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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hold your books and costume jewelry close because they may not survive the connected device revolution, according to Rob Coneybeer of Shasta Ventures. In a conversation on this week’s podcast he and I had a fun conversation about what devices might disappear, what objects might stay analog and what devices get more intelligent as we embed connectivity and sensors into more things. He expanded on his thinking from an earlier blog post, and we covered a huge range of products, from the future of the kitchen to clothing and building materials.
Coneybeer provided insights not only into what he thought, but how he came to his conclusions, so anyone interested in how to divvy up the world of consumer products should listen to his segment. Before he went on, Kevin and I broke down the week’s news, which included Target’s move into the home automation space, AT&T’s big bet on the connected car and a new product from Honeywell that is straight out of the movies. Check out the video below. I kind of want one in my home. Finally, we cover out 5-minute review of a web site called SmartHomeDB that smart home lovers will want to bookmark.
Andrew Thomas wanted to build a better doorbell, but now he’s in the enviable position of pitching his wares to Comcast’s millions of subscribers, and is an Apple HomeKit partner. The Skybell co-founder joined my on this week’s podcast to discuss how to allocate time and resources as a hardware startup and also to talk about what it feels like to get a call from Cupertino about your device. For that, thoughts on the boom in connected devices and whether there is a bubble, listen to our guest segment.
But first Kevin Tofel and I share the news of NinjaBlocks’ demise and what happens when a connected hardware company goes out of business. We also discuss Samsung’s new chip family for the internet of things and introduce a new segment. We call it the 5-minute device review, and this week we start with the Myo armband, a $200, gesture-based controller you can buy on Amazon. And of course, Kevin shares his thoughts on the Apple Watch and its ability to control his new Philips Hue light bulbs.
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.
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!
The Apple Watch is out, and while Kevin Tofel didn’t wake up early enough to get one, I interview Mark Rolston, the co-founder and chief creative officer at Argo Design, who did, to see what he thinks of his. Rolston is designing the interface for the Peq smart home hub, and discussed how he’s thinking about designing home interfaces on the Apple Watch. We digressed to general design principles, but did focus on the home, voice control and what the Watch does badly. According to Rolston, the Watch is just like me in the mornings — it’s so desperate to fall back asleep it won’t stay awake long enough to deliver notifications.
However, aside from the Apple Watch and its design considerations, Kevin and I discussed Google’s mysterious FCC filings for a Bluetooth device, my first test of a Bluetooth light bulb system from Ilumi which didn’t blow my mind, but would blow my budget, and a bit more on the Amazon Echo’s future. I also get excited about the future of digital medicine with Scanadu raising $35 million and letting us know that next year we’ll be able to buy what is essentially a good chunk of Star Trek’s Tricorder device for $199. Listen up for all this and more.
Spring is in the air, so this week’s podcast celebrates with a preview of an upcoming connected garden product that looks pretty smart — the Edyn sensor and connected water valve system that will hit Home Depot shelves in May and is available for pre-orders. Kevin I discuss the solar-powered sensors, and although it’s iOS-only for the time being, there’s reportedly an Android app coming some time in the future. We also talk about my plans for nighttime bathroom lighting, an awesome beta app that uses the Android lock-screen to control your connected devices in the home called Reach and more.
This week’s guest focuses on the business benefits of adding connectivity to your products with guest Michael Simon, the CEO and chairman of LogMeIn, the maker of the Xively service. Xively provides the back end infrastructure for connected devices, and recently launched an upgrade that offered better compliance and rules associated with devices and data. Simon focused on why that matters, what types of businesses can easily take advantage of connected products to offer higher value services and what the evolution of a connected business looks like. At the very end he dives into the architecture of the Xively platform, which boasts an “MQTT-compliant” messaging layer the Xively team built as well as off-the-shelf MySQL and Cassandra databases. I was hoping for something a little more like a knowledge graph given the relationships it would have to track, but apparently that’s not under the hood.
So, listen up for some inspiration on the home front or for your business, and feel free to let me know what you think.
This week’s podcast we hit on my favorite topic. Lighting! First we start off in the home with Kevin Tofel and I discussing how I’m using the Amazon Echo to control my Hue lights and a WeMo connected lamp via the Amazon Echo. Then we chat with my guest this week, Willem Smitt, the vice president of marketing at Soraa, a lighting company whose customers include a variety of big name commercial clients. Soraa is pioneering the launch of Bluetooth connected lights, that launched on Tuesday via a partnership with Polish startup Seed Labs.
The ability to control your lights via your phone could offer consumers new opportunities in restaurants other commercial settings, but it also changes the nature of the services businesses can offer. Lights can store beacons or other sensors, so can become homes for sophisticated customer-information gathering tools and personalizations experiences. We discuss this on the show. So tune in to hear about the future of lighting, the Apple watch, a bit about June plans for HomeKit and the Apple TV and more.
Fans of the connected home got some exciting news when Amazon showed of its Dash Buttons, a simple, connected button that consumers could press to order a single products from the e-commerce giant. The idea is consumers would pop a Tide button by their washing machine, a Cottonelle button by their toilet and an Oil of Olay or Gillette Fusion button by their medicine cabinet, and as they run low, press the button to order more. It was an idea so simple that it seemed ridiculous and people wondered if it was an April Fool’s prank.
So Kevin Tofel and I discussed the Dash on this week’s show and you won’t believe why Kevin doesn’t like the idea. We also discuss the newly launched Hue Go wireless LED light, which I review ahead of its May or June launch. For $99.95 it’s a splurge, but if you like lights, I think it makes a nice gift. We kicked off the show with me sharing a segment that I recorded with Nightline, the ABC late-night news program. The show came to my home and hired a hacker to film a segment on smart homes and security. You can see the segment below:
The experience prompted me to ask this week’s guest Joshua Corman to come on the podcast to speak about his efforts with an organization called I am the Cavalry, a collective of hackers, researchers and activists trying to build a more secure connected future. We spent a lot of time discussing the group’s framework for connected cars, but it’s a framework that will translate well to other aspects of the internet of things. So get ready to feel very insecure (watch Corman’s TED talk to feel worse) and to learn a bit more about Kevin Tofel’s odd network habits.