‘Tis almost the season to offer gifts large and small for the loved ones in your life. In the podcast, Kevin and I focus mostly on larger gifts, because once you add connectivity the price takes a big jump. We also discuss Black Friday deals.
Vibhu Norby, the CEO of B8ta, is on the show to share some of his gift picks. They range from $3,000 (get two!) to $30. Hopefully we can inspire you if you’re shopping for a tech-friendly family member or friend. Norby also discusses a new way of thinking about retail and what sells in the connected device category.
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 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.
The second version of the Wink hub, complete with an Ethernet connection, Bluetooth and a $99 price tag is out, and I started testing it. The good news so far for folks who have existing Wink gear is in this week’s show, along with my take on the new, richer color Philips Hue bulbs. For those seeking the latest in thermostats, we discuss the new, cheaper Ecobee Lite, the Honeywell Lyric T5 for $149 and Nest’s need to the lower its pricing. (We also discussed the new Eco nomenclature). Kevin Tofel shared his impressions so far on Google Assistant, and we’re all still waiting for Google Home.
After that, Michael Wolf, creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and host of The Smart Home Show talked with me about his vision of the connected kitchen, some of the latest gadgets on offer for that segment and food waste. In the show I mention my anti-food waste recipes, so here they are for y’all (Minestrone and Weeknight Curry). Just chuck your old produce in one of these and feel virtuous.
Nest is in the news again this week with a clarification on what its software engineers are really up to and new products. Its outdoor camera is launching as are thermostats in 3 new colors. It’s also unveiling a new software product that looks pretty cool. I’m still worried about the hardware innovation we can expect. Kevin and I also discuss Verizon’s new IoT network, leaked news of a new Wink hub and Kevin’s review of his Wink Relay light switch.
I interview Cory Reed, senior vice president of intelligent solutions at John Deere, to discover what connected car executives can learn from the company that pioneered a self-driving tractor. Reed and I also discuss how John Deere thinks about connectivity adding value to the business and how it prices connected products. Also, farmers are pretty sophisticated consumers of technology.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Cory Reed, senior vice president of intelligent solutions at John Deere Sponsor: Macadamian
Will LTE Cat M1 pose a threat to other IoT networks?
News from Nest
Kevin’s thoughts on the Wink Relay
How to think about building connected products from production to pricing
What John Deere can teach us about building autonomous cars
After Kevin and I hit the news, strap yourselves in for a primer on the pros and cons of different radios, protocols and even clouds for those designing a connected product. Chris Matthieu, VP of IoT Engineering at Citrix, and one of the creators of Citrix Octoblu, came on the show to offer his expertise. This is nerdy, but great for anyone who wants to understand some of the popular options out there for making a connected product, whether you are a developer, a product manager or just someone trying to keep up with the trends.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Chris Matthieu of Citrix Sponsor: Macadamian
Our guest is Utz Baldwin, the CEO of Plum, the maker of a Wi-Fi light pad. Smart home aficionados will appreciate the quality Wi-Fi light pad that accepts dimming and other commands, while nerds will be excited by the fact that this light switch runs Erlang and acts as a node for a distributed compute network in the home. Baldwin also is the former head of CEDIA, which means he gives a professional installer’s point of view on DIY smart home devices. You’ll enjoy this episode!
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Utz Baldwin, CEO of Plum Sponsors: Xively and ThingMonk
Thoughts on Philips’ new consumer medical device suite
Thoughts on UnderArmour’s products
Brita’s Amazon Dash water pitcher in the real world
The Amazon Echo is the gateway drug to the smart home for many folks. They start with Alexa and move to shopping for connected lights or outlets. So we brought Charlie Kindel, director of Alexa Smart Home at Amazon, on the show to discuss the Echo’s history, its future and what voice can and cannot do in the home. So turn off your Echo mics for this one because we couldn’t avoid saying “Alexa” for this show.
Are you curious about Wink? On June 11 it started selling its Relay switch, a light switch that contains a screen and two soft programmable switches for $99 each. Two cost $149 and also double as an intercom. So we talked to Nathan Smith, Wink’s co-founder and CTO, about what happened to bring Wink out back into the game and what to expect next.
Kevin Tofel and I also discussed another Wi-Fi light switch from Plum as part of a discussion on switches and a home without hubs. Before we got there we cover Amazon’s makeover of the Alexa App to highlight Skills, the new Dash buttons and an update on Wi-Fi. Just for fun, I covered my doorbell review that ran in the Wirecutter.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nathan Smith of Wink
Sponsor: Ayla Networks
This week is all about health and wearables, starting with Kevin Tofel discussing his frustration with fitness trackers that aren’t sharing everything. This ties into this week’s guest, Ernesto Ramirez, who just received a doctorate in public health and is an expert on how people and companies are using wearables. Ramirez and I spoke about fitness trackers’ accuracy, their utility and then moved on to questions about how employers might use them for good and ill. We also talk about Kevin’s issue of being able to transfer your data because you should own it.
Aside from the health and wearables chatter, I reviewed the Ilumi color-changing outdoor BR30, which was pretty great, but had one flaw, and brought on my father-in-law who was testing the Rachio sprinkler system in his yard (since I don’t have one). Both of these gadgets are great for summer! Kevin and I didn’t get to the Apple HomeKit news this week, but we will next, so enjoy this show and you’ll have something to look forward to in the next one.
Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Greg Allemann and Ernesto Ramirez
You’ll never believe why Kevin bought a Fitbit!
3 awesome things about the Ilumi and 1 bad one.
Never install a smart sprinkler without checking this one thing!
Check out how wearables are changing healthcare
This story about your boss and fitness trackers will terrify you!
Then we go to Rich Brown, who is the executive editor of CNET’s smart home and appliance coverage, to discuss how the news site set up a smart house in Louisville, Kentucky, the site’s favorite gadgets and how the Amazon Echo has democratized access to the smart home. The big theme of our conversation was compromise, as in, if you want a smart home you are going to have to make compromises.
Hosts: Ken Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham Guest: Rich Brown, Executive Editor, CNET
A smart home may be a wasteful home
Everyone is hopping into the Industrial Internet pool