Episode 128: The coolest fridges at IFA and how to build a connected product

This week launched our new hotline feature with a comment and question from you guys. Keep them coming! Before we got to the Q&A, Kevin and I discussed news from IFA, Europe’s largest appliance show. There are smart fridges, roaming fridges, washing machines and yes, speakers. We also discussed a Cat-M1 network in Africa, noting that it has an unusual property. Because it’s a day ending in Y we also had a security breach to discuss. We ended with a user experience adventure I had with my WeMo dimmer switch.

It’s a Big A** Fan!

Want to build a connected product? Then listen to Landon Borders of Big A** Fans talk about his company’s experience building a high-end connected ceiling fan. It’s a look at the beginnings of the internet of things and also shows off lessons every product manager should heed when thinking about building a connected product portfolio. He offers thoughts about working with HomeKit, Alexa and Google as well as his thoughts on manufacturing and customer service. He also drops a few surprising stats. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Landon Borders, VP of connected products at Big A** Fans
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Roaming fridges and what makes a smart speaker?
  • Greg has a question about Homeseer
  • Only half of Big A** Fans customers use the connected features
  • Thoughts on Thread
  • There are the platforms that matter in the smart home

Episode 116: Meet Eero’s new routers and see how Aclima uses IoT to stop pollution

There was a lot of Wi-Fi news this week with new routers and services from Eero. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance has created a certification program for builders to ensure that newly constructed homes get the best in-home coverage available. Since I was out this week, Kevin and I recorded early, so there’s news of AWS Greengrass and Softbank buying Boston Dynamics. Plus, Kevin and I share how to connect your smart locks to Alexa and further information on the WeMo dimmer.

This is BigDog, one of Boston Dynamic’s scarier robots. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

My guest this week tackles a serious topic. Davida Herzl, the CEO Aclima, discusses how we can use sensors on cars to map pollution data and shares the results of a study conducted in Oakland with Google. We talk about the importance of scientific validation for sensor data and algorithms as well as how to charge for this type of data. Beyond that, she shares why she thinks this sort of granular pollution monitoring is the future of fighting climate change.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Davida Herzl, the CEO Aclima
Sponsors: Affiliated Monitoring and TE Connectivity

  • So much news on the Wi-Fi front
  • How to tell Alexa to lock your doors using IFTTT
  • Testing Wink’s new service and WeMo’s dimmer
  • Where in Oakland is pollution the worst?
  • All IoT companies should be validating their data

Episode 114: The Essential Phone and IBM’s Watson tries IoT

What makes a phone essential? Or Essential as is the case with Andy Rubin’s new company that features a new smartphone and teases a new connected home assistant? Kevin and I discuss what we know, and Kevin also explains a surprise decision he’s made regarding Google (here’s the link he mentions during the show). We also discuss Apple’s potential AI chips, ARM’s new designs and a way to add capacitive touch to wood! Finally, I share my WeMo dimmer switch thoughts.

The Essential Phone in white.

This week’s in the guest segment we discuss assistants and bots in the home and enterprise. Bret Greenstein, VP of Watson IoT for Consumer Business at IBM, shared a bit about Watson and IoT, but his biggest service might be his help breaking down how analytics, machine learning and AI all relate. It’s a good mix of the future for enterprises and consumers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bret Greenstein of IBM
Sponsors: Aeris and Affiliated Monitoring

  • Essential Phone and Home launch thoughts
  • Kevin’s surprise purchase
  • The WeMo dimmer is nice, but pricey
  • Time for an AI vocabulary lesson
  • What happens when computers know how you feel?

Episode 113: Google Home gets way better

It has been a week since Google I/O, which gave Kevin and me time to wade through some of the developer videos and ponder the features Google is announcing for the home and for Google Home. The jury is still out on whether Kevin is buying the device, but he is tempted, y’all! We discussed Dish’s integration with the Amazon Echo, the new maker tier on IFTTT and IKEA’s plans to make its smart lights work with a variety of platforms.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

Our guest this week gives us a chance to discuss both the smart grid and saving sea turtles, which I imagine is a relative rarity. Michael Bell, the CEO of Silver Springs Networks, joined us this week to talk about scale, the future of the electric grid and the trouble with solar power. He also talks about new businesses for Silver Springs and turtles. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Bell, CEO of Silver Springs Networks
Sponsors: Aeris and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Google Home makes calls, offers shortcuts and has new partners
  • IFTTT gets way more flexible
  • The smart grid is just the beginning
  • How to scale to 25 million devices (and then more)
  • Saving sea turtles with smart street lights

Episode 96: Okay Computer and Stacey begins with HomeKit

Talking to the Amazon Echo just got easier, after Amazon adds “Computer” as a wake word, while I test out the use of Google Home’s new partner WeMo (Honeywell also made a connection with Google Home). Ring managed to raise $109 million this week, and we put that in context with the state of the smart home market. We also put Jawbone’s lack of customer support in similar context. I also started my Apple HomeKit review starting with set up, and pledged to try the latest version of the OpenHAB open source smart home hub software.

The Ring floodlight cam is just one of a few new Ring products out in the last year.

In the guest portion of the show, we spoke with Susan Norris who is at PG&E about how connected devices are both a boon and a burden for energy conservation. In addition to fun facts about how solar power is changing the demand for electric power, she shared information on what she wants smart home device companies to think about when trying to work with utilities. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Susan Norris, senior manager for energy efficiency products at PG&E
Sponsor: June

  • Differences in Google Home and the Amazon Echo
  • Stacey makes a solemn pledge
  • What can we expect on regulating the internet of things?
  • How to get your product in front of millions of normal consumers
  • Why PG&E views IoT with hope and worry

Episode 92: At CES Amazon Alexa and robots rule

This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.

This is a $200 hairbrush slated to come out later this year that measures how healthy your hair is.

Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Tim Crawford, CIO speaker and consultant
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

  • Let’s talk about business partnerships and privacy
  • Routers to protect all the things
  • So much smart lighting news including news about Lutron and switches from WeMo
  • There’s a new IoT protocol in town … dotdot
  • CIOs have to understand the business, not just tech
  • You can’t just sprinkle security on an IoT project

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 46: Barbie has a smart home and Sense gives your home computer vision

Andreas Gal, the CEO of Silk Labs has built what feels impossible. With the Sense hub he has created an artificially intelligent home hub that contains a camera, controls for other connected devices and a dedicated to privacy that means he can still offer services but still protect users from blanket surveillance. And the device is beautiful. Gal came on the show this week to talk about the Sense hub and why the world needs yet another connected camera and how he took his role as the former CTO of Mozilla and used that to inform the privacy features the camera offers. We also discussed how to implement AI models and learning on a device as opposed to in the cloud. Many of the challenges Gal has dealt with in his design are ones that hardware designers are thinking through as they implement their own AI or consider how to think about privacy in a world where the U.S. government has declared open season on stalking the Internet of Things.

The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. --Image courtesy of Silk.
The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. –Image courtesy of Silk.

And yes, Kevin Tofel and I discuss James Clapper’s comments before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee from last week in this episode, as well as a bunch of updates to some popular products. Some are good, such as the Wemo updates that boost reliability of the platform and Wink’s updates that bring lighting commands inside the home as opposed to between clouds. Some are frustrating, such as Philips Hue updating its Android app in a way that breaks it if users don’t want to share their location and photos. And some are just awesome, like the continued updates to Amazon’s Echo that include support for Spotify, Uber and the Ecobee3. And yes, Barbie has a smart home. So get set for your commute, your run or however you enjoy the show and have a listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andreas Gal, CEO of Silk Labs

  • Barbie’s smart home might rival yours
  • Amazon’s Echo gets better and updates gone crazy for Hue, Wemo and Wink
  • The Internet of things is a gift for spies
  • Meet the Sense home hub which uses computer vision to learn more about your home
  • Rethinking privacy for connected devices

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 3: Restaurant too dark? You could soon control the lights with your phone.

This week’s podcast we hit on my favorite topic. Lighting! First we start off in the home with Kevin Tofel and I discussing how I’m using the Amazon Echo to control my Hue lights and a WeMo connected lamp via the Amazon Echo. Then we chat with my guest this week, Willem Smitt, the vice president of marketing at Soraa, a lighting company whose customers include a variety of big name commercial clients. Soraa is pioneering the launch of Bluetooth connected lights, that launched on Tuesday via a partnership with Polish startup Seed Labs.

A California Pizza Kitchen featuring Soraa lights.
A California Pizza Kitchen featuring Soraa lights.

The ability to control your lights via your phone could offer consumers new opportunities in restaurants other commercial settings, but it also changes the nature of the services businesses can offer. Lights can store beacons or other sensors, so can become homes for sophisticated customer-information gathering tools and personalizations experiences. We discuss this on the show. So tune in to hear about the future of lighting, the Apple watch, a bit about June plans for HomeKit and the Apple TV and more.

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Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Willem Smitt, VP of marketing at Soraa

  • Did Kevin score an Apple watch or not?
  • Welcome to Kevin’s conspiracy corner where he discusses the Apple WWDC logo and what it means for HomeKit
  • Amazon Echo gets an upgrade that lets you control your Hue and WeMo devices. Find out how it works.
  • How long until all of our lighting is connected?
  • What else can you put in a connected light bulb and what does that mean for businesses?