Andrew Thomas wanted to build a better doorbell, but now he’s in the enviable position of pitching his wares to Comcast’s millions of subscribers, and is an Apple HomeKit partner. The Skybell co-founder joined my on this week’s podcast to discuss how to allocate time and resources as a hardware startup and also to talk about what it feels like to get a call from Cupertino about your device. For that, thoughts on the boom in connected devices and whether there is a bubble, listen to our guest segment.
But first Kevin Tofel and I share the news of NinjaBlocks’ demise and what happens when a connected hardware company goes out of business. We also discuss Samsung’s new chip family for the internet of things and introduce a new segment. We call it the 5-minute device review, and this week we start with the Myo armband, a $200, gesture-based controller you can buy on Amazon. And of course, Kevin shares his thoughts on the Apple Watch and its ability to control his new Philips Hue light bulbs.
Kevin and I both got what we wanted this week, with Kevin getting his Apple Watch about an hour before we recorded the show and Amazon adding support for If This Then That for the Echo speaker/personal assistant device. However both long-awaited dreams had a few caveats as we explored this week on the show, with Kevin discussing the learning curve of the Apple Watch and me laying out a big limitation with the Amazon Echo’s IFTTT triggers. You can’t really use it for controlling your smart home just yet.
We also had a fair bit of news this week. Comcast opened up its Xfinity Home platform to devices from some great startups such as Nest, August Locks, Rachio connected sprinklers, Skybell, Lutron and more. It was so exciting I sang a little ditty about the smart home going mainstream! Prepare yourself. With LIGHTFAIR International happening in New York this week, we also discussed lighting news from GE, plus WeMo working with the cheaper Cree connected LEDs and coming back to IFTTT. We didn’t have a guest this week because I need a little time to get my iTunes and editing house in order, but we should be back in top form next week, on iTunes and even with intro music!
The Apple Watch is out, and while Kevin Tofel didn’t wake up early enough to get one, I interview Mark Rolston, the co-founder and chief creative officer at Argo Design, who did, to see what he thinks of his. Rolston is designing the interface for the Peq smart home hub, and discussed how he’s thinking about designing home interfaces on the Apple Watch. We digressed to general design principles, but did focus on the home, voice control and what the Watch does badly. According to Rolston, the Watch is just like me in the mornings — it’s so desperate to fall back asleep it won’t stay awake long enough to deliver notifications.
However, aside from the Apple Watch and its design considerations, Kevin and I discussed Google’s mysterious FCC filings for a Bluetooth device, my first test of a Bluetooth light bulb system from Ilumi which didn’t blow my mind, but would blow my budget, and a bit more on the Amazon Echo’s future. I also get excited about the future of digital medicine with Scanadu raising $35 million and letting us know that next year we’ll be able to buy what is essentially a good chunk of Star Trek’s Tricorder device for $199. Listen up for all this and more.
Spring is in the air, so this week’s podcast celebrates with a preview of an upcoming connected garden product that looks pretty smart — the Edyn sensor and connected water valve system that will hit Home Depot shelves in May and is available for pre-orders. Kevin I discuss the solar-powered sensors, and although it’s iOS-only for the time being, there’s reportedly an Android app coming some time in the future. We also talk about my plans for nighttime bathroom lighting, an awesome beta app that uses the Android lock-screen to control your connected devices in the home called Reach and more.
This week’s guest focuses on the business benefits of adding connectivity to your products with guest Michael Simon, the CEO and chairman of LogMeIn, the maker of the Xively service. Xively provides the back end infrastructure for connected devices, and recently launched an upgrade that offered better compliance and rules associated with devices and data. Simon focused on why that matters, what types of businesses can easily take advantage of connected products to offer higher value services and what the evolution of a connected business looks like. At the very end he dives into the architecture of the Xively platform, which boasts an “MQTT-compliant” messaging layer the Xively team built as well as off-the-shelf MySQL and Cassandra databases. I was hoping for something a little more like a knowledge graph given the relationships it would have to track, but apparently that’s not under the hood.
So, listen up for some inspiration on the home front or for your business, and feel free to let me know what you think.
This week’s podcast we hit on my favorite topic. Lighting! First we start off in the home with Kevin Tofel and I discussing how I’m using the Amazon Echo to control my Hue lights and a WeMo connected lamp via the Amazon Echo. Then we chat with my guest this week, Willem Smitt, the vice president of marketing at Soraa, a lighting company whose customers include a variety of big name commercial clients. Soraa is pioneering the launch of Bluetooth connected lights, that launched on Tuesday via a partnership with Polish startup Seed Labs.
The ability to control your lights via your phone could offer consumers new opportunities in restaurants other commercial settings, but it also changes the nature of the services businesses can offer. Lights can store beacons or other sensors, so can become homes for sophisticated customer-information gathering tools and personalizations experiences. We discuss this on the show. So tune in to hear about the future of lighting, the Apple watch, a bit about June plans for HomeKit and the Apple TV and more.
Fans of the connected home got some exciting news when Amazon showed of its Dash Buttons, a simple, connected button that consumers could press to order a single products from the e-commerce giant. The idea is consumers would pop a Tide button by their washing machine, a Cottonelle button by their toilet and an Oil of Olay or Gillette Fusion button by their medicine cabinet, and as they run low, press the button to order more. It was an idea so simple that it seemed ridiculous and people wondered if it was an April Fool’s prank.
So Kevin Tofel and I discussed the Dash on this week’s show and you won’t believe why Kevin doesn’t like the idea. We also discuss the newly launched Hue Go wireless LED light, which I review ahead of its May or June launch. For $99.95 it’s a splurge, but if you like lights, I think it makes a nice gift. We kicked off the show with me sharing a segment that I recorded with Nightline, the ABC late-night news program. The show came to my home and hired a hacker to film a segment on smart homes and security. You can see the segment below:
The experience prompted me to ask this week’s guest Joshua Corman to come on the podcast to speak about his efforts with an organization called I am the Cavalry, a collective of hackers, researchers and activists trying to build a more secure connected future. We spent a lot of time discussing the group’s framework for connected cars, but it’s a framework that will translate well to other aspects of the internet of things. So get ready to feel very insecure (watch Corman’s TED talk to feel worse) and to learn a bit more about Kevin Tofel’s odd network habits.
Welcome to the inaugural Internet of Things Podcast with Stacey Higginbotham. It’s super exciting to be able to share the show with all of you, after these past few weeks of Gigaom closing its doors and us wondering about the fate of the show. This week my co-host Kevin Tofel and I have missed three weeks but didn’t miss a beat when it comes to reviewing the Staples Connect Home hub version 2, discussing the Apple Watch and Kevin’s earlier article on smart watches and their issues in general. In other news, look for more Kevin coverage at his new home on ZDnet.
After Kevin and I chat, I interviewed Brady Forrest, who is in charge of PCH’s Highway1 incubator on how to build hardware that won’t make consumers question why they bought it in the first place. Forrest, who has mentored startups such as Ringly and the company behind the Drop kitchen scale, has helped build companies whose products don’t suck. That’s why I asked him to join me for a chat. Listen in for some good advice and to hear me learn exactly how hard it is to develop hardware for the myriad platforms out there. I gained a new appreciation for the challenges companies are going through and learned something new. Listen up, and maybe if I get enough downloads, next week I’ll manage to get an intro and some music pulled together. Here’s hoping! In the meantime, listen below.