Episode 139: The 2017 IoT Podcast Gift Guide!

You guys, this week’s podcast is all about the toys. Specifically toys for your kids, your dog and your loved ones. In the last year Kevin and I have tried many devices and have compiled our experiences into a gift guide for the connected life. You’ll find both our favorites like the June oven and utilitarian objects like the Ecobee 4 thermostat among a $20 smart camera and $30 motion sensor for kids. We also handled the few news items for the week– namely Apple deciding to delay the sale of the Home Pod.

This is the $20 Wyze camera. It’s a solid gift.

We also took on an incredibly topical question from Aaron in Ontario who asked about heating cables for his roof and recommended switches for automating outdoor holiday lights. As a Texan I’m drawing a blank on the remote control for the heating cables, but I shared my favorite outdoor-rated smart plugs with him. This year there have been a bunch of new Wi-Fi options, which is awesome. Enjoy the show.

  • I’m losing faith in HomeKit again
  • This year’s best gifts for the smart home
  • The best connected gifts for kids
  • Cool connected stocking stuffers
  • Crazy expensive stuff that is hard to justify

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 130: Nest’s a security company now and Hitachi’s new industrial IoT explained

Wow. This week saw some big news from Nest as it announced a new security system plus other devices. August also updated its line of locks and promised a better doorbell. Meanwhile, rumors of an Amazon Alexa security system or even glasses emerged. And Google leaked some news. We also talked about smart grid M&A and Comcast buying Stringify, a company that links together myriad devices and lets you create scenes. Kevin also shared his thoughts on the Apple Watch with LTE and we answer a reader question about garage doors.

A Nest Detect sensor in action.

On the guest front, we speak with Rob Tiffany, the CTO of Lumada, about Hitachi’s new industrial IoT play Vantara. He discusses the existential threat that faced Hitachi and why it needed to make a move as well as shared how Hitachi is offering trains as a service. There’s a lot to digest in this show, but it’s a solid overview of the big news this week.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Tiffany of Hitachi Vantara
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • The Nest Connect and Security is the return of Weave
  • So much hardware getting released and leaked
  • On the Apple Watch with LTE, manage your networks or manage your expectations
  • IoT posed an existential threat to Hitachi’s business
  • How to turn a train into a service

Episode 129: Apple’s missing IoT news and adding blockchain to the energy grid

This week’s Apple announcement didn’t offer much for the IoT fans in the audience, although Kevin is deciding if he want’s the LTE-capable Apple Watch. We also talk about a big Bluetooth security vulnerability and Chamberlain’s decision to charge customers who want to create IFTTT integrations. We cover some news about EdgeX Foundry, a new energy monitoring product and an enterprise translation service that requires a “thing.” Finally, we answer a reader’s question about upgrading an old alarm system.

The Apple Watch with LTE and a set of Air Pods might be the future of computing.

Our guest this week talks about a particularly relevant topic given the recent hurricanes. David Martin, co-founder and managing director of Power Ledger, is building an energy trading market using blockchain, connected meters and a network of residential solar. He discusses the bifurcation of the energy market, the trend towards resiliency and how the blockchain can help generate revenue for consumers and the larger energy grid. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, it’s a disruptive concept.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Martin of Power Ledger
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Hey Apple, show me the HomeKit!
  • In which we shame Samsung on Blueborne missteps
  • What to do with an ancient security system? Rip it out.
  • How to use blockchain to make money on renewables
  • Building a more resilient grid starts with IoT (and the blockchain)

Have a question? Call the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and get an answer!

Episode 124: How to think about cybersecurity in old-line industries

In this week’s show, we issue a major correction owing to my lack of pop culture information, discuss a fully automated T-shirt factory and wonder why we don’t have more exciting news from the world of energy harvesting technology. On the smart home front, Kevin and I rethink our aversion to Apple’s HomeKit, discuss Google Home’s preview program and the potential for the Amazon Echo to offer multi-room audio. Finally, I talk about the gadget I’ve been waiting for for the last 18 months. No, it’s not the refrigerated crock pot.

This music player puts my Spotify playlists on an iPod shuffle-like device.

For those that want to experience a chill, stick around for Mike Spear, the ‎Global Operations Manager, Industrial Cyber Security at ‎Honeywell Process Solutions. He discusses everything from the differences in securing oil refiners and paper-making plants to how to train IT folks to think like a manufacturing security expert. We also revisit Petya and dig into who should pay for securing plants when compromising them doesn’t necessarily hurt the company’s bottom line, but might hurt the environment or national security. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Spear of Honeywell Process Solutions
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • I can’t believe how many T-shirts this factory makes
  • HomeKit breaks Apple’s historical model and that’s okay
  • The Mighty player rocks!
  • How to train an IT security expert for manufacturing security
  • Which countries are creating good cyber risk regulations?

Episode 120: Learn how 3-D sensors work before Apple puts them in the iPhone

What did you buy for Prime Day this week? This week we tackle if Amazon’s new program to help folks install Alexa-enabled devices is a big deal and Apple’s retail plans for HomeKit. We also discuss fashion-forward wearables, and a new startup called Nodle that’s trying to create crowdsourced Bluetooth-based IoT networks. We have a lot of data on voice thanks to IFTTT and spent some time discussing a friendly French IoT company.

Lighthouse combines machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision to create an assistant for your home that can see, hear and speak.

Then I chat with Alex Teichman about Lighthouse, his new startup that marries computer vision with a voice-based personal assistant to make your life easier. For the nerds out there, we also discuss the category of sensors available for 3-D sensing and how they differ. This matters for Lighthouse, self-driving cars and maybe even for the next-generation iPhone. Get ready to cover everything from recurrent neural networks to frickin’ lasers!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Teichman co-founder and CEO at Lighthouse
Sponsors: Schlage and Affiliated Monitoring

  • Do you need a Mother? It’s on sale.
  • Can Apple build the right showroom to sell the smart home?
  • Louis Vuitton gets into wearables
  • How to use 3-D sensing to make computers see more
  • How Apple may choose to use 3-D sensors to unlock phones

Episode 115: All about Apple’s HomePod

Apple’s disclosure of the HomePod, a connected speaker and personal assistant, drove much of the IoT news this week. However, research from Pew on how rapidly people are becoming connected and the lack of transparency about how our data is used might end up being the story with real legs. Kevin Tofel and I discuss both this week, along with some Wink news, how he feels about the Google Home and a brand new purchase I made.

The Apple HomePod. Image courtesy of Apple.

To continue with the HomePod theme, I spoke with three different people to get a sense of how voice affects adoption of smart home technology, what the HomePod could mean for HomeKit adoption and what another voice-activated speaker means for privacy. Scott Harkins of Honeywell, Adam Justice of ConnectSense and Nuala O’Conner of the Center for Democracy and Technology joined me for the discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Scott Harkins of Honeywell, Adam Justice of Connect Sense and Nuala O’Conner of the Center for Democracy and Technology
Sponsors: TE Connectivity  and Affiliated Monitoring

  • Wink gets on the services bandwagon
  • Pew says you will never not be connected
  • Honeywell says voice is a killer app for smart homes
  • Could you connect HomeKit devices without changing the hardware?
  • It’s good to see a company selling privacy

Episode 114: The Essential Phone and IBM’s Watson tries IoT

What makes a phone essential? Or Essential as is the case with Andy Rubin’s new company that features a new smartphone and teases a new connected home assistant? Kevin and I discuss what we know, and Kevin also explains a surprise decision he’s made regarding Google (here’s the link he mentions during the show). We also discuss Apple’s potential AI chips, ARM’s new designs and a way to add capacitive touch to wood! Finally, I share my WeMo dimmer switch thoughts.

The Essential Phone in white.

This week’s in the guest segment we discuss assistants and bots in the home and enterprise. Bret Greenstein, VP of Watson IoT for Consumer Business at IBM, shared a bit about Watson and IoT, but his biggest service might be his help breaking down how analytics, machine learning and AI all relate. It’s a good mix of the future for enterprises and consumers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bret Greenstein of IBM
Sponsors: Aeris and Affiliated Monitoring

  • Essential Phone and Home launch thoughts
  • Kevin’s surprise purchase
  • The WeMo dimmer is nice, but pricey
  • Time for an AI vocabulary lesson
  • What happens when computers know how you feel?

Episode 110: IKEA’s smart home plans and will you buy an Amazon Look?

This week we discuss Apple’s plans to introduce Siri in a can, Amazon’s Style maven ambitions and a few other items on the personal assistant front. We also discuss Orbit, a new security idea from Cloudflare, and a lawsuit filed by ADT against Ring and Zonoff’s former CEO. From there we go straight into an ad which launches my new IFTTT channel so you can get the podcast and articles on my site in the form you favor.

IKEA’s smart lighting products will expand over time.

After that, I interview Bjorn Block of IKEA about the company’s four-year old effort to combine technology with the home and home furnishings. Block and I discuss the newly launched TRADFRI lights, the astonishing number of meatballs IKEA customers consume each day, and IKEA’s plans for future connected home efforts. We also discuss the environmental impact of connected products and IKEA’s plans to keep technology inside long-lived goods fresh.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bjorn Block of IKEA
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • The one thing Apple must fix before launching an Echo-killer
  • A new idea for IoT security
  • IKEA thinks smart homes must solve a real dilemma
  • Will IKEA open up its ecosystem?
  • I’m opening a second-hand smart bulb store

Episode 90: Spend the holidays with Stacey’s family

We’re heading into the holidays with a guest appearance from my family who share their thoughts on what it’s like to live in a smart home, the products they like and what’s missing so far. My husband has been on the show before, but I also invited my 10-year-old daughter on to talk about her favorite toys and what she thinks of Philips Hue bulbs and the Amazon Echo (and Google Home). It’s a short and sweet reality check for us all.

Zuckerberg’s Jarvis ties together several smart home systems. Image courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg.

Before bringing on my family, Kevin and I discuss Mark Zuckerberg’s smart home and how his Jarvis isn’t all that different from what’s already on the market. And because it’s Thursday, we’ve got another security flaw in routers to talk about. Then we hit a solid budget smart watch and the new GPS system that can fine tune location sensing to a few inches. Finally, Kevin and I share some of our go-to home automation tricks to help you get started in making your own home smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andrew (Stacey’s husband) and Anna (Stacey’s daughter)
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • Zuck built Jarvis and Stacey makes a confession
  • Check your router again
  • From toddlers to teens, we have some home hacks for you
  • The smart home needs more personality