Episode 206: Why your smart devices cost so much

This week Kevin and I start off the show with a discussion about Google’s new Coral board that provides machine learning at the edge. We then jump to sensor company Centralite’s bankruptcy filing in Alabama. We also discuss the death of Jibo and how the end of Lighthouse meant new patents for Apple. After covering all of that sad news we jump to new Alexa skills, why I want an Alexa Auto, and a new video doorbell from August Home. From there Kevin and I spend the rest of the show discussing the challenges associated with smart home hubs, the best home hubs and why you should delete your devices from your home hubs. We end by answering a listener question about connected car devices for teens.

The Centralite family of products.

Our guest this week is Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures and a former product manager at companies that include Square and Apple. She shares her experiences building connected devices, where companies tend to go wrong and what to look for in a manufacturing partner. She also explains why a device that costs $100 to make might end up costing $300 on the shelves at Best Buy. It’s a good conversation for anyone building or buying connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Why we need machine learning at the edge
  • Could the next Homepod have video?
  • Hubs are complicated even for experts
  • How to give your favorite device startups an extra chance to succeed
  • What to look for in your manufacturing partner

Episode 199: Check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT

We finish up our CES thoughts this week, although after living it, writing about it and talking about I’m not sure what’s been covered and where. We talk about Wi-Fi devices, Chamberlain working with Amazon’s Key program, and Kevin’s post-CES thoughts. We then turn to some security issues that are still plaguing companies grabbing and storing IoT data from Gemalto and Trend Micro. But avoid despair, IEEE has an idea to help improve security. In fun news, Lutron made an acquisition, Kevin’s excited about robots in his grocery store and there’s a new idea to protect your privacy from smart speakers. We also answer a listener question about tracking when someone comes home from school.

ABB makes robots and the software to work with them. Image courtesy of ABB.

Our guest this week is Guido Jouret, the chief digital officer from ABB. ABB makes everything from industrial robots to plastic zip ties in more than 290 factories around the world. Jouret explains Maslow’s hierarchy of IoT needs, or rather IoT development. From there we discuss the industrial IoT moonshot and new capital models enabled by usage-based pricing. What if pension firms end up owning big industrial assets while other companies merely pay per use? It turns capital expenditures into operating expenditures for manufacturers and lets investment firms own the capital equipment. Crazy. You’ll like this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guido Jouret, chief digital officer of ABB
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • CES was not the leap forward we wanted
  • Here’s our Instagram account
  • Amazon’s Key program just got a lot more compelling
  • There are five layers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT and most of us are only two layers up
  • How usage-based pricing of big equipment might change the assets pension funds hold

Episode 197: What to expect at CES and in 2019

This week’s show is all about the coming year. We start with Kevin and I discussing things we expect to see at CES next week as well as overall trends we think 2019 will bring to IoT and the smart home. They include everything from connected toilets to an increasing number of cellular providers for IoT. We also discuss smart speaker IQ tests, what’s up with Samsung’s Bixby and a new way to reduce power usage of sensors. We also talk about drone deliveries, Google’s Project Soli and a new IoT unicorn. For this week’s IoT Podcast Listener hotline, we revisit an answer from last week and answer a new question on how to get a Ring doorbell to work with Google Home.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker is MIA.

Our guest helps us kick off the new year with his thoughts on the industrial and enterprise IoT. Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital manages a fund dedicated to the industrial IoT. He explains why he thinks we’re about to enter a new phase of the internet of things where AI and cybersecurity will become far more important. His thesis is that the last five years of work building out connected machines and putting sensors in more places was building the “body” of the internet of things. And once that has been built, it’s time to focus on building the brain. For this, he’s turning to AI and cybersecurity startups. We talk about what those startups will look like and whether companies who haven’t yet built out a “body” should worry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Your bathroom is about to get seriously connected
  • Voice programming and MVNOs for IoT devices are top enterprise trends for 2019
  • Will Kevin beat last year’s CES walking goal?
  • The next five years of IoT are about a brain and an immune system
  • Is it too late for your company to digitally transform?

Episode 194: Is it time to address privacy in the Constitution?

This week I’m joined by Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and my former boss. We kick off the show with a discussion of the New York Times’ investigation into app location sharing and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before Congress. Both topics led to a debate about device privacy and what we should do about the lack of privacy and security in IoT.  We also talked about the need for two-factor authentication on certain connected devices and covered new Z-wave chips, IoT backpacks for bees and the fact that Essential is still around. We also took on some edge computing with Pivotal launching serverless options for users. Finally, we answered a question about adding presence detection to your car. 

Look at this bee-autiful connected sensor backpack. Image courtesy of Vikram Iyer, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington.

We didn’t just cover privacy in the news segment. The guest this week also details what happens when data gets out of control. In this case, we’re talking about smart cities. I had Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation on to discuss why we need to hit pause before adding too much technology to cities. She suggests that we invite more people to participate in the process and tells us how to be better citizens as our governments try to bring in more technology. To be clear, she’s not against technology, but she is concerned that we don’t often have important conversations about how technology can lead to surveillance and how it can impact vulnerable citizens. 

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
Guest: Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Is changing the Constitution the key to privacy regulation?
  • Alexa needs two-factor authentication
  • Serverless and the edge are new computing paradigms
  • It’s time to hit pause on the connected city
  • Tech is not the answer to every government problem

Episode 179: IFA news and bringing extreme wattage to your kitchen

This week in Germany, the IFA trade show is the place to be. Unfortunately Kevin and I aren’t there, but we share a lot of the news that came out from the first half of the show. This includes smart speakers at the high end and lower end, crazy connected kitchen tech and a HomeKit enabled air quality monitor. From there we discuss $50 million in funding for Puls and Kevin’s experience with the Philips Hue Outdoor Lights. We also talk about some disappointing experiences with various updates of our products, from latency to services breaking. After that we answer a question about what to give a student leaving for the dorms. I will confess that I forgot to recommend a Tile, but we did recommend this (affiliate link).

The Joule sous vide cooker packs a lot of power and plenty of connected smarts. But no physical interface. Image courtesy of ChefSteps.

Our guest this week is Chris Young, the CEO of ChefSteps, which operates a recipe site and makes the Joule sous vide cooker. We talk about why the Joule doesn’t have any external controls, and what happens if the company goes bust, as well as why ChefSteps doesn’t plan to license Joule’s tech to other appliance companies. He also shares a recipe that will change your perception of beef. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Young, CEO of ChefSteps
Sponsor: Afero

  • All about IFA
  • When updates go wrong, or take too long
  • Gifts for college-bound kids for $50 or less
  • What is sous vide?
  • Putting the power of a nuclear reactor into your stock pot

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 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?

Episode 111: All about the Amazon Show and costs of IoT compute

Who’s buying an Echo Show? This week Kevin and I share our thoughts on Amazon’s latest device, which adds a screen to the Echo, video calling and more. We also talk about Apple buying Beddit presumably for sleep data, a new smart home product with a DARPA and Playground Studios pedigree and the industrial internet. Plus, we throw in a discussion on the economics of serverless computing as part of the launch of a new product from Yonomi.

The Echo Show has a 7-inch screen. And Alexa!

We have three guests this week. The number of our guests is three. (Props to all who read that as a Monty Python sketch.) We’re getting three different perspectives on the Echo Show, with the first from Mike Wolf, a smart home analyst and editor of The Spoon who discusses it as a kitchen device. Then we discuss design and the way we will interact with the smart home with Mark Rolston of argo design, and we finish with Jonathan Frankel, the CEO of Nucleus, which just saw its device replicated in Amazon’s new Echo Show. You’ll learn a bunch!

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Mike Wolf of The Spoon; Mark Rolston of argo design; and Jonathan Frankel of Nucleus
Sponsor: Aeris

  • Will Kevin buy the Amazon Show?
  • Startup Lighthouse has a new take on personal assistants
  • Apple buys sleep-sensing tech
  • Amazon’s Echo Show was “inevitable”
  • Amazon’s Echo Show was also a betrayal

Episode 103: Sue your way to a safer IoT

This week Intel said it would spend another small fortune buying a chip company, Kevin discusses uses for LIDAR outside of connected cars and the Ring doorbell is embroiled in a security SNAFU. At SXSW this week, I learned about the IoT Design Manifesto and have some thoughts. Kevin discusses a new security flaw that deals with the physical side of cyber-physical systems and my SmartThings and Lutron integration still doesn’t work.

The ring connected doorbell.

But the best part of this week’s show is my interview with Phoebe Wilkinson, a partner with Hogan Lovells. Wilkinson helps manufacturers defend themselves against class action lawsuits. We discuss what aspects of connected products might be ripe for a future lawsuit and how companies can defend themselves. We also talk about how warranties are going to have to change for connected products. We may also see a revamp of how data opt-ins are handled. Listen up. You’ll learn something.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phoebe Wilkinson, a partner with Hogan Lovells
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and WolfSSL

  • LIDAR is so hot right now
  • Security should be so hot right now
  • News from B8ta, Evrythng and applying for Alexa developer credits
  • The most likely IoT class action is …
  • Let’s rethink device warranties for IoT