Episode 105: Comcast’s platform plans revealed

This week there were two big stories in the internet of things. The first is that Google Home has expanded the number of companies it works with, adding Rachio, Wink, August and more. The other story is that Congress has repealed rules that prevented ISPs from selling your personal data. This will open up consumers’ search history to ISPs and marketers, but Kevin and I discuss what it means for your smart home devices and data. We also discuss IKEA’s new smart home products, Kevin’s poor Z-wave lock experience and hacked commercial dishwashers.

This week’s guest is in charge of a smart home platform that aims to take over a huge number of homes in the US. Daniel Herscovici is the head of Comcast’s Xfinity Home program, and he has some big ambitions. We talk about the purchase of iControl, why Comcast isn’t keen on Zigbee and why Comcast isn’t sweating standards. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Herscovici of Comcast
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK

  • Ikea has smart home ambitions
  • Google Home… is it good enough?
  • How to protect your IoT devices from your ISP
  • Comcast wants to be the base platform for the smart home
  • Standards aren’t holding back innovation

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education

Episode 91: The cops want your smart home data

This week’s big story was the Bentonville, Arkansas case where police were seeking data from an alleged murderer’s Echo history. Kevin and I share our thoughts on the case, what police could learn from connected gadgets and what this means for your privacy. We then talk about Google’s new smartwatches coming in 2017, two new open/close sensors I discovered and Intel’s work with Amazon to create a model smart home. We also debate what shape the smart home should take and I’m getting ready for CES next week.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

After a big thank you to the companies who sponsored the podcast this year, I interviewed Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC about how the fight to be the next big IoT platform will shape up. He has some surprising views on the roles startups will play and where the innovation in IoT will come from (and when).

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guarav Garg, a managing partner at Wing VC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Level Education

  • What could your smart home tell the police?
  • Two discrete sensors for your doors from GE and Sensative
  • Is your ideal smart home controlled by a virtual wife?
  • Consumer electronics are too hard for startups
  • How to think about building platforms for the industrial internet

Episode 89: Google’s IoT Strategy takes shape and Microsoft enters the fray

There was so much news this week, that we skipped having a guest in favor of just keeping track of some big moves in the sector. This week was Google’s time to shine since it launched both Actions on Google (an SDK for talking to its Assistant on Google Home) and its IoT operating system plus the Weave communications protocol. Not to be topped Microsoft released an SDK for Cortana it’s voice powered personal assistant and Amazon doubled down with AI for all on AWS. So Kevin Tofel and I spent the first half of the show discussing what this means.

The Plume WiFi pods
The Plume WiFi pods

For the second half we focused on all the little bits of news such as Fibaro’s new HomeKit sensors, Ayla Networks’ new ability to help customers build Alexa skills, GE’s decision to build networking gear for the industrial IoT and a new Bluetooth hub for the enterprise from Cassia Networks. Uber and Google also offered some exciting self-driving car news this week and the ZigBee and Thread groups achieved a feat. We also reviewed two Wi-Fi options with Kevin discussing Google WiFi and me talking about why the new Plume pods may not work for everyone. We’ll be back next week with a guest, but in the meantime, enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Skybell (Use STACEY50)

  • The 3 things every personal assistant needs to succeed
  • Radio news from Thread and Zigbee plus a new BLE hub
  • GE and Ayla are making IoT easier for the enterprise
  • We have Waymo car news than usual
  • Reviewing Plume Pods and Google WiFi

Episode 85: Thoughts on Trump, smart locks and troubleshooting

We recorded last week’s podcast before the election results came out, so this week Kevin and I kick off the show with some thoughts on what Trump means for smart homes and the industrial internet. Then we hit gadgets hard with news about Eero routers getting a big update, the trouble with Google’s troubleshooting and resolution for my Google Home issue. I review the June oven, discuss new security from Z-wave and we answer a reader question on smart bulbs versus smart switches. I also discovered a Wi-Fi leak sensor that’s worth a look.

The June oven is recognizing my asparagus.
The June oven is recognizing my asparagus.

Then we started in on locks. This week’s guest is Rob Martens, a futurist at Allegion (Schlage). He discusses when a device becomes a service, the challenges of being open and security in both a digital and physical world. He also shares his thoughts on the role of futurists for anyone who is angling for that job. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Martens, futurist at Allegion
Sponsors: Bluetooth and Samsung ARTIK

  • Why Kevin wants to buy an electric vehicle for Christmas
  • Your Eero routers are about to get a 2X improvement
  • Smart bulb or smart switch? Why not both?
  • Explaining the future is hard work
  • Yes, there is a sledgehammer test!

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 74: More Nest distress and a primer on protocols

As IFA starts in Berlin, there’s a bunch of product news to cover, including a partnership between Sonos and Amazon, that will let you control your Sonos from the Amazon Echo … in 2017. But before we get to that, Kevin Tofel and I explore what it means that Nest’s developers are reportedly moving over to Google, specifically part of the Google Home team. We also cover Z-wave becoming a more open standard, which could lead to more Z-wave compatibility in products like the Amazon Echo or smart TVs.

Savant_03_Sonos

After Kevin and I hit the news, strap yourselves in for a primer on the pros and cons of different radios, protocols and even clouds for those designing a connected product. Chris Matthieu, VP of IoT Engineering at Citrix, and one of the creators of Citrix Octoblu, came on the show to offer his expertise. This is nerdy, but great for anyone who wants to understand some of the popular options out there for making a connected product, whether you are a developer, a product manager or just someone trying to keep up with the trends.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Matthieu of Citrix
Sponsor: Macadamian

  • The distress at Nest
  • Two great pieces of news
  • How do you pick a radio for a connected project?
  • A primer on protocols
  • Which cloud works for you?

Episode 38: A holiday troubleshooting guide under your tree

Just in case you open a few Christmas goodies in the coming days or decide to use the holidays as an excuse to set up a few connected devices, Kevin and I decided to offer the gift of our experience. We’ve condensed our stupid mistakes (like not reading the box for device compatibility) and more advanced tricks (like making sure all the devices are on the 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi network) into a relatively quick podcast that might one day help you solve your connectivity problems.

At the very least it will remind you that you are not alone as you struggle to set up your connected door locks or your ZigBee sensors. I just spent an hour on the phone with some very smart and helpful support folks trying to figure out why my WeMo outlet decided to stop connecting to my Amazon Echo. The experts decided that it must be some weird modem issue that will require Belkin to buy my model of modem and visit the testing lab. So know that this stuff is hard. In your network, with your stuff, as you get more wacky and crazy, your stuff will fail. Be patient, have fun, and keep listening. Kevin and I look forward to hearing your stories.

Alexa, Turn on Christmas from Stacey Higginbotham on Vimeo.

I’m also including above, a holiday demonstration of Alexa’s capabilities using the Wink hub ($50), a Lutron dimmer switch in the dining room chandelier ($45), four Hue bulbs in the living room ($260) and 3 GE Jasco outdoor switches ($40 each). I could have used a WeMo outlet or my SmartThings outlet, but neither would connect via the Echo, and so I just swapped out my outdoor ones for the sake of the video and figured I’d troubleshoot over the holidays.