Episode 180: Alexa and Google are the real smart home standards

This week we learn more details about Lenovo’s smart home line and talk about Amazon’s new Alexa API for sensors and motion detectors. We touch on a combined router/smart speaker that has Kevin feeling vindicated and talk about the challenges new business models such as Target’s Fetch program face. The Open Connectivity Foundation’s latest version of the IoTivity standard also gets a mention. Security woes are back on the show this week with hacked enterprise door locks and another IoT botnet. We also discuss Relayr’s acquisition by Munich Re and a partnership between Jabil and Tibco to offer a complete electronics board for embedded devices. We then take a call about a builder who wants to place an Interlogix alarm system in a new home, and how the DIY buyer may want to proceed on the IoT Podcast Listener Hotline.

We love Lenovo’s Smart Display, but how will we feel about its new smart bulb, plug and camera?

Our guest this week tackles the challenges of indoor location, explaining why it matters and why it’s so hard. Vikram Pavate is CEO of Locix, a newly launched startup that has been working on this problem for the last four years. Pavate talks about using indoor location in typical use cases such as inventory management, but also to take away some of the manual labor associated with the smart home. I can’t be the only one who hates hand labeling the rooms for every light bulb in the house.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vikram Pavate is CEO of Locix
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Amazon’s Alexa gets new skills and a bunch of devices
  • What makes an IoT standard?
  • Why Munich Re needs an IoT platform
  • Indoor location is hard but the context it provides is key

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 178: Facebook’s smart speaker and a new security startup

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I trying to figure out Facebook’s voice ambitions. We then explain how Google is using IoT data and AI to shave 40% in energy use in its data centers. This is the future. From there we talk about that future’s dark side with a survey on consumer fears, a security exploit of Wemo devices and an attack that could waste a lot of water. We then discuss news bits such as C3 working with Google Cloud, using Wi-Fi for airport security, my thoughts on the new FitBit Charge 3, the acquisition of the maker of the Vera hub and the acquisition of CE Pro. We also answer a question about tracking when your kids come in and out of the home.

This is how I picture myself in the FitBit Charge 3. Not stuck behind my computer screen.

Our guest this week is Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io, a company created to provide continued security for connected devices. Baker explains why Foundries.io exists, how it works and the company’s attempts to become the Red Hat of IoT security software. Unlike some of the recent IoT security platform efforts out there, Foundries.io isn’t linked directly to hardware. You’ll learn more on the show. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Why Facebook needs your voice
  • A new type of IoT attack changes how I think about risks
  • 50 ways to track your children
  • Foundries.io is taking open source security and turning it into a service

Episode 177: Defcon hacks and blockchain facts

We kick off this week’s show with an overview of the stories coming out of the Defcon security conference held this week in Las Vegas. Keeping security in mind, we talk about Amazon Web Services’ new cloud IoT security product, and Google’s lack of transparency around location data tracking. From there we move to Wi-Fi stories, covering the new Arris Wi-Fi Easy Mesh router and Samsung’s new SmartThings gear that uses Plume’s software for better Wi-Fi. In a section on digital assistants we get Kevin’s options on the new Samsung Galaxy Home speaker and talk about Microsoft’s Cortana collaborating with Amazon Alexa. On a related note, Kevin completes his review of the Lenovo Smart Display and I talk about my test of the Joule sous vide cooker. To wrap it up we answer a listener question about installing a connected wall switch to control his ceiling fan.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker doesn’t look like the competition.

Our guest this week is Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament who came on the show to discuss what blockchain can do for the internet of things. One big area we discussed was micropayments. Another was how Clift-Jennings realized that to create the business she envisioned, she was going to have to build some hardware. We also spent a lot of time thinking about building decentralized trust and where information theory meets economic theory. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Hacked Alexas and voting machines
  • Google needs to be transparent about user data
  • An update for SmartThings featuring Plume
  • Why Filament had to build a special chip for the blockchain
  • The parallels between information theory and economic theory as it relates to data

Episode 176: Why did Apple join the Thread Group?

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with our thoughts on the future of hearables before explaining why we think Apple joined the Thread Group and what it means for future HomeKit products. From there we talked about a new report suggesting that IoT will be a $520 billion industry by 2021 and how enterprise and industrial IoT has stalled. A reader tip led us to valuable security actions you can take with your connected devices from Make magazine and Kevin shares his thoughts on the new Anki robot.  We hit news from ARM, the feds, Control4 and Smarter before answering a listener question about IR in the smart home.

The new June oven is $499 for a limited amount of time. It will eventually retail for $599.

Our guest this week is Matt Van Horn, who is the CEO of June. This week June launched a second generation oven that is roughly a third of the price of the original. Van Horn shares how June made that possible, how the company is using data to improve the user experience and why he’s not going into meal delivery kits anytime soon. He also shares a recipe for S’mores. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Van Horn of June
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • We’re going to ditch screens for voices in our ears
  • Security tips for your Pis and IoT devices
  • Check out Bond for IR control
  • No knobs and scaled back sensors lower June’s price tag
  • Why June has 64 ways to cook bacon

Episode 175: GE slims down and Otis tries Alexa in elevators

This week on the show Kevin and I speculate what digital assets GE will sell and discuss the sad bankruptcy of French smart home company Sen.se. After hitting the sad news, we talked about the latest HomePod feature expected in iOS 12 and the fact that Apple didn’t say much about HomePod in its latest financial results call. We shared a new smart home device for dedicated DIYers from Machinon, discussed Control4’s new intercom function and Lenovo’s application for the FCC to test a smart bulb. Kevin shared his initial thoughts on Lenovo’s Smart Display for Google Assistant and a pro tip for anyone with a connected home. We share another ridiculous IoT idea for the week and answer a question about connecting Wyze, IFTTT and SmartThings to turn on a light.

Kevin’s 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display can play YouTube videos, Netflix and images from his Nest cameras. Image by K. Tofel.

This week’s guest is Chris Smith, vice president of service innovation at Otis Elevator Company. He talks about how Otis connects its elevators, the architecture, and most importantly what it learned in trying to use data to predict failures. In addition to his practical knowledge he also answers everyone’s big question: Does the door close button on an elevator actually work? Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Smith of Otis Elevator Company
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Is GE’s Predix for sale? And who would buy it?
  • Another smart home company bites the dust
  • The Lenovo Smart Display is really nice!
  • Predicting failure is a subtle art
  • Sure, let’s put Alexa in an elevator

 

Episode 174: How Wyze makes such a crazy, good camera for cheap

This week I was at Google’s cloud event in San Francisco while Kevin swapped out his video doorbells. We discuss Google’s news related to edge computing and several pieces of doorbell news before talking about a few recent articles that show how far the smart home has to come. Kevin talks about the first NB-IoT tracker for the U.S., a new Bluetooth security flaw, and how Google’s cloud differs from AWS in his experience connecting our voicemail hotline to the cloud. We also cover a surprise contender for the worst connected device seen this week and answer a question on Alexa and hubs that is probably pretty common.

This is the $20 Wyze camera.

This week’s guest is Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs, who came on to explain how the company can make a high-quality HD camera for between $20 and $30. The combo of a low price and a good camera obviously works. Wyze has sold more than 500,000 cameras so far! She also answers questions about security, privacy and the company’s recent integration with Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs
Sponsors: Afero and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • How Google’s IoT cloud stuff compares with Amazon’s and Microsoft’s
  • Neurotic people might not want smart home gear
  • The dumbest IoT product of the week
  • How does Wyze make a camera that costs 10X less than Nest’s?
  • Wyze has sold half a million IoT devices. That’s insane!

Episode 173: Nest CEO is out and Jacuzzi is in with the IoT

Nest’s CEO has been forced out, and GE and Microsoft create even deeper integrations for industrial IoT. Also this week, UPS creates a partnership with a startup to take on Amazon Key, and we discus the common question of if you should upgrade your Echo? There’s a lot of lock news, some connected car fundings (Zoox and Light) and an Alexa-enabled microwave that feels perfect for dorms or bachelors. Kevin also shares a secret to turn your Kindle FireHD tablet into an Echo Show and some news for those still hoping for a decent Android WearOS device. This week’s listener question is also about smart locks but for a very particular use case.

GE’s latest microwave costs $139 and can be controlled with Amazon’s Alexa. Image courtesy of GE Appliances.

Our guest this week is Mark Allen, vice president of IT at Jacuzzi, who discusses why and how Jacuzzi connected its premium line of hot tubs. Jacuzzi has connected 1,000 hot tubs so far and since it starting selling them in April, it has 500 of the connected tubs in consumers’ homes. Allen explains the tools Jacuzzi has used to get the hot tubs online and connected to dealers’ service operations. He also shares his thoughts about privacy rules and how connected devices will change Jacuzzi’s business. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Allen of Jacuzzi
Sponsors: Afero and Avnet

  • Why Microsoft and GE got a little closer
  • Lots of lock news from the home to the enterprise
  • Should you update your Echo?
  • Which platform did Jacuzzi choose to connect its tubs?
  • GDPR will affect your hot tub

Episode 172: The smart home goes public

This week’s show takes up last week’s news of Netgear’s Arlo division and Sonos filing for initial public offerings. Kevin and I share what we see in the filings and what it means for the smart home. We also discuss Amazon’s Prime Day deals and Google’s answering sale with Walmart,  before digging into this week’s other news.  There’s a bit about building IoT networks in space and LG CNS’ plans to launch a smart city platform. Kevin also found a fun project that tackles how to make your own indoor air quality monitor.  We close our segment by answering a listener question about garage door automation.

Me installing the Alexa-enabled faucet a few weeks ago.

This week’s guest helped build the new Alexa-enabled faucet from Delta Faucet and shares the process with us. Randy Schneider is a product electrical engineer at Delta Faucet, and discusses how the company decided on Alexa, why there’s no app and why the phrasing for asking Alexa to turn on a faucet is so awkward. You’ll learn a lot from this, and may even find yourself wanting to connect your own kitchen sink. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Randy Schneider is a product electrical engineer at Delta Faucet
Sponsors: Afero and Avnet

 

  • Amazon looms large in both planned smart home IPOs
  • Google and Walmart take on Prime Day with deals for Google gear
  • Want to make a DIY air quality monitor?
  • Why Delta decided voice would be good for the kitchen sink
  • What’s Crate and Barrel got to do with this?

Episode 171: Your smart home questions, answered!

This week Kevin and I decided to do something a bit unusual, turning our segment where we answer listener’s questions into the entire show. You guys have been sending a lot of interesting questions to the Schlage IoT Podcast Listener Hotline, and we hated to leave so many unanswered, so we combined a slow holiday news week with some Q&A. Remember, if you have a question, give us a call at 512.623.7424.

Kevin and I at CES in 2018 when we hunt for cool new stuff and ask manufacturers about your questions.

We tackle issues such as insurance discounts for smart home gear, local hubs and the best skills for Alexa in a classroom setting. We failed to find a perfect USB cable for someone, but did locate a smoke detector that will work with SmartThings for a Canadian listener. We also dug into details on several home hubs for listeners debating Home Assistant, Home Bridge, Open HAB, SmartThings and Wink. We hope you enjoy the show and keep those questions coming. Next week, we’ll be back to the usual format.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Control4 and Schlage

  • When will my insurer give me a discount on my smart home?
  • A question about smart locks
  • Which home hub is best for first timers?
  • These five Alexa skills are good for education