This week on the show, Kevin and I start off talking about some of the Roku gear I’ve been playing with for the last week. We discuss the gear and the subscription plans and how they compare with what else is on the market, before moving on to talk about Latch laying off 59% of its workforce in preparation for what I suspect will be a pivot from access control to a services business aimed at folks living in luxury apartments. After that, we share some tales of civil disobedience from San Francisco, where activists are placing traffic cones on top of self-driving vehicles to halt them in their tracks. Then we devote the rest of our time to novel sensors and platforms for sensing, starting with research showing that seven days of smart watch data can predict Parkinson’s, and research on a wearable for people with epilepsy that can predict seizures. We also cover funding for Pano, a camera platform that uses computer vision to “see” fires in remote locations, and a sensing platform called Nami raising $10 million in Series A financing. There’s also a new sensing device called the Nano Computer from Nodle that combines a few sensors, an Arm M-0 microcontroller, a Bluetooth radio, and a printed battery in a device that should cost about $3 per device at shipments above 100,000 devices. Finally, we answer a listener question about the Aqara FP2 presence sensor and security.
Our guest this week is Alex Capecelatro, CEO and co-founder of Josh.ai, who returns to the show to talk about Josh.ai adding generative AI to the company’s voice platform. We get a lesson in Josh.ai’s history and why it decided to build a voice interface for the home even after Apple, Amazon, and other big companies launched their own products. Then he explains how Josh.ai added ChatGPT to its platform and the steps it took to help customers understand the limitations of the service. We talk about why it’s useful and how customers are using it so far. Since every company in the smart home space is contemplating the role generative AI will play in their products, this is an essential listen.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Alex Capecelatro, CEO and co-founder of Josh.ai Sponsors: Blynk and Particle
Who is the Roku smart home for?
Latch cleaned house before Jamie Siminoff takes over
The most innovative element in the IoT is new sensing technology
What Josh.ai learned when adding generative AI to its voice platform
Practical thoughts on privacy for voice assistants and generative AI
Our guest this week is Stefan Witkamp, the commercial director at Athom, the company behind the Homey smart home hub. Witkamp explains Honey’s privacy-focused smart home hub and the plan to launch the latest generation of the Homey Pro hub at CES. This will be the first time Homey is available in the U.S. after six and half years of availability for the original Homey hub in Europe. Homey Pro has all of the radios that a smart home needs, including Thread and IR. For listeners who care about privacy, Witkamp explains how Athom created a business model that allows the company to respect user privacy. This means the $399 pro version of the hub is more expensive than other options on the market, and the cheaper version comes with a monthly subscription. We talk about what it costs to keep a home hub running and how investors can push a company to choose alternative business models. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Stefan Witkamp, Commercial Director for Homey Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Wait a minute before updating to Matter
Will a Roomba story get everyone to care more about device privacy?
The smart home meets insurance in this acquisition
Our guest this week is Cathy Pearl, a conversation designer at Google and the author of the O’Reilly book Designing Voice User Interfaces. We discuss the history of voice interactions and what changed to make Amazon’s Alexa such an innovation. We also discuss how voice can help make technology less complicated, what type of conversations people want from a voice interface and how voice also drives accessibility. Then we discuss the ethics of creating voice companions for lonely people and a time that Pearl was stuck at an airport talking to a chatbot for 20 minutes. We then end after I ask if voice is going anywhere after the upheavals in Amazon’s Alexa business. Her answer will not surprise you. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable, a precision agriculture company. He’s on the show to talk about Arable’s $40 million in funding, and what Arable has learned in the last six years of operation. We also talk about the myth of using data to create “perfect predictions” and what sorts of predictions are more realistic when discussing how farm sensors can help farmers increase yields. Then we discuss why farmers are looking beyond simple ROI measurements when adopting technology and how sensor platforms such as Arable’s can help make their investments in sustainability or traceability pay off. We end with a list of hardware that Ethington would like to see for future field sensors. These include better connectivity options and sensors that provide more options for detecting different wavelengths of light. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable Sponsors: InfluxData and Intent
Helium is a legit business, but is it worth $1.2 billion?
The Air Tag is a tool for good or evil
How Ring and Google decide what videos to share with police
The future of precision farming goes far beyond greater yields
Sensors with different spectral ranges will let us better monitor plant health
Our guest this week is Fabio Violante, the CEO of Arduino. Arduino raised €30 million ($32 million) this week as it seeks to add software and hardware to meet the needs of enterprise and industrial product designers. We discuss why Arduino is branching out from the DIY market, and how it differentiates itself from other computing platforms such as the Raspberry Pi or Nvidia’s Jetson Nano. Violante also shares his observations about the state of the market and the popularity of certain connectivity options, protocols and cloud platforms. It’s a good show.
Our guest this week is Aaron Emigh, CEO of Brilliant, who is on the show to discuss Brilliant’s plan to sell its smart home control system to DIYers, builders, and apartment owners. Brilliant makes a smart home control system that’s packed into a light switch with the lighting control, a screen, cameras, and microphones. Emigh shares why Brilliant exists and how it’s trying to meet the market’s need for smart home controls that are easier for the mainstream to work with. We also discuss business models, Matter, and the end of Insteon for an interview that covers a lot of the big issues associated with the smart home today.
Our guest this week is Alicia Asin, the co-founder and CEO of Libelium, which this week launched its own cloud service. She is on the show to talk about Libelium’s shift from making hardware sensors for the IoT to building a complete IoT platform that includes devices, connectivity, and the cloud. She also shares her perspective on the changes in the marketplace over the last decade and then in the last two years with the pandemic. Finally, she discusses her future plans for Libelium, which include several acquisitions in the coming 24 months as Libelium adds consulting services that require industry expertise. She talks about what verticals make sense and more in this interview. Stay tuned!
Our guest this week is Karen Lightman, the executive director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s on the show to talk about the passage of the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill by Congress. We talk about the impact this will have on smart cities and specific policy recommendations to ensure we get wide-reaching equitable broadband access. Because you can’t have a smart city or even the internet of things without the internet. She also shares a bit about the backlash that the smart cities movement experiences as citizens grew concerned about their privacy and the rise of surveillance states, and talks about her hopes that companies will do more to build that trust. Myself, I think that’s going to take government action, but we’ll see. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Jered Dean, who is a co-founder and CTO of Luci, a startup making a smart addition for power wheelchairs. First, Dean explains why power wheelchairs are so dangerous and why he created Luci. Then we dive into other challenges of building specialized millimeter-wave radar sensors for the device and specialized ultrasonic sensors and how challenging it is to combine those sensors and cameras into one view of the world. We also talk about why Dean added integrations to connect Luci with health monitoring platforms and digital assistants. And finally, we talk about what it could mean if Luci shared data about what it “sees” with smart city or mapping platforms. I really had fun with this one.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Jered Dean, co-founder and CTO of Luci Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon
Wyze shares the details of its near-death experience
Silicon Labs has new radios, a new security option and software for a unified smart home
JFrog’s Upswift buy is good news for the IoT
Why this startup had to build its own sensors to see the world
How smart cities could help people using smarter wheelchairs
We start this week’s show with a look at a new surveillance law in Australia that seemingly obliterates a lot of protections around how law enforcement officials can access data and what they can do with it. We also talk about a survey conducted in the U.S. that shows how willing many Americans are to share their data in exchange for cheaper insurance. From there we cover new fundings for Brilliant, Wirepas, and Carbon Robotics. For those eager for an update on Helium’s 5G plans, the Freedom Fi hotspots will hit the market on Sept. 28. We also have updates on new products and features from the maker of Philips Hue devices, Spotify, Google, and Amazon Alexa. We end with a question from David about how to avoid the problems associated with adding new devices or hubs to his smart home network.
Our guest this week is Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes, a company that leases single-family homes. He’s on the show to discuss how Invitation Homes plans to add smart devices to its portfolio of 80,000 homes and to talk about the challenges of managing that many devices. We discuss the future of predictive maintenance across the portfolio, the savings the company has already achieved, and plans for new features such as video doorbells. We also talk about the perceived longevity for different device types in the smart home. And of course, we talk about how the company handles privacy. It’s a fun interview.