Episode 179: IFA news and bringing extreme wattage to your kitchen

This week in Germany, the IFA trade show is the place to be. Unfortunately Kevin and I aren’t there, but we share a lot of the news that came out from the first half of the show. This includes smart speakers at the high end and lower end, crazy connected kitchen tech and a HomeKit enabled air quality monitor. From there we discuss $50 million in funding for Puls and Kevin’s experience with the Philips Hue Outdoor Lights. We also talk about some disappointing experiences with various updates of our products, from latency to services breaking. After that we answer a question about what to give a student leaving for the dorms. I will confess that I forgot to recommend a Tile, but we did recommend this (affiliate link).

The Joule sous vide cooker packs a lot of power and plenty of connected smarts. But no physical interface. Image courtesy of ChefSteps.

Our guest this week is Chris Young, the CEO of ChefSteps, which operates a recipe site and makes the Joule sous vide cooker. We talk about why the Joule doesn’t have any external controls, and what happens if the company goes bust, as well as why ChefSteps doesn’t plan to license Joule’s tech to other appliance companies. He also shares a recipe that will change your perception of beef. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Young, CEO of ChefSteps
Sponsor: Afero

  • All about IFA
  • When updates go wrong, or take too long
  • Gifts for college-bound kids for $50 or less
  • What is sous vide?
  • Putting the power of a nuclear reactor into your stock pot

166: Alexa gets better at business and AI at the edge

The General Data Protection Regulation took effect last week so we kick off this episode by talking about what it means for IoT devices. We then hit the Z-Wave security news and explain why it isn’t so bad, after which we indulge in some speculation on Amazon’s need to buy a security company. We also discuss a partnership between Sigfox and HERE and a new cellular module for enterprises. Also on the enterprise IoT side, we review Amazon’s new Alexa meeting scheduler feature. Then we hit on news about Arlo cameras, Philips’ lights, new gear from D-Link and Elgato’s compelling new HomeKit accessories. We also have a surprisingly useful Alexa skill for enterprise service desks.

The new Elgato Aqua is a HomeKit water controller for your spigot. It will sell for $99.95. Image courtesy of Elgato.

Our guest this week is Jesse Clayton, a product manager for Nvidia’s Jetson board. I asked Clayton to come on the show because the 10-watt Jetson board is being used in a lot of industrial IoT applications and I want to understand why. He tells me, explains how AI at the edge works and shares some cool use cases. I think you’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jesse Clayton of Nvidia
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

  • Baby, don’t fear the GDPR
  • Here’s that list of Z-Wave certified devices
  • Amazon’s scheduling has a lot of hoops
  • A good explainer of machine learning
  • Why companies need computer vision at the edge

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 164: New Wi-Fi standards and robots

The Wi-Fi Alliance has created a new standard for mesh networks, and Kevin and I are on top of it, discussing what it means, who’s participating, and whether or not it matters. We then tackle Sigfox’s new sensor and network in a box offering before sharing details on a new home hub from Hubitat that keeps your data local. We then talk up a new product for communicating with your kids, plans for outdoor lights from Philips and Netgear’s Arlo, and Kevin discusses his experience with the $20 Wyze v2 camera. He also bought a Nest x Yale lock, so we talk about that before getting a tip from a listener on the hotline about using cameras to set his alarm.

The Misty II is cute and somewhat affordable.

Our guest this week is Chris Meyer, who is head of developer experience at Misty Robotics. We talk about the newly launched personal robot that is aimed squarely at developers. In our conversation we get technical (so many specs), physical (why do robots fart?) and philosophical (will playing with robots turn our kids into monsters?). You’re going to enjoy this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Meyer of Misty Robotics
Sponsors: MachineQ and Bosch

  • Where’s Eero in this new Wi-Fi spec?
  • A hub privacy-minded folks could love
  • Why wouldn’t you buy this $20 camera?
  • Robots are in their infancy
  • Why do robots fart?

Episode 102: Wait to buy your next Amazon Echo

Wow. This week saw a bunch of news about the Amazon Echo. There were rumors of new hardware, the ability to make phone calls and the crazy revelations of the CIA’s hacking ability, which led me to wonder if I want a microphone in my home at all. We also got an update on police seeking Amazon Echo data and news that the Google Home was a bit glitchy for some users. I discussed my HomeKit experience again, while CNET’s Ry Crist, this week’s guest host, introduced us to the HomeKit certified camera.

Was your Google Home glitchy this week?

Then we talked about IBM’s Watson teaming up with Saleforce’s Einstein platform before moving on to Ros Harvey, this week’s guest. Harvey founded The Yield, a data startup focused on farming. She really digs in (ha!) to the challenges of building a business around insights. She focuses on the challenges of making sure data is high-quality and how to negotiate data-sharing deals with big companies and still make money. She’s pretty awesome.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Ry Crist of CNET
Guest: Ros Harvey of The Yield
Sponsors: WolfSSL and SpinDance

  • Should you wait to buy a new Echo device?
  • HomeKit is trouble for anyone who lives with others
  • This data company manages crop data for farms and supermarkets
  • Build data collectives not data monopolies
  • How to turn one piece of data into multiple revenue streams

Episode 51: This CEO killed his hardware startup to start a wireless network

This week we have a two for one in the guest portion of the show, with Daniel Conrad, the CEO of Beep Networks explaining how he decided to stop making a connected device, take his VC funding and find a new business model. That’s part one. Part two is all about LoRa, the wireless radio technology used for low power wireless area networks, which is what his business is now built on. Conrad explains a classic entrepreneurial dilemma and then educates us all on up-and-coming networking technology that transmits small amounts of data over fairly long distances. Is this the perfect network for the Internet of things?

The Bernooli bottle top.
The Bernooli bottle top.

Before you get to Conrad, Michael Wolf is guest hosting in place of Kevin, and we discuss the lack of HomeKit news at the Apple event Monday, some cool connected bartending gear I saw at SXSW and Bosch’s new cloud for the internet of things. Bosch is spending $548 million on R&D in innovation tech, which is less than 1 percent of its annual revenue, but still nothing to sneeze at. For the gadget lovers, Mike and I discussed b8ta, the new retail concept for selling connected devices and tried to consider what Target’s secretive Project Goldfish is.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Mike Wolf of The Smart Home Show
Guests: Daniel Conrad of Beep Networks

  • What’s the right retail model for selling the smart home?
  • Make a drink with Bernooli
  • Killing the dream of a connected speaker
  • What is LoRa?
  • The best startup opportunity around.