Episode 141: Alexa suits up for business

Last week Amazon made a slew of IoT announcements at its annual user conference, bringing established functions into general availability and surprising us with the launch of Amazon’s Free RTOS after it hired the man responsible for the most popular embedded OS for microcontrollers. It also introduced Alexa for business. Kevin and I share our thoughts on that and also discussed Microsoft’s own platform announcement, the Google/Amazon spat, and Walmart’s search for a cheap sensor. I share my learnings from an event on IoT business models held at Target’s Open house last week and Kevin shares his thoughts on the GoControl/Linear garage door controller. We also discuss naming conventions thanks to a question on the IoT Podcast hotline.

Amazons IoT dreams are becoming clear.

The guest this week put the challenges of building an IoT project into perspective. After years of being “spoiled by cloud computing,” Upal Basu of NGP Capital says that we have to reframe our IoT projects with longer ROIs and more of a focus on decentralized deployments away from the corporate offices. His ideas make sense for anyone familiar with complexities of deploying sensors, and it’s a good interview for folks thinking about how to transform her business using connectivity, sensors and cloud analytics. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Upal Basu, General Partner at NGP Capital
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Greengrass, Free RTOS, Device Defender and more from Amazon
  • Alexa gets her MBA
  • Sustainable IoT hardware is actually a service
  • You returns on IoT investments should be years, not 12-18 months
  • The value in IoT deployments happens where the sensors are

Episode 138: Wink’s security system review and Las Vegas is a smart city

There was a lot of small news this week including updates to the Google Home/Assistant ecosystem that Kevin and I discuss on this week’s podcast. I share my feelings on the Google Mini and then we segue into a conversation about Google’s new AI framework for embedded devices that launched this week. We also discuss the push by smart home and lock companies to give delivery or service people access to your home. SmartThings gets local control for some devices this week. Kevin reviews the Wink Lookout security bundle and we take a listener question about what to look for in a smart home camera.

The Wink Lookout bundle works right out of the box.

Our guest this week is awesome. I speak with Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas, about plans for a traffic light that detects pollution and can send cars along before it builds up, and what it really means to build a smart city. Sherwood shares a lot of good insights about the challenges of building a smart city that we don’t often see. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Sherwood Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Google’s making some changes to Now and Google Assistant
  • Who would you let into your home alone?
  • Wink’s new security system has one big flaw
  • How a smart city gets that way
  • This is the biggest challenge halting innovation in smart cities

Episode 137: Is Nest breaking Thread?

This week’s show has flying cars and lawsuits. What more can anyone really ask for? Kevin and I kick off the show discussing Waymo’s autonomous minivans, Uber’s plan for helicars, and the injunction that ADT won against Ring. There are plenty of other bits of security news that span the smart home all the way to a new survey full of dumb things industrial shops do related to security. Finally, Congress is trying again with an IoT security bill. This week also had a huge chip deal, bad news for Logitech device owners and an insightful question/comment related to the Amazon Echo on the IoT Hotline.

One of the Notion sensors that now works with Nest.

Our guest this week is Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group, who tried hard to convince me that this week’s news out of the wireless standard organization wasn’t bad. Thread is implementing an official certification and something called “Thread Ready” which is like some kind of royal bastard. It won’t have all of the features of Thread and certified Thread gear won’t recognize it. I’m worried it will break the standard, but Erickson explains what it means. You’re gonna want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Why minivans are good autonomous vehicles
  • There is no such thing as an airgapped network
  • Can we please get an expiration date for devices?
  • Did Nest just break the Thread protocol?
  • We’ll see tens of Thread devices at CES next year.

Episode 136: Sony’s Aibo is back and Chamberlain’s CEO explains its moves

The best news of the week is that Sony is bringing back the Aibo robotic puppy. The bad news is that it will costs a pretty penny. Kevin Tofel and I discuss the pup, San Diego’s smart city efforts, the Apple HomePod, and funding for Ayla’s IoT platform as a service. I emailed companies to find out who has updated after KRACK and Kevin shares smart home data from Mozilla. Finally, we review the Amazon Echo Plus with ZigBee and Amazon Alexa’s new smart home interface.

The new Sony Aibo has OLED eyes and so many moving joints.

This week’s guest is JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group, who came on the show to explain where Chamberlain is heading with new commercial products, and its new subscription plan for IFTTT. Sohovich has been at Chamberlain for 20 months and in that time she’s focused on turning what was only a product business into a service business. Part of this is to better align with costs, but there is also a chance to boost margins by offering software features and integrations. We also hit on the future of smart home subscriptions. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Bring on the monthly subscription fees
  • Ayla gets $60 million and a Chinese joint venture
  • Why you may not want to buy an Amazon Echo Plus
  • Why Chamberlain is charging $1 for monthly IFTTT access
  • Chamberlain’s plans for the commercial market

Episode 135: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The home security train just keeps on rolling in the smart home with Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. Also on the home front Kevin Tofel and I discuss the new lighting startup Noon, which launches Thursday. We also talk about some new devices including a $20 camera and a Google Assistant intercom system before answering a question from Derek about how to integrate a bunch of devices together using an Android app. And because today ends in Y we also have a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

The Noon lighting system on a wall.

The guest this week is Phil Skipper of Vodafone who shares the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. I learned a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Phil Skipper of Vodafone
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Amazon’s Key and Wink’s new security system are part of a trend
  • Noon’s lighting system is pretty cool
  • It’s not IoT exactly, but you should fear Reaper
  • Why choose NB-IoT over other low power network options
  • A glass break sensor can teach us new business models for IoT

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. She also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10