Episode 98: Science fiction prepared me for spying TVs

This week we discuss┬áthe city of Louisville, Kentucky adding an If This Then That channel, a settlement over televisions that spy on you, and a possible new feature for the Amazon Echo that could bridge the gap between it and the Google Home. That last tidbit was contributed by Grant Clauser, the smart home editor at the Wirecutter who took Kevin’s place this week. (Never fear, Kevin will be back next week.) Grant also provides input on the professional installer networks like Control4, Crestron and Savant in case you’re wondering about those options. We also have some kitchen M&A and security embedded in the Almond3 router.

Image courtesy of Bruce Sterling.

Our guest this week is Bruce Sterling, a popular science fiction author and the co-creator of a smart house/maker lab in Turin, Italy. Sterling discusses Casa Jasmina, overlooked aspects of the transition to smart homes and how Europe is likely to react to the challenges of security and privacy in connected devices. He also offers up the name “Talking Donkey” for devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. To find out why, listen to this week’s show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Grant Clauser of The Wirecutter
Guest: Bruce Sterling
Sponsors: MIT IoT Bootcamp and Ayla Networks

  • Light bulbs for better health and evil TVs
  • Kitchen tech gets some M&A action
  • Don’t call it old-school home automation
  • What the heck is a talking donkey?
  • How Europe will take our smart tech and make it better

Episode 95: The industrial internet is gaining ground

You asked and we delivered! This week Kevin discusses the possibility of using the Nvidia Shield as a smart home controller of sorts (and gives his impression of its gaming chops). I give an early review of the Stringify app which is now out for Android and iOS. We also discuss “The Big Show” as folks call the National Retail Federation conference that happened this week, hitting on how players like Intel and Zebra are staking out territory. There’s some Nest news, a bit on another service provider offering a smart home plan and our thoughts on Sonos’ new direction.

The Industrial Internet of Things Lab at National Instruments.

After the news, I brought on three industrial internet experts to talk about the state of the industrial internet of things, tips for smaller companies at setting your pricing in a negotiation with larger players and insights on PTC’s strategy after it bought all of those IoT and augmented reality companies. I’m curious if you guys see what PTC CEO Hepplemann sees when it comes to the future of AR.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Jamie Smith, Director of Embedded Systems at NI, Alex Davern CEO of NI, and Jim Heppelmann CEO of PTC
Sponsor: Dell

  • New Raspberry Pis boost compute
  • Can connected retail save the brick and mortar store?
  • Sonos, Nvidia’s Shield and Stringify thoughts
  • Who’s buying the industrial IoT
  • Taking Pokemon Go to the factory floor

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

Episode 93: Special CES Edition covering all the things!

This week’s podcast has too many guests to list (I’m going to list them anyway) and a format that’s totally different. We start off with a discussion on the state of the smart home and what we can learn from CES about mainstream adoption featuring commentary from Cory Sorice, VP of connected platforms at Chamberlain, Jason Johnson, CEO of August, and Ed Zitron of EZPR who is representing the normals among us.

The Stringify table at CES shows some of the myriad connected devices out there today.

From there we hit news from Lutron, Moen and discover what the new Dot Dot standard is all about. After a brief ad from the sponsor for this special edition of the podcast, The Open Connectivity Foundation, we talk to Dr. Michael Bjorn head of research at Ericsson Consumer Lab who shared predictions about technology trends facing us in 2017.

And we wrap with a few thoughts on business models for the internet of things from Zach Suppala, the CEO of Particle, a bit about changing standards from Grant Erickson of the thread Group and finally touch on the challenge of device longevity from Chamberlain’s Sorice.

You’re gonna love it.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsor: The Open Connectivity Foundation

  • What can CES tell us about the state of the smart home?
  • This smart shower feels dumb
  • What is Dot Dot?
  • Trends that matter in 2017
  • When can I safely buy a connected product?
  • Get ready to pay a subscription fee

Episode 92: At CES Amazon Alexa and robots rule

This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.

This is a $200 hairbrush slated to come out later this year that measures how healthy your hair is.

Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Tim Crawford, CIO speaker and consultant
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

  • Let’s talk about business partnerships and privacy
  • Routers to protect all the things
  • So much smart lighting news including news about Lutron and switches from WeMo
  • There’s a new IoT protocol in town … dotdot
  • CIOs have to understand the business, not just tech
  • You can’t just sprinkle security on an IoT project

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 57: A deep dive into OpenHAB and some problem devices

We dove into the deep end of wearables this week discussing the dresses at this year’s Met Gala, where Kevin shared that Clare Danes’ princess fantasy gown took 30 battery packs to operate. It’s not all celebrity this week as Kevin and I dove into several devices that unfortunately didn’t all quite work as we expected. I reviewed the Pebblebee Stone, a bluetooth tracker and programmable button that was supposed to connect to If This Then That, but didn’t. Kevin talked about connecting his OnHub router to If This Then That, but also had some troubles. And once again we shared news of SmartThing’s troubles–this time with a security vulnerability. We ended with Microsoft’s acquisition of Solair and Oracle’s acquisition of Opower.

The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.
The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.

Then for the open source, DIY smart home junkies out there, I brought Kai Kreuzer, the founder of OpenHAB onto the show. He discussed the projects ambitions–let people connect all their stuff without worrying about handing over control to a vendor–and how he might commercialize the project. The conversation exposed how tough it is to get the ideals of the open source community to mesh with the reality of trying to connect your home. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Kai Kreuzer of OpenHAB

  • You must match your LEDs to your dress
  • Some bumps in the road for IFTTT, OnHub and the Pebblebee Stone
  • Rick Osterloh returns to Google and Kevin and I disagree
  • Want to build your own home hub?
  • Ease of use means totally different things to me and to Kai

Episode 55: Find out what Ford learned from Tesla

With ride-sharing, electric vehicles and millennials who aren’t super keen on owning a car all converging, the auto industry is in a panic. But Ford, led by both Bill Ford and Ford CEO Mark Fields has created a plan to keep the carmaker relevant, even if fewer people buy cars. In this week’s show I chat with Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, about moving from making cars to delivering a transportation. Butler shares Ford’s thoughts on connecting the car, the integration with the Amazon Echo, and a few things Ford has learned from Tesla.

The  2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford  has to offer said Butler.
The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.

Before Butler and I get talking, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Intel’s job cuts and internet of things strategy as well as a Zigbee chipmaker’s acquisition. We then talk about the challenge of matching tech components to the long lifespan of some home products. Kevin bought a Pine 64 development board and we talk about what he should do with it, we add a few other updates on devices such as the Philips Hue lights and cover a new deal to bring connectivity to your clothes

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Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Don Butler at Ford

  • Can Intel matter in the internet of things?
  • My smart bulb’s radio broke so now it’s dumb
  • Connected clothes are coming
  • What Ford learned from Tesla
  • Discover Ford’s biggest asset as it seeks to transform its business

Episode 52: These 9 ideas can secure the smart home

Security is a big deal for the Internet of things, which is why we’re so pumped about having Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, on the show to discuss nine new recommendations for securing smart home devices. The Atlantic Council and security research group I Am The Cavalry created the report to as the beginning of what they hope will become a formal framework for smart home devices. Some are basic such as design with security in mind, but others help data privacy and what happens when a device becomes disconnected form the Internet (or the app governing it). For a full list of recommendations please check the report or my summary in PCMag.

The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.
The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.

Before we delve into security, Kevin Tofel and I cover the big Nest drama from last week that extended into this one when former Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy defended the Dropcam employees from Nest CEO Tony Fadell’s insults. Nest isn’t the only company that acts as a smart home platform that had drama. If This Then That also ruffled some feathers as it sent out notices to longtime developers that it was changing the way it requested information from their APIs. I emailed Linden Tibbets, the IFTTT CEO, and got a quick comment, but still have questions. As Kevin and I await our Amazon Dot’s coming the day this show airs, we discussed the Amazon Dash expansion, the longer wait for June connected ovens, a connected wine bottle and the new August doorbell. We end with a plea for y’all to take our survey and tell us what you think. So enjoy the show, and please click here if you’d like to take the survey. (It’s super short).

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham & Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Woods, The Atlantic Council

  • Nest is run like Apple and that’s not a good thing.
  • If this, then … drama!
  • I like the August doorbell.
  • Security woes are keeping people from the smart home.
  • Here’s how to make the smart home more secure.
  • Take our survey, please!