Episode 61: Look inside Google Home and what’s up with Jawbone?

This week is all about chips and presence. First Kevin and I dig into the disclosure that the Google Home Device will have the same chip as the Chromecast, and we explain what that means. Then we dive into the Jawbone rumors and cover Atari’s plans for building IoT devices through a partnership with Sigfox. Finally, we ran across a presentation to add a wake up and receive technical spec to Wi-Fi, which was worth talking about since it will lower the power consumption of Wi-Fi connected “things”.

The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.
The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.

After the break, I interviewed Chris Herbert, the CEO of Trackr, a presence tag. Hebert’s vision involves making it easy to tell what room in your home something is, as opposed to just offering the address. But to do this, you’ll have to buy a $99 set of plugs that help offer fine-grained presence detection. It’s cheaper than Zuli, the other maker of presence detecting outlets, so I’ll probably give them a try when they come out later this summer. Please enjoy.

  • Bulk is better. What’s inside the Echo and Google Home?
  • Those Atari IoT devices may have a catch.
  • The Wirecutter reviews smart home hubs.
  • Taking Trackr from $70 to $30 dollars
  • The future of voice and instant gratification

Episode 60: Everyone takes on the Amazon Echo

Kevin is back from Google IO this week, and so of course, we discussed the Google Home product in detail. But since voice + a personal assistant is so hot right now, we also talked about the recent Apple rumors that said it was building its own Echo-like device and opening up Siri to developers. We then talked about Pebble’s new gear, how much power my devices are sucking and Samsung’s possible decision to use Tizen instead of Android Wear on its smart watches.

Google's proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.
Google’s proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.

In the spirit of Father’s Day and the start of summer, I spoke with Chris Klein the CEO of connected sprinkler maker Rachio, who talked about how a municipality could use connected sprinklers to control water usage, how to talk to your vocal users and what he learned selling Rachio in a Big Box retailer. You’ll also get my first impressions of the device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rachio CEO Chris Klein

  • Who will command your smart home?
  • Pebble pivots
  • An update on vampire power
  • How to take a connected device from the home to the city level
  • Hanging out in Home Depot is fun!
  • Episode 59: Chipmakers love the smart car

    This week I was at the NXP Technology Forum interviewing the semiconductor company’s CEO Rick Clemmer about smart cities and smart cars. The most interesting fact he shared was that the BMW Series 7 cars have about $300 worth of silicon inside them. To compare the estimates on the cost of chips inside the Apple iPhone 6 come to roughly $120.

    The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon.  --Image courtesy of  BMW.
    The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. –Image courtesy of BMW.

    Kevin was at Google IO this week, so next week’s episode should be full of great insights, so Janko Roettgers from Variety was my cohost. He has just been to CES Asia, so we learned about the Amazon Echo of china called Ding Dong and the size of CES Asia. We also discussed new integrations for the Nest, the Amazon IoT Dash button and a then I was kicked out of the room where I was recording. So we didn’t get a chance to cover Google Home and the sound quality isn’t as great because I was live with a wobbly connection. I hope you will bear with it.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Janko Roettgers
    Guest: Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP

    • So many more things work with Nest!
    • Tips on the AWS IoT button
    • Meet the Amazon Echo of China
    • How a chip company thinks about the internet of things
    • Cramming chips in cities and cars

    Episode 53: How to prevent good devices from being killed

    This week’s show deals with recurring themes such as whether or not you should trust the cloud, device lifespan, the Amazon Alexa platform and more lighting than a Times Square billboard. Our guest this week is Mike Pessina, the co-CEO of Lutron. He shares his recipes for great lighting (at the very end) and talks about the role of Lutron’s proprietary wireless protocol for lighting control in a world that is rapidly embracing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Before we learn about Lutron, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the news that Nest plans to shut down all Revolv smart home hub devices that are in the field, turning the $299 device into a hunk of metal and plastic scrap.

    A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.
    A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.

    While Revolv sold fewer than 10,000 units, those who own one are upset. We came up with a few suggestions that might help other connected device companies avoid alienating their users in case of failure or a sale. On the brighter side, Amazon’s Alexa platform is gaining new smarts, with the Smart Home API now available to anyone. We also tell you how to control your TV with Alexa and review the Amazon Dot. This week you also get a second review, of the Osram Lightify dimmer switch, which renters and folks who aren’t keen on replacing their wired switches will like. And once again, we ask that you take our survey if you have a chance.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Michael Pessina, Co-CEO of Lutron

    • The Revolv fiasco is bad for the smart home.
    • Where did you put your Amazon Dot?
    • Get Alexa to turn on your TV with Yonomi.
    • Who should buy this $30 Osram dimmer switch?
    • What’s next for Lutron

    Episode 48: Realtors ready for the smart home

    We’ve talked about how whether you should take your connected devices with you when you move on previous shows, but on this week’s show Chad Curry, managing director at the center for Realtor Technology at the National Association of Realtors, takes things further. Much further. Curry discusses the future of MLS listings and how your next real estate transaction might end up with you receiving the gift of a smart hub. From there we discuss the future of home listings and what items will disappear from the home of the relatively near future. And for those who missed it, check out the work Curry’s team did on helping people who move deauthenticate their smart devices. Most of our listeners should probably bookmark this checklist.

    The future MLS  listing with smart home data--GIF provided by the National Association of Realtors.
    The future MLS listing with smart home data–GIF provided by the National Association of Realtors.

    Before we get to Curry, Kevin and I discuss the new Raspberry Pi with integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which people are saying is THE Pi for the internet of things, the new FitBit smart watch and price cuts at the Pebble Time. We also run through some of the features on the Sony Xperia agent prototype shown off at Mobile World Congress which reminded Kevin a lot of the Amazon Echo. And I finally remembered to tell y’all about the future of the new standards setting organization that formed two weeks ago with Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft and more. So listen up, and don’t worry, next week, Kevin and I will discuss the new Amazon Echo products.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Chad Curry, managing director at the center for Realtor Technology at the National Association of Realtors

    • A new Raspberry Pi for the internet of things
    • Sony’s Amazon Echo prototype and watching the smartwatches
    • The AllJoyn engineers went to Intel and OCF is the result
    • Are you ready for connected drywall?
    • How MLS listings might change thanks to connected sensors

    Episode 46: Barbie has a smart home and Sense gives your home computer vision

    Andreas Gal, the CEO of Silk Labs has built what feels impossible. With the Sense hub he has created an artificially intelligent home hub that contains a camera, controls for other connected devices and a dedicated to privacy that means he can still offer services but still protect users from blanket surveillance. And the device is beautiful. Gal came on the show this week to talk about the Sense hub and why the world needs yet another connected camera and how he took his role as the former CTO of Mozilla and used that to inform the privacy features the camera offers. We also discussed how to implement AI models and learning on a device as opposed to in the cloud. Many of the challenges Gal has dealt with in his design are ones that hardware designers are thinking through as they implement their own AI or consider how to think about privacy in a world where the U.S. government has declared open season on stalking the Internet of Things.

    The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. --Image courtesy of Silk.
    The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. –Image courtesy of Silk.

    And yes, Kevin Tofel and I discuss James Clapper’s comments before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee from last week in this episode, as well as a bunch of updates to some popular products. Some are good, such as the Wemo updates that boost reliability of the platform and Wink’s updates that bring lighting commands inside the home as opposed to between clouds. Some are frustrating, such as Philips Hue updating its Android app in a way that breaks it if users don’t want to share their location and photos. And some are just awesome, like the continued updates to Amazon’s Echo that include support for Spotify, Uber and the Ecobee3. And yes, Barbie has a smart home. So get set for your commute, your run or however you enjoy the show and have a listen.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Andreas Gal, CEO of Silk Labs

    • Barbie’s smart home might rival yours
    • Amazon’s Echo gets better and updates gone crazy for Hue, Wemo and Wink
    • The Internet of things is a gift for spies
    • Meet the Sense home hub which uses computer vision to learn more about your home
    • Rethinking privacy for connected devices

    Episode 44: Mandatory Fitbits and a new ISP with smart home aspirations

    Last week the man who founded Aereo, a company that was aimed at bringing over the air television to the masses who couldn’t always get it, and then allowing them to time-shift that television by recording it, launched Starry. Starry is a new type of ISP that aims to deliver gigabit internet service to homes (in Boston at first) and will also sell a router, smart home hub combo device. Because any new hub device gets my attention–especially if it comes with gigabit broadband–Chet Kanojia, CEO of Starry, came on this week’s show to discuss his plans. We didn’t get too much into the technical details of the broadband, but did talk about why he’s adding a smart home component and what he learned from Aereo. It’s a good listen.

    The Starry Station hub.  --Image courtesy of Starry.
    The Starry Station hub. –Image courtesy of Starry.

    And of course, Kevin and I talked about the news of the previous week with Oral Roberts mandating Fitbits for students, which segued into insurance firms and the Internet of things. Then we moved onto the Alphabet earnings and what that meant for Nest. We were a little disappointed. We also discussed two really cool projects and hope someone out there tries to make the homemade Amazon Echo project or purchases the Pine64 smart home pack. If you do either of these things, email us at info at iotpodcast dot com to tell us about it. Next week Kevin and I will talk about Cisco buying Jasper for $1.4 billion as well as this awesome Google Now mirror Max Braun at Google built.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Chet Kanojia, CEO of Starry

    • Mandatory Fitbits and the future of insurance.
    • How many Nests are out there exactly?
    • Built your own Amazon Echo with Intel and a USB mic.
    • Why build an ISP with a smart home component?
    • How to avoid a single point of failure in your business.

    Episode 42: These are the two biggest challenges facing the smart home

    There is no winner takes all in the smart home yet, because none of the products and services available have the scale yet says Om Malik, this week’s guest on the Internet of Things Podcast. Malik, who is a partner at True Ventures and wrote a great article in the New Yorker on the virtuous cycle of fast infrastructure leading to more users and more data, which leads to better algorithms, which leads to more customers and more data, ad infinitum. We talked about what it would take to get to that point for the Internet of things and the devices he would like to see. He also discussed the challenges ahead, and if you are making products you better listen up.

    The UA Health Box sells for $400.
    The UA Health Box sells for $400.

    Before he and I chatted, Kevin Tofel and I broke down the week’s news including the Amazon Echo’s new ability to read your Kindle books aloud, Nest glitches, and Kevin’s random purchase of the Quirky egg minder. Kevin also reviews the new Under Armour health box that includes a Wi-Fi scale, a fitness band, a heart rate monitor and in his case a pair of running shoes. At the behest of a listener I also found the only two Wi-Fi leak detection sensors on the market to see if they made sense for his needs. So stay turned and listen up.

    • The Nest has new issues, so what is a homeowner to do?
    • Finding a Wi-Fi water sensor is harder than it looks
    • Reviewing the Under Armour gear kit (Now with IBM Watson!)
    • Will the Internet of things build its own monopoly players?
    • Om’s two biggest threats for the Internet of things startups are ….

    Episode 41: Can a $20 device stop the spread of disease?

    After a week at CES, the giant technology trade show in Las Vegas I’m beat, but full of observations about the future of the Internet of things. I wrote up a few over at Fortune, but Kevin and I talked about some of them on this week’s show as well. We covered some new news, including my conversations with Wink and the news that Amazon is planning to add support for thermostats to the Echo next. And speaking of amazon, both Kevin and I think a smaller Echo needs to have some way of offering always-on listening to really carry over on the benefits of the product. But if it does, we’d both buy it.

    The $20 wired Kinsa thermometer.
    The $20 wired Kinsa thermometer.

    After spending most of our time on the smart home, we move into connected health with Inder Singh, the CEO of Kinsa, the maker of connected thermometers, as this week’s guest. But it would be a mistake to think of Kinsa a connected thermometer company, since the thermometer is merely a means to an end. It’s a way to get data about the spread of disease. Singh’s actual goal is to use that data to help stop the spread of disease, starting with childhood illnesses. To learn more about the future of epidemiology packaged as a $20 or $60 connected thermometer, listen to this week’s show.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham

    1. Local control is coming for the Wink!
    2. Really tiny, self-sufficient computer at CES.
    3. What a tiny Amazon Echo needs to have to succeed.
    4. Kinsa is a disease prevention device disguised as a connected thermometer
    5. How to figure out how to build the right device for the data you need.

    Episode 40: The Amazon Echo and AI take a starring role at CES

    This week I was at CES, the huge consumer electronics trade show held in LAs Vegas. Kevin wisely stayed home, but monitored the news. IT’s actually easier to do that from 2,000 miles away. There’s more news than we can cover in one show, but we started with the links between Ford and the Amazon Echo and all of the other tie ups with Alexa that were showed off at the event. We then moved to our doubts about the new Wi-Fi standard for the Internet of Things called HaLow and the news that ZigBee and Thread were trying to work a little more closely together and what that means for you.

    Finally, we delved into the gadgets and partnership news that caught our eye. Most of it focused on the hot new cameras in odd places, such as inside fridges and outside. But we also spent time discussing IBM’s new partnerships for Watson announced at the show. We’ll come back next week with more insights based on my final days at the show and time spent walking the show floor, but already I think we’re seeing a gradual maturation of the industry. Unfortunately it’s not in the direction we may have wanted in terms of everyone embracing open standards. Interoperability is going to come slowly through custom integrations.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham

    • Alexa is the star of CES this year
    • Can you hear me now? Radios get gussied up for IoT
    • Put a camera in it!
    • Did I saw Alexa was the star? Maybe I meant IBM’s Watson.