Episode 136: Sony’s Aibo is back and Chamberlain’s CEO explains its moves

The best news of the week is that Sony is bringing back the Aibo robotic puppy. The bad news is that it will costs a pretty penny. Kevin Tofel and I discuss the pup, San Diego’s smart city efforts, the Apple HomePod, and funding for Ayla’s IoT platform as a service. I emailed companies to find out who has updated after KRACK and Kevin shares smart home data from Mozilla. Finally, we review the Amazon Echo Plus with ZigBee and Amazon Alexa’s new smart home interface.

The new Sony Aibo has OLED eyes and so many moving joints.

This week’s guest is JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group, who came on the show to explain where Chamberlain is heading with new commercial products, and its new subscription plan for IFTTT. Sohovich has been at Chamberlain for 20 months and in that time she’s focused on turning what was only a product business into a service business. Part of this is to better align with costs, but there is also a chance to boost margins by offering software features and integrations. We also hit on the future of smart home subscriptions. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: JoAnna Sohovich, CEO of Chamberlain Group
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Bring on the monthly subscription fees
  • Ayla gets $60 million and a Chinese joint venture
  • Why you may not want to buy an Amazon Echo Plus
  • Why Chamberlain is charging $1 for monthly IFTTT access
  • Chamberlain’s plans for the commercial market

Episode 93: Special CES Edition covering all the things!

This week’s podcast has too many guests to list (I’m going to list them anyway) and a format that’s totally different. We start off with a discussion on the state of the smart home and what we can learn from CES about mainstream adoption featuring commentary from Cory Sorice, VP of connected platforms at Chamberlain, Jason Johnson, CEO of August, and Ed Zitron of EZPR who is representing the normals among us.

The Stringify table at CES shows some of the myriad connected devices out there today.

From there we hit news from Lutron, Moen and discover what the new Dot Dot standard is all about. After a brief ad from the sponsor for this special edition of the podcast, The Open Connectivity Foundation, we talk to Dr. Michael Bjorn head of research at Ericsson Consumer Lab who shared predictions about technology trends facing us in 2017.

And we wrap with a few thoughts on business models for the internet of things from Zach Suppala, the CEO of Particle, a bit about changing standards from Grant Erickson of the thread Group and finally touch on the challenge of device longevity from Chamberlain’s Sorice.

You’re gonna love it.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsor: The Open Connectivity Foundation

  • What can CES tell us about the state of the smart home?
  • This smart shower feels dumb
  • What is Dot Dot?
  • Trends that matter in 2017
  • When can I safely buy a connected product?
  • Get ready to pay a subscription fee

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 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 84: Google Home is in the house!

The Google Home arrived this week and I detail a few first impressions here. Kevin Tofel and I also came up with a sneaky way to control a wider variety of devices using If This Then That and the Google Home. We kicked off the show talking about the recent hack of the Philips Hue light bulbs and then covered the Nest appliance news. We also discussed a new mindfulness device I’m testing, Talkies, a way to connect with your kids, and Bixi a gesture-controlled button.

The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron.  Image courtesy of Spire.
The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron. Image courtesy of Spire.

The next half of the show features Rammohan Malasani, the CEO of Securifi, which makes the Almond Router, discussing how the Wi-Fi demands in the home are changing, how to secure routers and why consumers may never buy a smart home hub. We also talk about adoption rates and what he’s learned in four years of selling the idea of a smart home. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rammohan Malasani, founder and CEO of Securifi
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Bluetooth

  • First impressions of the Google Home
  • Philips bulbs (and ZigBee lights in general) are vulnerable
  • Check out Spire, a wearable for mindfulness
  • Why combine a router with a home hub?
  • How many devices are on your network?

Episode 55: Find out what Ford learned from Tesla

With ride-sharing, electric vehicles and millennials who aren’t super keen on owning a car all converging, the auto industry is in a panic. But Ford, led by both Bill Ford and Ford CEO Mark Fields has created a plan to keep the carmaker relevant, even if fewer people buy cars. In this week’s show I chat with Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, about moving from making cars to delivering a transportation. Butler shares Ford’s thoughts on connecting the car, the integration with the Amazon Echo, and a few things Ford has learned from Tesla.

The  2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford  has to offer said Butler.
The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.

Before Butler and I get talking, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Intel’s job cuts and internet of things strategy as well as a Zigbee chipmaker’s acquisition. We then talk about the challenge of matching tech components to the long lifespan of some home products. Kevin bought a Pine 64 development board and we talk about what he should do with it, we add a few other updates on devices such as the Philips Hue lights and cover a new deal to bring connectivity to your clothes

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Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Don Butler at Ford

  • Can Intel matter in the internet of things?
  • My smart bulb’s radio broke so now it’s dumb
  • Connected clothes are coming
  • What Ford learned from Tesla
  • Discover Ford’s biggest asset as it seeks to transform its business

Episode 40: The Amazon Echo and AI take a starring role at CES

This week I was at CES, the huge consumer electronics trade show held in LAs Vegas. Kevin wisely stayed home, but monitored the news. IT’s actually easier to do that from 2,000 miles away. There’s more news than we can cover in one show, but we started with the links between Ford and the Amazon Echo and all of the other tie ups with Alexa that were showed off at the event. We then moved to our doubts about the new Wi-Fi standard for the Internet of Things called HaLow and the news that ZigBee and Thread were trying to work a little more closely together and what that means for you.

Finally, we delved into the gadgets and partnership news that caught our eye. Most of it focused on the hot new cameras in odd places, such as inside fridges and outside. But we also spent time discussing IBM’s new partnerships for Watson announced at the show. We’ll come back next week with more insights based on my final days at the show and time spent walking the show floor, but already I think we’re seeing a gradual maturation of the industry. Unfortunately it’s not in the direction we may have wanted in terms of everyone embracing open standards. Interoperability is going to come slowly through custom integrations.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham

  • Alexa is the star of CES this year
  • Can you hear me now? Radios get gussied up for IoT
  • Put a camera in it!
  • Did I saw Alexa was the star? Maybe I meant IBM’s Watson.

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.

Episode 19: Meet the chef teaching a connected oven how to cook

This week’s podcast explores how sausage gets made. Actually we explore how roast chickens, cookies and salmon get made. Ryan Baker is the research chef at June, a company making a $1,500 connected oven. When he’s not appearing on the IoT podcast he spends his days baking 15 batches of cookies or 20 batches of salmon trying to figure out how to train the artificial intelligence inside the June oven how to build recipes for certain types of food. It sounds like an amazing job, and he’s in a prime position to explain how technology and food prep can come together to change how people learn how to cook and how the internet of things might invade the kitchen.

Ryan Baker, research chef at June.
Ryan Baker, research chef at June.

Before we talk to Baker about how he controls his June ovens at the command line, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Google’s stunning corporate restructuring and what it means for Nest and Google’s Brillo and Weave plans. We also talk about a few examples of the smart home still being a little bit dumb, and some fall out on the security from the Black Hat security conference. On the gadget front, D-Link has a new $60 Wi-Fi water sensor and Kevin reviews the $15 connected Cree LED light bulbs.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ryan Baker, June

  • Nest is an Alphabet company now, but where are Brillo and Weave?
  • Post-vacation blues in the smart home
  • ZigBee was hacked and here’s a device that could crack your car or garage for $30
  • How should we connect the kitchen?
  • It takes a lot of batches of salmon and roast chickens to teach an oven how to be smart