Episode 144: Our IoT predictions and my family’s thoughts

Once again it’s time for the holiday episode of the Internet of Things Podcast, where Kevin and I gather weeks ahead of the show’s air date to predict what we think will happen next year. We kick it off with our disappointments from 2017, such as very limited (at best) presence detection in the home and a lack of flexible cellular plans for IoT devices. From there we shared our predictions for 2018 such as Kevin’s expectation that local machine learning will finally offer contextual smarts in the home and my prediction that IT shops will reassess how they value IoT deployments. We end with our big questions for the industry wondering what havoc GDPR regulations will wreck and if we’ll get a new security model that works for IoT.

My family still loves the June oven we purchased this year.

Just like last year and the year before, the guest portion of the show features my family, sharing what they liked and didn’t like about our smart home this year. Much of what we use has become so ingrained in our lives we don’t think of it anymore, but there are still the usual challenges and irritations that show how far the smart home needs to come. Enjoy the show, and I hope you have a restful end of the year.

One more note: I used a different microphone to record this show. I will not be using it again.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: ADT and FSG

  • Whither beacons and general presence?
  • New homes and apartments get smarter!
  • IT shops get smarter about IoT while carrier questions remain
  • My family still loves voice
  • We gave up on adding new devices to the home this year

Episode 142: Smart sheets, suits and carpets are coming

We begin this week with another cautionary tale about bricked connected devices. This week it’s an automotive product called Mojio. From there I discuss the things I recently learned about building wireless networks in industrial settings while Kevin talks about how much money connected plants can save. We then get super nerdy on innovations in low-power chips before dipping into a lot of news such as IDC’s expectations for the IoT and new talents for the Google Home, Amazon Echo and Honeywell’s controller. We end the show with reviews on two connected devices we installed and answer a question about leak sensors from a listener.

Levi’s offers a jacket made with smart fabric from Google.

Stick around and you’ll hear from Nick Langston, head of business development at TE Connectivity, talking about the future of smart fabrics. While the biggest use case so far is in smart clothing to detect health data, Langston envisions a future where those same sensors might be put into sheets, carpets or even cars. He also shares an idea about what might be the coolest jersey ever that would react to your player getting hit on the field or light up in response to your team scoring a point. It’s pretty cool.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Nick Langston, TE Connectivity
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Another brick in the IoT device bag
  • How transistor design will change for IoT
  • The IoT will be worth $1 trillion by 2020
  • What happens to privacy if your bedsheets are a sensor?
  • Smart fabrics are soft, but the business model is hard

Episode 141: Alexa suits up for business

Last week Amazon made a slew of IoT announcements at its annual user conference, bringing established functions into general availability and surprising us with the launch of Amazon’s Free RTOS after it hired the man responsible for the most popular embedded OS for microcontrollers. It also introduced Alexa for business. Kevin and I share our thoughts on that and also discussed Microsoft’s own platform announcement, the Google/Amazon spat, and Walmart’s search for a cheap sensor. I share my learnings from an event on IoT business models held at Target’s Open house last week and Kevin shares his thoughts on the GoControl/Linear garage door controller. We also discuss naming conventions thanks to a question on the IoT Podcast hotline.

Amazons IoT dreams are becoming clear.

The guest this week put the challenges of building an IoT project into perspective. After years of being “spoiled by cloud computing,” Upal Basu of NGP Capital says that we have to reframe our IoT projects with longer ROIs and more of a focus on decentralized deployments away from the corporate offices. His ideas make sense for anyone familiar with complexities of deploying sensors, and it’s a good interview for folks thinking about how to transform her business using connectivity, sensors and cloud analytics. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Upal Basu, General Partner at NGP Capital
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Greengrass, Free RTOS, Device Defender and more from Amazon
  • Alexa gets her MBA
  • Sustainable IoT hardware is actually a service
  • You returns on IoT investments should be years, not 12-18 months
  • The value in IoT deployments happens where the sensors are

Episode 140: How IoT will change war

This week we kick off the show with a bit about voice such as Google getting better at understanding your commands, the ability to talk to Waze and notifications coming to the Amazon Echo. We also touch on China’s plans to create standards for the smart home, including a preference for NB-IoT over Wi-Fi. Weather reporting gets more accurate without sensors and Kevin and I discuss the end of two smart light bulb startups. Finally, I offer a pro tip for the holidays and we answer a listener question about WeMo and HomeKit.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

After all the news, things get a bit grim as I discuss the future of battle with Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He’s part of a team that won a research grant from the U.S. Army Research Lab to figure out how to bring the internet of things to the battlefield. Our discussion ranges from technical elements to the ethics of having machines kill people. It will make you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Sponsors: Spark Cognition and ADT

  • Google Home gets a great new feature
  • China’s setting some standards for the smart home
  • Goodbye Emberlight and so long Stack Lights
  • What can Facebook teach us about programming sensors?
  • Will machines kill in the war of the future?

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 135: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The home security train just keeps on rolling in the smart home with Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. Also on the home front Kevin Tofel and I discuss the new lighting startup Noon, which launches Thursday. We also talk about some new devices including a $20 camera and a Google Assistant intercom system before answering a question from Derek about how to integrate a bunch of devices together using an Android app. And because today ends in Y we also have a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

The Noon lighting system on a wall.

The guest this week is Phil Skipper of Vodafone who shares the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. I learned a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Phil Skipper of Vodafone
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Amazon’s Key and Wink’s new security system are part of a trend
  • Noon’s lighting system is pretty cool
  • It’s not IoT exactly, but you should fear Reaper
  • Why choose NB-IoT over other low power network options
  • A glass break sensor can teach us new business models for IoT

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review¬†Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 133: August’s new doorbell and Vitamix blends with Bluetooth

Both Dell and Salesforce made big announcements about their internet of things plans this week, so Kevin and I try to break that down for people. We then discussed Amazon trying to deliver things to the trunk of your car, Google Home going too far in recording conversations and updates to hardware for autonomous cars. We also review the latest August lock and doorbell hardware and answer a listener question from Sally about linking her Sonos with her August locks for some musical automation.

This Vitamix blender has Bluetooth and an app.

I was at the Smart Kitchen Summit this week, and ran into Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, which just launched a connected blender. I had a few moments to ask Ciepiel how Vitamix was thinking about bringing its blenders into the 21st century and why. He explained how to think about technology in a product designed to be an heirloom and what it means for the company’s operations to support a connected device. We also talk about sharing data across connected products and how technology changes blenders’ capabilities. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • Dell and Salesforce are adapting to the IoT
  • Cheaper LIDAR and smarter cars are coming
  • August locks are good but the doorbell made me angry
  • Why use Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi in a connected blender
  • Software can let you count calories even more granularly

Have a question? Leave a voicemail on the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and we might answer it on the show!

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. Keeing your building safe, whether a home or an office, should be the top priority, especially if there’s other people involved counting on you to implement the best security. While these sensors are great at keeping strangers out of your building, simpler methods are offered. Simply check out these locksmith security tips for the most efficient methods on staying safe in your own building! As well as this, she also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10

Episode 129: Apple’s missing IoT news and adding blockchain to the energy grid

This week’s Apple announcement didn’t offer much for the IoT fans in the audience, although Kevin is deciding if he want’s the LTE-capable Apple Watch. We also talk about a big Bluetooth security vulnerability and Chamberlain’s decision to charge customers who want to create IFTTT integrations. We cover some news about EdgeX Foundry, a new energy monitoring product and an enterprise translation service that requires a “thing.” Finally, we answer a reader’s question about upgrading an old alarm system.

The Apple Watch with LTE and a set of Air Pods might be the future of computing.

Our guest this week talks about a particularly relevant topic given the recent hurricanes. David Martin, co-founder and managing director of Power Ledger, is building an energy trading market using blockchain, connected meters and a network of residential solar. He discusses the bifurcation of the energy market, the trend towards resiliency and how the blockchain can help generate revenue for consumers and the larger energy grid. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, it’s a disruptive concept.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Martin of Power Ledger
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Hey Apple, show me the HomeKit!
  • In which we shame Samsung on Blueborne missteps
  • What to do with an ancient security system? Rip it out.
  • How to use blockchain to make money on renewables
  • Building a more resilient grid starts with IoT (and the blockchain)

Have a question? Call the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and get an answer!