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

Episode 78: There are no dead dogs on the internet of things

There’s a new Wink hub heading to Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon, so Kevin Tofel and I unpacked the new features on the second generation of the smart home hub in this week’s episode. We also discussed Amazon’s delivery plans that could take advantage of your connected door locks and garage doors, and then hit Kevin up for his opinion on the Apple Watch 2. SAP’s $2 billion investment in IoT, an IoT botnet, The Wirecutter’s favorite connected camera and Snap’s (formerly Snapchat) new glasses round out the show.

The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.
The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.

Afterward Carlos Herrera, the CEO of PetNet talks about what happened when his company’s pet feeder stopped sending users updates in late July. He offers a valuable lesson on building connected devices and sets the story straight about what really happened during a 12 hour server failure. All pets were fed during the lack of internet access, which means for now, the internet of things didn’t kill anyone’s dog.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carlos Herrera, CEO of PetNet
Sponsors: HPE and ARM

  • What’s new with the Wink 2?
  • Amazon and August teaming up?
  • The Apple Watch 2 is a good fitness tracker
  • No dogs were kills during the loss of these servers
  • What a bunch of aerospace engineers learned when building a connected device

Episode 76: Tips and tricks for Apple’s HomeKit

Have you downloaded iOS 10 yet? If you have, and are wondering what to do with the Home app and your HomeKit home automation, then this show is for you. We brought on Adam Justice the head of ConnectSense, a home automation brand to discuss his experience with HomeKit so far (check out his video series).

This is screen from the Control Center pane.  (Image courtesy of Apple).
This is screen from the Control Center pane. (Image courtesy of Apple).

Before we get to HomeKit, Kevin Tofel and I talk a bit about last week’s Apple announcement, review the second generation Kevo smart lock and the Philips Hue Motion sensor. We led with news of Amazon’s new Echo, some data-leaking sex toys and the Department of Justice creating a group to investigate the security impacts of connected cars. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Adam Justice CEO of ConnectSense
Sponsors: Macadamian

  • Amazon’s newest toy and DoJ investigates the IoT
  • Connected sex toys means private time isn’t so private
  • Review time!
  • The best feature on the Home app
  • Is HomeKit now ready for prime time?

Episode 64: How a VC views the internet of things

Do you need money? Want to buy or sell an internet of things startup? Then this week’s interview is must-listen stuff. Matt Turck, of FirstMark Capital came on the show to give some advice to those seeking financing, discuss the overall funding landscape and try to pinpoint where the next big exits are going to come from. Why Turck? Because a few months ago he covered this who topic in amazing depth. So listen up to see what has changed!

Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.
Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.

Before you listen to Turck, Kevin shares his karaoke picks, we dig into the upcoming Bluetooth 5.0 specification and lay out what we think Apple’s HomeKit and Home app mean for the industry. We also talk about Samsung’s plan to invest $1.2 billion into the internet of things, its cloud, and Elon Musk’s offer to buy SolarCity. It’s not that crazy, y’all!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Turck of FirstMark Capital
Sponsor: WolfSSL

  • Kevin’s karaoke nightmare (also the latest on Bluetooth)
  • Apple’s Home app is somewhat demoralizing
  • What Samsung needs in IoT
  • We’re in the second wave of IoT exits
  • Don’t quit your day job to rush to build a new product

Episode 58: How to stop vampire power consumption

Since a quarter of residential energy use is consumed by gadgets that are “off”, Kevin and I discuss how to measure and cut back on that power consumption with a few connected devices. We also talk about Apple’s rumored Home app for HomeKit, the launch of OpenThread, the open source version of Nest’s Thread protocol and the new Almond router from Securifi. We also touch on HP Enterprises‘ hop into the internet of things and Hitachi’s new formal IoT group.

The Almond 3 router. --Image courtesy of Securifi.
The Almond 3 router. –Image courtesy of Securifi.

Then we go to Rich Brown, who is the executive editor of CNET’s smart home and appliance coverage, to discuss how the news site set up a smart house in Louisville, Kentucky, the site’s favorite gadgets and how the Amazon Echo has democratized access to the smart home. The big theme of our conversation was compromise, as in, if you want a smart home you are going to have to make compromises.

Hosts: Ken Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rich Brown, Executive Editor, CNET

  • A smart home may be a wasteful home
  • Deciphering OpenThread
  • Everyone is hopping into the Industrial Internet pool
  • CNET’s favorite smart home devices
  • The smart home isn’t a democracy

Episode 32: Amazon for the kitchen and Apple for the living room?

This week had so much connect home and internet of things news Kevin and I covered everything from a brand new way to turn your old smoke detectors into connected smoke detectors using a $35 battery replacement to new chip design from ARM that could make the Internet of things more secure. In the middle of all of that we talked about being able to buy the Amazon Echo in retail stores, the new Tag Heuer connected watch partnership with Intel and Gartner’s latest data on the Internet of things.

The Roost battery.
The Roost battery.

After Kevin and I run through the news, I turned to my friend Chris Albrecht, who was the emcee at the Smart Kitchen Summit held last week in Seattle. The event was awesome, and brought a good mix of old-school appliance folks together with Silicon Valley startups trying to remake the kitchen. Chris doesn’t love the connected kitchen, so he’s a good person to discuss what seemed worth buying and what seemed like hype. He also offered a bonus review of the Sonos Truplay feature at the end. That feature listens for your Sonos speakers’ sound quality in your room, and tweaks it so they sound as good as they can given their placement in the room. Find out what Chris says about it by listening to show (it’s iOS only, so Android lovers, need not apply).

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Albrect of OneHub

  • Gartner says we’re going to have 20.7 billion connected devices by 2020
  • ARM designs new chips for a more secure Internet of things
  • Try the Roost connected battery to connect your existing smoke detector for $35
  • This isn’t a smart kitchen, it’s just pricey
  • Amazon is going to get the kitchen while Apple gets the living room