Episode 104: Vint Cerf has a lot of questions on IoT

This week we discuss a personal assistant from Samsung, Amazon Alexa on phones and mistakes from Google Home. We also talk about a Legend of Zelda superfan and how he controls his home through an ocarina. We then talk about ARM’s new architecture and discuss two deals ARM did last month to boost support for low power wide area networks. Finally, I now have my SmartThings and Lutron integration working, and it’s awesome!

Image of Vint Cerf courtesy of Veni Markovski.

Have you ever wanted to know what Vint Cerf, a vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google, has in his smart home? Find out in our guest segment, as one of the fathers of the internet comes on the show to discuss the internet of things and the questions we should be asking. We discuss standards, architecture, privacy and more. You’ll enjoy it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vint Cerf of Google
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and wolfSSL

  • Google needs to pivot, and its latest misstep shows why
  • Kevin isn’t sold on ARM’s new architecture
  • Yes, standards are important for the internet of things
  • We talk about Vint Cerf’s connected wine cellar
  • More questions than answers on IoT from Vint Cerf

Episode 102: Wait to buy your next Amazon Echo

Wow. This week saw a bunch of news about the Amazon Echo. There were rumors of new hardware, the ability to make phone calls and the crazy revelations of the CIA’s hacking ability, which led me to wonder if I want a microphone in my home at all. We also got an update on police seeking Amazon Echo data and news that the Google Home was a bit glitchy for some users. I discussed my HomeKit experience again, while CNET’s Ry Crist, this week’s guest host, introduced us to the HomeKit certified camera.

Was your Google Home glitchy this week?

Then we talked about IBM’s Watson teaming up with Saleforce’s Einstein platform before moving on to Ros Harvey, this week’s guest. Harvey founded The Yield, a data startup focused on farming. She really digs in (ha!) to the challenges of building a business around insights. She focuses on the challenges of making sure data is high-quality and how to negotiate data-sharing deals with big companies and still make money. She’s pretty awesome.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Ry Crist of CNET
Guest: Ros Harvey of The Yield
Sponsors: WolfSSL and SpinDance

  • Should you wait to buy a new Echo device?
  • HomeKit is trouble for anyone who lives with others
  • This data company manages crop data for farms and supermarkets
  • Build data collectives not data monopolies
  • How to turn one piece of data into multiple revenue streams

Episode 101: What happens when everything becomes a service?

Well, the skies fell this week for the smart home. Or more accurately the cloud was somewhat disconnected thanks to Amazon Web Services stumbling. We discuss what happened and how companies can avoid having similar problems by designing for resiliency. We also talk about several new Alexa skills for locks, routers and phones. We then discuss the hacked teddy bears and a few new devices worth checking out. Plus Kevin gives an update on the June oven and I share my update on the Logitech Harmony.

CloudPets are incredibly insecure in so many different ways.

After all of that, we move to the business world for a deep dive into the new value chain for producers of physical products. Once you add connectivity, data analysis and machine learning, the model changes. I speak with Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury, to find out what happens to the distributers and after market parts venders, and how startups can force their way into the process and steal margin from bigger players. It’s a really insightful conversation about what happens when everything becomes a service.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury
Sponsors: WolfSSL and SpinDance

  • The cloud is falling!
  • Please stop making me write about security problems
  • Thoughts on our devices and Kevin’s dog
  • The future of business is services
  • Forget data, the profits are in insights

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