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

    Ladies love wearables and you should buy the Amazon Echo: Episode 13

    This week was a big one for fans of the connected home. Amazon announced that its Siri-like personal assistant for the home is now available for anyone to buy, so Kevin Tofel and I did a fairly extensive review on the show. There’s more over at Fortune. Kevin and I also talked about the big letdown that was the Nest announcement from last week, while also introducing a new connected device called Curb that’s far more interesting for those worried about energy efficiency.

    The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.
    The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

    And for those less excited about devices for the home, and more pumped about gadgets for your wrist, I spoke with Aarthi Ramamurthy, the CEO and founder of Lumoid, about what wearables are hot right now and who is wearing them. Lumoid is a web site where you can go to rent wearables, drones and photo equipment, and Ramamurthy has some solid data to share about who’s buying what. Listen up to hear her describe what may be the best job in the world for a gadget lover and maybe even find your next fitness tracker.

    Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guest: Aarthi Ramamurthy, of Lumoid