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.

    Episode 24: HomeKit surprise and no more passwords for the internet of things

    Apple didn’t cover HomeKit in its massive event last week, but Kevin and spent a good chunk of time explaining what we we knew. Sadly, it’s not a lot, but it should be worth downloading iOS 9 and waiting a few more weeks. In enterprise news, we covered Salesforce’s IoT Cloud news, which will compete with IBM’s IoT foundation cloud. We also talked about a new access point from Samsung that adds Zigbee and Bluetooth to the mix before delving into a review of the OnHub router from Google. You’ll have to listen to the show and Kevin’s review to see if it’s worth the $199 price tag.

    The OnHub router. Image courtesy of Tp Link.
    The OnHub router. Image courtesy of TP Link.

    After all of that, Paul Madsen, who works in the office of the CTO at Ping Identity, came onto the show to discuss the future of an identity layer for the Internet of things. This may sound esoteric, but it’s really important for all of us who hate having multiple passwords for every app on every device we have in the house. It also could help with guest authentication. The conversation gets a bit techie, but its worth it to understand how we may access our devices in the near future. He does threaten some kind of two-factor authentication for our smart home, guys. Enjoy.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Paul Madsen of Ping Identity

  • HomeKit gets new tricks as part of iOS9 but where are the devices?
  • Comcast and AT&T are supporting new third-party devices.
  • Salesforce gets into the Internet of things and here’s why.
  • Does Kevin like the Google OnHub router?
  • Managing identity for smart home might look a lot like the web.
  • Are you ready for two-factor authentication in your home?
  • Episode 11: HomeKit certification comes at a big cost for consumers and device makers.

    This week Apple disappointed the smart home aficionados at its WWDC conference by not mentioning much in the way of new HomeKit news and new devices. But Kevin Tofel and I discussed the challenges that Apple’s HomeKit partners faced trying to accommodate Apple’s security and hardware needs. This includes the Ecobee CEO’s response to criticism about his older thermostats not being upgradable to HomeKit.

    The ring connected doorbell.
    The ring connected doorbell.

    Since we don’t have a guest this week, we spent the rest of the show discussing a new, $1,500 oven from June and what the heck is happening with Wink. The Wink platform is for sale and Quirky, the product development group that created Wink, is getting out of the manufacturing business. Finally, we cover the Ring connected doorbell in our 5-minute review segment. Despite my enthusiasm for the connected doorbell, I learned that my doorbell isn’t in the right spot on the to make the device as useful.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

    • Not much HomeKit at Apple’s WWDC
    • We do get some cool watch features in the upgrade for the Apple Watch
    • Would you buy this connected oven?
    • What’s up with Wink?
    • The 5-minute review: Ring connected doorbell

    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.

    Episode 7: How does a startup catch Apple’s and Comcast’s eye?

    Andrew Thomas wanted to build a better doorbell, but now he’s in the enviable position of pitching his wares to Comcast’s millions of subscribers, and is an Apple HomeKit partner. The Skybell co-founder joined my on this week’s podcast to discuss how to allocate time and resources as a hardware startup and also to talk about what it feels like to get a call from Cupertino about your device. For that, thoughts on the boom in connected devices and whether there is a bubble, listen to our guest segment.

    Skybellpress_image_1

    But first Kevin Tofel and I share the news of NinjaBlocks’ demise and what happens when a connected hardware company goes out of business. We also discuss Samsung’s new chip family for the internet of things and introduce a new segment. We call it the 5-minute device review, and this week we start with the Myo armband, a $200, gesture-based controller you can buy on Amazon. And of course, Kevin shares his thoughts on the Apple Watch and its ability to control his new Philips Hue light bulbs.

    Listen on SoundCloud here.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Andrew Thomas of Skybell

    • The death of NinjaSphere’s hub and what happens when a connected device goes down
    • Samsung’s new Artik chips for the internet of things
    • Our 5-minute gadget review on the Myo armband
    • Skybell’s Andrew Thomas on prioritizing resources as a small device startup
    • Is there a bubble in the smart home space?