Episode 99: Tim Cook’s HomeKit setup and Echo mania

This week we have sales estimates on the Amazon Echo, a new way to unlock your August locks and a hub that may talk to both HomeKit and legacy Z-wave and ZigBee connected devices. We also cover several networking stories ahead of Mobile World Congress involving AT&T’s IoT network, a satellite-backed LoRa network and Nokia’s plans to offer an IoT-grid network on a wholesale basis. Finally, I explain what worked and what didn’t about my effort to secure my home by splitting off into two networks. Kevin also discusses the new Google smart watches and we share Tim Cook’s HomeKit routines.

This week’s guest runs the Techstars IoT accelerator and drives investing for the Techstars Fund in the internet of things. Jenny Fielding explains the trends she’s seeing in startups, what makes a good IoT exit and some of the challenges facing industrial internet startups. She also talks about how to get around them and shares the secret beginnings of Sphero, the maker of the BB-8 toy robot. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jenny Fielding, managing director of Techstars IoT
Sponsors: Ayla Networks and SpinDance

  • If you have an Echo buy this one device to start a smart home
  • Satellite was made for the internet of things
  • Dividing networks don’t really work
  • Where will the next IoT hub develop?
  • What kind of IoT startup should I build?

Episode 98: Science fiction prepared me for spying TVs

This week we discuss the city of Louisville, Kentucky adding an If This Then That channel, a settlement over televisions that spy on you, and a possible new feature for the Amazon Echo that could bridge the gap between it and the Google Home. That last tidbit was contributed by Grant Clauser, the smart home editor at the Wirecutter who took Kevin’s place this week. (Never fear, Kevin will be back next week.) Grant also provides input on the professional installer networks like Control4, Crestron and Savant in case you’re wondering about those options. We also have some kitchen M&A and security embedded in the Almond3 router.

Image courtesy of Bruce Sterling.

Our guest this week is Bruce Sterling, a popular science fiction author and the co-creator of a smart house/maker lab in Turin, Italy. Sterling discusses Casa Jasmina, overlooked aspects of the transition to smart homes and how Europe is likely to react to the challenges of security and privacy in connected devices. He also offers up the name “Talking Donkey” for devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. To find out why, listen to this week’s show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Grant Clauser of The Wirecutter
Guest: Bruce Sterling
Sponsors: MIT IoT Bootcamp and Ayla Networks

  • Light bulbs for better health and evil TVs
  • Kitchen tech gets some M&A action
  • Don’t call it old-school home automation
  • What the heck is a talking donkey?
  • How Europe will take our smart tech and make it better

Episode 97: Enterprises will spend big bucks ($269 billion) on IoT

There’s a lot of money in the internet of things. No, not just in your smart home gadgets. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2020 enterprises will be spending €250 billion on the internet of things. We discuss the survey, news of the week, an update on my OpenHab project and answer the question of how one gets started with a smart home. Two cases caught our eye on the privacy and security front, with one dealing with self-incrimination and a pacemaker and the other being the hotel in Austria that dealt with a ransomware attack on its smart lock system.

A chart from the recent BCG report on the internet of things.

And for everyone who wants to know about how to get into the smart home as a renter, I brought on Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis to discuss things renters can buy to connect their (temporary) homes. She also laid out the future of smart apartments and explained what tech renters are likely to see from their landlords. There’s something for everyone this week.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

Episode 96: Okay Computer and Stacey begins with HomeKit

Talking to the Amazon Echo just got easier, after Amazon adds “Computer” as a wake word, while I test out the use of Google Home’s new partner WeMo (Honeywell also made a connection with Google Home). Ring managed to raise $109 million this week, and we put that in context with the state of the smart home market. We also put Jawbone’s lack of customer support in similar context. I also started my Apple HomeKit review starting with set up, and pledged to try the latest version of the OpenHAB open source smart home hub software.

The Ring floodlight cam is just one of a few new Ring products out in the last year.

In the guest portion of the show, we spoke with Susan Norris who is at PG&E about how connected devices are both a boon and a burden for energy conservation. In addition to fun facts about how solar power is changing the demand for electric power, she shared information on what she wants smart home device companies to think about when trying to work with utilities. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Susan Norris, senior manager for energy efficiency products at PG&E
Sponsor: June

  • Differences in Google Home and the Amazon Echo
  • Stacey makes a solemn pledge
  • What can we expect on regulating the internet of things?
  • How to get your product in front of millions of normal consumers
  • Why PG&E views IoT with hope and worry

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

Episode 92: At CES Amazon Alexa and robots rule

This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.

This is a $200 hairbrush slated to come out later this year that measures how healthy your hair is.

Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Tim Crawford, CIO speaker and consultant
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

  • Let’s talk about business partnerships and privacy
  • Routers to protect all the things
  • So much smart lighting news including news about Lutron and switches from WeMo
  • There’s a new IoT protocol in town … dotdot
  • CIOs have to understand the business, not just tech
  • You can’t just sprinkle security on an IoT project

Episode 91: The cops want your smart home data

This week’s big story was the Bentonville, Arkansas case where police were seeking data from an alleged murderer’s Echo history. Kevin and I share our thoughts on the case, what police could learn from connected gadgets and what this means for your privacy. We then talk about Google’s new smartwatches coming in 2017, two new open/close sensors I discovered and Intel’s work with Amazon to create a model smart home. We also debate what shape the smart home should take and I’m getting ready for CES next week.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

After a big thank you to the companies who sponsored the podcast this year, I interviewed Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC about how the fight to be the next big IoT platform will shape up. He has some surprising views on the roles startups will play and where the innovation in IoT will come from (and when).

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • What could your smart home tell the police?
  • Two discrete sensors for your doors from GE and Sensative
  • Is your ideal smart home controlled by a virtual wife?
  • Consumer electronics are too hard for startups
  • How to think about building platforms for the industrial internet

Episode 89: Google’s IoT Strategy takes shape and Microsoft enters the fray

There was so much news this week, that we skipped having a guest in favor of just keeping track of some big moves in the sector. This week was Google’s time to shine since it launched both Actions on Google (an SDK for talking to its Assistant on Google Home) and its IoT operating system plus the Weave communications protocol. Not to be topped Microsoft released an SDK for Cortana it’s voice powered personal assistant and Amazon doubled down with AI for all on AWS. So Kevin Tofel and I spent the first half of the show discussing what this means.

The Plume WiFi pods
The Plume WiFi pods

For the second half we focused on all the little bits of news such as Fibaro’s new HomeKit sensors, Ayla Networks’ new ability to help customers build Alexa skills, GE’s decision to build networking gear for the industrial IoT and a new Bluetooth hub for the enterprise from Cassia Networks. Uber and Google also offered some exciting self-driving car news this week and the ZigBee and Thread groups achieved a feat. We also reviewed two Wi-Fi options with Kevin discussing Google WiFi and me talking about why the new Plume pods may not work for everyone. We’ll be back next week with a guest, but in the meantime, enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (Use STACEY50)

  • The 3 things every personal assistant needs to succeed
  • Radio news from Thread and Zigbee plus a new BLE hub
  • GE and Ayla are making IoT easier for the enterprise
  • We have Waymo car news than usual
  • Reviewing Plume Pods and Google WiFi

Episode 88: Bluetooth 5 and testing lights on Echo and Google Home

Get the bottom line on the Bluetooth 5 specification with Kevin and I in this week’s podcast. If radios aren’t your thing, then delve into the details of connected lights and new features with Amazon Echo and Google Home. We also talk about GE’s new Alexa concept light. (We think it’s strange-looking). We also cover the end of Pebble, the new Amazon Go store and a new energy monitoring device.

What do you guys think of this new Alexa-enabled lamp from GE?
What do you guys think of this new Alexa-enabled lamp from GE?

After the news, I chat with Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer at Emerson Process Management. His company has been thinking about the internet of things for almost a decade and Emerson is currently offering new services based on connected sensors. Zornio explains how switching from a product to a service changes the company’s sales cycles, accounting, contracts and more. He also discusses the issue of security and the industrial internet, and how the internet of things “brand” is being damaged by recent attacks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Peter Zornio of Emerson
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (use code IOTPODCAST25)

  • Bluetooth 5 is out!
  • How to delete your voice recordings from Amazon Echo and Google Home
  • Goodbye Pebble (I still want my Core)
  • How to figure out which product can become a service
  • How your sales team and contracts will change in the IoT world

Episode 87: We’ll govern the internet of things with mob rules

Gosh, it’s another week and another show that features security. We kick it off with this week’s news that features ransomware, botnets and a report from the Department of Homeland security discussing the internet of things. Kevin and I then touch on Intel’s new IoT chief and new Automated Driving Group as well as a bunch of Amazon Echo news. Finally, I discuss my impressions of the IFTTT integration with the Kevo lock and gripe about some frustrating sales practices by August.

The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.
The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.

It’s not all complaints on the show. My guest this week is Nick Feamster, the co-editor of a report out last week by a non-partisan group of technical experts focused on how to secure the internet of things. Feamster offers some tangible suggestions and directions where the industry can play a more active and helpful role. We discuss everything from how to create over the air updates that can be authenticated to how to create new types of routers to improve home IoT security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Feamster, professor of computer science at Princeton
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Bluetooth

  • The future may have more cyber extortion than cyber warfare
  • Intel’s new automated driving boss is the same as the old (IoT) boss
  • You shouldn’t claw back functionality on a connected device for a fee
  • Want to secure IoT? Start with routers
  • Should your ISP help secure connected devices?