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

Episode 170: Smart stents, surveillance tech and Alexa-powered faucets

This week’s episode begins on a grim note, as Kevin and I discuss the New York Times’ story about how smart home gadgets can become another point of control in abusive relationships. From there we touch on the new Wi-Fi WPA3 security standard and Tesla’s new plan to charge users for data and what it means for IoT. Kevin shares the new Alexa for iOS feature and explains why it’s useful, while I talk about a startup that wants to detect pollution at granular levels. We share news of a smart stent, smart park benches and my experience with an Alexa-enabled faucet. We then answer a question from a reader who wants to buy Abode’s security system but wonders what gadgets will work with it.

This smart stent is one long antenna with a pressure sensor. Image courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

For the guest segment, I visit with Cyrus Farivar, who is a reporter at Ars Technica and wrote a book on surveillance tech called “Habeas Data”. We discuss the current legal underpinnings of privacy law in the US and how it has evolved. Our conversation covers the recently decided Carpenter case, the 1967 case that established the concept of a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” and how the government could use our connected devices against us. You’ll learn a lot, but you may want to unplug your Echo.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Cyrus Farivar author of “Habeas Data
Sponsor: Control4

  • How to reset connected devices and be a decent human being
  • Y’all had some great ideas on connected cameras
  • Alexa, ask Delta to turn on faucet
  • Where the expectation of privacy came from
  • What to ask device makers about government snooping

Episode 167: Apple’s WWDC news and connected musicians

Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference news, including Siri’s new IFTTT-like abilities. We continue with Alexa finding a home on computers and a discussion of the OVAL sensor that’s hoping to crowdfund a second-generation product. I’m disappointed that Lenovo’s new Google Assistant screen-enabled device won’t ship until September, but super excited about Microsoft’s new IoT offerings, including spatial intelligence. There’s yet another industrial IoT platform for cellular low power wide area networks, this time from Sierra Wireless. Finally, Kevin and I share our latest buys, an Aware Glow air quality monitor for me, and an app that puts Alexa on the Apple Watch for Kevin.

My Awair Glow plugged into my bedroom wall.

Our guest this week is Anya Trybala, a musician and creator of SynthBabes, a group that supports female electronic music artists. Trybala talks about how connectivity and technology could change the way artists perform and introduces a concept for VR called The Elevator. For a look at her work, check out this video. To hear her thoughts on how to use AR/VR and the blockchain for changing music, listen to the interview.

Hosts: Stacey Hgginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anya Trybala of SynthBabes
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

    • Apple still isn’t changing the game in the smart home
    • Microsoft continues making its IoT services better
    • Check out Alexa on an Apple Watch
    • Building a connected concert experience
    • Are you ready for drone microphones?

Episode 156: Lennar’s smart home and why it dumped Apple HomeKit

Like the rest of the tech media, Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion about data collection and privacy in light of the allegations against Cambridge Analytica. It’s a stark reminder on what can be gleaned from your information as well as how much of your data is being gathered without your knowledge or real consent. We also talk about smart home lock in, Alexa’s new “brief” mode, shopping on Google Home and my IoT Spring Clean. IBM’s new crypto chip and Watson Assistant made the show as well as several industrial IoT news bits such as Foghorn’s industrial IoT integration with Google’s cloud and a new hardware platform for IIoT from Resin.io. We also answer a listener question about IoT for new parents.

The Nest Hello doorbell is now available, and sells for $239.

I’ve heard that smart home tech is the new equivalent of granite countertops (basically it’s a big deal for buyers) for several years now, but I had never investigated what that tech experience would look like or how it would come to be. It’s pretty complicated, as you’ll learn from David Kaiserman, president with Lennar Ventures, the investment arm of Lennar Homebuilders. Kaiserman walked me through a Lennar home outfitted with a bunch of smarts last month, and shares his thoughts on what matters to buyers and the gear inside. He also sheds light on Amazon’s Alexa-focused geek squad and explains why Lennar backed out of its plans for a Apple HomeKit home and banked on Alexa instead. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Kaiserman of Lennar Ventures
Sponsors: Samsung Artik and IoT World

  • Get ready for an IoT spring clean
  • Kevin thinks shopping with Google Assistant is “brilliant”
  • This board’s build for industrial use
  • How Amazon’s team of Alexa experts changes the smart home experience
  • Why Alexa beat out HomeKit for Lennar

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 139: The 2017 IoT Podcast Gift Guide!

You guys, this week’s podcast is all about the toys. Specifically toys for your kids, your dog and your loved ones. In the last year Kevin and I have tried many devices and have compiled our experiences into a gift guide for the connected life. You’ll find both our favorites like the June oven and utilitarian objects like the Ecobee 4 thermostat among a $20 smart camera and $30 motion sensor for kids. We also handled the few news items for the week– namely Apple deciding to delay the sale of the Home Pod.

This is the $20 Wyze camera. It’s a solid gift.

We also took on an incredibly topical question from Aaron in Ontario who asked about heating cables for his roof and recommended switches for automating outdoor holiday lights. As a Texan I’m drawing a blank on the remote control for the heating cables, but I shared my favorite outdoor-rated smart plugs with him. This year there have been a bunch of new Wi-Fi options, which is awesome. Enjoy the show.

  • I’m losing faith in HomeKit again
  • This year’s best gifts for the smart home
  • The best connected gifts for kids
  • Cool connected stocking stuffers
  • Crazy expensive stuff that is hard to justify

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review¬†Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 130: Nest’s a security company now and Hitachi’s new industrial IoT explained

Wow. This week saw some big news from Nest as it announced a new security system plus other devices. August also updated its line of locks and promised a better doorbell. Meanwhile, rumors of an Amazon Alexa security system or even glasses emerged. And Google leaked some news. We also talked about smart grid M&A and Comcast buying Stringify, a company that links together myriad devices and lets you create scenes. Kevin also shared his thoughts on the Apple Watch with LTE and we answer a reader question about garage doors.

A Nest Detect sensor in action.

On the guest front, we speak with Rob Tiffany, the CTO of Lumada, about Hitachi’s new industrial IoT play Vantara. He discusses the existential threat that faced Hitachi and why it needed to make a move as well as shared how Hitachi is offering trains as a service. There’s a lot to digest in this show, but it’s a solid overview of the big news this week.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Tiffany of Hitachi Vantara
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • The Nest Connect and Security is the return of Weave
  • So much hardware getting released and leaked
  • On the Apple Watch with LTE, manage your networks or manage your expectations
  • IoT posed an existential threat to Hitachi’s business
  • How to turn a train into a service

Episode 129: Apple’s missing IoT news and adding blockchain to the energy grid

This week’s Apple announcement didn’t offer much for the IoT fans in the audience, although Kevin is deciding if he want’s the LTE-capable Apple Watch. We also talk about a big Bluetooth security vulnerability and Chamberlain’s decision to charge customers who want to create IFTTT integrations. We cover some news about EdgeX Foundry, a new energy monitoring product and an enterprise translation service that requires a “thing.” Finally, we answer a reader’s question about upgrading an old alarm system.

The Apple Watch with LTE and a set of Air Pods might be the future of computing.

Our guest this week talks about a particularly relevant topic given the recent hurricanes. David Martin, co-founder and managing director of Power Ledger, is building an energy trading market using blockchain, connected meters and a network of residential solar. He discusses the bifurcation of the energy market, the trend towards resiliency and how the blockchain can help generate revenue for consumers and the larger energy grid. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, it’s a disruptive concept.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Martin of Power Ledger
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Hey Apple, show me the HomeKit!
  • In which we shame Samsung on Blueborne missteps
  • What to do with an ancient security system? Rip it out.
  • How to use blockchain to make money on renewables
  • Building a more resilient grid starts with IoT (and the blockchain)

Have a question? Call the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and get an answer!