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

Published by

Stacey Higginbotham

I am a journalist who has covered technology for over a decade at publications such as Fortune, PCMag, Gigaom, The Deal and BusinessWeek.

10 thoughts on “Episode 91: The cops want your smart home data”

  1. I would think about it a little longer before I connected a device capable of chewing up my hand into hamburger like mush to a voice activated system.

    One thing you can be certain of is that when you turn on a switch that is installed at a code compliant distance from the disposal is that your hand won’t be in the drain. No one else can turn on the disposal from the other side of the room without giving you a fighting chance to stop them.

    I can clean crud off of a dirty switch. If you only have one good hand, it’s really hard to clean your own hand remnants from a disposal.

    If you’re worried about using the switch with wet hands have an electrician check to see if it’s on a GFCI circuit, and upgrade it if it’s not.

    1. aaaaand, we have the worst case scenario on why you shouldn’t put your garbage disposal on a voice-activated switch. And if you do, maybe don’t stand in the kitchen with anyone who wants to maim you (or use a common command). Excellent point, Steve.

  2. Wow, Steve, you have an active imagination for disaster. I am glad I don’t live with malicious people! I don’t often put my hand into the drain but if I have to, I still can turn off the power with the wall switch. Problem solved.

    1. That’ll certainly help. I’m mostly concerned with the inadvertent activation when the nearby TV news happens to report a story about a Russian dissident named, oh let’s say, Alexi Drenikkopf who ON Thursday defected or some such thing.

      My overly active imagination has had me fearing for years that my method of demise will be a fork to the heart accelerated through the air by an garbage disposal.

  3. you talked on the podcast about the GE wireless smart door sensor which is neat. I have a whole house full of door/window and motion sensors connected to my “dumb” wired alarm system. Do you know of a way to upgrade my wired alarm system so that I can utilize the door/window/motion sensors which already exist to trigger actions as part of my smart home? I would prefer not to need an alarm professional to complete the upgrade mainly because I don’t want to be tied to one of their expensive monthly service agreements. Thanks for any advice!!

  4. Great show as all ways.

    With regards to the connected garbage disposal, I typically find unplugging the device from the wall to be the best method of preventing a mishap with it if I have to get a hand in it. However, with a connected Garbage Disposal, perhaps there is a way to put a sensor in, on or around the device or sink that will detect when a human appendage in the area of the device thus preventing it from turning on unexpectedly. I could see a whole connected sink that can be controlled by either voice, touch or motion sensing or all the above. Heck, even a clean mode like “Hey Sink, clean yourself” to get the RoboSponge a workin’. Ooh, or even a sink that can process the dishes and load the dishwasher automagically. That would be cool.

    However, Stacey, you being an IoT celeb and all, and with all of the IoT device hacking, or rather cracking, going on, aren’t you a bit concerned about mentioning how you can monitor the activity in your house remotely? The way I see it, if you can do it, a person with enough motivation could do so as well. This is where I have an issue with the whole cloud and online connected device thing. As Any Grove wrote “Only the Paranoid Survive”.


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