowly, and talked to Ragan Mena, the president of Audio Zeal, a custom installer to see what toys he was excited about. He did like the Josh Micro, which enables voice access for older custom systems.

This entire episode was sponsored by Ring, which is offering discounts on bundles of home security items to both consumers and pro installers. Visit www.ring.com/stacey to learn more.

  • Stacey’s highlights and news (0:45)
  • Julie Jacobson of CEPro on trends and cool stuff (10:25)
  • Tim McInerney of Savant on the benefit consumer tech has for installers (14:40)
  • Richard Gunther of The Digital Media Zone discussing the custom installer business model (16:20)
  • Ragan Mena, president of Audio Zeal explain how he decides what consumer tech to use (22:00)
  • Alex Capecelatro, of Josh.ai on why Crestron, Control4 and others have a hard time competing against consumer tech (25:10)

Episode 128: The coolest fridges at IFA and how to build a connected product

This week launched our new hotline feature with a comment and question from you guys. Keep them coming! Before we got to the Q&A, Kevin and I discussed news from IFA, Europe’s largest appliance show. There are smart fridges, roaming fridges, washing machines and yes, speakers. We also discussed a Cat-M1 network in Africa, noting that it has an unusual property. Because it’s a day ending in Y we also had a security breach to discuss. We ended with a user experience adventure I had with my WeMo dimmer switch.

It’s a Big A** Fan!

Want to build a connected product? Then listen to Landon Borders of Big A** Fans talk about his company’s experience building a high-end connected ceiling fan. It’s a look at the beginnings of the internet of things and also shows off lessons every product manager should heed when thinking about building a connected product portfolio. He offers thoughts about working with HomeKit, Alexa and Google as well as his thoughts on manufacturing and customer service. He also drops a few surprising stats. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Landon Borders, VP of connected products at Big A** Fans
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Roaming fridges and what makes a smart speaker?
  • Greg has a question about Homeseer
  • Only half of Big A** Fans customers use the connected features
  • Thoughts on Thread
  • There are the platforms that matter in the smart home

Episode 125: Lockstate’s big goof and a super sensor from CMU

How do you turn a deadbolt into a brick? Update its software! That’s not funny, especially if you’re Lockstate, which rendered 500 connected door locks useless with a software update last week. Kevin and I add a bit of context to the event and then jump right into discussions about Anker’s Eufy Genie, a connected bassinet and a story that portrays Carnegie Melon’s super sensor in a scary light. We end with Caraoke, June’s new wall-mounted oven and a plan to use Outlook to schedule your Roomba.

The Snoo bassinet costs $1,160.

Our guest this week covers what we need to do to continue building out the internet of things. As SVP and General Manager of Silicon Labs’ IoT division, Daniel Cooley has the unenviable task of predicting what features chips will need three to five years before he thinks we’ll need them. In this segment he talks about pushing more math to sensors, how important it is to get security right, the future of human-to-machine interfaces and the types of business models we’ll need. He also dives into the concept of unified data models for the internet of things– essentially defining in software what a physical product can do. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Cooley of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • Lockstate has something in common with Wink
  • Someone put a baby in a Snoo!
  • Another gadget for the hall of shame
  • How silicon companies are thinking about the edge
  • The internet of things needs data models stat!

Correction: This episode credited the super sensor to MIT, but it was built by researchers from Carnegie Melon. The post has been changed on Aug. 29, 2017 to reflect the correction.

Episode 117: Intel’s new IoT strategy has fewer things

Intel plans to discontinue several of its boards designed for makers. Kevin and I discuss what this means for Intel’s IoT strategy. We also talk about ARM’s extension of a program that eliminates license fees to design custom chips, Ring’s new doorbell and Hue’s new lights. We then circle back on Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase and the availability of the Dash wand, while Kevin shares his favorite new Alexa Skill.

Too hot for the IoT?

Next up is blockchain, specifically how it could build sustainable IoT business models and even help generate wealth in the subscription economy. My guest Paul Brody is a principal at EY and a blockchain expert. You’ll learn a new way of thinking about subscriptions, fractional ownership and why blockchain and IoT are like chocolate and peanut butter. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Brody from EY
Sponsors: TE Connectivity and Affiliated Monitoring

  • What happens to the Intel Quark?
  • I replaced my doorbell transformer to handle the connected options
  • What do you think about Amazon’s interest in food?
  • Using blockchain to share cars or even solar farms
  • Open source software and blockchain can cut consumer IoT operating costs

Episode 113: Google Home gets way better

It has been a week since Google I/O, which gave Kevin and me time to wade through some of the developer videos and ponder the features Google is announcing for the home and for Google Home. The jury is still out on whether Kevin is buying the device, but he is tempted, y’all! We discussed Dish’s integration with the Amazon Echo, the new maker tier on IFTTT and IKEA’s plans to make its smart lights work with a variety of platforms.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

Our guest this week gives us a chance to discuss both the smart grid and saving sea turtles, which I imagine is a relative rarity. Michael Bell, the CEO of Silver Springs Networks, joined us this week to talk about scale, the future of the electric grid and the trouble with solar power. He also talks about new businesses for Silver Springs and turtles. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Bell, CEO of Silver Springs Networks
Sponsors: Aeris and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Google Home makes calls, offers shortcuts and has new partners
  • IFTTT gets way more flexible
  • The smart grid is just the beginning
  • How to scale to 25 million devices (and then more)
  • Saving sea turtles with smart street lights

Episode 110: IKEA’s smart home plans and will you buy an Amazon Look?

This week we discuss Apple’s plans to introduce Siri in a can, Amazon’s Style maven ambitions and a few other items on the personal assistant front. We also discuss Orbit, a new security idea from Cloudflare, and a lawsuit filed by ADT against Ring and Zonoff’s former CEO. From there we go straight into an ad which launches my new IFTTT channel so you can get the podcast and articles on my site in the form you favor.

IKEA’s smart lighting products will expand over time.

After that, I interview Bjorn Block of IKEA about the company’s four-year old effort to combine technology with the home and home furnishings. Block and I discuss the newly launched TRADFRI lights, the astonishing number of meatballs IKEA customers consume each day, and IKEA’s plans for future connected home efforts. We also discuss the environmental impact of connected products and IKEA’s plans to keep technology inside long-lived goods fresh.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bjorn Block of IKEA
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • The one thing Apple must fix before launching an Echo-killer
  • A new idea for IoT security
  • IKEA thinks smart homes must solve a real dilemma
  • Will IKEA open up its ecosystem?
  • I’m opening a second-hand smart bulb store