Episode 66: The smart home will make you love your insurance company

Insurance firms might be the savior of smart home technology. Because the price for many connected gadgets are so high, and consumers are uncertain if they are worth the investment, insurance discounts and programs are one way connected devices could find their way into a home. But they also could help the insurance companies totally transform their business. This week, we discuss the future of the smart home and insurance with Ryan Rist, the VP of Innovation at American Family Insurance.

Ryan Rist of American Family Insurance
Ryan Rist of American Family Insurance

Before we get to that, though Kevin and I talk about how manufacturers should kill connected devices using the end of EyeFi as our case study. Then we offer consumers some advice on how to kill their accounts for connected devices when they want to return them to stores or just leave them behind based off the experience a Redditor had with an Arlo camera from Netgear. And just for fun we also covered the Nest patent for a baby crib, the expansion of LoRa networks and my thoughts on the Arlo camera.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Ryan Rist, American Family Insurance
Sponsors: Ayla Networks and Wolf SSL

  • The end of EyeFi and how to kill a product.
  • Don’t return your connected device before doing this.
  • LoRa, LoRa everywhere!
  • Taking insurance from reactive reimbursement to proactive protection.
  • Will your insurer make an app for that?

Episode 65: All about Wink and Alexa’s new Skills

Are you curious about Wink? On June 11 it started selling its Relay switch, a light switch that contains a screen and two soft programmable switches for $99 each. Two cost $149 and also double as an intercom. So we talked to Nathan Smith, Wink’s co-founder and CTO, about what happened to bring Wink out back into the game and what to expect next.

The Relay switch from Wink.
The Relay switch from Wink.

Kevin Tofel and I also discussed another Wi-Fi light switch from Plum as part of a discussion on switches and a home without hubs. Before we got there we cover Amazon’s makeover of the Alexa App to highlight Skills, the new Dash buttons and an update on Wi-Fi. Just for fun, I covered my doorbell review that ran in the Wirecutter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nathan Smith of Wink
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

  • Alexa’s new skills
  • Here come new Wi-Fi light switches
  • Wi-Fi is getting better!
  • What belongs on a glanceable interface?
  • Some fun Wink robots for y’all

Episode 64: How a VC views the internet of things

Do you need money? Want to buy or sell an internet of things startup? Then this week’s interview is must-listen stuff. Matt Turck, of FirstMark Capital came on the show to give some advice to those seeking financing, discuss the overall funding landscape and try to pinpoint where the next big exits are going to come from. Why Turck? Because a few months ago he covered this who topic in amazing depth. So listen up to see what has changed!

Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.
Sproutling was one of the VC exits this year.

Before you listen to Turck, Kevin shares his karaoke picks, we dig into the upcoming Bluetooth 5.0 specification and lay out what we think Apple’s HomeKit and Home app mean for the industry. We also talk about Samsung’s plan to invest $1.2 billion into the internet of things, its cloud, and Elon Musk’s offer to buy SolarCity. It’s not that crazy, y’all!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Turck of FirstMark Capital
Sponsor: WolfSSL

  • Kevin’s karaoke nightmare (also the latest on Bluetooth)
  • Apple’s Home app is somewhat demoralizing
  • What Samsung needs in IoT
  • We’re in the second wave of IoT exits
  • Don’t quit your day job to rush to build a new product

Episode 63: Two summertime gadget reviews and wisdom on wearables

This week is all about health and wearables, starting with Kevin Tofel discussing his frustration with fitness trackers that aren’t sharing everything. This ties into this week’s guest, Ernesto Ramirez, who just received a doctorate in public health and is an expert on how people and companies are using wearables. Ramirez and I spoke about fitness trackers’ accuracy, their utility and then moved on to questions about how employers might use them for good and ill. We also talk about Kevin’s issue of being able to transfer your data because you should own it.

Kevin bought a Fitbit Charge.
Kevin bought a Fitbit Charge.

Aside from the health and wearables chatter, I reviewed the Ilumi color-changing outdoor BR30, which was pretty great, but had one flaw, and brought on my father-in-law who was testing the Rachio sprinkler system in his yard (since I don’t have one). Both of these gadgets are great for summer! Kevin and I didn’t get to the Apple HomeKit news this week, but we will next, so enjoy this show and you’ll have something to look forward to in the next one.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Greg Allemann and Ernesto Ramirez

  • You’ll never believe why Kevin bought a Fitbit!
  • 3 awesome things about the Ilumi and 1 bad one.
  • Never install a smart sprinkler without checking this one thing!
  • Check out how wearables are changing healthcare
  • This story about your boss and fitness trackers will terrify you!

Episode 62: Tony Fadell set to Away mode

This week we got to the big story of the last few days, Tony Fadell leaving Nest. We discuss what that means for any Nest buyers out there and what it says about selling connected device. And because Father’s Day is around the corner, we came up with three gift ideas for Dad. None of them relate to ties, golf or grilling. And for people who love lighting as much as I do, we found reports of white BR30 lights from Philips Hue, something I’ve been eagerly awaiting since the launch of the white, standard A19 bulbs.

The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.
The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.

Then we move to this week’s guest, Chris Penrose, the SVP of IoT at AT&T. He chatted with me about the carriers plans for building an IoT business beyond cars, and also talked about the opening of the latest AT&T innovation center devoted to medical devices. This AT&T Foundry is based in Houston, Texas and will tackle home health devices as well as challenges associated with connected hospitals. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Chris Penrose, SVP of IoT, AT&T

  • Next steps for Nest
  • 3 gift ideas for Dad
  • My dreams have come true
  • AT&T takes on medical devices
  • Why the last mile is now the last meter

Episode 61: Look inside Google Home and what’s up with Jawbone?

This week is all about chips and presence. First Kevin and I dig into the disclosure that the Google Home Device will have the same chip as the Chromecast, and we explain what that means. Then we dive into the Jawbone rumors and cover Atari’s plans for building IoT devices through a partnership with Sigfox. Finally, we ran across a presentation to add a wake up and receive technical spec to Wi-Fi, which was worth talking about since it will lower the power consumption of Wi-Fi connected “things”.

The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.
The Trackr Bravo trackers. Image courtesy of Trackr.

After the break, I interviewed Chris Herbert, the CEO of Trackr, a presence tag. Hebert’s vision involves making it easy to tell what room in your home something is, as opposed to just offering the address. But to do this, you’ll have to buy a $99 set of plugs that help offer fine-grained presence detection. It’s cheaper than Zuli, the other maker of presence detecting outlets, so I’ll probably give them a try when they come out later this summer. Please enjoy.

  • Bulk is better. What’s inside the Echo and Google Home?
  • Those Atari IoT devices may have a catch.
  • The Wirecutter reviews smart home hubs.
  • Taking Trackr from $70 to $30 dollars
  • The future of voice and instant gratification

Episode 60: Everyone takes on the Amazon Echo

Kevin is back from Google IO this week, and so of course, we discussed the Google Home product in detail. But since voice + a personal assistant is so hot right now, we also talked about the recent Apple rumors that said it was building its own Echo-like device and opening up Siri to developers. We then talked about Pebble’s new gear, how much power my devices are sucking and Samsung’s possible decision to use Tizen instead of Android Wear on its smart watches.

Google's proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.
Google’s proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.

In the spirit of Father’s Day and the start of summer, I spoke with Chris Klein the CEO of connected sprinkler maker Rachio, who talked about how a municipality could use connected sprinklers to control water usage, how to talk to your vocal users and what he learned selling Rachio in a Big Box retailer. You’ll also get my first impressions of the device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rachio CEO Chris Klein

  • Who will command your smart home?
  • Pebble pivots
  • An update on vampire power
  • How to take a connected device from the home to the city level
  • Hanging out in Home Depot is fun!

Episode 59: Chipmakers love the smart car

This week I was at the NXP Technology Forum interviewing the semiconductor company’s CEO Rick Clemmer about smart cities and smart cars. The most interesting fact he shared was that the BMW Series 7 cars have about $300 worth of silicon inside them. To compare the estimates on the cost of chips inside the Apple iPhone 6 come to roughly $120.

The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. --Image courtesy of BMW.
The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. –Image courtesy of BMW.

Kevin was at Google IO this week, so next week’s episode should be full of great insights, so Janko Roettgers from Variety was my cohost. He has just been to CES Asia, so we learned about the Amazon Echo of china called Ding Dong and the size of CES Asia. We also discussed new integrations for the Nest, the Amazon IoT Dash button and a then I was kicked out of the room where I was recording. So we didn’t get a chance to cover Google Home and the sound quality isn’t as great because I was live with a wobbly connection. I hope you will bear with it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Janko Roettgers
Guest: Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP

  • So many more things work with Nest!
  • Tips on the AWS IoT button
  • Meet the Amazon Echo of China
  • How a chip company thinks about the internet of things
  • Cramming chips in cities and cars

Episode 58: How to stop vampire power consumption

Since a quarter of residential energy use is consumed by gadgets that are “off”, Kevin and I discuss how to measure and cut back on that power consumption with a few connected devices. We also talk about Apple’s rumored Home app for HomeKit, the launch of OpenThread, the open source version of Nest’s Thread protocol and the new Almond router from Securifi. We also touch on HP Enterprises‘ hop into the internet of things and Hitachi’s new formal IoT group.

The Almond 3 router. --Image courtesy of Securifi.
The Almond 3 router. –Image courtesy of Securifi.

Then we go to Rich Brown, who is the executive editor of CNET’s smart home and appliance coverage, to discuss how the news site set up a smart house in Louisville, Kentucky, the site’s favorite gadgets and how the Amazon Echo has democratized access to the smart home. The big theme of our conversation was compromise, as in, if you want a smart home you are going to have to make compromises.

Hosts: Ken Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rich Brown, Executive Editor, CNET

  • A smart home may be a wasteful home
  • Deciphering OpenThread
  • Everyone is hopping into the Industrial Internet pool
  • CNET’s favorite smart home devices
  • The smart home isn’t a democracy

Episode 57: A deep dive into OpenHAB and some problem devices

We dove into the deep end of wearables this week discussing the dresses at this year’s Met Gala, where Kevin shared that Clare Danes’ princess fantasy gown took 30 battery packs to operate. It’s not all celebrity this week as Kevin and I dove into several devices that unfortunately didn’t all quite work as we expected. I reviewed the Pebblebee Stone, a bluetooth tracker and programmable button that was supposed to connect to If This Then That, but didn’t. Kevin talked about connecting his OnHub router to If This Then That, but also had some troubles. And once again we shared news of SmartThing’s troubles–this time with a security vulnerability. We ended with Microsoft’s acquisition of Solair and Oracle’s acquisition of Opower.

The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.
The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.

Then for the open source, DIY smart home junkies out there, I brought Kai Kreuzer, the founder of OpenHAB onto the show. He discussed the projects ambitions–let people connect all their stuff without worrying about handing over control to a vendor–and how he might commercialize the project. The conversation exposed how tough it is to get the ideals of the open source community to mesh with the reality of trying to connect your home. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Kai Kreuzer of OpenHAB

  • You must match your LEDs to your dress
  • Some bumps in the road for IFTTT, OnHub and the Pebblebee Stone
  • Rick Osterloh returns to Google and Kevin and I disagree
  • Want to build your own home hub?
  • Ease of use means totally different things to me and to Kai