Episode 98: Science fiction prepared me for spying TVs

This week we discuss┬áthe city of Louisville, Kentucky adding an If This Then That channel, a settlement over televisions that spy on you, and a possible new feature for the Amazon Echo that could bridge the gap between it and the Google Home. That last tidbit was contributed by Grant Clauser, the smart home editor at the Wirecutter who took Kevin’s place this week. (Never fear, Kevin will be back next week.) Grant also provides input on the professional installer networks like Control4, Crestron and Savant in case you’re wondering about those options. We also have some kitchen M&A and security embedded in the Almond3 router.

Image courtesy of Bruce Sterling.

Our guest this week is Bruce Sterling, a popular science fiction author and the co-creator of a smart house/maker lab in Turin, Italy. Sterling discusses Casa Jasmina, overlooked aspects of the transition to smart homes and how Europe is likely to react to the challenges of security and privacy in connected devices. He also offers up the name “Talking Donkey” for devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. To find out why, listen to this week’s show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Grant Clauser of The Wirecutter
Guest: Bruce Sterling
Sponsors: MIT IoT Bootcamp and Ayla Networks

  • Light bulbs for better health and evil TVs
  • Kitchen tech gets some M&A action
  • Don’t call it old-school home automation
  • What the heck is a talking donkey?
  • How Europe will take our smart tech and make it better

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?

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