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 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


CES 2018 was about more than voice

CES is full of stories if you know where to look. This year we had to look beyond companies putting Alexa in everything from toilets to toothbrushes. If you did, you could find out all kinds of fascinating things, such as the big opportunities in the enterprise internet of things or what Comcast is doing with its purchase of Stringify. While roaming the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo, I asked people what they were excited about, what they were looking for and what they think the future might hold.

Once again, we bring you the less obvious side of CES.

The results are in this podcast, with interviews with Alex Hawkinson, CEO of SmartThings; Nate Williams, an EIR at Kleiner Perkins; a CEO who sold his camera startup to Ooma, and many more. I also share my favorite device from CES, which is not exactly something you can buy at Best Buy. But if we’re lucky, we could soon see it in something from Amazon. I hope you enjoy. If you do, thank the Open Connectivity Foundation which sponsored the entire episode, and gave an update on that standard effort.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: There are a lot
Sponsor: Open Connectivity Foundation

  • Comcast explains what’s next for Strinigfy
  • Alexa Hawkinson on Samsung’s plans for SmartThings
  • Ben Nader of Butterfleye on how to pick a buyer
  • Nate Williams on enterprise tech
  • Willy Pell on how to architect machine learning at the edge

Episode 145: The block-less blockchain

This week Kevin and I talked about the death of an expensive smart lock, Amazon buying a security company, and spent a lot of time wondering what the heck is going on with Google’s IoT cloud platform. We also wondered what the ad strategy for voice UIs will be given the news that Amazon is talking to consumer product brands about advertisements. Our news wrap-up includes voice computing from Roku, Arrow buying eInfochips, and the Intel CPU flaw that shouldn’t affect edge devices too much. We also answer a listener question on which smart speaker to buy if you don’t have a smart phone.

The Otto lock will likely never ship after the company shut its doors.

And for those tired of cryptocurrencies, we bring you block-less blockchains for the internet of things from Computes, a new startup. Computes founder, and former IoT Podcast guest Chris Matthieu, discusses why IoT needs decentralized computing and why a new type of blockchain makes the most sense. We dig into Computes, blockchain and more in a somewhat geeky interview. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Matthieu of Computes
Sponsors: Lux Products and CBT Nuggets

  • Why 2018 is the year of cheap smart home tech
  • What should a voice ad sound like?
  • Arrow goes from distributor to IoT integrator with latest buy
  • Why IoT needs decentralized compute
  • What the heck is a block-less block chain?
  • When it comes to smart speakers sans smartphone ownership, which do you buy?

Episode 143: The IoT dystopia episode

This week’s episode starts out with a pretty grim perspective, with Kevin Tofel and I discussing what the end of net neutrality means for the internet of things. We then talk about facial recognition technology in the U.S. and in China. We try  to lighten the mood with discussion of the IOTA blockchain for the internet of things, a $99 doorbell, the reviews of the Amazon Echo Spot, and new skills for Wink. We also discuss data on IoT device consumption. This week, we answer a listener question about why someone might want a hub for his or her smart home.

Blink offers a $99 video doorbell to go with its lines of battery-powered cameras.

In keeping with our dystopian worldview, the guest this week is Janice Tsai from Mozilla who discusses privacy for IoT and Mozilla’s Holiday Buyers guide. Janice  and I discuss what risks connected devices pose, the things consumers should look for and what she’d like to see companies do to protect user privacy. The show wasn’t quite what I imagined for right before the holiday, but maybe it’s a good way to head into the new year, ready to face the good and the bad that connected tech can bring.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Janice Tsai, senior HCI research scientist, Mozilla
Sponsors: ADT and FSG

  • What does face recognition at scale mean?
  • Check out what blockchain can offer IoT
  • Welcome to price pressure in the smart home
  • This rubber duck needs your location
  • What consumers need to know about device privacy

Episode 140: How IoT will change war

This week we kick off the show with a bit about voice such as Google getting better at understanding your commands, the ability to talk to Waze and notifications coming to the Amazon Echo. We also touch on China’s plans to create standards for the smart home, including a preference for NB-IoT over Wi-Fi. Weather reporting gets more accurate without sensors and Kevin and I discuss the end of two smart light bulb startups. Finally, I offer a pro tip for the holidays and we answer a listener question about WeMo and HomeKit.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

After all the news, things get a bit grim as I discuss the future of battle with Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He’s part of a team that won a research grant from the U.S. Army Research Lab to figure out how to bring the internet of things to the battlefield. Our discussion ranges from technical elements to the ethics of having machines kill people. It will make you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Sponsors: Spark Cognition and ADT

  • Google Home gets a great new feature
  • China’s setting some standards for the smart home
  • Goodbye Emberlight and so long Stack Lights
  • What can Facebook teach us about programming sensors?
  • Will machines kill in the war of the future?

Episode 137: Is Nest breaking Thread?

This week’s show has flying cars and lawsuits. What more can anyone really ask for? Kevin and I kick off the show discussing Waymo’s autonomous minivans, Uber’s plan for helicars, and the injunction that ADT won against Ring. There are plenty of other bits of security news that span the smart home all the way to a new survey full of dumb things industrial shops do related to security. Finally, Congress is trying again with an IoT security bill. This week also had a huge chip deal, bad news for Logitech device owners and an insightful question/comment related to the Amazon Echo on the IoT Hotline.

One of the Notion sensors that now works with Nest.

Our guest this week is Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group, who tried hard to convince me that this week’s news out of the wireless standard organization wasn’t bad. Thread is implementing an official certification and something called “Thread Ready” which is like some kind of royal bastard. It won’t have all of the features of Thread and certified Thread gear won’t recognize it. I’m worried it will break the standard, but Erickson explains what it means. You’re gonna want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Why minivans are good autonomous vehicles
  • There is no such thing as an airgapped network
  • Can we please get an expiration date for devices?
  • Did Nest just break the Thread protocol?
  • We’ll see tens of Thread devices at CES next year.

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 133: August’s new doorbell and Vitamix blends with Bluetooth

Both Dell and Salesforce made big announcements about their internet of things plans this week, so Kevin and I try to break that down for people. We then discussed Amazon trying to deliver things to the trunk of your car, Google Home going too far in recording conversations and updates to hardware for autonomous cars. We also review the latest August lock and doorbell hardware and answer a listener question from Sally about linking her Sonos with her August locks for some musical automation.

This Vitamix blender has Bluetooth and an app.

I was at the Smart Kitchen Summit this week, and ran into Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, which just launched a connected blender. I had a few moments to ask Ciepiel how Vitamix was thinking about bringing its blenders into the 21st century and why. He explained how to think about technology in a product designed to be an heirloom and what it means for the company’s operations to support a connected device. We also talk about sharing data across connected products and how technology changes blenders’ capabilities. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • Dell and Salesforce are adapting to the IoT
  • Cheaper LIDAR and smarter cars are coming
  • August locks are good but the doorbell made me angry
  • Why use Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi in a connected blender
  • Software can let you count calories even more granularly

Have a question? Leave a voicemail on the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and we might answer it on the show!

Episode 128: The coolest fridges at IFA and how to build a connected product

This week launched our new hotline feature with a comment and question from you guys. Keep them coming! Before we got to the Q&A, Kevin and I discussed news from IFA, Europe’s largest appliance show. There are smart fridges, roaming fridges, washing machines and yes, speakers. We also discussed a Cat-M1 network in Africa, noting that it has an unusual property. Because it’s a day ending in Y we also had a security breach to discuss. We ended with a user experience adventure I had with my WeMo dimmer switch.

It’s a Big A** Fan!

Want to build a connected product? Then listen to Landon Borders of Big A** Fans talk about his company’s experience building a high-end connected ceiling fan. It’s a look at the beginnings of the internet of things and also shows off lessons every product manager should heed when thinking about building a connected product portfolio. He offers thoughts about working with HomeKit, Alexa and Google as well as his thoughts on manufacturing and customer service. He also drops a few surprising stats. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Landon Borders, VP of connected products at Big A** Fans
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Roaming fridges and what makes a smart speaker?
  • Greg has a question about Homeseer
  • Only half of Big A** Fans customers use the connected features
  • Thoughts on Thread
  • There are the platforms that matter in the smart home