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 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 154: Google and Amazon fight and we are the losers

The tech titans are feuding again, and this time it means you can no longer buy Google’s Nest gear on Amazon’s online store. Kevin and I dissect the fight and speculate where it could lead. We also hit on funding for Ecobee, Alexa’s creepy laugh, and I ponder buying Delta’s pricey new Alexa-enabled faucet. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Raven dashboard camera, a new security camera standards effort and smart dorm rooms at Arizona State University. I talk about a new Wi-Fi feature that’s on the long-term horizon, and we answer a user question about lights and Google Home.

This week’s guest shares exclusive details of Allegion’s new, $50 million venture capital fund aimed at the safety and security startups combining tech and hardware. Rob Martens, futurist and president of Allegion Ventures, comes on the show to talk about where he wants to invest, how he sees consumer IoT and what it means that Amazon is getting deeper into the smart home sector. Allegion, through Schlage, is a sponsor of the podcast. Hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Martens of Allegion Ventures
Sponsors: Samsung Artik and Yonomi

  • What comes next in Google and amazon’s fight?
  • You really need a capacitive touch faucet (with Alexa)
  • Qualcomm’s betting on a new skill for Wi-Fi
  • Why Allegion just created a $50 million venture fund
  • Places enterprise and industrial IoT could use a hand

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

Episode 152: Hot new sensors and Google’s latest deal

Every week we talk about Alexa, and this week’s story is about Amazon showing Alexa off at the annual Toy Fair in New York City. I went there three years ago to explore tech in toys and didn’t find much. It seems that things haven’t changed much. The Alexa implementations aren’t that exciting. We also talked about letting Amazon invest in your startup, awesome new sensors and Google’s plan to buy Xively. Plus we cover new features and a camera from Wyze, Google’s retina scans to predict heart attacks, and the best ways to get Alexa into the car. We also answer a question about a mixed Google and Apple smart home.

The Nucleus video conferencing device. Amazon invested in the maker, and then put out a competing product.

The guest this week is Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock. She talks about the multiple personas we have and how to tie that back to the internet of things in a way that’s scalable and doesn’t require a user to have dozens of passwords. She introduces the User Managed Access standard as a way for people to control access to their many many things and talks about the complexities that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations will mean for data and identity management. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock
Sponsors: Ring and IoT World

 

Episode 149: Here’s how the GDPR will change IoT

We kick off the podcast this week with a discussion of the unintended costs of combining user data, namely the story that Strava had unintentionally outed clandestine U.S. military bases around the world with the publication of its user heat map. Kevin Tofel and I then test text delivery from the Amazon Echo and talk about new features and numbers on the big voice platforms. After that we touch on a PTC tie up with Microsoft Azure and the rise of the industrial IoT at the World Economic Forum. We also answer a reader question on how you know if you’ve been hacked.

A close up of the Strava heatmap.

This week’s guest also discusses the Strava news as part of a broader discussion on the new regulations on data privacy in the EU. The General Data Protection Regulation rules come into effect on May 25 of this year and will have an effect on tech companies, data brokers and consumers — even if you aren’t in the EU. Chiara Rustici is an independent analyst covering privacy and GDPR, and she goes into depth on what it means, how it may be enforced and the questions better data privacy poses for innovation. You’ll want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chiara Rustici
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Will this be the wake up call the U.S. needs to secure data?
  • No ads on Alexa, but you can text
  • Meet Marvis, an Alexa for diagnosing network woes
  • GDPR makes data privacy a human right
  • Let’s use analytics to protect privacy instead of pierce it

Episode 148: IoT’s nuclear winter

The Apple HomePod goes on sale this week and Kevin is getting one for the show. We’re not sure if you should yet. We discuss that, and our respective Google Home experiments in this week’s show. We also cover Ring raising money at a big valuation, layoffs in consumer IoT, and trouble at SigFox and other low power wide area networks. Kevin also bought a hearable, Comcast reported its number of security and home automation customers and Bluetooth rescue buttons have flaws. Plus, we answer a question about wired alarms from one of our listeners.

An image of Turck’s latest IoT market map.

This week’s guest is Matt Turck, managing director at First Mark Capital. Every two years, Turck amazes us with his map of all the IoT startups. This year, he came on the show to talk about where the industry is, what he’s looking to invest in and the end of the first phase of the IoT hype. Listen to the overview and then go check out his in-depth blog post and market map.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Turck, First Mark Capital
Sponsors: PointCentral and CBT Nuggets

  • I would wait on HomePod unless you’re all in on Apple Music
  • Consumer IoT is a wasteland, and then there’s Ring
  • Wired alarm? Try Konnected
  • The age of experimentation is over
  • Does your toaster need a bank account?