Episode 90: Spend the holidays with Stacey’s family

We’re heading into the holidays with a guest appearance from my family who share their thoughts on what it’s like to live in a smart home, the products they like and what’s missing so far. My husband has been on the show before, but I also invited my 10-year-old daughter on to talk about her favorite toys and what she thinks of Philips Hue bulbs and the Amazon Echo (and Google Home). It’s a short and sweet reality check for us all.

Zuckerberg’s Jarvis ties together several smart home systems. Image courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg.

Before bringing on my family, Kevin and I discuss Mark Zuckerberg’s smart home and how his Jarvis isn’t all that different from what’s already on the market. And because it’s Thursday, we’ve got another security flaw in routers to talk about. Then we hit a solid budget smart watch and the new GPS system that can fine tune location sensing to a few inches. Finally, Kevin and I share some of our go-to home automation tricks to help you get started in making your own home smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andrew (Stacey’s husband) and Anna (Stacey’s daughter)
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • Zuck built Jarvis and Stacey makes a confession
  • Check your router again
  • From toddlers to teens, we have some home hacks for you
  • The smart home needs more personality

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 81: Reviewing the Wink Hub 2 and new gear from Philips Hue

The second version of the Wink hub, complete with an Ethernet connection, Bluetooth and a $99 price tag is out, and I started testing it. The good news so far for folks who have existing Wink gear is in this week’s show, along with my take on the new, richer color Philips Hue bulbs. For those seeking the latest in thermostats, we discuss the new, cheaper Ecobee Lite, the Honeywell Lyric T5 for $149 and Nest’s need to the lower its pricing. (We also discussed the new Eco nomenclature). Kevin Tofel shared his impressions so far on Google Assistant, and we’re all still waiting for Google Home.

honeywellt5

After that, Michael Wolf, creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and host of The Smart Home Show talked with me about his vision of the connected kitchen, some of the latest gadgets on offer for that segment and food waste. In the show I mention my anti-food waste recipes, so here they are for y’all (Minestrone and Weeknight Curry). Just chuck your old produce in one of these and feel virtuous.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Wolf, The Smart Home Show and the Smart Kitchen Summit
Sponsors: ARM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Only one hiccup with my Wink hub transfer
  • I’m all in on Philips Hue
  • Google Assistant is no Amazon Alexa (yet)
  • Is the smart kitchen ready for the harried chef?
  • The best kitchen gadget buying advice

Episode 78: There are no dead dogs on the internet of things

There’s a new Wink hub heading to Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon, so Kevin Tofel and I unpacked the new features on the second generation of the smart home hub in this week’s episode. We also discussed Amazon’s delivery plans that could take advantage of your connected door locks and garage doors, and then hit Kevin up for his opinion on the Apple Watch 2. SAP’s $2 billion investment in IoT, an IoT botnet, The Wirecutter’s favorite connected camera and Snap’s (formerly Snapchat) new glasses round out the show.

The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.
The Wink Hub 2 will sell for $99.

Afterward Carlos Herrera, the CEO of PetNet talks about what happened when his company’s pet feeder stopped sending users updates in late July. He offers a valuable lesson on building connected devices and sets the story straight about what really happened during a 12 hour server failure. All pets were fed during the lack of internet access, which means for now, the internet of things didn’t kill anyone’s dog.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carlos Herrera, CEO of PetNet
Sponsors: HPE and ARM

  • What’s new with the Wink 2?
  • Amazon and August teaming up?
  • The Apple Watch 2 is a good fitness tracker
  • No dogs were kills during the loss of these servers
  • What a bunch of aerospace engineers learned when building a connected device

Episode 75: What connected cars can learn from tractors

Nest is in the news again this week with a clarification on what its software engineers are really up to and new products. Its outdoor camera is launching as are thermostats in 3 new colors. It’s also unveiling a new software product that looks pretty cool. I’m still worried about the hardware innovation we can expect. Kevin and I also discuss Verizon’s new IoT network, leaked news of a new Wink hub and Kevin’s review of his Wink Relay light switch.

The new, Outdoor Nest Cam.
The new Outdoor Nest Cam.

I interview Cory Reed, senior vice president of intelligent solutions at John Deere, to discover what connected car executives can learn from the company that pioneered a self-driving tractor. Reed and I also discuss how John Deere thinks about connectivity adding value to the business and how it prices connected products. Also, farmers are pretty sophisticated consumers of technology.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Cory Reed, senior vice president of intelligent solutions at John Deere
Sponsor: Macadamian

  • Will LTE Cat M1 pose a threat to other IoT networks?
  • News from Nest
  • Kevin’s thoughts on the Wink Relay
  • How to think about building connected products from production to pricing
  • What John Deere can teach us about building autonomous cars

Episode 65: All about Wink and Alexa’s new Skills

Are you curious about Wink? On June 11 it started selling its Relay switch, a light switch that contains a screen and two soft programmable switches for $99 each. Two cost $149 and also double as an intercom. So we talked to Nathan Smith, Wink’s co-founder and CTO, about what happened to bring Wink out back into the game and what to expect next.

The Relay switch from Wink.
The Relay switch from Wink.

Kevin Tofel and I also discussed another Wi-Fi light switch from Plum as part of a discussion on switches and a home without hubs. Before we got there we cover Amazon’s makeover of the Alexa App to highlight Skills, the new Dash buttons and an update on Wi-Fi. Just for fun, I covered my doorbell review that ran in the Wirecutter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nathan Smith of Wink
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

  • Alexa’s new skills
  • Here come new Wi-Fi light switches
  • Wi-Fi is getting better!
  • What belongs on a glanceable interface?
  • Some fun Wink robots for y’all

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.

What will happen with Wink and a review of Zuli’s presence-promoting smart outlets

In episode 25 companies are spending billions trying to figuring out how to use wearables to help seniors age in place so we asked Philips Digital Health solutions’ Liat Ben-Zur on the show to discuss some of the things the health giant is doing to rethink medicine for a connected era. She discussed how the venerable Lifeline program must adapt and why today’s wearables aren’t providing enough context for doctors to use them in healthcare settings. We also talked about medical clouds, data analytics and a bit about the looming healthcare crisis. Good times.

The Zuli smart plugs in action.
The Zuli smart plugs in action.

Meanwhile Kevin Tofel and I discuss the not-so-shocking bankruptcy of Quirky and what it means for Wink. So far Quirky has a $15 million bid for Wink from Flextronics, the company that built the actual hub, but there’s still too much uncertainty for me. And after more than 18 months I have gotten my hands on the $160 Zuli smart plugs that offer Bluetooth-based presence in the home. Listen up to learn what I thought about them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Liat Ben-Zur, Philips

  • Why Flextronics isn’t going to try to destroy Wink
  • What are the best hub options if Wink does go down
  • Zuli smart plugs are a good way to bring presence into your home. But they could do more.
  • What’s next for Lifeline in an era of ubiquitous wearables and DIY
  • Why your wearable isn’t good enough for a doctor’s eyes just yet.
  • 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
  • Episode 17: Hacked Jeeps and hardware’s broken funding model

    This week we discuss what happens when you’re driving along in your automobile, and suddenly you’re not in control of the wheel, as happened to a Wired reporter. While, he was lucky, Kevin and I discuss the very real threat this can pose and what the industry and lawmakers propose we do about it. A great resource for the topic is I Am the Cavalry, which we have featured on Episode 2 of this podcast discussing the safety challenges of connected vehicles. After discussing the serious topic of connected cars, we move onto the worrisome future facing the Wink come hub as described by Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman at last week’s Brainstorm Tech event in Aspen.

    sproutling-product-family

    Kevin also spent a bit more than 5 minutes describing his new connected home setup which consists of Sylvania Osram lights, the Wink hub and an Amazon Echo, but we’re calling the Osram Lightify lights our 5-minute review anyhow. Our guest this week is Sproutling CEO Chris Bruce explaining how the crowdfunded hardware startup model is dead.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Chris Bruce, CEO of Sproutling

    • Hacking a Jeep on the freeway is good for headlines but bad for drivers
    • Here’s a starting place for talking about securing connected cars
    • More details on Quirky and Wink from CEO Ben Kaufman
    • Why the crowdfunding model is broken for hardware startups
    • Manufacturing lessons for those building hardware in the U.S. or in China