Episode 241: How a smarter edge can make schools safer

This week on the show, Kevin and I started with a discussion of reports of how smart speakers can receive remote commands from a hacker with a laser. We then shifted gears to talk about company research showing how much data your smart homes are sending and a brand new network product from Firewalla. Cortana’s pivot to productivity gets a mention, as does Kevin’s take on Google buying Fitbit. From there we reviewed the Twinklys smart lights, talked about new Ecobee features, smart apartment deals and the open-sourcing of Google’s Titan chip. We then answer a listener question about smart garage door opener alternatives for Chamberlain’s MyQ product.

The new Firewalla security device is now also a router. Image courtesy of Firewalla.

Our guest this week is Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion. We start off talking about smart edge capabilities that could be used to make schools, offices and other spaces safer. Then we discuss how smart home device manufacturers have changed their goals when trying to create partnerships. Before, the focus might be on marketing on one-off features, but manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated. Find out what’s new, and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion.
Sponsors: Legrand and Afero

  • Using frickin’ lasers to hack Alexa
  • What do your devices do while you are sleeping?
  • Why Amazon should have purchased Fitbit
  • Stopping tailgaters at college requires smarts at the edge
  • Privacy is becoming a point of negotiation in the gadget world

Episode 240: Wave goodbye to Wink?

This week Kevin and I lamented about the future state of Wink. Its status is almost dead. We also discussed Apple’s renewed interest in the smart home, Google’s rumored interest in Fitbit and Microsoft’s certain interest in improving its credentials for edge IoT. We also talked about security vulnerabilities enabled by smart lights, why you shouldn’t connect a phone to your rental car, and Wi-Fi getting a long-distance boost for the IoT. Particle raised $40 million, Google Home gets a new interface, Alexa can now add dimming to routines, Tile talks to Google Assistant, and a new smart button from IKEA hit the FCC. We also answer a listener question about smart pools.

What the heck is up with Wink? We still don’t know.

This week’s guest is Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG, who came on the show to discuss why incumbent businesses have an advantage in the internet of things. We discuss how existing businesses can take advantage of their data and expertise to offer services that startups just can’t. We also talk about when to partner up with startups and tech firms, and how that can make your businesses even more successful. In the coming era of competing and cooperating, businesses will have to figure this out. Enjoy and Happy Halloween.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • What to buy if Wink dies
  • What Google should do with Fitbit
  • Microsoft adds  some excellent features to it’s IoT products
  • What big businesses have that startups don’t
  • How to make money on digital twins

 

Episode 239: Tuya, toilets and Twinklys

This week Kevin and I start with an update on Tuya full of a variety of news the company announced at a conference held this week in Shenzen, China. From there we discuss two updates with the maker of Philips Hue light bulbs that means you won’t need a hub with SmartThings or Google Home devices. On the Google front, we chat about builders ditching Nest, missing Google Actions, a new hack, and an updated machine learning board. Nvidia hits our radar this week with machine learning at the edge, as does Shine’s smart toilet device. Kevin shares his review of the Nest Mini and we answer a listener’s question about smart holiday lights.

The Shine Bathroom Assistant cleans and detects leaks. Image courtesy of Shine.

After all that, join our guest Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast for a discussion about the role science fiction writers play in shaping our understanding of technology, We talk about the role fiction should have in setting tech policy, the different types of sci-fi and where stories should help guide our understanding of tech.  It’s a deep discussion that ends with a few book recommendations. I hope y’all enjoy it.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • Tuya’s rapid rise as an IoT platform
  • Nvidia’s edge news was big for telcos and some IIoT
  • Here’s a smart take on the smart toilet
  • My sci-fi may not be your sci-fi
  • What can science fiction writers teach us about IoT?

Update on 10/24/2019: In the podcast, we mistakenly noted that the new SmartThings integration with Philips Hue bulbs doesn’t require a hub. Because the SmartThings Hub doesn’t support Bluetooth, a Philips Hue bridge is still required.

 

 

Episode 238: Google’s smart home vision explained

This week Kevin and I discuss the aftermath of the big Google event, covering the new devices, the focus on ambient computing, and changes to the Nest subscription and Works with Assistant programs. From there we cover a new smart lock backed by Lennar Homes and Walmart, a new light bulb from LIFX and more security exploits. We hit on some industrial and enterprise news with an overview of Hitachi’s recent conference. Finally, we answer a listener question about what to include when selling a smart home.

The Level Home smart lock hides the electronics inside the door and deadbolt. Image courtesy of Level Home.

Our guest this week is Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa, a company that has created a tracking device for mail, a mobile network operator, and a way to plug sensor data easily into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. We spend most of the time talking about the creation of the ParceLive service which provides subscribers with a postcard-sized device that customers drop into packages before they mail them. The device tracks the package and has several sensors affixed to it that can track temperature, humidity and more.  We talk about creating a sustainable company, the future of Wi-Fi in a 5G world and the engineering challenges associated with building the ParceLive product.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa
SponsorsNutanix and HiveMQ

  • Google’s taking its digital assistant beyond the smartphone
  • There are a lot of failed smart locks
  • Let’s talk about data lakes!
  • Why 5G will make Wi-Fi obsolete
  • How to build a sustainable tracking device

Episode 237: ARM’s big move and the future of food

In this week’s episode, we start off with speculation about wearables and why we might put the internet of things into clothing. From there we speculate on whether IoT is the new asbestos.  I did this show from ARM’s annual tech conference, where I tried to explain some of the big news from the show, such as ARM opening up its instruction set and the creation of a new automotive consortium. From there we cover the new Tile sticker format, the new Linksys security feature that uses wireless signals instead of a camera, and more fallout from Ring’s marketing agreements with municipal police departments. We also talk about Google’s new streaming music feature, a semiconductor deal in the industrial IoT and a bad security flaw in older D-Link routers. We then answer a listener’s question about what tech features she should include while building a new home.

Innit provides the backend tech and data for Mars brands on Google Lens. Image courtesy of Innit.

Our guest this week is Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit, a company trying to build a back end operating system for food. The company has products that serve consumer packaged good brands, it’s embedded in appliances and also offers apps for consumers.  Brown and I spend most of our time talking about how the rise of Amazon, and technology more broadly, will affect the way consumers choose what to eat and where they buy their food. We also talk about how to make the idea of food as medicine more palatable for people. It’s a quick segment, but it may make you excited about the future of food.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit
Sponsors: Nutanix and HiveMQ

  • Could healthcare drive the adoption of smart clothing?
  • We need a building safety code for connected devices
  • ARM’s instruction set news could drive a lot more innovation
  • Alexa, let’s make a lasagna
  • Will you keep buying name brand foods in a decade?

Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

Episode 232: How secure is your favorite smart home device?

This week’s show has good news for smart device buyers concerned about security. We discuss a new research effort called Your Things that tracks the security of popular smart home devices. We also talk about a new Z-wave hub from Ezlo Innovations, a DIY voice assistant from Picovoice, and rumors about Apple’s new AR glasses and smart tracker. In bummer news, a popular maker board has a vulnerability that the manufacturer has patched. From there we move on to quick news from Amazon, August, and Android. Then we close by answering a question about how to track tools that you may want to lend out to friends.

Yale introduced new locks for the European market at IFA with August software inside.

Our guests this week are Gaye Soykök, who is head of emerging technologies at financial firm Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart, CEO at DevicePilot. The two have come up with this idea of creating a minimum viable ecosystem for testing connected services. The idea is that most companies can’t do everything needed to pull a good connected service together, so they must create an ecosystem. We talk about how to make that happen, what to look for in partners, and how it ultimately will affect the consumer. It’s a meaty topic.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Gaye Soykök, Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart,  DevicePilot
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • A scorecard from Georgia Tech and UNC-Chapel Hill grades the security of your devices
  • Stacey is about to build her own voice assistant device
  • A few Apple rumors to tide us over until next week
  • Why firms in the IoT need to consider a minimum viable ecosystem
  • How will consumers fare if such collaborative approaches pan out?

 

Episode 229: Check out this new location tech for IoT

This week Kevin and I continue to follow the never-ending saga of companies who sent people’s voice utterances to contractors without disclosure and pile on with more disconcerting news about Amazon’s facial recognition service getting the ability to detect fear. From there we discuss partnerships (LIFX and Brilliant, LG and Lumi); breakups (Microsoft and Johnson Controls, TP Link’s Kasa and HomeKit); and things that aren’t working (Google and Wink). We sprinkle in some Defcon news about acoustic attacks and hacked telephones before finishing with a study about power consumption on your voice-controlled TVs. We then answer a question about automating a bathroom exhaust fan.

Brilliant’s smart lights now work with LIFX.

Our guest this week is Adam Smith, director of marketing at LitePoint, a company that makes wireless test equipment. He came on the show to discuss the reasons LightPoint joined the FiRa Consortium, while also giving a primer on how the location-finding and the security features work. After that, we discuss how he decides which wireless tech to bet on and which ones he’s most excited about today. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Adam Smith, director of marketing at LitePoint
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • Overt surveillance and covert manipulation, coming to a phone near you
  • Take ups and breakups in the smart home
  • Huawei has a new OS to replace Android on its devices
  • What the heck is FiRa and how does it work?
  • Using time of flight to secure a wireless link

 

Episode 227: Resideo’s smart home strategy explained

We kick off this week’s show with a new smart bed from Tempur-Pedic before immediately disagreeing about Google’s use of gesture control in the upcoming Pixel 4. From there we talk about Amazon’s Ring business and what makes us most uncomfortable about its dealings with police. Also uncomfortable is our chat about the FTC’s decision to revisit the rules about advertising to children in the wake of voice tech and user-generated content. Unsurprisingly, Apple also hires contractors to listen to your voice utterances, there’s a new security vulnerability and we discover which tech companies people distrust the most when it comes to IoT devices. For the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about making a ceiling fan smart.

The Pixel 4 could turn gestures into reality in more devices.

Our guest this week is Mike Nefkens, the CEO of Resideo, who came on the show to explain why Resideo has purchased three companies in the last few months. He also breaks down Resideo’s plan for the smart home and talks about a plan to create something akin to a warranty service that will help monitor water, electricity, HVAC, and gas lines in the home. This vision relies on professionals, and while there’s a place for DIY, Nefkins doesn’t think an amalgamation of off-the-shelf gadgets will replace a professional service using data to anticipate a home’s needs. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Mike Nefkens, the CEO of Resideo,
Sponsor: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • This bed is the future of big-ticket home items
  • Kevin and I fight over Google’s gesture tech
  • How should the FTC regulate kids and tech in today’s world?
  • Which companies might Resideo buy next?
  • Resideo’s future smart home is a monitored home

 

Episode 226: Google’s Nest exec isn’t into smart homes

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing how Google’s head of IoT isn’t a believer in the smart home. Except he is. He just calls it something else, and we explain his rationale for doing so. We also explain why I am so excited about Microsoft’s new contracts for sharing data and why Tile just scored $45 million in funding. From there we wonder if Google’s machine learning-based approach to recognizing electricity use in appliances is cool, who would buy the OmniFob smart keychain, and why Wyze is building a scale. Then we move to news from Huawei, Abode going deeper with Google Assistant, Adobe’s voice study and LG adding HomeKit to new TVs. Kevin shares his impressions of the Firewalla device, and then we answer a listener question about bring smart bulbs outside and finding wireless switches that work. It must be summer, based on these outdoor inquiries.

The OmniFob can replace your car keys, your house keys and control your smart home.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful, a newly launched startup building apps for smart home devices. Kraftful is a company at YCombinator that is working with big brands to make the apps for connected devices work better. She explains what features mainstream consumers want, why big companies aren’t building these apps themselves and why her business isn’t a feature of a larger tech stack. It’s a good intro to a new company.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Call it intuitive, smart or helpful, just make it happen
  • Microsoft’s contracts serve a burgeoning need for enterprises
  • Firewalla makes a big impression
  • Why do so many smart device apps suck?
  • Can Kraftful turn app development into a scalable business?