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!

Episode 49: Did you buy an Amazon Dot?

This week’s podcast is chock full of smart home stuff with updates from Nest, new products from Amazon and some new tech on the Wi-Fi front. Mozilla is getting into the Internet of things, with four ideas for possible open-source products that range from a smart home hub to voice recognition services. Kevin isn’t sold on the need for more options, but if Mozilla doubles down on security and privacy it might be worth looking at.

amazondot

We don’t have a guest this week since I am traveling, but Kevin and I spent a lot of time discussing Amazon’s new hardware. The launch of the Amazon Dot and Amazon Tap aren’t totally unexpected, but we’re not sure about the rationale for the portable Amazon Tap. We did both shell out $90 for the squat Amazon Dot. We also briefly discussed the semiconductor industry getting set to pass 1 trillion devices sold in 2018 and a future low-power Wi-Fi technology. So, listen up and enjoy this week’s show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

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 44: Mandatory Fitbits and a new ISP with smart home aspirations

    Last week the man who founded Aereo, a company that was aimed at bringing over the air television to the masses who couldn’t always get it, and then allowing them to time-shift that television by recording it, launched Starry. Starry is a new type of ISP that aims to deliver gigabit internet service to homes (in Boston at first) and will also sell a router, smart home hub combo device. Because any new hub device gets my attention–especially if it comes with gigabit broadband–Chet Kanojia, CEO of Starry, came on this week’s show to discuss his plans. We didn’t get too much into the technical details of the broadband, but did talk about why he’s adding a smart home component and what he learned from Aereo. It’s a good listen.

    The Starry Station hub.  --Image courtesy of Starry.
    The Starry Station hub. –Image courtesy of Starry.

    And of course, Kevin and I talked about the news of the previous week with Oral Roberts mandating Fitbits for students, which segued into insurance firms and the Internet of things. Then we moved onto the Alphabet earnings and what that meant for Nest. We were a little disappointed. We also discussed two really cool projects and hope someone out there tries to make the homemade Amazon Echo project or purchases the Pine64 smart home pack. If you do either of these things, email us at info at iotpodcast dot com to tell us about it. Next week Kevin and I will talk about Cisco buying Jasper for $1.4 billion as well as this awesome Google Now mirror Max Braun at Google built.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Chet Kanojia, CEO of Starry

    • Mandatory Fitbits and the future of insurance.
    • How many Nests are out there exactly?
    • Built your own Amazon Echo with Intel and a USB mic.
    • Why build an ISP with a smart home component?
    • How to avoid a single point of failure in your business.

    Episode 37: Philips Hue drama and plan to fail even as you hope for success

    Phillips caused a kerfuffle this week when it stopped supporting third-party light bulbs with its Philips Hue bridge and software. It has since reversed the decision after customers complained, but because the crazy time travel that Kevin and I undergo each week to bring the podcast to you had to record an update. However the conversation about third-party support and standards still remains relevant for the smart home today. We also dig into IBM’s new program that brings the Watson set of cognitive computing services to the industrial internet and Kevin’s crazy Bitcoin mining operation on a Raspberry Pi.

    Kevin's Bitcoin mining operation using a Raspberry Pi and a custom dongle.
    Kevin’s Bitcoin mining operation using a Raspberry Pi and a custom dongle.

    Our guest this week is Santiago Merea who just sold his startup, the Orange Chef Co. to Yummly for an undisclosed amount. Merea discusses the future of the Prep Pad connected scale made by his company, and the future of Yummly. He also talks about the importance of having a plan for failure when you start out building a connected product. It’s a great show, so please enjoy.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Santiago Merea of Yummly

    • What’s wrong with Philips Hue?
    • IBM’s calling in Watson for a job on the industrial internet.
    • How to make 4 cents a day using your Raspberry Pi and a $35 dongle.
    • What’s next for recipe provider Yummly after swallowing a connected device company.
    • When building hardware, think about failing even as you plan for success.

    Episode 35: Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton shares ideas for the Pi Zero

    Sure it’s a week after Thanksgiving, but we are all about Pi with this week’s episode. Yes, I went there! With the launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero, the cheapest Linux computer yet at $5, we invited Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton on the show to discuss how Google’s Eric Schmidt helped inspire the cheaper computer, when it might be available to buy again and his ideas for connected projects. We also discussed what’s missing and how to add things like connectivity and battery life. He also gives a bit of advice for engineers and non-engineers alike.

    The Raspberry Pi Zero. Photographer: Matt Richardson
    The Raspberry Pi Zero.
    Photographer: Matt Richardson

    But before we get to Pi, Kevin and I discuss the VTech hacks and a scary survey from SEC Consult, that lays out how many vendors of connected products are sharing code and thus, sharing static keys used for encryption. This is a big problem as connected devices proliferate, and one the industry is already addressing. Still, it’s worth delving into. We also got a little holiday cheer going, as I described how I used my Amazon Echo and SmartThings (or Wink) plus my GE/Jasco outdoor modules and Wemo indoors to create a voice command that lets me “Turn on Christmas.” So please, listen up and enjoy the show.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Eben Upton, creator of the Raspberry Pi

    • Exploited kids accounts and everything is vulnerable
    • Have a connected holiday with Alexa
    • What on earth is the Raspberry Pi?
    • Let’s talk about specs
    • Whew, now let’s talk about how this whole cheap computer thing happened

    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.

    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.

    designswarm_profile_alex

    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.