Episode 76: Tips and tricks for Apple’s HomeKit

Have you downloaded iOS 10 yet? If you have, and are wondering what to do with the Home app and your HomeKit home automation, then this show is for you. We brought on Adam Justice the head of ConnectSense, a home automation brand to discuss his experience with HomeKit so far (check out his video series).

This is screen from the Control Center pane. (Image courtesy of Apple).
This is screen from the Control Center pane. (Image courtesy of Apple).

Before we get to HomeKit, Kevin Tofel and I talk a bit about last week’s Apple announcement, review the second generation Kevo smart lock and the Philips Hue Motion sensor. We led with news of Amazon’s new Echo, some data-leaking sex toys and the Department of Justice creating a group to investigate the security impacts of connected cars. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Adam Justice CEO of ConnectSense
Sponsors: Macadamian

  • Amazon’s newest toy and DoJ investigates the IoT
  • Connected sex toys means private time isn’t so private
  • Review time!
  • The best feature on the Home app
  • Is HomeKit now ready for prime time?

Episode 74: More Nest distress and a primer on protocols

As IFA starts in Berlin, there’s a bunch of product news to cover, including a partnership between Sonos and Amazon, that will let you control your Sonos from the Amazon Echo … in 2017. But before we get to that, Kevin Tofel and I explore what it means that Nest’s developers are reportedly moving over to Google, specifically part of the Google Home team. We also cover Z-wave becoming a more open standard, which could lead to more Z-wave compatibility in products like the Amazon Echo or smart TVs.

Savant_03_Sonos

After Kevin and I hit the news, strap yourselves in for a primer on the pros and cons of different radios, protocols and even clouds for those designing a connected product. Chris Matthieu, VP of IoT Engineering at Citrix, and one of the creators of Citrix Octoblu, came on the show to offer his expertise. This is nerdy, but great for anyone who wants to understand some of the popular options out there for making a connected product, whether you are a developer, a product manager or just someone trying to keep up with the trends.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Matthieu of Citrix
Sponsor: Macadamian

  • The distress at Nest
  • Two great pieces of news
  • How do you pick a radio for a connected project?
  • A primer on protocols
  • Which cloud works for you?

Episode 69: Amazon opens up about the Echo

The Amazon Echo is the gateway drug to the smart home for many folks. They start with Alexa and move to shopping for connected lights or outlets. So we brought Charlie Kindel, director of Alexa Smart Home at Amazon, on the show to discuss the Echo’s history, its future and what voice can and cannot do in the home. So turn off your Echo mics for this one because we couldn’t avoid saying “Alexa” for this show.

The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.
The Amazon Echo in my kitchen.

Before we get to the Echo, Kevin and I discuss security challenges facing Osram light bulbs and security challenges from connected industries. We also explain why the Thread Group is teaming up with the OCF and what it means for developers. Finally, we discuss if companies should reimburse customers when their connected devices have outages or features are late.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charlie Kindel, director Alexa Home Services at Amazon
Sponsors: Xively and The Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Outages and security flaws abound
  • The Thread Group and Intel’s Open Connectivity Foundation get together
  • A modest proposal for connected devices
  • You can command August locks from your Amazon Echo
  • Charlie Kindel’s favorite Echo hacks (including one that works with Sonos)

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 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 53: How to prevent good devices from being killed

This week’s show deals with recurring themes such as whether or not you should trust the cloud, device lifespan, the Amazon Alexa platform and more lighting than a Times Square billboard. Our guest this week is Mike Pessina, the co-CEO of Lutron. He shares his recipes for great lighting (at the very end) and talks about the role of Lutron’s proprietary wireless protocol for lighting control in a world that is rapidly embracing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Before we learn about Lutron, Kevin Tofel and I discuss the news that Nest plans to shut down all Revolv smart home hub devices that are in the field, turning the $299 device into a hunk of metal and plastic scrap.

A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.
A Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (left) installed near the Osram Lightify wireless dimmer switch (right). A regular rocker switch is in the middle.

While Revolv sold fewer than 10,000 units, those who own one are upset. We came up with a few suggestions that might help other connected device companies avoid alienating their users in case of failure or a sale. On the brighter side, Amazon’s Alexa platform is gaining new smarts, with the Smart Home API now available to anyone. We also tell you how to control your TV with Alexa and review the Amazon Dot. This week you also get a second review, of the Osram Lightify dimmer switch, which renters and folks who aren’t keen on replacing their wired switches will like. And once again, we ask that you take our survey if you have a chance.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Michael Pessina, Co-CEO of Lutron

  • The Revolv fiasco is bad for the smart home.
  • Where did you put your Amazon Dot?
  • Get Alexa to turn on your TV with Yonomi.
  • Who should buy this $30 Osram dimmer switch?
  • What’s next for Lutron

Episode 48: Realtors ready for the smart home

We’ve talked about how whether you should take your connected devices with you when you move on previous shows, but on this week’s show Chad Curry, managing director at the center for Realtor Technology at the National Association of Realtors, takes things further. Much further. Curry discusses the future of MLS listings and how your next real estate transaction might end up with you receiving the gift of a smart hub. From there we discuss the future of home listings and what items will disappear from the home of the relatively near future. And for those who missed it, check out the work Curry’s team did on helping people who move deauthenticate their smart devices. Most of our listeners should probably bookmark this checklist.

The future MLS listing with smart home data--GIF provided by the National Association of Realtors.
The future MLS listing with smart home data–GIF provided by the National Association of Realtors.

Before we get to Curry, Kevin and I discuss the new Raspberry Pi with integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which people are saying is THE Pi for the internet of things, the new FitBit smart watch and price cuts at the Pebble Time. We also run through some of the features on the Sony Xperia agent prototype shown off at Mobile World Congress which reminded Kevin a lot of the Amazon Echo. And I finally remembered to tell y’all about the future of the new standards setting organization that formed two weeks ago with Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft and more. So listen up, and don’t worry, next week, Kevin and I will discuss the new Amazon Echo products.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chad Curry, managing director at the center for Realtor Technology at the National Association of Realtors

  • A new Raspberry Pi for the internet of things
  • Sony’s Amazon Echo prototype and watching the smartwatches
  • The AllJoyn engineers went to Intel and OCF is the result
  • Are you ready for connected drywall?
  • How MLS listings might change thanks to connected sensors

Episode 46: Barbie has a smart home and Sense gives your home computer vision

Andreas Gal, the CEO of Silk Labs has built what feels impossible. With the Sense hub he has created an artificially intelligent home hub that contains a camera, controls for other connected devices and a dedicated to privacy that means he can still offer services but still protect users from blanket surveillance. And the device is beautiful. Gal came on the show this week to talk about the Sense hub and why the world needs yet another connected camera and how he took his role as the former CTO of Mozilla and used that to inform the privacy features the camera offers. We also discussed how to implement AI models and learning on a device as opposed to in the cloud. Many of the challenges Gal has dealt with in his design are ones that hardware designers are thinking through as they implement their own AI or consider how to think about privacy in a world where the U.S. government has declared open season on stalking the Internet of Things.

The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. --Image courtesy of Silk.
The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. –Image courtesy of Silk.

And yes, Kevin Tofel and I discuss James Clapper’s comments before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee from last week in this episode, as well as a bunch of updates to some popular products. Some are good, such as the Wemo updates that boost reliability of the platform and Wink’s updates that bring lighting commands inside the home as opposed to between clouds. Some are frustrating, such as Philips Hue updating its Android app in a way that breaks it if users don’t want to share their location and photos. And some are just awesome, like the continued updates to Amazon’s Echo that include support for Spotify, Uber and the Ecobee3. And yes, Barbie has a smart home. So get set for your commute, your run or however you enjoy the show and have a listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andreas Gal, CEO of Silk Labs

  • Barbie’s smart home might rival yours
  • Amazon’s Echo gets better and updates gone crazy for Hue, Wemo and Wink
  • The Internet of things is a gift for spies
  • Meet the Sense home hub which uses computer vision to learn more about your home
  • Rethinking privacy for connected devices