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 160: A deep dive into Microsoft’s IoT security platform

This week’s show is all about Microsoft’s new IoT security product, Azure Sphere. Kevin and I start with that, before talking about a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance explaining how to secure your enterprise IoT gear. We then discuss acquisitions such as Nice buying a 75% stake in home security startup abode, Lutron buying professional lighting company Ketra, and the possibility that Google might acquire Nokia’s health assets. In news bits, we talk about August’s new unlocking powers, Twilio’s new SIM offering, smart pet transport and VMware’s new lab setting for its IoT software. Kevin shares his thoughts on HomeKit sensors from Fibaro and we answer a question about doorbells.

The Art Institute of Chicago uses Ketra’s lighting. Ketra was recently acquired by Lutron. Image courtesy of Ketra.

Our guest this week is Galen Hunt from Microsoft, who has been working on the Azure Sphere product for the last four years. He shares why Microsoft attacked IoT security with a hardware, OS and cloud product and shared how far Redmond is willing to go on openness. He also talked about the revenue model, support life and other practical aspects. You’ll walk away from this one a lot smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Galen Hunt, partner managing director at Microsoft
Sponsors: Forgerock and Yonomi

Episode 159: The Nest doorbell is a great video doorbell

Microsoft plans to spend $5 billion on the internet of things, and it’s more than the usual shell game that big firms play with these sorts of announcements. We discuss its plans on this week’s podcast. We also talk about Qualcomm’s new vision chips for edge devices, what it means that apps are disappearing from the Apple Watch and Kevin’s thoughts on getting Alexa or Google to talk to you. Comcast shared its vision and new features for Stringify, August is working with SimpliSafe, there’s an old UPnP exploit hitting the IoT and I dumped a gadget for poor performance. I review the Nest doorbell before we answer a question on Z-wave and ZigBee for a listener.

My Nest Hello fresh out of the box.

This week’s guest is Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, who came on the show as part of an IEEE event at SXSW last month. We talk about where hearables are today, what’s changing and some of the cool things we can look forward to. I suggest a mute button for people you dislike, which Crum admits is possible. We also dig into the things that kill your hearing, and how we perceive sound. You may never take an aspirin again. Listen and learn, y’all.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories
Sponsors: Yonomi and Forgerock

  • Why every chip company has a chip for computer vision at the edge
  • This is a great podcast on Amazon Alexa
  • Goodbye Ikea lights and hello Nest video doorbell
  • Every ear is different and so is its perception of sound
  • You can jam a lot of sensors into a hearable

Episode 157: Why Foxconn is buying Belkin and the future of healthcare

We discuss two big news issues this week with the first being Foxconn’s offer to buy Belkin for $866 million. The deal would include the Wemo line of smart home devices and the Phyn leak detection joint venture. After that, data, privacy and surveillance rule the show in light of Facebook’s decision to delay its smart home speaker device. Before we lose hope in IoT entirely, Kevin brings up an effort in the UK to enshrine some basic consumer rights around the IoT including a device expiration date. We also talk about new Google Home skills, August’s updates, an acquisition by Particle, and Kevin’s thoughts on the Fibaro wall plug. We end our segment answering a question about smart door locks.

Particle’s recently launched mesh-enabled boards were part of a collaboration with the newly acquired RedBear Labs.

After the news segment, I interview Dr. Leslie Saxon who heads up the Center for Body Computing at USC, who believes that we’ll soon get 80 percent of our healthcare virtually. She talks about what we’ll need to make that happen and offers up a unique idea—a virtual version of herself that uses AI to provide basic care in her image and demeanor. The implications of all of this are pretty big, so we dig into two of the big ones; privacy and how it changes the relationship individuals have with healthcare. You’ll end up doing a lot more work. It’s an eye-opening episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Leslie Saxon of USC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Ring

  • Why Foxconn wants Belkin
  • Why would anyone want a Facebook smart speaker?
  • How the UK is advancing IoT security
  • The virtual doctor is in your pocket, your car and even your airplane seat
  • Get ready to take charge of your own healthcare

Episode 138: Wink’s security system review and Las Vegas is a smart city

There was a lot of small news this week including updates to the Google Home/Assistant ecosystem that Kevin and I discuss on this week’s podcast. I share my feelings on the Google Mini and then we segue into a conversation about Google’s new AI framework for embedded devices that launched this week. We also discuss the push by smart home and lock companies to give delivery or service people access to your home. SmartThings gets local control for some devices this week. Kevin reviews the Wink Lookout security bundle and we take a listener question about what to look for in a smart home camera.

The Wink Lookout bundle works right out of the box.

Our guest this week is awesome. I speak with Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas, about plans for a traffic light that detects pollution and can send cars along before it builds up, and what it really means to build a smart city. Sherwood shares a lot of good insights about the challenges of building a smart city that we don’t often see. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Sherwood Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Google’s making some changes to Now and Google Assistant
  • Who would you let into your home alone?
  • Wink’s new security system has one big flaw
  • How a smart city gets that way
  • This is the biggest challenge halting innovation in smart cities

Episode 133: August’s new doorbell and Vitamix blends with Bluetooth

Both Dell and Salesforce made big announcements about their internet of things plans this week, so Kevin and I try to break that down for people. We then discussed Amazon trying to deliver things to the trunk of your car, Google Home going too far in recording conversations and updates to hardware for autonomous cars. We also review the latest August lock and doorbell hardware and answer a listener question from Sally about linking her Sonos with her August locks for some musical automation.

This Vitamix blender has Bluetooth and an app.

I was at the Smart Kitchen Summit this week, and ran into Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, which just launched a connected blender. I had a few moments to ask Ciepiel how Vitamix was thinking about bringing its blenders into the 21st century and why. He explained how to think about technology in a product designed to be an heirloom and what it means for the company’s operations to support a connected device. We also talk about sharing data across connected products and how technology changes blenders’ capabilities. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • Dell and Salesforce are adapting to the IoT
  • Cheaper LIDAR and smarter cars are coming
  • August locks are good but the doorbell made me angry
  • Why use Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi in a connected blender
  • Software can let you count calories even more granularly

Have a question? Leave a voicemail on the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and we might answer it on the show!

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 122: Roombas, an IIoT dictionary and IoT networks galore

Kevin Tofel and I crammed a fine mix of IoT news into the show this week, starting with news of an employer popping RFID tags into employees and ending with a dystopian book recommendation from Kevin. In between we discuss August’s new funding round, the death of an smart home startup and the acquisition of Arraynet by Prodea, a company trying to build smarts for service providers and enterprises. And yes, we did talk about iRobot selling your home’s layout to companies, and why this is a potential turning point for IoT. My Amazon Dash Wand review, Elon Musk’s boring elevator, an ARM paper and a discussion of the new Industrial Internet Consortium’s new dictionary round out the show.

August raised $25 million to expand its Access partnerships.

Don’t be tempted to tune out after all of that, because we’ve got more! This week Comcast’s MachineQ IoT network is in the spotlight. We talk about Comcast’s interest in LoRa networks and its plans for enterprise and industrial IoT with Alex Khorram, GM of MachineQ. Khorram explains LoRA networks and what they are good for, how they might be built and what other providers are doing with the technology. Not only will you learn about LoRA, but you’ll also know what Comcast plans to do with it. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Khorram, GM of MachineQ
Sponsors: Schlage and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Roomba’s sucking up your data represent a turning point for IoT
  • Who is Prodea and what will it do with Arraynet?
  • My thoughts on the Amazon Dash Wand and Kevin’s book recommendation
  • Every thing you need to know about LoRa and LoRaWAN
  • Wait, is Comcast becoming a wireless carrier?

Episode 108: Owning digital property could save our privacy

Kevin is back for this week’s show, and we talk about Google Home, Amazon’s latest hardware plans for the Echo and how we think voice may evolve. I installed the Honeywell T5 thermostat as well as a leak sensor from Honeywell, and share what I liked and what I didn’t. We also discuss Kevin’s field trip to the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona and the latest developer survey from The Eclipse Foundation.

Bitmark’s platform used a custom-designed blockchain to store digital property records.

After some more news, we turn to this week’s guest. Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Bitmark, explains how he thinks giving people the ability to own digital property will make privacy easier online. His company has built a blockchain based software product that stores rights to someone’s digital data whether it’s photos or fitness info. We discuss why this sort of record matters and how Bitmark plans to make its abstract ideas real. It’s a fun discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Bitmark
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • What devices do I want to talk to in the home?
  • News from Lutron, August and Logitech
  • A modest proposal for smart thermostat makers
  • Should we turn digital assets from intellectual property to just property
  • Donate your data — or just keep track of it online

Episode 106: Stacey has a secret

It’s time to swap out my Amazon Echo for a Google Home because all of my integrations are working so well, and because Google added Logitech’s Harmony Hub. August added a lock for the pro channel and Samsung’s Tizen OS has a lot of security flaws. This is not good for anyone, especially Samsung.

The new Zebra SmartPack Trailer product uses a camera and offers analytics.

We talk also about Zebra’s new tech for tractor-trailers and why virtual beacons from Mist are better than real ones. Finally, I confess to a secret and contemplate an IoT device to solve it. This week’s guest Simon Bungers discusses what happens when the internet of things invades research labs, and how it could change scientists’ job descriptions.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Simon Bungers, CEO of Labfolder
Sponsor: Samsung ARTIK

  • Google Home just got better. Is Kevin convinced?
  • Zebra has good new freight tech and virtual beacons are better than the real thing
  • Tizen has some major security flaws. Roughly 40 of them.
  • Meet Smart Nora, which may help my husband sleep at night
  • Scientists will spend more time with Python than petri dishes