Episode 188: How to design a better smart home

Smart home hubs are dying, DIY will become increasingly niche and smart companies are prepping for this. For example, Honeywell’s smart home spin out Resideo went public this week with an eye to removing complexity from smart homes. Meanwhile, Calix unveiled a gateway device and a service to make it easier for ISPs to deliver the smart home. In other failed IoT efforts, Kevin and I talk about the fall of beacons and point out what might take its place. Google’s new deal with iRobot comes up, and then we segue into Microsoft’s plans for a smart office followed by some of the more recent security breaches. We end with a low-power AI chip and by answering a listener’s question about a Wi-Fi motion sensor to work with his LIFX bulbs.

Roomba i7 robots will share mapping information with Google if users agree.

Our guest this week has written a new book on the smart home. We welcome Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, who is an industrial designer and author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life. We talk about more than a century of smarter homes, how the term has changed and why today’s efforts are not succeeding. She also asks us to question our current design methodologies for digital assistants and explains what might replace them. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • To normalize smart homes, DIY will die
  • Google’s getting home mapping data from robotic vacuums
  • Google’s Home Hubs compromised? How to think about risks.
  • We’ve been pitched the smart home for more than a century
  • Digital assistants should be helpers, not servants

Episode 187: It’s time to take privacy seriously

We’re nearing the end of 2018, which is as good a time as any to relaunch the smart glasses concept. We discuss the new new Focals glasses, tie them in with Qualcomm’s new chips for Alexa-based ear buds and then tackle the Google Home Hub. From there we cover Amazon’s face recognition software, Tim Cook’s statements on privacy and use GM and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs as a case study to explain why privacy is so important. After that, we talk about a new device to detect falls, a resource article for those dealing with domestic violence in smart homes and a new chip company using a novel form of energy harvesting. We conclude the news segment by answering a listener question about issues with Apple’s iOS 12 update making it difficult for some IoT devices.

The new Focals glasses cost $999 and have limited functionality. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Hugo Fiennes, the CEO of Electric Imp, who shares how a connected product made by a company that no longer exists can still operate and get security updates. For fans of the Quirky egg minder this is great news. We also talk about the rush of new IoT platforms that have cellular connectivity and why they are so popular now. We end with a fun workplace IoT project involving Slack, some code and connected speakers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Hugo Fiennes, CEO of Electric Imp
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • New AR smart glasses test the market for connected eyewear … again
  • Privacy will be the defining issue of the IoT
  • Walabot is designed to detect falls
  • How the Quirky Egg Minder works even after the company that made it failed
  • Can cellular take over the IoT?

Episode 185: Google’s news and smart kitchens

This week Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts from the Google event, including a lot of information on the new Google Home Hub. Kevin talks about what it means for Google and the smart home race between Amazon, Apple and now Facebook. Yes, we discuss the Facebook Portal as well. Also the latest software updates from both Amazon and Google on the respective digital assistant apps. We finish the first segment of the show with GE’s new connected light bulbs designed for the Google ecosystem.

The Google Home Hub comes out just in time to show off Google’s new Home app.

We had too much news to have a guest this week, so we continue the show with my tips from the Smart Kitchen Summit this week. I checked out an update from the June oven as well as a bunch of new screens on cooktops, range hoods and refrigerators. Plus, I tried out the Rotimatic flatbread-making robot and it’s expensive but good. We talk about cybersecurity, privacy and whether or not we are ready for the responsibilities associated with the internet of things. We close with an answer to a listener question about wireless doorbells and security cameras.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Which Google hub is right for you?
  • This is the year of getting the smart home ready for normals
  • Facebook gets in your face
  • How many screens does a kitchen need?
  • What about a roti-making robot?

 

Episode 184: How to remake the Internet for IoT

This week Kevin and I start out discussing The Wi-Fi Alliance’s new branding for the wireless standard and why you don’t need to rush in to buy Wi-Fi 6 gear. We then turn to space, specifically, Iridium and Amazon’s decision to create an IoT network that uses satellites to deliver signals around the world where cellular doesn’t reach. California passed an IoT security law and Kevin talks about his high hopes for bringing IBM’s Watson into his smart home setup. We then ask why we’re not using NFC on door locks, talk about a thermostat acquisition, GE’s woes and Kevin shares his ideas for what else you can do with motion sensors. This week’s listener question involves a keg, a freezer and a request for electricity monitoring.

Lux Products makes the Kono thermostat. It was just purchased by Johnson Controls.

We continue with the space theme with this week’s guest Matthew Prince, who is the cofounder and CEO of Cloudflare, discussing a future version of the internet that would even handle the rigors of space travel. We talk about building an internet that is cheaper, distributed and not beholden to Google, Amazon and Facebook. We also talk about Cloudflare’s Workers edge computing platform, cheaper bandwidth and more. It’s a show that will make you feel smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, who is the co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsor: Cognizant and Auklet

  • What’s up with Wi-Fi’s new branding?
  • The internet is going to space thanks to Amazon and Iridium
  • Four ways to use your open/close sensors
  • How the Bandwidth Alliance could save you money
  • Cloudflare updated its faster edge computing platform hosted around the globe

Episode 183: Amazon’s news bonanza explained

Last week Amazon released a ridiculous amount of news that we’ve covered in detail, but Kevin and I talk it out and draw attention to some of the things we thought were relevant. We stay in the Seattle area to cover the Microsoft news out this week on new Azure products and Cortana’s new enterprise skills. We also talk about the new Withings watch, August’s module for Yale locks, and HomeKit support for Rachio sprinklers. Our hotline question this week is a listener’s challenge with kids and his freezer.

Amazon launched a $60 Microwave with Alexa inside as well as a $25 smart plug.

This week’s guest is Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy to discuss his company’s digital transformation. He walks listeners through the process of creating a group to handle the technical demands of building products around data and analytics, and then talks about how to communicate with vendors and business units. It’s a detailed look at this utility’s two-year process to get a grip on the potential inherent in the internet of things. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Alexa listens for broken glass and whispers
  • Microsoft embraces digital twins
  • So many ways to track a freezer’s status
  • Workshopping your way to an IoT future
  • How Entergy has seen a 12x ROI with IoT

Episode 182: Trump’s tariffs are bad for IoT

We’re as excited as you guys to hear about Amazon’s upcoming devices, but we don’t devote too much time to them this week. Instead, we focus on the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit that Amazon unveiled and the alleged new Google Home hub. I also share my experience with the Amazon version of the Geek Squad before we move to IoT for utilities and a new insurance package that comes equipped with some connected sensors. We round it out with new platforms! Yay platforms. First up is Sprint’s new Curiosity Platform that offers a few things enterprises will care about. Blackberry launched Spark, a security service for connected devices. After that, we answer a question from a listener about connecting their apartment building’s door buzzer to the internet. We found something, but it is not cheap.

The Array Smart lock uses Wi-Fi and has solar panels.

Our guest this week is Kim Kelley, CEO of Hampton Products, which makes the new Array-branded smart lock. We discuss the lock but spend most of our time on the topic of tariffs. Kelley explains his company’s history of manufacturing in China, and what Trump’s new tariffs will mean for his business. He also shares some considerations for any company trying to create a physical product that connects to the internet. It’s not easy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kim Kelley, CEO of Hampton Products
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Your kids’ toys will soon have a new relationship with Alexa
  • Google’s planned home hub is pretty limited
  • Want some insurance with your IoT?
  • What happens to consumer devices under new tariffs
  • Connected products can take a long time to build

Episode 181: Are you ready for IoT to be a $520B business?

A lot of people are getting a smart speaker for the holidays. That’s one of the takeaways from a recent survey by Adobe that Kevin and I talk about this week. We follow that up with the new Sonos integration with IFTTT before covering a $6.7 billion semiconductor merger. Also on the chip side, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for smart watches and why I think it’s worth noting. On the security side, we cover a new security chip for Google IoT core, more botnets and a new security bill that awaits the signature of California’s governor. We update some older stories, cover IKEA’s possible smart blinds and talk about my experience with the new Brilliant Switch. We end the news segment of the show answering a question about programming lights to change color in response to the weather.

Adobe surveyed 1,000 consumers about smart speakers.

Our guest this week is Ann Bosche, a partner with Bain & Company. She discusses how IoT will become a $520 billion business by 2021 and which companies will get a piece of that pie. She also explains how vendors need to step up if we want to see more IoT pilots become integral parts of a business. Her suggestions and advice are practical and worth hearing. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ann Bosche who is a partner with Bain & Company
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • What weird things do you ask your smart speaker?
  • Renesas’ big bid for Integrated Device Technology
  • Is IKEA making smart blinds?
  • What companies will win in IoT?
  • To be good at IoT companies must focus

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 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