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
  • 7 things successful companies do to make money with the Internet of things

    Technical skills are important when it comes to deploying a new connected manufacturing plant or designing a just-in-time inventory management system. But equally important is developing a management culture that can really take advantage of the data transparency that connectivity can offer a business, according to this week’s guest on the IoT podcast. Satya Ramaswamy of Tata Consultancy Services shares his thoughts about a recent report on the Internet of things and how companies can adapt to really take advantage of this business shift.

    Richard Branson with his Ring doorbell. Image courtesy of Ring.
    Richard Branson with his Ring doorbell. Image courtesy of Ring.

    Before we talk to Ramaswamy, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Google’s new router and why it might be the best thing for the smart home. We also explore Intel’s commitment to the internet of things based on its stunt-heavy opener at the Intel Developer Forum this week. In funding news we talk about a $28 million round for connected video doorbell company Ring as well as $5 million in funding for a startup that’s combining the internet of things and the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin. Enjoy the show.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Satya Ramaswamy of Tata Consultancy Services

  • Google’s new router isn’t just for Wi-Fi, it also has Bluetooth and its Weave IoT protocol
  • Intel’s Developer Forum was less about silicon and more about gadgets
  • How to build a decentralized IoT technology stack
  • The 7 steps to build a company culture to take advantage of the internet of things
  • In the web world machines replaced the seller, but with IoT machines replace the buyer
  • 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 18: Why Target chose clear furniture for its smart home concept store

    Forget about connecting your smart home, can you imagine the technical challenge of connecting a rhinoceros to the internet? That’s what a new anti-poaching organization called Protect has done with its effort to connect rhinos in South Africa to the internet as part of an anti-poaching effort. Kevin and I discuss the project on this week’s show, as well as the challenges of living with new products that try to train algorithms to help make life easier. So far, their just make you have to interact more with mobile apps.

    We also discuss Best Buy’s plan to use the Geek Squad as a network of experts to help homeowners navigate the complexities of the internet of things. Neither Kevin nor I are sure this is the way to save Best Buy, but we’re willing to see if the Geek Squad can become the Apple Genius Bar of the smart home. In other retail news, we snagged David Newman, the man in charge of pulling together Target’s Open House store concept that was launched earlier this month to discuss plans for the space and what he’s learned so far. He also shares why the furniture inside the store is clear. Listen up, and before you go, please note that Kevin and I will be skipping our show next week because we’re taking a quick week-long break in broadcasting. See you next on August 14.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: David Newman, Target

    • The internet of wild animals
    • Training smart home devices needs some work
    • Best Buy’s plan for smart home relevance also needs some work
    • Why Target went with clear furniture for its Open Home store
    • Target doesn’t have the connection and API drama that normal people experience

    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 16: The internet of Ts: Target, Thread, and tennis

    This week we don’t have a guest on the show, but we covered a lot of great stuff starting with the week’s news about The Thread Group releasing its code and Qualcomm joining the group touting the wireless protocol. We also spent a considerable amount of time covering Target’s new retail concept for the internet of things. The retailer has opened up a store in San Francisco that stocks connected devices from 50 vendors and shows people how these products work in a simulated home and how they work together.

    The Vivint doorbell installed at my front door.  You can do a better job scraping away the residual silicon from the previous doorbell.
    The Vivint doorbell installed at my front door. You can do a better job scraping away the residual silicon from the previous doorbell.

    Listen up to hear how Target plans to use the store as a lab to learn about how to sell the internet of things. After that we talk about using connected devices in sports, specifically tennis. Since Wimbledon just wrapped up we pulled data on connected tennis rackets on Babolat from IBM and discussed how better data might change the way the sport is played and how it may influence the rules of the game. Kevin also referenced a scary NASCAR crash that you can see here. Finally, our 5-minute review this week is on the Vivint doorbell camera.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham

    • The Thread standard is officially available and old Zigbee chips can be upgraded
    • Target’s latest store concept is a winner for connected home fans
    • Connected devices is a big deal for sports–including tennis
    • A 5-minute take on the Vivint connected doorbell.

    I spent $120 on lights so I could control them with my Amazon Echo

    If you love something you should set it free, but if you love a connected device you should spend gobs of money adding more gadgets until you have a platform. And this week I have done just that, spending $20 on six light bulbs that I can control with my Amazon Echo. I explain how I used GE’s Link lights which work with the Philips Hue platform, which works with the Amazon Echo, to both lower my overall energy spend and add voice control to more of the lights in my home. It’s awesome.

    This is my new kitchen light bulb. Purchased for $20 at Home Depot.
    This is my new kitchen light bulb. Purchased for $20 at Home Depot.

    After this week’s news and my lighting project I welcome Andrew Farah,CEO of Density to the show to discuss how we might count people in public places. Before y’all get too worked up, his sensors offer anonymity, and we discuss why merchants, offices, consumers and governments would be keen on getting a tally of people inside buildings. We also talk about alternatives that rely on facial recognition and how building a company that sells data is very different from building a company that sells products.

    Hosts:Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density

    • News about July Fourth drones, Thread and a free business idea from Kevin.
    • BP is connecting 4,000 oil wells around the world.
    • How to connected cheaper GE Link lights to your Amazon echo.
    • This startup wants to be the Waze of public spaces.
    • Another free business idea involving TVs.

    What does President Obama think about the Internet of things?

    The president recently made a famous podcast appearance but he didn’t talk about the internet of things. Since he has yet to offer to visit the IoT Podcast, I spoke to Darren Samuelsohn, a senior policy reporter at Politico who recently spent seven weeks trying to discover what Washington D.C. thinks about the Internet of things. The resulting series of articles is informative and little bit scary so I had Samuelsohn come on the show to share the D.C. take on all things IoT.

    president_official_portrait_lores

    Before we focus on the nation’s Capitol, Kevin Tofel and I debated whether Amazon just outmaneuvered Apple when it come to building the best smart home platform and discussed how connected devices are changing the insurance business. We start with the details of the Beam Technologies plan to build an insurance business around a connected toothbrush. Finally my visit to Marriott to see a connected hotel room and a follow up 5-minute review of my Ringly connected ring. Enjoy the show.

    Host:Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Darren Samuelsohn, senior policy writer at Politico

    • Can Amazon do for the smart home, what Apple did for the smartphone?
    • New insurance business models for the internet of things.
    • Hotel rooms of the future and an update on Ringly.
    • Is legislation or regulation the way to govern the internet of things?
    • What does the president think?

    Ladies love wearables and you should buy the Amazon Echo: Episode 13

    This week was a big one for fans of the connected home. Amazon announced that its Siri-like personal assistant for the home is now available for anyone to buy, so Kevin Tofel and I did a fairly extensive review on the show. There’s more over at Fortune. Kevin and I also talked about the big letdown that was the Nest announcement from last week, while also introducing a new connected device called Curb that’s far more interesting for those worried about energy efficiency.

    The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.
    The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

    And for those less excited about devices for the home, and more pumped about gadgets for your wrist, I spoke with Aarthi Ramamurthy, the CEO and founder of Lumoid, about what wearables are hot right now and who is wearing them. Lumoid is a web site where you can go to rent wearables, drones and photo equipment, and Ramamurthy has some solid data to share about who’s buying what. Listen up to hear her describe what may be the best job in the world for a gadget lover and maybe even find your next fitness tracker.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Aarthi Ramamurthy, of Lumoid

    It will soon be so cheap to add connectivity, everyone will do it

    We spend a lot of our time focused on the U.S. market, but this week’s show we review an IP camera from a French company and feature Dave Friedman, the CEO of Ayla Networks, discussing the Internet of things evolution in China. Friedman discusses a recent deal his company signed to provide the back-end infrastructure that will let Chinese manufacturers connect their products to China’s WeChat social network. Friedman also offers to compelling stats on how much the cost of connectivity and cloud hosting has dropped in the last five years. Soon we’ll add connectivity to everything!

    The Netatmo Camera
    The Netatmo Camera

    First up Kevin Tofel and I riff on the ideas from this article in Wired, which looks at the convergence of features in the big mobile operating systems and says we’ve basically come to agreement on what a smartphone should do. Kevin and I apply that same questioning to the smart home during the first half of our show talking about the role of the cloud, context and services. Then we hit some news from the Industrial Internet Consortium and analysis around HomeKit that might make the AllSeen Alliance a little worried. Finally, we review the Netatmo Welcome camera which offers facial recognition. Listen up.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Dave Friedman, CEO of Ayla Networks

    • Defining the essential features for the smart home
    • The industrial internet gets a new testbed
    • 5-Minute review of the Netatmo Welcome camera
    • Costs are dropping by 70 percent for connectivity and cloud services
    • China is embracing the smart home and isn’t too far behind the US