Episode 68: The future of food and ARM’s buyout

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank making an offer to buy chip design firm ARM in a deal worth $32 billion kicks off our show this week, as Kevin and I weigh the merits and opportunities presented by the deal. We then skip over to ZenReach, the Wi-Fi provider that uses Wi-Fi as a means to capture more data about you. Kevin and I share some tips to ensure privacy. On a somewhat related note, the Federal Trade Commission is eyeing the longevity of connected devices and the marketing practices uses to sell them to consumers.

Arable's sensor in the field.  Image courtesy of Arable.
Arable’s sensor in the field. Image courtesy of Arable.

We also touch on a White House plan for $400 million in “IoT” funding, but it’s really for 5G wireless research, some doorbell camera news and a bit on why your garage door and LED lights might cause interference problems. Then we have a guest who is building a sensor for farmers to discuss how farmers are adopting technology. It’s not actually the farmers doing the buying in all cases.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Adam Wolf, CEO of Arable Labs
Sponsor: Xively

  • What happens with ARM post-SoftBank?
  • The FTC is not impressed with bricking consumer devices
  • Skybell works with SmartThings and August doorbell disappoints
  • How data changes the business of farming
  • Is more data the future of food?

Episode 54: Fashion meets the internet of things

Do you want your smart jewelry to have a screen? If we have multiple pieces of connected jewelry how do you make it easy to program for the day? Or will you only have one sensor-laden wearable akin to to a smart watch that does everything? These are some of the questions Matt Manley, of Fjord tackles with me on this week’s show. We start off discussing jewelry, but veered off into how devices should deliver ambient information and the state of wireless power. Even if you aren’t into wearables, Manley’s comments on notifications is worth a listen.

The Aries bracelet from Ringly is one example of a smart jewelry.
The Aries bracelet from Ringly is one example of a smart jewelry.

Kevin and I kicked off the show with jewelry as well, discussing the newly launched Aries bracelet from Ringly. We then talked about the $12.5 million in funding for Luma, one of the companies trying to make a mesh router. This one offers parental controls and should be out in April. We also took a look at the Wirecutter’s review of the best smart switch (outlet). For those of you shopping, they liked the Belkin Wemo Insight Switch. We quickly discuss Pfizer’s plan to use existing sensors to monitor Parkinson’s patients and the lifesaving Fitbit data everyone was so excited about. And like the rest of you on SmartThings, we’re waiting for a fix of the system which has been broken for almost four weeks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Manley, group design direct at Fjord

  • New smart jewelry and mesh networking routers!
  • Medicine embraces the internet of things. And off-the-shelf hardware.
  • The Wirecutter reviews connected outlets
  • Turning connected jewelry from functional to fashionable
  • Topshop has payment jewelry that only works at its store

Episode 39: CES bound and the Internet of postage

If you haven’t gone totally paper free on your bills yet, it’s highly likely that the envelope that arrives via the mail has been touched by a Pitney Bowes machine. Pitney Bowes is a $4 billion company that makes mail its business, and Roger Pilc, its chief innovation officer, came on the show this week to explain how it thinks about the Internet of things, how it works with startups and invests in them to rethink how it manages mail. He also talks about how he’s challenging the company to improve by signing up startups as customers who demand services that are a year or two ahead of the curve.

The Samsung /SmartThings line up. Courtesy of Samsung.
The Samsung /SmartThings line up. Courtesy of Samsung.

Before we get to Pilc, Kevin and I talk about Samsung’s decision to turn its 2016 Wi-Fi TVs into hubs for the connected home and its introduction of the SmartThings Extend dongle that will add Z-Wave and ZigBee to the TV. In the show we were trying to figure out if the current hub was running Tizen, and the answer is a definitive no. The SmartThings software is ported to run on Tizen OS for the TVs. As for the rest of the show, we hit the anticipated high points of CES and I delve into my experience with the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti Bluetooth Connected Coffee Maker. We also discuss a new idea in why non of our gadgets work together from Bruce Schneier who penned a good article over at The Atlantic.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Roger Pilc, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes

Episode 35: Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton shares ideas for the Pi Zero

Sure it’s a week after Thanksgiving, but we are all about Pi with this week’s episode. Yes, I went there! With the launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero, the cheapest Linux computer yet at $5, we invited Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton on the show to discuss how Google’s Eric Schmidt helped inspire the cheaper computer, when it might be available to buy again and his ideas for connected projects. We also discussed what’s missing and how to add things like connectivity and battery life. He also gives a bit of advice for engineers and non-engineers alike.

The Raspberry Pi Zero. Photographer: Matt Richardson
The Raspberry Pi Zero.
Photographer: Matt Richardson

But before we get to Pi, Kevin and I discuss the VTech hacks and a scary survey from SEC Consult, that lays out how many vendors of connected products are sharing code and thus, sharing static keys used for encryption. This is a big problem as connected devices proliferate, and one the industry is already addressing. Still, it’s worth delving into. We also got a little holiday cheer going, as I described how I used my Amazon Echo and SmartThings (or Wink) plus my GE/Jasco outdoor modules and Wemo indoors to create a voice command that lets me “Turn on Christmas.” So please, listen up and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Eben Upton, creator of the Raspberry Pi

  • Exploited kids accounts and everything is vulnerable
  • Have a connected holiday with Alexa
  • What on earth is the Raspberry Pi?
  • Let’s talk about specs
  • Whew, now let’s talk about how this whole cheap computer thing happened

Episode 31: Walmart gets connected and this is what you want for Christmas

This week’s guest Rob Katcher is working with Wal-Mart to take a little of the pain out of grocery shopping with the Hiku connected fridge magnet. I chatted with Katcher to understand how he decided to create an entirely new category of deviceā€”a button that sticks to your fridge and lets you scan or tell it what you need. It then adds it to a shopping list that is available on a mobile app. With a new deal to link its magnet to Wal-Mart’s curb-side pick up in parts of the country and Peapod’s grocery delivery, Hiku is creating a service that consumers will love and a new revenue stream.

In the first half of the show, Kevin and I take a Mulligan on the SmartThings hub, after discovering a hub replacement solved many of my issues. We also discuss a new integration with the Ring doorbell, Google’s Brillo OS and finally talk about Kevin’s new toy. It isn’t connected, but you watch the snippets of him riding around above and tell me that you don’t want one of these things. Actually, I am sure I’ll hear from y’all. Please enjoy the show.

  • Replacing my SmartThings hub made it a whole new experience.
  • What is Google Brillo good for?
  • Self balancing scooters are pretty hot right now.
  • What it’s like to build a category defining device (you hope).
  • How to build a connected device and get paid.

Episode 30: My SmartThings hub must be haunted

Does your office need more conference rooms? Or maybe there’s wasted space where the printer and several reams of paper sit. In this week’s podcast we discuss how companies can use connected sensors in their lights to make better decisions about their real estate while also saving money on their energy costs with Joe Costello, the CEO of Enlighted. Before we talk to Costello, Kevin Tofel and I cover the SmartThings version 2 hub.

The SmartThings Monitoring kit.
The SmartThings Monitoring kit.

After the show aired I got on the phone with SmartThings and swapped out the hub, but my initial experience was terrible (you’ll hear). Since the show was recorded, I’ve since managed to join most of the sensors to the network using the new hub and will keep testing. Kevin and I also talk about Verizon’s plans for the Internet of things and a list the National Association of Realtors put together to help people sell their smart homes without compromising their data. You can find it here!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Joe Costello, CEO of Enlighted

  • My SmartThings hub isn’t behaving like it should.
  • Learn about how to talk about your smart home to prospective buyers
  • Verizon has an IoT cloud and new pricing plans
  • Smart office buildings are coming and it starts with LEDs
  • How to solve conference room overbooking using sensors

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.

    Episode 21: Here’s what Amazon’s Echo will and won’t do

    We connected our lights and locks to the Internet and frankly, we don’t seem to be much better off. In this week’s podcast I talk to Claire Rowland a user experience consultant and lead author of Designing Connected Products about why that is, and who actually is better off. We also discuss what she’s discovered about making friendlier designs and why she’s optimistic about the smart home.

    The Philips wireless dimmer kit.
    The Philips wireless dimmer kit.

    In the here and now, Kevin and I discuss how I connected my Wink and SmartThings hub to the Amazon Echo and what we can and cannot do now that we’re linking our hubs into a larger hub. We also do a little review of the latest Hue light product from Philips–a $40 wireless dimmer kit. I even managed to fix a lingering problem with my Wink setup and now I have porch lights that go on when my garage door opens. It’s a known issue with scheduling on the Wink, so listen up to see if it might apply to you.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Claire Rowland, Designing Connected Products

  • So what can you do on the Amazon Echo with SmartThings and Wink?
  • Should you buy the Philips new wireless dimmer kit?
  • Adding the internet to consumer products isn’t enough.
  • Connected devices are turning out to be great for accessiblity