Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

Episode 204: Apple’s next big market and Silicon Labs’ CEO

This week Kevin and start the show with an educated guess about what comes next for Apple after the iPhone and then discuss the leadership transition at IFTTT. In the wake of Google saying that it didn’t disclose the microphone inside the Nest Guard box, Kevin and I reiterate our take from last week, which is that cameras and microphones should always be disclosed in the specs. We also talk about Osram being for sale, smart circuit breakers, Libellium’s embrace of NB-IoT and what Google needs to do to catch up to Amazon in the digital assistant race. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about creating panic buttons for the home.

The Nest Guard’s hidden mic became apparent after Google announced it offered Google Assistant.

This week’s guest is Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a semiconductor firm that is making a big bet on IoT. Tuttle talks about the role of various radios in the smart home and in industrial settings. He also explains why he’s not worried about the tech giants snapping up gadget-makers that are using his chips. We end with a discussion on how we need to rethink tech and innovation for the edge. It’s a good chat.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • Apple’s HomePod feels like a gimmick
  • Mics and cameras shouldn’t come as a surprise
  • Smart circuit breakers are still a hard sell
  • Are Z-wave and ZigBee doomed?
  • What happens when Amazon buys up your customer?

 

 

Episode 202: What happens when your smart home gets a subpoena

This week’s news was somewhat grim for the smart home with Lowe’s shutting down its Iris smart home hub program and a number of acquisitions in the space. Those include LIFX, Neeo, and WigWag. We are pumped about the rise in mainstream attention for consent around data use and privacy. Unfortunately, we also have a bunch of stories about leaking data, poor security practices and a slight bright point with a UK investment in device security. We end with some Google Assistant updates that are pretty compelling. Then we hit our IoT Podcast Hotline to answer a question about the best light switch to replace a Plum light switch, which has stopped working.

LIFX was purchased by an Australian company for $51 million.

Our guest this week is Denise Howell, a lawyer in California who shared some thoughts about how smart devices will change the legal landscape. We spent some time talking about what might happen in criminal and civil lawsuits when police or even other lawyers want access to device data. What rights do you have? We also talk about GDPR and the likelihood of new data protection laws getting passed at a federal level. She’s not as optimistic as I am. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Denise Howell, attorney
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

 

  • Lowe’s does a great job with a bad situation
  • The fallout in smart home devices keeps coming
  • Basic security starts with encryption
  • Tort law is the best we have for poor IoT products
  • It’s not jsut the police you have to worry about when it comes to device data

Episode 201: Bluetooth gets better and more smart lights

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released new standards that improve location tracking, so we talk about Kevin’s hopes for that and save the bigger details for our guest segment. We’ve got two new smart lighting products. The first is from Casper —yes the mattress company — and the second is from a startup called Orro. From there we focus on a creepy new lamp, tech giants getting into the utility business and a new energy harvesting method. Plus, Japan is hacking its citizens’ devices, Amazon offers hosting, and here’s a tip sheet on what to look for in smart apartments from an infosec writer whose apartment is about to be made smart. We also answer a question about which Z-wave hub he should buy.

The Casper Glow sells for $89 for one or $169 for two.

This week’s guest is Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup explains what the SIG’s new location services technology is all about and when we can expect it in industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Unsurprisingly, Bluetooth is prepping for a role in industrial and enterprise settings with this move. He also explains why Beacons are not the failure I think they are. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: FairCom and Western Digital

  • Two very different lights, both smarter than you think
  • Why home automation’s next frontier is in energy
  • An update from last week’s show on unwanted smart apartments
  • Get the scoop on Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature
  • Maybe beacons aren’t as doomed as I thought

Episode 200: These are the features that matter in the smart kitchen

This week’s podcast kicks off with a discussion about property owners forcing smart apartments on renters. The discussion was sparked by a series of tweets. Kevin and I discovered the name of the company behind the service and cover some of the challenges associated with the proposition. (Here’s a hack of the device on GitHub.) From there we talk about various device and subscription cleanses and new low-power Wi-Fi chips. There’s also a new gateway for the abode security system, a setback for Microsoft’s Cortana and Kevin’s rediscovery of Node-RED. In our voicemail, we answer a question about finding smart lights that are equivalent to 100-watt bulbs.

Abode launched a new hub with 4G cellular and improved Z-wave security.

Our guest this week is Michael Wolf, the creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and publisher of The Spoon, which covers food tech. We talk first about the state of the smart kitchen and where various appliance manufacturers are in adopting connectivity. He then goes through all the major appliances and explains which features I should look for when I’m shopping for new white goods in the next 18 months or so. We end with a discussion about the Wirecutter’s shocking (to us) review of the June oven. There’s a lot to talk about.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Wolf, the creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and the publisher of The Spoon
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • Tenants have the right to avoid the smart home
  • I dumped smart devices and Kevin sumped subscriptions
  • Abode does a gateway upgrade right
  • Your new fridge absolutely needs a camera
  • But does your oven need a screen?

Episode 198: Check out CES and a smart KB Home

Kevin and I are at CES this week ready to embrace the future of consumer technology. But so far, we haven’t found much that is new. We discuss the domination by Google at the show, a bunch of news about Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem and a smattering of news from smart home providers. By this point in the show, we had seen several demos of smart home systems, tried on the connected glasses from North and tasted bread baked by a robot. Kevin also rode the ride marketing Google’s Assistant.  This time we conducted the show from a bar in Vegas while we were rehashing our thoughts from the last few days and figured we might as well just hit record. It’s a bit loosey-goosey, but it will help you feel like you’re there.

Google announced a smaller clock display at CES as well as ways to bring the Google Assistant into the car.

This week’s guest was also in Las Vegas, showing off a new concept home from KB Home. Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home, joined us to share the details of KB Home’s concept house in Vegas that combines connected products, wellness-focused AI, pre-fabrication techniques and walls that move to create new rooms on demand. The concept home has air quality sensors built into the walls, lights that are tuned to circadian rhythms and connected an HVAC system that tries to make the house as healthy as possible. Atalla explains the tech and which of these technologies you might see in future homes.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • Google may have the biggest news at CES and that’s sad
  • Alexa is also stealing the show with partnerships galore
  • Smarter kitchens are coming whether you want them or not
  • KB Home has built a house with a wall that moves and solar power
  • How to future-proof sensors built into walls

Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage

Episode 195: We’re switching to Google’s Home

Kevin is back this week and we kick off the show discussing GE’s decision to spin out its industrial IoT business. From there we talk about the closure of Lighthouse, the smart camera maker, a critical update for Hue bulbs and Qualcomm’s new IoT chip. Then we dive into a swath of Alexa related news, including updates that tailor routines for locations, a new wall clock and the beta program from Amazon’s Guard security feature. The show isn’t all about Alexa. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Google Home Hub and I get excited about being able to see my G Suite calendar data on my Google Smart Display. (Here’s that Norm photo album we talked about.) We also handle the rather late-breaking news about Ring’s lack of camera footage security. We also answer a listener question about why some connected devices don’t work with mesh Wi-Fi systems.

The Amazon Alexa wall clock costs $30.

My guest this week is my family. My husband and daughter come on the show each year to discuss what they like and don’t like from the world of smart devices. While we love Alexa and use it often, we’re switching over to Google Home after seeing the Nest gear and how well it performs with the Google Smart Displays. We also discuss our thoughts about what to take with us when we move and which devices we’ll miss most. I hope you enjoy the show, and the holidays!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • What the new GE IIoT business needs to do
  • Thank you Hue!
  • Alexa gets a lot of cool features and integrations
  • There’s a smart bulb in my room?
  • Yes, they are still talking about the June oven

Episode 193: Inside Calgary’s sensor network

This week we tackle a bunch of device news, the rebranding of TrackR, the end of ARM’s Cordio Bluetooth IP and Nokia’s latest data on IoT botnets. We also ask what y’all think about network security devices and services for the connected home. We don’t currently consider them a must-have device, but should we? In device news, we mention Arlo’s new 4K security camera, iHome’s new mirror and alarm clock, IKEA’s $10 smart plug, Bose’s connected sunglasses, and Free ISP’s new Freebox Delta. We also discuss Kevin’s purchase of the Google Home Hub and my review of the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector and smart speaker. Finally, we answer a question about what connected tech belongs in the bedroom.

A chart from Nokia’s Threat Intelligence report showing the increase in detection botnets using IoT devices.

Our guest this week is Heather Reed-Fenske, the chief information technology officer at the City of Calgary. She talks about how Calgary has built a sensor network on top of its existing city-wide fiber network. Calgary is using LoRa radios that cost about $45,000, and is layering all kinds of new services on top of the network. She talks about what that has meant for city workers, trees and even concert promoters. We also discuss privacy and how governments should think about deploying smart tech in municipal settings. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Heather Reed-Fenske, the CITO at the City of Calgary
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Bluetooth trackers are boring, so those companies are changing
  • Should a network defense product be part of your smart home?
  • First Alert’s smart smoke detector is pricey and smart
  • How Calgary uses its LoRa network to keep trees alive
  • Real time noise sensors keep outdoor concerts in line

Episode 191: Lowe’s wants to dump Iris

This week on the show, Kevin and I talk about Lowe’s putting the Iris smart home system on the block, Apple buying Silk Labs and why now is a perfect time to pull the trigger on the smart home device you’ve been eyeing. We then dug deep on a swath of Alexa-related news such as the ability to bring Bluetooth devices to the Alexa ecosystem, Anki’s Vector robot getting Alexa integration and the new Alexa Wake-on LAN commands. Google also has some new features to discuss such as an ability to replace Siri on an iOS and a new developer board with microcontrollers linked to Google’s cloud. We also teased our gift guide coming out on Friday in the Stacey on IoT newsletter and shared the new Abode security device plus a new Google Assistant Smart Display from LG. In this week’s voicemail, we advise a dad about what smart home gear he should buy his two daughters for their first apartments.

The Iota gateway and camera from Abode costs $259. Image courtesy of Abode.

November is National Diabetes Month, and so I brought on Mike Nelson who is the head of IoT security at DigiCert, but for the show purposes, is a father whose 4-year-old daughter has diabetes. He does too. Nelson talks about how connected devices have changed the way he manages his illness and what it means for him as a parent. He also shows how insecure devices, especially medical devices, can become deeply concerning for patients and parents. It’s a good interview that will bring home the need for better security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson of DigiCert
Sponsor: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • What went wrong with Lowe’s Iris
  • Why Apple bought a smart home hub company
  • Alexa and Google add new IoT talents
  • How IoT changed the world of diabetes care
  • Why security really, really matter for medical devices