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
  • I spent $120 on lights so I could control them with my Amazon Echo

    If you love something you should set it free, but if you love a connected device you should spend gobs of money adding more gadgets until you have a platform. And this week I have done just that, spending $20 on six light bulbs that I can control with my Amazon Echo. I explain how I used GE’s Link lights which work with the Philips Hue platform, which works with the Amazon Echo, to both lower my overall energy spend and add voice control to more of the lights in my home. It’s awesome.

    This is my new kitchen light bulb. Purchased for $20 at Home Depot.
    This is my new kitchen light bulb. Purchased for $20 at Home Depot.

    After this week’s news and my lighting project I welcome Andrew Farah,CEO of Density to the show to discuss how we might count people in public places. Before y’all get too worked up, his sensors offer anonymity, and we discuss why merchants, offices, consumers and governments would be keen on getting a tally of people inside buildings. We also talk about alternatives that rely on facial recognition and how building a company that sells data is very different from building a company that sells products.

    Hosts:Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density

    • News about July Fourth drones, Thread and a free business idea from Kevin.
    • BP is connecting 4,000 oil wells around the world.
    • How to connected cheaper GE Link lights to your Amazon echo.
    • This startup wants to be the Waze of public spaces.
    • Another free business idea involving TVs.

    What does President Obama think about the Internet of things?

    The president recently made a famous podcast appearance but he didn’t talk about the internet of things. Since he has yet to offer to visit the IoT Podcast, I spoke to Darren Samuelsohn, a senior policy reporter at Politico who recently spent seven weeks trying to discover what Washington D.C. thinks about the Internet of things. The resulting series of articles is informative and little bit scary so I had Samuelsohn come on the show to share the D.C. take on all things IoT.

    president_official_portrait_lores

    Before we focus on the nation’s Capitol, Kevin Tofel and I debated whether Amazon just outmaneuvered Apple when it come to building the best smart home platform and discussed how connected devices are changing the insurance business. We start with the details of the Beam Technologies plan to build an insurance business around a connected toothbrush. Finally my visit to Marriott to see a connected hotel room and a follow up 5-minute review of my Ringly connected ring. Enjoy the show.

    Host:Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Darren Samuelsohn, senior policy writer at Politico

    • Can Amazon do for the smart home, what Apple did for the smartphone?
    • New insurance business models for the internet of things.
    • Hotel rooms of the future and an update on Ringly.
    • Is legislation or regulation the way to govern the internet of things?
    • What does the president think?

    Ladies love wearables and you should buy the Amazon Echo: Episode 13

    This week was a big one for fans of the connected home. Amazon announced that its Siri-like personal assistant for the home is now available for anyone to buy, so Kevin Tofel and I did a fairly extensive review on the show. There’s more over at Fortune. Kevin and I also talked about the big letdown that was the Nest announcement from last week, while also introducing a new connected device called Curb that’s far more interesting for those worried about energy efficiency.

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

    And for those less excited about devices for the home, and more pumped about gadgets for your wrist, I spoke with Aarthi Ramamurthy, the CEO and founder of Lumoid, about what wearables are hot right now and who is wearing them. Lumoid is a web site where you can go to rent wearables, drones and photo equipment, and Ramamurthy has some solid data to share about who’s buying what. Listen up to hear her describe what may be the best job in the world for a gadget lover and maybe even find your next fitness tracker.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Aarthi Ramamurthy, of Lumoid

    Episode 6: Who will make the smart home mainstream? Comcast, Amazon or Apple?

    Kevin and I both got what we wanted this week, with Kevin getting his Apple Watch about an hour before we recorded the show and Amazon adding support for If This Then That for the Echo speaker/personal assistant device. However both long-awaited dreams had a few caveats as we explored this week on the show, with Kevin discussing the learning curve of the Apple Watch and me laying out a big limitation with the Amazon Echo’s IFTTT triggers. You can’t really use it for controlling your smart home just yet.

    The Leeo night-light. One of the new devices that will work with Comcast's Xfinity Home (credit: Leeo).
    The Leeo night light. One of the new devices that will work with Comcast’s Xfinity Home (credit: Leeo).

    We also had a fair bit of news this week. Comcast opened up its Xfinity Home platform to devices from some great startups such as Nest, August Locks, Rachio connected sprinklers, Skybell, Lutron and more. It was so exciting I sang a little ditty about the smart home going mainstream! Prepare yourself. With LIGHTFAIR International happening in New York this week, we also discussed lighting news from GE, plus WeMo working with the cheaper Cree connected LEDs and coming back to IFTTT. We didn’t have a guest this week because I need a little time to get my iTunes and editing house in order, but we should be back in top form next week, on iTunes and even with intro music!

    Listen at Soundcloud and get the download.

    Download the MP3 file for this week’s show here.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

    Episode 5: The Apple Watch is a “hot mess” and other design considerations

    The Apple Watch is out, and while Kevin Tofel didn’t wake up early enough to get one, I interview Mark Rolston, the co-founder and chief creative officer at Argo Design, who did, to see what he thinks of his. Rolston is designing the interface for the Peq smart home hub, and discussed how he’s thinking about designing home interfaces on the Apple Watch. We digressed to general design principles, but did focus on the home, voice control and what the Watch does badly. According to Rolston, the Watch is just like me in the mornings — it’s so desperate to fall back asleep it won’t stay awake long enough to deliver notifications.

    PEQ Apple Watch Faces

    However, aside from the Apple Watch and its design considerations, Kevin and I discussed Google’s mysterious FCC filings for a Bluetooth device, my first test of a Bluetooth light bulb system from Ilumi which didn’t blow my mind, but would blow my budget, and a bit more on the Amazon Echo’s future. I also get excited about the future of digital medicine with Scanadu raising $35 million and letting us know that next year we’ll be able to buy what is essentially a good chunk of Star Trek’s Tricorder device for $199. Listen up for all this and more.

    Listen at Soundcloud and get the download.
    Download the MP3 file for this week’s show here

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Mark Rolston, co-founder and chief creative officer at Argo Design

    • What is Google’s new Bluetooth device? Kevin and I convince ourselves it’s not a Beacon?
    • The five-minute Ilumi Bluetooth lighting review
    • I’m pretty pumped about the future of connected medicine.
    • The Apple Watch is a “hot mess” and other considerations for app designers
    • Notifications are an issue on the watch, but Apple has nailed taking action