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

Episode 11: HomeKit certification comes at a big cost for consumers and device makers.

This week Apple disappointed the smart home aficionados at its WWDC conference by not mentioning much in the way of new HomeKit news and new devices. But Kevin Tofel and I discussed the challenges that Apple’s HomeKit partners faced trying to accommodate Apple’s security and hardware needs. This includes the Ecobee CEO’s response to criticism about his older thermostats not being upgradable to HomeKit.

The ring connected doorbell.
The ring connected doorbell.

Since we don’t have a guest this week, we spent the rest of the show discussing a new, $1,500 oven from June and what the heck is happening with Wink. The Wink platform is for sale and Quirky, the product development group that created Wink, is getting out of the manufacturing business. Finally, we cover the Ring connected doorbell in our 5-minute review segment. Despite my enthusiasm for the connected doorbell, I learned that my doorbell isn’t in the right spot on the to make the device as useful.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

  • Not much HomeKit at Apple’s WWDC
  • We do get some cool watch features in the upgrade for the Apple Watch
  • Would you buy this connected oven?
  • What’s up with Wink?
  • The 5-minute review: Ring connected doorbell

Episode 10: When will connected devices get cheaper?

We now have four devices for Apple’s HomeKit and about as many slides detailing Google’s own entry into the Internet of things with its Brillo operating system and Weave communications platform. Kevin and I discuss what we know about the Google strategy and more importantly, what we don’t yet know. We also discuss some new research on the use of consumer connected devices in corporate IT networks from OpenDNS and use our 5-minute review slot to talk about the Ecobee 3 and the Lutron Caseta devices that just launched in new, HomeKit compatible versions.

Chet Pipkin Photo 1

After the break, I interview Chet Pipkin, the CEO of Belkin, which makes the WeMo line of connected devices. We talk about WeMo’s future in the connected home, why connected devices cost so darn much, and how long we can expect until our smart home experience become more automated. I also ask why my WeMo experience seems so glitchy compared to others. For all this and more, listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chet Pipkin CEO of Belkin

  • Why don’t we know more about Brillo’s details and Weave?
  • A brief interlude about corporate security
  • The 5-minute review on Lutron lighting and the Ecobee3
  • Why WeMo doesn’t always work like you want it
  • When will our connected devices get cheaper?

Please note, that after we recorded, the Ecobee folks let us know that existing Ecobee3 thermostats are not HomeKit compatible, so you would have to buy a new one.

Episode 9: How connected devices will change the way you travel

Google is about to get into the smart home with new software called Brillo that will connect devices to a router. It won’t be part of the Nest ecosystem of devices, but it will work with Nest devices, according to reports on the Google news. By the time the show airs, we should know more, but for now, we spend some time on this week’s show discussing what another major entrant means for the smart home. It’s mostly good news for consumers. Kevin and I also explore a cool Kickstarter project that will ship in July for Microduinos, tiny sensors and modules that snap to LEGOs and work with an Arduino board.

Microduino

They remind me of Little Bits, and are pretty intriguing. After we discuss that, Alarm.com’s initial public offering and a 5-minute review of Microsoft’s Cortana, since it will soon be available on both Google Android and Apple’s iOS, Jon Mann, a UX designer at Artefact, a design consultancy discusses how we can expect the internet of things to change our travel experience. We start with the smart home, but move on to Disney, air travel and hotels, since those are the venues where many people will experience the joys of a connected experience for the first time.

Click here to listen on Soundcloud.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jon Mann, Artefact

  • Google’s rumored plans for the internet of things
  • Check out Microduinos for the LEGO-loving sensor fan in your life
  • The 5-minute review of Microsoft Cortana
  • Why closed platforms may be the best way the smart home to evolve
  • How the internet of things will refine your travel experience