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?

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 161: Amazon’s Alexa Blueprints, home robots and more

This week’s show finds me in Sweden pondering Alexa Blueprints, the Amazon Echo for kids and Amazon’s smart robot plans. Kevin and I talked about all of that, before showcasing new research for IoT out of Carnegie Mellon, the University of Washington, and Princeton. Two senators proposed a social media data sharing law that appears to ignore the IoT, Comcast reported growth in home automation subscribers, a few gadgets got new features and there’s a new version of a popular IoT chip that can handle mesh Wi-Fi. Kevin changes his smart home platform and we advise someone on a connected kitchen renovation.

The IKEA Tradfri lights have expanded to include colors and wall-mounted flat lights.

Our guests this week are from IKEA with Rebecca Töreman, who heads up the IKEA Tradfri products and Lena Pripp-Kovac, Sustainability Manager IKEA of Sweden. Töreman gives us a Tradfri update after a year on the market, while Pripp-Kovac offers valuable tips on how to design connected products with sustainability in mind. It left me questioning how I think about many connected devices. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Rebecca Töreman and Lena Pripp-Kovac of IKEA
Sponsors: Forgerock and Twilio

  • Alexa for kids and the home robot debate reignites
  • Smart walls, power-saving cameras and IoT security
  • Kevin is dumping SmartThings for Wink
  • IKEA’s next smart home area could be health
  • How to design a sustainable connected product

Episode 155: New toys, Pi Day and insect-tracking LIDAR

We have reached the purported end of Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm, so Kevin and I finally shared our thoughts on the topic. After that we discussed a murder that was solved using evidence from connected devices, Google Routines and Strava’s privacy clean up. We used the SmartThings outage to discuss whether or not we need a hub in the smart home before hitting an array of new devices, including the new Raspberry Pi Model B+, Ecobee’s new light switch, and a new security hub/camera from Abode. Kevin’s Nest Cam solved a crime as well and we answered a listener question about taking the first steps to learn about the IoT.

The Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ has more computing power and still costs $35.

Our guest this week was Tobias Meene, the global head of digital farming at Bayer AG, who shared a bunch of insights about bringing sensors, machine learning and intelligence to farmers. He discussed how the firm has managed to remotely identify insects by their wingbeats using LIDAR, several startups working with Bayer to make farming more productive and how Bayer sees IoT remaking its business and business model. Plus, Bayer has built a cool app to identify weeds and problems called Xarvio. I couldn’t try the app because it’s not compatible with my devices, but I would love to. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tobias Menne of Bayer
Sponsors: Samsung Artik and IoT World

  • Chip consolidation ain’t over yet
  • Google Routines is a step forward, but not far enough
  • This week’s crop of new devices is strong
  • The problem with using LIDAR to track insects
  • How Bayer finds customers who want to buy into its new business plan

Episode 151: Thoughts on Apple’s HomePod and chip news galore

The big news this week is in machine learning chips. ARM announced a new architecture for machine learning called Trillium, and said it would license an object detection design and one that could handle some basic training at the edge. Amazon, too, is building a chip for its edge devices and machine learning will certainly have a part to play. Meanwhile, we cover Intel’s smart glasses, Kevin’s opinions on the Apple HomePod and Google’s new IoT hire. We also answer a listener’s question about using different profiles with the Amazon Echo.

An Intel NUC board beloved by the Industrial IoT.

Our guest this week is Alexandros Marinos, who is the CEO of Resin.io. He discusses the popular hardware platforms for prototyping, the industrial IoT and an up-and-coming platform that is breaking out because of interest in machine learning. He also talks about the similarities and differences between servers and connected devices as it relates to building software to manage them. We learn that servers are like cattle, not like pets.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandros Marinos CEO of Resin.io
Sponsor: Ring

  • ARM and Amazon bet on machine learning at the edge
  • Why Intel’s smart glasses are actually a smart gadget
  • They’ve fragmented Siri and Kevin isn’t excited by the HomePod
  • The top three IoT hardware development platforms are …
  • Servers used to be like pets. Now they are like cattle. And IoT is a jungle.

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 126: Sonos wants to brick your speakers

The breaking story as we recorded this show was Sonos updating its Terms of Service to prepare for the Amazon Echo integration. As part of this update, the connected speaker maker confirmed that customers who did not accede to the new terms of service would see their devices stop working in the future. This didn’t go over well, but this is a complicated issue. Kevin and I break many of these issues down. We also talk about Google’s Assistant plans, hacked robots, what has happened to the Nvidia Spot, the potential sale of AT&T’s Digital Life service, and answer a reader question.

Accept Sonos’ new terms of service or else.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Sibley innovation hub. If you want to hear about applying some DIY tech to healthcare, Dawson has stories for you. He describes how his team built a separate network to experiment with Amazon Dash buttons, Amazon Echoes, Sonoses, Philips Hue lights and even using Slack as a way to track patient calls. He’s looking for feedback, so if you have ideas, want to talk security or even hospital IT, you can find him at www.debughealthcare.com or @nickdawson on Twitter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, executive director, Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • Are companies selling services or devices?
  • What ever happened to the Nvidia Spot?
  • We advise a reader to check out Blue Iris camera software for Alexa and SmartThings integrations
  • This hospital built a rogue network for IoT experimentation
  • How to use Slack and Amazon Dash Buttons to get quick data

Episode 121: Everything you need to know about Bluetooth Mesh

Bluetooth mesh is finally here y’all and we dig in deep to the technology in this episode. First off, Kevin and I discuss what this means for other mesh network technologies and some basic specs. Kevin and I then turn to the topic of IoT security vulnerabilities, the return of Google Glass, an Alexa-powered alarm clock and news of an IoT platform funding. We also complain about the lack of data on device security after taking inspiration from an FBI warning for smart toys. A few news bits on different low power wide area networks rounds out the news portion of the show.

Google Glass
Google Glass goes commercial. Image courtesy of Google.

After that we’re back to Bluetooth mesh with Ken Kolderup, the VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup dives deep to explain what Bluetooth mesh is for and how the SIG handled Bluetooth’s power constraints. The solution is a managed flood network that requires developers to use different “mesh models” for different devices. It gets really complicated, really quickly. This show has it all: crazy gadgets and nerdy tech. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing at the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: Schlage and Affiliated Monitoring

  • What is Bluetooth Mesh?
  • Glass is back, y’all
  • To secure your kids’ data, accomplish these impossible things
  • Sensors and lighting are mesh’s first environments
  • Learn all about Bluetooth’s managed flood network

Episode 117: Intel’s new IoT strategy has fewer things

Intel plans to discontinue several of its boards designed for makers. Kevin and I discuss what this means for Intel’s IoT strategy. We also talk about ARM’s extension of a program that eliminates license fees to design custom chips, Ring’s new doorbell and Hue’s new lights. We then circle back on Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase and the availability of the Dash wand, while Kevin shares his favorite new Alexa Skill.

Too hot for the IoT?

Next up is blockchain, specifically how it could build sustainable IoT business models and even help generate wealth in the subscription economy. My guest Paul Brody is a principal at EY and a blockchain expert. You’ll learn a new way of thinking about subscriptions, fractional ownership and why blockchain and IoT are like chocolate and peanut butter. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Brody from EY
Sponsors: TE Connectivity and Affiliated Monitoring

  • What happens to the Intel Quark?
  • I replaced my doorbell transformer to handle the connected options
  • What do you think about Amazon’s interest in food?
  • Using blockchain to share cars or even solar farms
  • Open source software and blockchain can cut consumer IoT operating costs