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 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 82: IoT botnets and the Nucleus intercom review

Security was the big topic this week after a massive botnet comprised of connected devices disrupted many popular internet services. I hated the thought of all connected devices coming under attack, so I wrote a bit about the realities of IoT security here and also here. As part of my effort to understand what was going on I interviewed Andy Ellis, Akamai’s chief security officer about what happened last week, why it matters and the challenges of making people pay for security.

Three Nucleus devices costs $600.
Three Nucleus devices costs $600.

Kevin Tofel and I mentioned security but then dove into a discussion of the new HomeKit-enabled Bluetooth light switch from Elgato, the new tricks from the Amazon Echo and a few chip stories. ARM launched an IoT cloud service, while Intel launched a new Atom chip. Then Kevin shared a convenient home automation that makes his family feel safer, and I review the Nucleus video intercom platform. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Ellis, CSO at Akamai
Sponsors: ARM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Where do we stand on Bluetooth lights?
  • Things are getting weird in the chip world
  • The Nucleus is a good devices for low-tech homes or people
  • Learn the one devices that may enhance your IoT security
  • The internet of things has an externalities challenge

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 51: This CEO killed his hardware startup to start a wireless network

This week we have a two for one in the guest portion of the show, with Daniel Conrad, the CEO of Beep Networks explaining how he decided to stop making a connected device, take his VC funding and find a new business model. That’s part one. Part two is all about LoRa, the wireless radio technology used for low power wireless area networks, which is what his business is now built on. Conrad explains a classic entrepreneurial dilemma and then educates us all on up-and-coming networking technology that transmits small amounts of data over fairly long distances. Is this the perfect network for the Internet of things?

The Bernooli bottle top.
The Bernooli bottle top.

Before you get to Conrad, Michael Wolf is guest hosting in place of Kevin, and we discuss the lack of HomeKit news at the Apple event Monday, some cool connected bartending gear I saw at SXSW and Bosch’s new cloud for the internet of things. Bosch is spending $548 million on R&D in innovation tech, which is less than 1 percent of its annual revenue, but still nothing to sneeze at. For the gadget lovers, Mike and I discussed b8ta, the new retail concept for selling connected devices and tried to consider what Target’s secretive Project Goldfish is.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Mike Wolf of The Smart Home Show
Guests: Daniel Conrad of Beep Networks

  • What’s the right retail model for selling the smart home?
  • Make a drink with Bernooli
  • Killing the dream of a connected speaker
  • What is LoRa?
  • The best startup opportunity around.
  • Episode 29: The smart home may one day have a debt to NASA

    If you’ve ever wondered how to get started on a smart home of your own, Kevin Tofel and I share a few ways to get started, answering some questions about hubs outlets and how to think about buying connected gadgets for the first time. We also discuss a few new development boards and why I went on a rant about the issues with the smart home in Fortune last week. Finally we talked about Korner, a really simple to use home security product for $98 that seems to have a lot going for it.

    Korner tag being applied to a window. -- Image courtesy of Korner.
    Korner tag being applied to a window. — Image courtesy of Korner.

    For those looking for my SmartThings review, please wait another week. I set it up and became a little too ambitious and didn’t test out the more common use cases before going straight to some really fancy things that most people wouldn’t do and caused some problems for myself. Next week it will be ready for the full run down. As for this week’s guest, We have Jim Hepplemann, the CEO of PTC, whose company just said it would acquire the Vuforia augmented reality platform from Qualcomm. PTC has also acquired ThingWorx and Axeda, both IoT platforms for businesses as part of remaking the former industrial design software company into a one-stop-shop for the connected world.

    Heppleman shares this idea of creating a digital twin in AR for every physical product, chock full of data that product might be generating. So under AR, your smart devices might one day share information about their connections with other devices and services, their histories and stats that aren’t visible to you and more. In industrial settings it’s far more powerful. So listen to the podcast and be wowed.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Jim Hepplemann, CEO of PTC

    • Let’s put the consumer first and stop issuing new standards that require people to constantly buy new stuff.
    • How to set up a smart home? We tell you how to think about it.
    • Check out new dev boards and a the Korner home security set up.
    • Thinking about how to use augmented reality in the smart home and industrial internet.
    • The concept of a digital twin and the IoT’s debt to NASA.

    Episode 28: Warm and fuzzy drones and living with Apple’s HomeKit

    Several HomeKit devices finally arrived in the house and were installed with relative ease. I had the Lutron bridge that had come out earlier this summer paired with two dimmer switches, a lamp module and my Nest thermostat, the new Philips Hue bridge that is HomeKit enabled paired to five Hue lights and a Schlage Sense lock installed on my back door. It was a good smattering of devices, but unfortunately it was the wrong smattering, because none of the apps seemed to have a way to bring all of the individual devices together, unless it was through Siri. Listen up as Kevin and I discuss a full review of the products on this week’s podcast.

    The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.
    The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.

    We also cover August smart lock’s new video doorbell, keypad and access plans and Savant’s new DIY home automation system. But most of our time is spent on HomeKit, Apple and little bit of comparison between that and other solutions on the market, such as the Amazon Echo. Our guest for the week covers the topic of helping people age in place through the use of drones. Not today’s drones, but a warmer, fuzzier version that is autonomous. Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois discusses her research in developing autonomous drones that work with people and don’t frighten people. Listen up to find out how she plans to transition from farming to helping the elderly.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois

    Episode 27: Early adopters will suffer for their love of the smart home

    This week the smart home got some new capabilities with Philips Hue announcing a new HomeKit enabled bridge that also will be upgraded to support the newly announced Nest Weave protocol. Kevin Tofel and I discuss both the new bridge and the new Nest Weave protocol and whether or not we want to keep investing in new gear to upgrade our networks. We also touch on the new cloud offerings announced by Amazon and Microsoft for developers looking to build connected products.

    designswarm_profile_alex

    Our guest this week Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (pictured above), who is a design consultant and the creator of the Goodnight Lamp, joined me to discuss consumerism and selling the internet of things. We touched on product lifecycles, again on the Hue bridge and even about designing for sustainability and the responsibility that connected device designers have to consumers and the environment. She came to a pretty grim conclusion, but it’s good food for thought, especially if you haven’t bought into the connected device bonanza yet.

    Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino of Design Swarm

    • Should you upgrade your Philips Hue bridge to the latest version?
    • A deep dive into the Nest Weave protocol
    • Consumerism and the IoT. Is this what we want?
    • If you buy your connected device today, be prepared to suffer.