Episode 168: How GE’s Current curtailed dreams to meet reality

This week Kevin and I spend a bit of time on industrial IoT news with Rockwell Automation’s $1 billion investment in PTC and also ARM’s buy of a Stream Technologies. On the consumer side, we debate Wi-Fi subscription plans and Nest’s price drop and Ring’s new security system. We also talk about Thread’s milestone in industrial IoT, Verizon’s new CEO, and whether or not Google Home can now handle three consecutive commands. I review the Wyze Pan Cam and we answer a question about the Qolsys’ IQ Panel 2.

Ring’s security system lands on July 4 for $199.

This week’s guest comes from GE’s Current lighting business. Garret Miller, the chief digital officer at Current by GE explains why the division is for sale, why GE has to offer lighting as a service, and how reality forced a shift in thinking for Current. When Current launched, it had grand plans to deliver electricity as a service but realized that it was several steps ahead of the market, so it now offers lighting as a platform. It’s a good interview about how to reassess the market when needed.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Garret Miller, chief digital officer at Current by GE
Sponsors: Praetorian and Control4

  • Why ARM bought Stream Technologies
  • Ring and Nest gear up for home security fight
  • I like the Wyze Pan Cam
  • Why GE had to change the way it sells lights
  • Why Current changed business models and what it says about IoT

Episode 167: Apple’s WWDC news and connected musicians

Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference news, including Siri’s new IFTTT-like abilities. We continue with Alexa finding a home on computers and a discussion of the OVAL sensor that’s hoping to crowdfund a second-generation product. I’m disappointed that Lenovo’s new Google Assistant screen-enabled device won’t ship until September, but super excited about Microsoft’s new IoT offerings, including spatial intelligence. There’s yet another industrial IoT platform for cellular low power wide area networks, this time from Sierra Wireless. Finally, Kevin and I share our latest buys, an Aware Glow air quality monitor for me, and an app that puts Alexa on the Apple Watch for Kevin.

My Awair Glow plugged into my bedroom wall.

Our guest this week is Anya Trybala, a musician and creator of SynthBabes, a group that supports female electronic music artists. Trybala talks about how connectivity and technology could change the way artists perform and introduces a concept for VR called The Elevator. For a look at her work, check out this video. To hear her thoughts on how to use AR/VR and the blockchain for changing music, listen to the interview.

Hosts: Stacey Hgginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anya Trybala of SynthBabes
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

    • Apple still isn’t changing the game in the smart home
    • Microsoft continues making its IoT services better
    • Check out Alexa on an Apple Watch
    • Building a connected concert experience
    • Are you ready for drone microphones?

166: Alexa gets better at business and AI at the edge

The General Data Protection Regulation took effect last week so we kick off this episode by talking about what it means for IoT devices. We then hit the Z-Wave security news and explain why it isn’t so bad, after which we indulge in some speculation on Amazon’s need to buy a security company. We also discuss a partnership between Sigfox and HERE and a new cellular module for enterprises. Also on the enterprise IoT side, we review Amazon’s new Alexa meeting scheduler feature. Then we hit on news about Arlo cameras, Philips’ lights, new gear from D-Link and Elgato’s compelling new HomeKit accessories. We also have a surprisingly useful Alexa skill for enterprise service desks.

The new Elgato Aqua is a HomeKit water controller for your spigot. It will sell for $99.95. Image courtesy of Elgato.

Our guest this week is Jesse Clayton, a product manager for Nvidia’s Jetson board. I asked Clayton to come on the show because the 10-watt Jetson board is being used in a lot of industrial IoT applications and I want to understand why. He tells me, explains how AI at the edge works and shares some cool use cases. I think you’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jesse Clayton of Nvidia
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

  • Baby, don’t fear the GDPR
  • Here’s that list of Z-Wave certified devices
  • Amazon’s scheduling has a lot of hoops
  • A good explainer of machine learning
  • Why companies need computer vision at the edge

Episode 165: How Sears plans to use IoT

I was at the Parks Connections event that covers the smart home this week, so I share a few thoughts on what’s holding back adoption and how to think about using AI to create a smart home. From there, Kevin talks about the new meeting function offered by Alexa and we add nuance to the debate over Amazon selling facial recognition software to police. We then dig into some additional doubts about the new Wi-Fi EasyMesh standard, cover Comcast expanding the places it offers new Wi-Fi pods, discuss funding for a smart light switch company and new Arduino boards. For the more industrial and maker minded, we talk about Ayla adding Google Cloud as a hosting option and Kevin shares how we put our IoT hotline into the cloud. Finally, we answer a question about getting different bulbs to work together before switching to our guest.

A panel on smart home user interfaces. Photo by S. Higginbotham.

This week’s guest is Mitch Bowling, the CEO of Sears Home Services, who gives me the answer to what Sears plans to do with its acquisition of Wally sensor business back in 2015. I have been wondering what happened to Wally inside Sears for years. He also discusses how Sears can use IoT to make appliance repair better and the plans to add smart home installation services. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Mitch Bowling, CEO of Sears Home Services
Sponsors: MachineQ and Bosch

  • Device interoperability is a huge challenge for the smart home
  • The fuss over computer vision is just beginning
  • What can Sears Home Services do with IoT?
  • The smart appliances are coming!
  • The installer will see you now

Episode 164: New Wi-Fi standards and robots

The Wi-Fi Alliance has created a new standard for mesh networks, and Kevin and I are on top of it, discussing what it means, who’s participating, and whether or not it matters. We then tackle Sigfox’s new sensor and network in a box offering before sharing details on a new home hub from Hubitat that keeps your data local. We then talk up a new product for communicating with your kids, plans for outdoor lights from Philips and Netgear’s Arlo, and Kevin discusses his experience with the $20 Wyze v2 camera. He also bought a Nest x Yale lock, so we talk about that before getting a tip from a listener on the hotline about using cameras to set his alarm.

The Misty II is cute and somewhat affordable.

Our guest this week is Chris Meyer, who is head of developer experience at Misty Robotics. We talk about the newly launched personal robot that is aimed squarely at developers. In our conversation we get technical (so many specs), physical (why do robots fart?) and philosophical (will playing with robots turn our kids into monsters?). You’re going to enjoy this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Meyer of Misty Robotics
Sponsors: MachineQ and Bosch

  • Where’s Eero in this new Wi-Fi spec?
  • A hub privacy-minded folks could love
  • Why wouldn’t you buy this $20 camera?
  • Robots are in their infancy
  • Why do robots fart?

Episode 160: A deep dive into Microsoft’s IoT security platform

This week’s show is all about Microsoft’s new IoT security product, Azure Sphere. Kevin and I start with that, before talking about a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance explaining how to secure your enterprise IoT gear. We then discuss acquisitions such as Nice buying a 75% stake in home security startup abode, Lutron buying professional lighting company Ketra, and the possibility that Google might acquire Nokia’s health assets. In news bits, we talk about August’s new unlocking powers, Twilio’s new SIM offering, smart pet transport and VMware’s new lab setting for its IoT software. Kevin shares his thoughts on HomeKit sensors from Fibaro and we answer a question about doorbells.

The Art Institute of Chicago uses Ketra’s lighting. Ketra was recently acquired by Lutron. Image courtesy of Ketra.

Our guest this week is Galen Hunt from Microsoft, who has been working on the Azure Sphere product for the last four years. He shares why Microsoft attacked IoT security with a hardware, OS and cloud product and shared how far Redmond is willing to go on openness. He also talked about the revenue model, support life and other practical aspects. You’ll walk away from this one a lot smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Galen Hunt, partner managing director at Microsoft
Sponsors: Forgerock and Yonomi

Episode 159: The Nest doorbell is a great video doorbell

Microsoft plans to spend $5 billion on the internet of things, and it’s more than the usual shell game that big firms play with these sorts of announcements. We discuss its plans on this week’s podcast. We also talk about Qualcomm’s new vision chips for edge devices, what it means that apps are disappearing from the Apple Watch and Kevin’s thoughts on getting Alexa or Google to talk to you. Comcast shared its vision and new features for Stringify, August is working with SimpliSafe, there’s an old UPnP exploit hitting the IoT and I dumped a gadget for poor performance. I review the Nest doorbell before we answer a question on Z-wave and ZigBee for a listener.

My Nest Hello fresh out of the box.

This week’s guest is Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, who came on the show as part of an IEEE event at SXSW last month. We talk about where hearables are today, what’s changing and some of the cool things we can look forward to. I suggest a mute button for people you dislike, which Crum admits is possible. We also dig into the things that kill your hearing, and how we perceive sound. You may never take an aspirin again. Listen and learn, y’all.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories
Sponsors: Yonomi and Forgerock

  • Why every chip company has a chip for computer vision at the edge
  • This is a great podcast on Amazon Alexa
  • Goodbye Ikea lights and hello Nest video doorbell
  • Every ear is different and so is its perception of sound
  • You can jam a lot of sensors into a hearable

Episode 158: Stacey and Kevin debate robots

Intel said it would sell its nine-year-old IoT acquisition Wind River to private equity firm TPG this week. We explain why, and offer some context on the deal. Driven by Spotify’s public listing, I suggest how it can improve its service for the IoT, and then Kevin and I debate what we’d like to see in robots. Kevin shares a smart radon detector. News bits include stories about Google possibly building its own smart display, controlling the Nest Secure system through Google Assistant, Sigfox doing a deal with Louis Vuitton, and enabling devices to use emotion as a form of contextual insight. I also offer a word of caution for those installing video doorbells and we answer a question from Zach about multiple users and the Google Home.

The Airthings Wave is a smart radon detector for €199.

Our guest this week is Elecia White who is the creator of the Embedded podcast and an embedded systems engineer. She has spent 20 years building software for devices that aren’t computers and has a lot of insights on how the internet of things is changing the role of such engineers and the tradeoffs one makes when building a connected product. I enjoyed her stories on the challenges of security, the future for her job and the ideal team you need if you want to build a connected device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elecia White producer of Embedded
Sponsors: Forgerock and Ring

  • Why Intel dumped Wind River
  • Should digital subscriptions be tied to homes or to users?
  • I do want a Google display
  • What the heck does an embedded systems engineer do?
  • What your ideal smart device team should look like

Episode 156: Lennar’s smart home and why it dumped Apple HomeKit

Like the rest of the tech media, Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion about data collection and privacy in light of the allegations against Cambridge Analytica. It’s a stark reminder on what can be gleaned from your information as well as how much of your data is being gathered without your knowledge or real consent. We also talk about smart home lock in, Alexa’s new “brief” mode, shopping on Google Home and my IoT Spring Clean. IBM’s new crypto chip and Watson Assistant made the show as well as several industrial IoT news bits such as Foghorn’s industrial IoT integration with Google’s cloud and a new hardware platform for IIoT from Resin.io. We also answer a listener question about IoT for new parents.

The Nest Hello doorbell is now available, and sells for $239.

I’ve heard that smart home tech is the new equivalent of granite countertops (basically it’s a big deal for buyers) for several years now, but I had never investigated what that tech experience would look like or how it would come to be. It’s pretty complicated, as you’ll learn from David Kaiserman, president with Lennar Ventures, the investment arm of Lennar Homebuilders. Kaiserman walked me through a Lennar home outfitted with a bunch of smarts last month, and shares his thoughts on what matters to buyers and the gear inside. He also sheds light on Amazon’s Alexa-focused geek squad and explains why Lennar backed out of its plans for a Apple HomeKit home and banked on Alexa instead. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Kaiserman of Lennar Ventures
Sponsors: Samsung Artik and IoT World

  • Get ready for an IoT spring clean
  • Kevin thinks shopping with Google Assistant is “brilliant”
  • This board’s build for industrial use
  • How Amazon’s team of Alexa experts changes the smart home experience
  • Why Alexa beat out HomeKit for Lennar

Episode 153: Mobile World Congress news and a deep dive into IOTA

The big news from this week has been Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Ring for $1 billion or more. Kevin and I explain the deal and share our concerns before turning to the issue of smarter cameras including the recently reviewed Google Clip. From there we discuss news from Mobile World Congress and then dig into financings, Google winning over a former Alexa exec, the death of Staples Connect and a new device from Fibaro. We also answer a voicemail about setting up a separate guest network for your IoT devices.

The Google Clip camera retails for $249.

This week’s guest is Dominik Schiener, who is a co-founder of IOTA, a distributed ledger for machine transactions. I met Schiener at Bosch’s Connected World event in Berlin, and he explained the rationale behind IOTA’s creation, how it differs from traditional blockchain-based ledgers and why the focus on cryptocurrencies is driving the wrong attention for distributed ledgers. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dominik Schiener of IOTA
Sponsors: Yonomi and IoT World

  • Amazon Rings up its second largest deal
  • Cameras are smart and we aren’t prepared
  • Google has a new employee and Kevin liked this article
  • What is IOTA?
  • Use cases for distributed ledgers explained