Episode 27: Early adopters will suffer for their love of the smart home

This week the smart home got some new capabilities with Philips Hue announcing a new HomeKit enabled bridge that also will be upgraded to support the newly announced Nest Weave protocol. Kevin Tofel and I discuss both the new bridge and the new Nest Weave protocol and whether or not we want to keep investing in new gear to upgrade our networks. We also touch on the new cloud offerings announced by Amazon and Microsoft for developers looking to build connected products.

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Our guest this week Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (pictured above), who is a design consultant and the creator of the Goodnight Lamp, joined me to discuss consumerism and selling the internet of things. We touched on product lifecycles, again on the Hue bridge and even about designing for sustainability and the responsibility that connected device designers have to consumers and the environment. She came to a pretty grim conclusion, but it’s good food for thought, especially if you haven’t bought into the connected device bonanza yet.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino of Design Swarm

  • Should you upgrade your Philips Hue bridge to the latest version?
  • A deep dive into the Nest Weave protocol
  • Consumerism and the IoT. Is this what we want?
  • If you buy your connected device today, be prepared to suffer.

Episode 26: A skeptic’s view on the smart home and how to build services, not products

This week I invited my husband to replace Kevin Tofel (it’s only for this week, y’all) to get a viewpoint from someone who isn’t exactly enamored of the connected home. Andrew Allemann (my husband) talks about the devices he likes and the things he doesn’t. If you’re building a product,he’s worth listening to, although his complaints are probably familiar to anyone whose spouse is tired of living with a bunch of gadgets in perpetual beta.

Some of Andrew's favorite products are the Hue lights.
Some of Andrew’s favorite products are the Hue lights.

Our guest is Nandini Nayak, who is with Fjord, and she came on the show to share research and insights about transitioning from selling products to selling services, which almost every single company building connected products will have to master. Nayak has helped create the concept of Living Services and Living Brands, which she explains on the show. The basic idea is that once connected, products can become personal and adapt over time to the needs of the buyer be it a consumer or a corporation. IT’s a powerful one and we explore it in depth. Please listen to the show for more.

Hosts: Andrew Allemann and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Nandini Nayak, Fjord

  • The perils of living in a smart home plus some of the perks.
  • Why this device is my husband’s favorite?
  • How do you define a living service?
  • Will startups or big companies be better at creating connected services?

Episode 21: Here’s what Amazon’s Echo will and won’t do

We connected our lights and locks to the Internet and frankly, we don’t seem to be much better off. In this week’s podcast I talk to Claire Rowland a user experience consultant and lead author of Designing Connected Products about why that is, and who actually is better off. We also discuss what she’s discovered about making friendlier designs and why she’s optimistic about the smart home.

The Philips wireless dimmer kit.
The Philips wireless dimmer kit.

In the here and now, Kevin and I discuss how I connected my Wink and SmartThings hub to the Amazon Echo and what we can and cannot do now that we’re linking our hubs into a larger hub. We also do a little review of the latest Hue light product from Philips–a $40 wireless dimmer kit. I even managed to fix a lingering problem with my Wink setup and now I have porch lights that go on when my garage door opens. It’s a known issue with scheduling on the Wink, so listen up to see if it might apply to you.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Claire Rowland, Designing Connected Products

  • So what can you do on the Amazon Echo with SmartThings and Wink?
  • Should you buy the Philips new wireless dimmer kit?
  • Adding the internet to consumer products isn’t enough.
  • Connected devices are turning out to be great for accessiblity
  • Episode 19: Meet the chef teaching a connected oven how to cook

    This week’s podcast explores how sausage gets made. Actually we explore how roast chickens, cookies and salmon get made. Ryan Baker is the research chef at June, a company making a $1,500 connected oven. When he’s not appearing on the IoT podcast he spends his days baking 15 batches of cookies or 20 batches of salmon trying to figure out how to train the artificial intelligence inside the June oven how to build recipes for certain types of food. It sounds like an amazing job, and he’s in a prime position to explain how technology and food prep can come together to change how people learn how to cook and how the internet of things might invade the kitchen.

    Ryan Baker, research chef at June.
    Ryan Baker, research chef at June.

    Before we talk to Baker about how he controls his June ovens at the command line, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Google’s stunning corporate restructuring and what it means for Nest and Google’s Brillo and Weave plans. We also talk about a few examples of the smart home still being a little bit dumb, and some fall out on the security from the Black Hat security conference. On the gadget front, D-Link has a new $60 Wi-Fi water sensor and Kevin reviews the $15 connected Cree LED light bulbs.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Ryan Baker, June

    • Nest is an Alphabet company now, but where are Brillo and Weave?
    • Post-vacation blues in the smart home
    • ZigBee was hacked and here’s a device that could crack your car or garage for $30
    • How should we connect the kitchen?
    • It takes a lot of batches of salmon and roast chickens to teach an oven how to be smart

    Episode 17: Hacked Jeeps and hardware’s broken funding model

    This week we discuss what happens when you’re driving along in your automobile, and suddenly you’re not in control of the wheel, as happened to a Wired reporter. While, he was lucky, Kevin and I discuss the very real threat this can pose and what the industry and lawmakers propose we do about it. A great resource for the topic is I Am the Cavalry, which we have featured on Episode 2 of this podcast discussing the safety challenges of connected vehicles. After discussing the serious topic of connected cars, we move onto the worrisome future facing the Wink come hub as described by Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman at last week’s Brainstorm Tech event in Aspen.

    sproutling-product-family

    Kevin also spent a bit more than 5 minutes describing his new connected home setup which consists of Sylvania Osram lights, the Wink hub and an Amazon Echo, but we’re calling the Osram Lightify lights our 5-minute review anyhow. Our guest this week is Sproutling CEO Chris Bruce explaining how the crowdfunded hardware startup model is dead.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Chris Bruce, CEO of Sproutling

    • Hacking a Jeep on the freeway is good for headlines but bad for drivers
    • Here’s a starting place for talking about securing connected cars
    • More details on Quirky and Wink from CEO Ben Kaufman
    • Why the crowdfunding model is broken for hardware startups
    • Manufacturing lessons for those building hardware in the U.S. or in China

    Episode 6: Who will make the smart home mainstream? Comcast, Amazon or Apple?

    Kevin and I both got what we wanted this week, with Kevin getting his Apple Watch about an hour before we recorded the show and Amazon adding support for If This Then That for the Echo speaker/personal assistant device. However both long-awaited dreams had a few caveats as we explored this week on the show, with Kevin discussing the learning curve of the Apple Watch and me laying out a big limitation with the Amazon Echo’s IFTTT triggers. You can’t really use it for controlling your smart home just yet.

    The Leeo night-light. One of the new devices that will work with Comcast's Xfinity Home (credit: Leeo).
    The Leeo night light. One of the new devices that will work with Comcast’s Xfinity Home (credit: Leeo).

    We also had a fair bit of news this week. Comcast opened up its Xfinity Home platform to devices from some great startups such as Nest, August Locks, Rachio connected sprinklers, Skybell, Lutron and more. It was so exciting I sang a little ditty about the smart home going mainstream! Prepare yourself. With LIGHTFAIR International happening in New York this week, we also discussed lighting news from GE, plus WeMo working with the cheaper Cree connected LEDs and coming back to IFTTT. We didn’t have a guest this week because I need a little time to get my iTunes and editing house in order, but we should be back in top form next week, on iTunes and even with intro music!

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    Download the MP3 file for this week’s show here.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel