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
  • Episode 19: Meet the chef teaching a connected oven how to cook

    This week’s podcast explores how sausage gets made. Actually we explore how roast chickens, cookies and salmon get made. Ryan Baker is the research chef at June, a company making a $1,500 connected oven. When he’s not appearing on the IoT podcast he spends his days baking 15 batches of cookies or 20 batches of salmon trying to figure out how to train the artificial intelligence inside the June oven how to build recipes for certain types of food. It sounds like an amazing job, and he’s in a prime position to explain how technology and food prep can come together to change how people learn how to cook and how the internet of things might invade the kitchen.

    Ryan Baker, research chef at June.
    Ryan Baker, research chef at June.

    Before we talk to Baker about how he controls his June ovens at the command line, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Google’s stunning corporate restructuring and what it means for Nest and Google’s Brillo and Weave plans. We also talk about a few examples of the smart home still being a little bit dumb, and some fall out on the security from the Black Hat security conference. On the gadget front, D-Link has a new $60 Wi-Fi water sensor and Kevin reviews the $15 connected Cree LED light bulbs.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Ryan Baker, June

    • Nest is an Alphabet company now, but where are Brillo and Weave?
    • Post-vacation blues in the smart home
    • ZigBee was hacked and here’s a device that could crack your car or garage for $30
    • How should we connect the kitchen?
    • It takes a lot of batches of salmon and roast chickens to teach an oven how to be smart

    Episode 10: When will connected devices get cheaper?

    We now have four devices for Apple’s HomeKit and about as many slides detailing Google’s own entry into the Internet of things with its Brillo operating system and Weave communications platform. Kevin and I discuss what we know about the Google strategy and more importantly, what we don’t yet know. We also discuss some new research on the use of consumer connected devices in corporate IT networks from OpenDNS and use our 5-minute review slot to talk about the Ecobee 3 and the Lutron Caseta devices that just launched in new, HomeKit compatible versions.

    Chet Pipkin Photo 1

    After the break, I interview Chet Pipkin, the CEO of Belkin, which makes the WeMo line of connected devices. We talk about WeMo’s future in the connected home, why connected devices cost so darn much, and how long we can expect until our smart home experience become more automated. I also ask why my WeMo experience seems so glitchy compared to others. For all this and more, listen up.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Chet Pipkin CEO of Belkin

    • Why don’t we know more about Brillo’s details and Weave?
    • A brief interlude about corporate security
    • The 5-minute review on Lutron lighting and the Ecobee3
    • Why WeMo doesn’t always work like you want it
    • When will our connected devices get cheaper?

    Please note, that after we recorded, the Ecobee folks let us know that existing Ecobee3 thermostats are not HomeKit compatible, so you would have to buy a new one.