Episode 102: Wait to buy your next Amazon Echo

Wow. This week saw a bunch of news about the Amazon Echo. There were rumors of new hardware, the ability to make phone calls and the crazy revelations of the CIA’s hacking ability, which led me to wonder if I want a microphone in my home at all. We also got an update on police seeking Amazon Echo data and news that the Google Home was a bit glitchy for some users. I discussed my HomeKit experience again, while CNET’s Ry Crist, this week’s guest host, introduced us to the HomeKit certified camera.

Was your Google Home glitchy this week?

Then we talked about IBM’s Watson teaming up with Saleforce’s Einstein platform before moving on to Ros Harvey, this week’s guest. Harvey founded The Yield, a data startup focused on farming. She really digs in (ha!) to the challenges of building a business around insights. She focuses on the challenges of making sure data is high-quality and how to negotiate data-sharing deals with big companies and still make money. She’s pretty awesome.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Ry Crist of CNET
Guest: Ros Harvey of The Yield
Sponsors: WolfSSL and SpinDance

  • Should you wait to buy a new Echo device?
  • HomeKit is trouble for anyone who lives with others
  • This data company manages crop data for farms and supermarkets
  • Build data collectives not data monopolies
  • How to turn one piece of data into multiple revenue streams

Episode 101: What happens when everything becomes a service?

Well, the skies fell this week for the smart home. Or more accurately the cloud was somewhat disconnected thanks to Amazon Web Services stumbling. We discuss what happened and how companies can avoid having similar problems by designing for resiliency. We also talk about several new Alexa skills for locks, routers and phones. We then discuss the hacked teddy bears and a few new devices worth checking out. Plus Kevin gives an update on the June oven and I share my update on the Logitech Harmony.

CloudPets are incredibly insecure in so many different ways.

After all of that, we move to the business world for a deep dive into the new value chain for producers of physical products. Once you add connectivity, data analysis and machine learning, the model changes. I speak with Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury, to find out what happens to the distributers and after market parts venders, and how startups can force their way into the process and steal margin from bigger players. It’s a really insightful conversation about what happens when everything becomes a service.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury
Sponsors: WolfSSL and SpinDance

  • The cloud is falling!
  • Please stop making me write about security problems
  • Thoughts on our devices and Kevin’s dog
  • The future of business is services
  • Forget data, the profits are in insights

Episode 100: Let’s build the internet of moving things

It’s our 100th podcast, which would be a big deal if Kevin Tofel and I were a TV show hoping for syndication, but in the podcast world it means we’ve been at this for almost two years. YAY! We took a brief stroll down memory lane before digging into the week’s news covering new LTE chips for the IoT from Intel and Qualcomm as well as a report from ARM and The Economist that highlights slow growth in enterprise IoT projects. We talk about a few things to see at Mobile World Congress next week, discuss the Orbi router and also share our thoughts on Somfy motorized shades, female personal assistants and shopping from Google Home.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

For our guest this special week, I speak with Jaoa Barros, CEO and founder of Veniam, about what happens when we treat cars and buses as roving nodes on a mesh network. Venian calls this creating the internet of moving things, and it’s a big, awesome idea. We cover everything from the connectivity needs to autonomous cars to how connected transportation makes cities smarter. You’ll like it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jaoa Barros, CEO of Veniam
Sponsors: Ayala Networks and SpinDance

  • Somewhat bad news for enterprise IoT adoption
  • How do I like the Orbi router from Netgear?
  • Amazon Prime or Google Express?
  • Building a mixed, mobile, mesh network is a hard to say and hard to do
  • Cars can be sensors and hotspots for the smart city

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?