Episode 263: Insurance gets smart and Google Home gets local

Kevin and I kick off the show with the news that Google is moving ahead on its local control for certain smart home devices, which will be helpful for people who want faster response times and a bit more privacy. We also discuss the FCC’s approval to make Wi-Fi 6 E spectrum available. From there we speculate about the Ring Doorbox and Apple Tags products before jumping into news from Ecobee on support for multi-factor authentication and a new subscription filter business. After that, we explore the idea of a mesh network in space, a smart toilet and discuss a peer-to-peer app for track and trace. After all of this, we answer a question from a listener about how to handle smart devices during power outages.

Image courtesy of Google.

This week’s guest is Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory, a startup that began life as an IoT weather sensor company and is now an insurance provider. Kubicek talks about why the company had to build its own gear and bypass the insurance market in order to succeed. He also anticipates where we’re going to see data-driven insurance go next. As a bonus, he offers a detailed account of how hail insurance works in my former home state of Texas. Exciting!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Why Google’s local SDK is so good for the smart home
  • What the heck is the new Ring Doorbox?
  • Yes, we did discuss the smart toilet seats that take a fingerprint of your backside
  • The connection between Texas, hail and some impressive insurance fraud
  • Data could drive the spread of parametric insurance

Episode 262: Use your wearable data to detect COVID-19

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion of who should be tracking you during the pandemic and what rules companies and governments should use in order to protect user privacy. We also dig into the importance of APIs after Apple purchased the Dark Skye weather app. Then we explain the tightening relationship between carriers and the cloud with Microsoft’s preview launch of Azure Edge Zones. From there we dig into how social media can influence people during the pandemic, the best home Wi-Fi system, the new Fitbit, turning your Wyze Cam into a webcam, and a discussion of what we want broadband to be in the world we want to live in after the pandemic. We close on Kevin talking about Home Assistant integrations and his answer for a question on the IoT Podcast Hotline about how secure Home Assistant is.

The Fitbit Charge 4 will be out on April 13 and cost $149.95. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

This week’s guest is Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Scripps is trying to recruit people who have a Fitbit or other wearable to participate in a study to detect COVID-19 using variations in resting heart rate. We talk about the DETECT study (which you can sign up for from the link) as well as how to design a legitimate health study that includes consumer wearables. We also discuss the use of data and data privacy for those who want to understand those things before dedicating data to science. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Should Google and Apple implement contact tracing using our phones?
  • Azure Edge Zones are an example of the carriers and clouds getting closer
  • Home Assistant integrations are all over the map
  • What doctors look for when building studies around wearables
  • Why the DETECT study matters and how it’s data practices work

Episode 188: How to design a better smart home

Smart home hubs are dying, DIY will become increasingly niche and smart companies are prepping for this. For example, Honeywell’s smart home spin out Resideo went public this week with an eye to removing complexity from smart homes. Meanwhile, Calix unveiled a gateway device and a service to make it easier for ISPs to deliver the smart home. In other failed IoT efforts, Kevin and I talk about the fall of beacons and point out what might take its place. Google’s new deal with iRobot comes up, and then we segue into Microsoft’s plans for a smart office followed by some of the more recent security breaches. We end with a low-power AI chip and by answering a listener’s question about a Wi-Fi motion sensor to work with his LIFX bulbs.

Roomba i7 robots will share mapping information with Google if users agree.

Our guest this week has written a new book on the smart home. We welcome Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, who is an industrial designer and author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life. We talk about more than a century of smarter homes, how the term has changed and why today’s efforts are not succeeding. She also asks us to question our current design methodologies for digital assistants and explains what might replace them. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • To normalize smart homes, DIY will die
  • Google’s getting home mapping data from robotic vacuums
  • Google’s Home Hubs compromised? How to think about risks.
  • We’ve been pitched the smart home for more than a century
  • Digital assistants should be helpers, not servants