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 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 88: Bluetooth 5 and testing lights on Echo and Google Home

Get the bottom line on the Bluetooth 5 specification with Kevin and I in this week’s podcast. If radios aren’t your thing, then delve into the details of connected lights and new features with Amazon Echo and Google Home. We also talk about GE’s new Alexa concept light. (We think it’s strange-looking). We also cover the end of Pebble, the new Amazon Go store and a new energy monitoring device.

What do you guys think of this new Alexa-enabled lamp from GE?
What do you guys think of this new Alexa-enabled lamp from GE?

After the news, I chat with Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer at Emerson Process Management. His company has been thinking about the internet of things for almost a decade and Emerson is currently offering new services based on connected sensors. Zornio explains how switching from a product to a service changes the company’s sales cycles, accounting, contracts and more. He also discusses the issue of security and the industrial internet, and how the internet of things “brand” is being damaged by recent attacks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Peter Zornio of Emerson
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (use code IOTPODCAST25)

  • Bluetooth 5 is out!
  • How to delete your voice recordings from Amazon Echo and Google Home
  • Goodbye Pebble (I still want my Core)
  • How to figure out which product can become a service
  • How your sales team and contracts will change in the IoT world

Episode 85: Thoughts on Trump, smart locks and troubleshooting

We recorded last week’s podcast before the election results came out, so this week Kevin and I kick off the show with some thoughts on what Trump means for smart homes and the industrial internet. Then we hit gadgets hard with news about Eero routers getting a big update, the trouble with Google’s troubleshooting and resolution for my Google Home issue. I review the June oven, discuss new security from Z-wave and we answer a reader question on smart bulbs versus smart switches. I also discovered a Wi-Fi leak sensor that’s worth a look.

The June oven is recognizing my asparagus.
The June oven is recognizing my asparagus.

Then we started in on locks. This week’s guest is Rob Martens, a futurist at Allegion (Schlage). He discusses when a device becomes a service, the challenges of being open and security in both a digital and physical world. He also shares his thoughts on the role of futurists for anyone who is angling for that job. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Martens, futurist at Allegion
Sponsors: Bluetooth and Samsung ARTIK

  • Why Kevin wants to buy an electric vehicle for Christmas
  • Your Eero routers are about to get a 2X improvement
  • Smart bulb or smart switch? Why not both?
  • Explaining the future is hard work
  • Yes, there is a sledgehammer test!

Episode 84: Google Home is in the house!

The Google Home arrived this week and I detail a few first impressions here. Kevin Tofel and I also came up with a sneaky way to control a wider variety of devices using If This Then That and the Google Home. We kicked off the show talking about the recent hack of the Philips Hue light bulbs and then covered the Nest appliance news. We also discussed a new mindfulness device I’m testing, Talkies, a way to connect with your kids, and Bixi a gesture-controlled button.

The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron.  Image courtesy of Spire.
The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron. Image courtesy of Spire.

The next half of the show features Rammohan Malasani, the CEO of Securifi, which makes the Almond Router, discussing how the Wi-Fi demands in the home are changing, how to secure routers and why consumers may never buy a smart home hub. We also talk about adoption rates and what he’s learned in four years of selling the idea of a smart home. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rammohan Malasani, founder and CEO of Securifi
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Bluetooth

  • First impressions of the Google Home
  • Philips bulbs (and ZigBee lights in general) are vulnerable
  • Check out Spire, a wearable for mindfulness
  • Why combine a router with a home hub?
  • How many devices are on your network?

Episode 79: Google’s Home versus Amazon’s Echo

Google finally told us what to expect with its Google Home product, a new mesh router configuration and an updated Chromecast this week at its hardware event. Kevin and I break down what we know about Google Home, how it compares to other devices on the market and also what we won’t know until we get the Home in our hot little hands. I expect mine on Nov. 8-10, so stay tuned. In more serious news, the use of IoT devices as a tool in DDoS attacks has everyone freaked out. We discuss why IoT devices are vulnerable and share a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance on what you can do to help.

The Google Home sells for $129 and you can choose which color base makes the most sense for your home.
The Google Home sells for $129 and you can choose which color base makes the most sense for your home.

After that we talk to Danny Herztberg, a Realtor in Miami Beach who told me what devices make for a good investment and how his job has changed with the advent of smart home technology. He also pleads with device makers to make these things easier for consumers to use and understand.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Danny Hertzberg, The Jills
Sponsors: ARM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Google Home v. Amazon Echo
  • How to protect your connected gear and why you should
  • Connected locks are the new granite countertops
  • What devices offer the most investment value

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!