Episode 91: The cops want your smart home data

This week’s big story was the Bentonville, Arkansas case where police were seeking data from an alleged murderer’s Echo history. Kevin and I share our thoughts on the case, what police could learn from connected gadgets and what this means for your privacy. We then talk about Google’s new smartwatches coming in 2017, two new open/close sensors I discovered and Intel’s work with Amazon to create a model smart home. We also debate what shape the smart home should take and I’m getting ready for CES next week.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

After a big thank you to the companies who sponsored the podcast this year, I interviewed Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC about how the fight to be the next big IoT platform will shape up. He has some surprising views on the roles startups will play and where the innovation in IoT will come from (and when).

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • What could your smart home tell the police?
  • Two discrete sensors for your doors from GE and Sensative
  • Is your ideal smart home controlled by a virtual wife?
  • Consumer electronics are too hard for startups
  • How to think about building platforms for the industrial internet

Episode 89: Google’s IoT Strategy takes shape and Microsoft enters the fray

There was so much news this week, that we skipped having a guest in favor of just keeping track of some big moves in the sector. This week was Google’s time to shine since it launched both Actions on Google (an SDK for talking to its Assistant on Google Home) and its IoT operating system plus the Weave communications protocol. Not to be topped Microsoft released an SDK for Cortana it’s voice powered personal assistant and Amazon doubled down with AI for all on AWS. So Kevin Tofel and I spent the first half of the show discussing what this means.

The Plume WiFi pods
The Plume WiFi pods

For the second half we focused on all the little bits of news such as Fibaro’s new HomeKit sensors, Ayla Networks’ new ability to help customers build Alexa skills, GE’s decision to build networking gear for the industrial IoT and a new Bluetooth hub for the enterprise from Cassia Networks. Uber and Google also offered some exciting self-driving car news this week and the ZigBee and Thread groups achieved a feat. We also reviewed two Wi-Fi options with Kevin discussing Google WiFi and me talking about why the new Plume pods may not work for everyone. We’ll be back next week with a guest, but in the meantime, enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (Use STACEY50)

  • The 3 things every personal assistant needs to succeed
  • Radio news from Thread and Zigbee plus a new BLE hub
  • GE and Ayla are making IoT easier for the enterprise
  • We have Waymo car news than usual
  • Reviewing Plume Pods and Google WiFi

Episode 81: Reviewing the Wink Hub 2 and new gear from Philips Hue

The second version of the Wink hub, complete with an Ethernet connection, Bluetooth and a $99 price tag is out, and I started testing it. The good news so far for folks who have existing Wink gear is in this week’s show, along with my take on the new, richer color Philips Hue bulbs. For those seeking the latest in thermostats, we discuss the new, cheaper Ecobee Lite, the Honeywell Lyric T5 for $149 and Nest’s need to the lower its pricing. (We also discussed the new Eco nomenclature). Kevin Tofel shared his impressions so far on Google Assistant, and we’re all still waiting for Google Home.

honeywellt5

After that, Michael Wolf, creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and host of The Smart Home Show talked with me about his vision of the connected kitchen, some of the latest gadgets on offer for that segment and food waste. In the show I mention my anti-food waste recipes, so here they are for y’all (Minestrone and Weeknight Curry). Just chuck your old produce in one of these and feel virtuous.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Wolf, The Smart Home Show and the Smart Kitchen Summit
Sponsors: ARM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Only one hiccup with my Wink hub transfer
  • I’m all in on Philips Hue
  • Google Assistant is no Amazon Alexa (yet)
  • Is the smart kitchen ready for the harried chef?
  • The best kitchen gadget buying advice

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 72: Your IoT efforts can expose you to legal risks

Hell hath frozen over at Intel, with the big news this week that Intel has taken an ARM license so it can manufacture ARM-based chips. We talk about what this news means for Intel, its IoT strategy and more. We also try to make sense of Fucshia, a reportedly new OS that Google has dumped in Github. And for those less enamored of the big companies’ strategies, I also share my review of the Brita Infinity water pitcher that uses the Amazon Dash Replenishment service. You can see if it’s your thing.

The Wi-Fi connected Brita pitcher sells for $44.99.
The Wi-Fi connected Brita pitcher sells for $44.99.

Our guest this week explains why you should call your lawyer before deploying sensors or flying drones to collect interesting data. Elizabeth Wharton, an attorney at Hall Booth Smith (@lawyerliz on Twitter) has been working on IoT issues and security for the last decade. She talks about the regulatory environment, things companies should worry about, and a future fight over end user license agreements.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Elizabeth Wharton an attorney at Hall Booth Smith
Sponsor: ARM

  • Intel’s new deal with ARM is the tip of the iceberg
  • What is Fuchsia? We take a guess.
  • Is this pitcher for you?
  • A word of warning for drone-happy entities
  • Insurers and lawyers may be the reason we get rules for the IoT

Episode 62: Tony Fadell set to Away mode

This week we got to the big story of the last few days, Tony Fadell leaving Nest. We discuss what that means for any Nest buyers out there and what it says about selling connected device. And because Father’s Day is around the corner, we came up with three gift ideas for Dad. None of them relate to ties, golf or grilling. And for people who love lighting as much as I do, we found reports of white BR30 lights from Philips Hue, something I’ve been eagerly awaiting since the launch of the white, standard A19 bulbs.

The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.
The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.

Then we move to this week’s guest, Chris Penrose, the SVP of IoT at AT&T. He chatted with me about the carriers plans for building an IoT business beyond cars, and also talked about the opening of the latest AT&T innovation center devoted to medical devices. This AT&T Foundry is based in Houston, Texas and will tackle home health devices as well as challenges associated with connected hospitals. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Chris Penrose, SVP of IoT, AT&T

  • Next steps for Nest
  • 3 gift ideas for Dad
  • My dreams have come true
  • AT&T takes on medical devices
  • Why the last mile is now the last meter

Episode 45: A Playground for IoT and how to buy a data plan for your device

So you wanna build a connected device? If so, there’s apparently no better place for a startup to go than Andy Rubin’s new incubator/VC/design shop called Playground. With an in-depth profile in Wired, the former founder of Danger and the man behind Android has built a place for folks with a hardware idea. On this week’s show Kevin Tofel is out, so I called in my friend Carla Diana, a product designer of connected devices and robots to discuss Rubin’s new effort, connected coat racks, Max Braun’s Google Now mirror and fun projects in general. We have a good time, and you will too. Don’t get too attached to Carla (it’s hard, because she is awesome) as Kevin joins us again next week.

The electron module.  - Image courtesy of Particle
The electron module. – Image courtesy of Particle

Our guest this week is Zach Supalla who is the CEO of Particle, which makes a series of development boards for connected devices. It seems like there used to be a dozen startups doing this, but Spark has so far, stayed around and added more products. The latest board out this week is it the Electron, which costs $59 and offers cellular connectivity for 99 cents per MB on a 3G connection. That’s pricey, but it has been pretty hard to find a cellular carrier willing to work with a startup or sell data in small batches, so this is a big deal. We ask Zach how he convinced the carriers to play ball. We also talk about other wireless standards out there for the internet of things, so stay tuned if you’re excited about alternative networks. And really, who isn’t?

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Carla Diana
Guest: Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle

  • Playground. We want to go to there.
  • Mirror, mirror on the wall, what data should we install?
  • Pitfalls of building a connected coat rack.
  • How to make a telco salesman hang up on you.
  • LoRa, Sigfox and LTE? Which wireless do you want?
  • Episode 43: This smart home needs an email address

    Freak out! This week’s episode isn’t about disco, it’s all about the security of your things. Or insecurity as the case may be. We talk about Shodan, the search engine for connected devices and the creation of a security framework for connected devices by the researchers at I am the Cavalry. Go read the story at Ars Technica and scroll all the way down to the Cavalry stuff. After we talk about that, we discuss a new programming interface for Raspberry Pi’s from myDevices called Cayenne, Amazon opening up its new Dash Replenishment Service to everyone, and the big news that could shake up the building automation market.

    The Cayenne dashboard.
    The Cayenne dashboard.

    For those of you guys who love thinking about the smart home, I brought Scott Jenson, a UX designer from Google, to join us to talk about his personal thoughts on how connected devices change a home’s design and how to avoid having to give your home an email account just to make it functional as a connected entity. Jenson blogs about some of these topics here, such as why he doesn’t think we should look to smart homes to recreate butlers. Find out why he thinks that, and some of his other ideas in this week’s episode.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Scott Jenson, Google

    • IoT security blows up or just blows
    • Sensors that phone Amazon and the birth of a new industrial internet powerhouse
    • The smart home isn’t a butler, but it still has plenty of value
    • Why Jenson had to give his home an email address

    Episode 22: The new Nest and behind the scenes with SmartThings’ new hub

    This week has a bunch of updates on old favorites for the smart home with a third generation thermostat from Nest and a new home hub from SmartThings. We start the show with Kevin and I discussing the slimmer Nest thermostat with a bigger screen and software upgrades. Our decision? There is no need to upgrade, but the Nest is still a winner. We also review the reviews of the new router from Google and Kevin decides if he can find one, he’ll try it out and report back. But the biggest news on the smart home front is probably the upgrade to the SmartThings hub, which I’ve had in my home since 2013 and is getting an upgrade on Thursday.

    The new SmartThings hub and smaller sensors.
    The new SmartThings hub and smaller sensors.

    Our guest is SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson, who covers some of the changes and the new services model the company first unveiled at CES. We also talk about how it is handling Apple’s HomeKit and competition after its acquisition by Samsung last summer. The company has handled the challenge of being open while also trying to make a consumer-friendly product, which isn’t easy, as any Android user can tell you. This iteration may be the one that pushes it into the mainstream. Listen up and see what you think.

    Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
    Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO and founder of SmartThings

  • The new Nest is skinner and can double as a clock with Farsight.
  • Reviewing the OnHub reviews. Should Kevin buy Google’s router?
  • SmartThings’ new hub is finally here!
  • How to walk the line between open and usable.
  • Why SmartThings isn’t supporting Apple’s HomeKit.
  • As a note to this show, there’s a slight ghosting on Hawkinson’s voice that I couldn’t quite take care of in editing. I apologize.

    7 things successful companies do to make money with the Internet of things

    Technical skills are important when it comes to deploying a new connected manufacturing plant or designing a just-in-time inventory management system. But equally important is developing a management culture that can really take advantage of the data transparency that connectivity can offer a business, according to this week’s guest on the IoT podcast. Satya Ramaswamy of Tata Consultancy Services shares his thoughts about a recent report on the Internet of things and how companies can adapt to really take advantage of this business shift.

    Richard Branson with his Ring doorbell. Image courtesy of Ring.
    Richard Branson with his Ring doorbell. Image courtesy of Ring.

    Before we talk to Ramaswamy, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Google’s new router and why it might be the best thing for the smart home. We also explore Intel’s commitment to the internet of things based on its stunt-heavy opener at the Intel Developer Forum this week. In funding news we talk about a $28 million round for connected video doorbell company Ring as well as $5 million in funding for a startup that’s combining the internet of things and the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin. Enjoy the show.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Satya Ramaswamy of Tata Consultancy Services

  • Google’s new router isn’t just for Wi-Fi, it also has Bluetooth and its Weave IoT protocol
  • Intel’s Developer Forum was less about silicon and more about gadgets
  • How to build a decentralized IoT technology stack
  • The 7 steps to build a company culture to take advantage of the internet of things
  • In the web world machines replaced the seller, but with IoT machines replace the buyer