Episode 165: How Sears plans to use IoT

I was at the Parks Connections event that covers the smart home this week, so I share a few thoughts on what’s holding back adoption and how to think about using AI to create a smart home. From there, Kevin talks about the new meeting function offered by Alexa and we add nuance to the debate over Amazon selling facial recognition software to police. We then dig into some additional doubts about the new Wi-Fi EasyMesh standard, cover Comcast expanding the places it offers new Wi-Fi pods, discuss funding for a smart light switch company and new Arduino boards. For the more industrial and maker minded, we talk about Ayla adding Google Cloud as a hosting option and Kevin shares how we put our IoT hotline into the cloud. Finally, we answer a question about getting different bulbs to work together before switching to our guest.

A panel on smart home user interfaces. Photo by S. Higginbotham.

This week’s guest is Mitch Bowling, the CEO of Sears Home Services, who gives me the answer to what Sears plans to do with its acquisition of Wally sensor business back in 2015. I have been wondering what happened to Wally inside Sears for years. He also discusses how Sears can use IoT to make appliance repair better and the plans to add smart home installation services. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Mitch Bowling, CEO of Sears Home Services
Sponsors: MachineQ and Bosch

  • Device interoperability is a huge challenge for the smart home
  • The fuss over computer vision is just beginning
  • What can Sears Home Services do with IoT?
  • The smart appliances are coming!
  • The installer will see you now

Episode 163: Everything IoT from Microsoft Build and Google I/O

This week was a big one in the tech ecosystem with Microsoft and Google both hosting their big developer conferences. Microsoft’s featured a lot more IoT. Google shared a few updates for its Google Home and, prior to the show, made its Android Things operating system available. In Alexa news, Microsoft showed off its integration between Cortana and Amazon’s digital assistant, and Amazon added in-skill payments to Alexa. Ring has a new app, Fibaro has a new button, Netgear has a new update, Wyze has a new camera, Intel Capital has a new partner,  and we share a new report on camera security. I also share my experience with the Nest Hello Doorbell and the Nest Yale lock before we answer a question about moving music from room to room using the Amazon Echo.

The Fibaro HomeKit compatible button is $60.

Our guest this week is Microsoft’s head of IoT Sam George. He’s been on the show before, but this time we run down the big news on edge computing from Microsoft Build and discuss how a company can avoid messing up their business transformation. It’s a fun show no matter what you care about.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sam George, head of Microsoft’s IoT platform
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • Google’s turning the Home into a hub
  • How much is your hacked camera feed worth?
  • Thoughts on the new Nest gear
  • Why Microsoft’s edge strategy is open source
  • How to out of pilot purgatory for enterprise IoT

Episode 162: Smart walls and dumb homes

This week Kevin and I discuss Amazon’s big security install reveal and how it made us feel. Plus, a smart home executive leaves Amazon and Facebook’s rumored smart speaker makes another appearance. China is taking surveillance even further and Kevin and I share our thoughts on the state of the smart home, and failed projects. In our news tidbits we cover a possible new SmartThings hub, a boost for ZigBee in the UK, the sale of Withings/Nokia Health, the death of a smart luggage company, and reviews for Google Assistant apps. We also answer a reader question about a connected door lock camera.

The Smart Wall research was conducted at Disney Research. The first step is building a grid of conductive materials. Later, researchers painted over it.

This week’s guest Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, share his creation of a smarter wall, one that responds to touch and also recognizes electronic activity in the room. We discuss the smart wall, digital paper, how to bring context to the connected home or office, and why you may want to give up on privacy. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • A surprise appearance from the Wink hub
  • What happens when IoT can read your thoughts?
  • Kevin swapped hubs and is pretty unhappy about it
  • A cheap way to make connected paper
  • Go ahead, rethink you walls

Episode 153: Mobile World Congress news and a deep dive into IOTA

The big news from this week has been Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Ring for $1 billion or more. Kevin and I explain the deal and share our concerns before turning to the issue of smarter cameras including the recently reviewed Google Clip. From there we discuss news from Mobile World Congress and then dig into financings, Google winning over a former Alexa exec, the death of Staples Connect and a new device from Fibaro. We also answer a voicemail about setting up a separate guest network for your IoT devices.

The Google Clip camera retails for $249.

This week’s guest is Dominik Schiener, who is a co-founder of IOTA, a distributed ledger for machine transactions. I met Schiener at Bosch’s Connected World event in Berlin, and he explained the rationale behind IOTA’s creation, how it differs from traditional blockchain-based ledgers and why the focus on cryptocurrencies is driving the wrong attention for distributed ledgers. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dominik Schiener of IOTA
Sponsors: Yonomi and IoT World

  • Amazon Rings up its second largest deal
  • Cameras are smart and we aren’t prepared
  • Google has a new employee and Kevin liked this article
  • What is IOTA?
  • Use cases for distributed ledgers explained

Episode 152: Hot new sensors and Google’s latest deal

Every week we talk about Alexa, and this week’s story is about Amazon showing Alexa off at the annual Toy Fair in New York City. I went there three years ago to explore tech in toys and didn’t find much. It seems that things haven’t changed much. The Alexa implementations aren’t that exciting. We also talked about letting Amazon invest in your startup, awesome new sensors and Google’s plan to buy Xively. Plus we cover new features and a camera from Wyze, Google’s retina scans to predict heart attacks, and the best ways to get Alexa into the car. We also answer a question about a mixed Google and Apple smart home.

The Nucleus video conferencing device. Amazon invested in the maker, and then put out a competing product.

The guest this week is Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock. She talks about the multiple personas we have and how to tie that back to the internet of things in a way that’s scalable and doesn’t require a user to have dozens of passwords. She introduces the User Managed Access standard as a way for people to control access to their many many things and talks about the complexities that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations will mean for data and identity management. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock
Sponsors: Ring and IoT World

 

Episode 151: Thoughts on Apple’s HomePod and chip news galore

The big news this week is in machine learning chips. ARM announced a new architecture for machine learning called Trillium, and said it would license an object detection design and one that could handle some basic training at the edge. Amazon, too, is building a chip for its edge devices and machine learning will certainly have a part to play. Meanwhile, we cover Intel’s smart glasses, Kevin’s opinions on the Apple HomePod and Google’s new IoT hire. We also answer a listener’s question about using different profiles with the Amazon Echo.

An Intel NUC board beloved by the Industrial IoT.

Our guest this week is Alexandros Marinos, who is the CEO of Resin.io. He discusses the popular hardware platforms for prototyping, the industrial IoT and an up-and-coming platform that is breaking out because of interest in machine learning. He also talks about the similarities and differences between servers and connected devices as it relates to building software to manage them. We learn that servers are like cattle, not like pets.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandros Marinos CEO of Resin.io
Sponsor: Ring

  • ARM and Amazon bet on machine learning at the edge
  • Why Intel’s smart glasses are actually a smart gadget
  • They’ve fragmented Siri and Kevin isn’t excited by the HomePod
  • The top three IoT hardware development platforms are …
  • Servers used to be like pets. Now they are like cattle. And IoT is a jungle.

Episode 150: Mozilla’s IoT Gateway and LoRa Roaming

There was a lot of smart home related news this week as Mozilla launched IoT gateway software, Apple’s HomePod reviews came out and Nest was folded into Google. Kevin and I discuss all of that, plus Netgear spinning out its Arlo home camera business and offering a 20 percent stake in an IPO, Amazon’s creepy wristband patent, Alexa at the Superbowl and some feature changes in popular devices. We also spend a lot of time talking about Apple’s health ambitions in light of a new study on detecting diabetes with the Apple Watch. We also answer a listener question about how to configure their Echo for Drop-In calls.

Screenshots from Mozilla’s new IoT Gateway web software. Clean design, but this is still very DIY. Image courtesy of Mozilla.

For the enterprise minded, we bring in Bruce Chatterley, the CEO of Senet, to talk about LoRa networks and offer some use cases in the smart city, enterprise and residential setting. I learned some new things, including efforts to allow roaming onto LoRa networks. Chatterley also brought up a new business model and said that new partners mean that Semtech no longer holds all the cards when it comes to LoRa networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Grab your Pi and order a Z-wave dongle for Mozilla’s new IoT software
  • What does Nest going into Google mean for consumer hardware?
  • Kevin bought a WeMo HomeKit Bridge
  • LoRa, what is it good for?
  • Could you IoT devices one day roam?

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 142: Smart sheets, suits and carpets are coming

We begin this week with another cautionary tale about bricked connected devices. This week it’s an automotive product called Mojio. From there I discuss the things I recently learned about building wireless networks in industrial settings while Kevin talks about how much money connected plants can save. We then get super nerdy on innovations in low-power chips before dipping into a lot of news such as IDC’s expectations for the IoT and new talents for the Google Home, Amazon Echo and Honeywell’s controller. We end the show with reviews on two connected devices we installed and answer a question about leak sensors from a listener.

Levi’s offers a jacket made with smart fabric from Google.

Stick around and you’ll hear from Nick Langston, head of business development at TE Connectivity, talking about the future of smart fabrics. While the biggest use case so far is in smart clothing to detect health data, Langston envisions a future where those same sensors might be put into sheets, carpets or even cars. He also shares an idea about what might be the coolest jersey ever that would react to your player getting hit on the field or light up in response to your team scoring a point. It’s pretty cool.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Nick Langston, TE Connectivity
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Another brick in the IoT device bag
  • How transistor design will change for IoT
  • The IoT will be worth $1 trillion by 2020
  • What happens to privacy if your bedsheets are a sensor?
  • Smart fabrics are soft, but the business model is hard

Episode 141: Alexa suits up for business

Last week Amazon made a slew of IoT announcements at its annual user conference, bringing established functions into general availability and surprising us with the launch of Amazon’s Free RTOS after it hired the man responsible for the most popular embedded OS for microcontrollers. It also introduced Alexa for business. Kevin and I share our thoughts on that and also discussed Microsoft’s own platform announcement, the Google/Amazon spat, and Walmart’s search for a cheap sensor. I share my learnings from an event on IoT business models held at Target’s Open house last week and Kevin shares his thoughts on the GoControl/Linear garage door controller. We also discuss naming conventions thanks to a question on the IoT Podcast hotline.

Amazons IoT dreams are becoming clear.

The guest this week put the challenges of building an IoT project into perspective. After years of being “spoiled by cloud computing,” Upal Basu of NGP Capital says that we have to reframe our IoT projects with longer ROIs and more of a focus on decentralized deployments away from the corporate offices. His ideas make sense for anyone familiar with complexities of deploying sensors, and it’s a good interview for folks thinking about how to transform her business using connectivity, sensors and cloud analytics. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Upal Basu, General Partner at NGP Capital
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Greengrass, Free RTOS, Device Defender and more from Amazon
  • Alexa gets her MBA
  • Sustainable IoT hardware is actually a service
  • You returns on IoT investments should be years, not 12-18 months
  • The value in IoT deployments happens where the sensors are