What will happen with Wink and a review of Zuli’s presence-promoting smart outlets

In episode 25 companies are spending billions trying to figuring out how to use wearables to help seniors age in place so we asked Philips Digital Health solutions’ Liat Ben-Zur on the show to discuss some of the things the health giant is doing to rethink medicine for a connected era. She discussed how the venerable Lifeline program must adapt and why today’s wearables aren’t providing enough context for doctors to use them in healthcare settings. We also talked about medical clouds, data analytics and a bit about the looming healthcare crisis. Good times.

The Zuli smart plugs in action.
The Zuli smart plugs in action.

Meanwhile Kevin Tofel and I discuss the not-so-shocking bankruptcy of Quirky and what it means for Wink. So far Quirky has a $15 million bid for Wink from Flextronics, the company that built the actual hub, but there’s still too much uncertainty for me. And after more than 18 months I have gotten my hands on the $160 Zuli smart plugs that offer Bluetooth-based presence in the home. Listen up to learn what I thought about them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Liat Ben-Zur, Philips

  • Why Flextronics isn’t going to try to destroy Wink
  • What are the best hub options if Wink does go down
  • Zuli smart plugs are a good way to bring presence into your home. But they could do more.
  • What’s next for Lifeline in an era of ubiquitous wearables and DIY
  • Why your wearable isn’t good enough for a doctor’s eyes just yet.
  • Episode 24: HomeKit surprise and no more passwords for the internet of things

    Apple didn’t cover HomeKit in its massive event last week, but Kevin and spent a good chunk of time explaining what we we knew. Sadly, it’s not a lot, but it should be worth downloading iOS 9 and waiting a few more weeks. In enterprise news, we covered Salesforce’s IoT Cloud news, which will compete with IBM’s IoT foundation cloud. We also talked about a new access point from Samsung that adds Zigbee and Bluetooth to the mix before delving into a review of the OnHub router from Google. You’ll have to listen to the show and Kevin’s review to see if it’s worth the $199 price tag.

    The OnHub router. Image courtesy of Tp Link.
    The OnHub router. Image courtesy of TP Link.

    After all of that, Paul Madsen, who works in the office of the CTO at Ping Identity, came onto the show to discuss the future of an identity layer for the Internet of things. This may sound esoteric, but it’s really important for all of us who hate having multiple passwords for every app on every device we have in the house. It also could help with guest authentication. The conversation gets a bit techie, but its worth it to understand how we may access our devices in the near future. He does threaten some kind of two-factor authentication for our smart home, guys. Enjoy.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Paul Madsen of Ping Identity

  • HomeKit gets new tricks as part of iOS9 but where are the devices?
  • Comcast and AT&T are supporting new third-party devices.
  • Salesforce gets into the Internet of things and here’s why.
  • Does Kevin like the Google OnHub router?
  • Managing identity for smart home might look a lot like the web.
  • Are you ready for two-factor authentication in your home?
  • Episode 23: Smart home breweries and Amazon’s konnected kitchen kabinets

    I hope you’re hungry for some smart kitchen news because this week I have smart home analyst and the host of The Smart Home Show podcast Michael Wolf coming on to discuss Amazon’s plans for the kitchen and some really awesome technology he’s seeing in that room of the house. Wolf, who is hosting a conference on the topic Nov. 5 (you can register using the code IOTPOD and get 15% off the conference fee) wrote his take on the news that Amazon is building a connected device for the kitchen called Kabinet, that was leaked in a Wall Street Journal story. Wolf and I discuss what the Kabinet might entail as well as some other connected technologies he’s seen and how the smart kitchen will evolve.

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

    Before Wolf and I get started, Kevin Tofel and I share the latest on this week’s news with the Nest outage over Labor Day weekend, ARM and IBM’s partnership to bring the internet of things to more industrial users and introduce our own idea, which is that Google should buy web service If This Then That. The one thing you won’t find is Apple’s latest announcements, because we recorded the show the day before Apple’s announcements. We just give you a reason to listen next week. In the meantime, please enjoy the show.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Michael Wolf, The Smart Kitchen Summit

  • The Nest outage shows that once again, we shouldn’t rely on the cloud.
  • In which we find a buyer for IFTTT.
  • IBM and ARM team up for the industrial internet.
  • Inside Amazon’s plans for the smart kitchen.
  • Connected home brews, tea and other trends in connected cooking.
  • Episode 22: The new Nest and behind the scenes with SmartThings’ new hub

    This week has a bunch of updates on old favorites for the smart home with a third generation thermostat from Nest and a new home hub from SmartThings. We start the show with Kevin and I discussing the slimmer Nest thermostat with a bigger screen and software upgrades. Our decision? There is no need to upgrade, but the Nest is still a winner. We also review the reviews of the new router from Google and Kevin decides if he can find one, he’ll try it out and report back. But the biggest news on the smart home front is probably the upgrade to the SmartThings hub, which I’ve had in my home since 2013 and is getting an upgrade on Thursday.

    The new SmartThings hub and smaller sensors.
    The new SmartThings hub and smaller sensors.

    Our guest is SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson, who covers some of the changes and the new services model the company first unveiled at CES. We also talk about how it is handling Apple’s HomeKit and competition after its acquisition by Samsung last summer. The company has handled the challenge of being open while also trying to make a consumer-friendly product, which isn’t easy, as any Android user can tell you. This iteration may be the one that pushes it into the mainstream. Listen up and see what you think.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO and founder of SmartThings

  • The new Nest is skinner and can double as a clock with Farsight.
  • Reviewing the OnHub reviews. Should Kevin buy Google’s router?
  • SmartThings’ new hub is finally here!
  • How to walk the line between open and usable.
  • Why SmartThings isn’t supporting Apple’s HomeKit.
  • As a note to this show, there’s a slight ghosting on Hawkinson’s voice that I couldn’t quite take care of in editing. I apologize.

    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.