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 161: Amazon’s Alexa Blueprints, home robots and more

This week’s show finds me in Sweden pondering Alexa Blueprints, the Amazon Echo for kids and Amazon’s smart robot plans. Kevin and I talked about all of that, before showcasing new research for IoT out of Carnegie Mellon, the University of Washington, and Princeton. Two senators proposed a social media data sharing law that appears to ignore the IoT, Comcast reported growth in home automation subscribers, a few gadgets got new features and there’s a new version of a popular IoT chip that can handle mesh Wi-Fi. Kevin changes his smart home platform and we advise someone on a connected kitchen renovation.

The IKEA Tradfri lights have expanded to include colors and wall-mounted flat lights.

Our guests this week are from IKEA with Rebecca Töreman, who heads up the IKEA Tradfri products and Lena Pripp-Kovac, Sustainability Manager IKEA of Sweden. Töreman gives us a Tradfri update after a year on the market, while Pripp-Kovac offers valuable tips on how to design connected products with sustainability in mind. It left me questioning how I think about many connected devices. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Rebecca Töreman and Lena Pripp-Kovac of IKEA
Sponsors: Forgerock and Twilio

  • Alexa for kids and the home robot debate reignites
  • Smart walls, power-saving cameras and IoT security
  • Kevin is dumping SmartThings for Wink
  • IKEA’s next smart home area could be health
  • How to design a sustainable connected product

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 147: Okay Google, manage my home

At CES I made the decision to traumatize my family and swap out the Amazon Echo for the Google Home despite Wi-Fi challenges. We kick off this week’s show explaining why, and discussing some new tricks the Home has. From there, we hit the partnership between Maersk and IBM to create a digitized supply chain using the blockchain. Then we talk about a startup that might help with that effort. Add in news bits ranging from BMW acquiring ParkMobile to a new low power wide area network module that can last 15 years, and we round out the first half of the show. We also answer a listener question about radiation from IoT devices.

Port of Algeciras, Spain. Image courtesy of Maersk.

Our guest takes us back to the topic of IoT networks and the future 5G holds for the internet of things. Chetan Sharma is the founder of Chetan Sharma Consulting, and is a widely respected telecom analyst. He talks about what networks are likely to succeed and why, and then also digs into his thoughts on how we should rethink competition and M&A in the digital economy. He also asks if it’s too late to regulate anticompetitive data practices in the U.S. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting
Sponsors: PointCentral and CBT Nuggets

  • The Google Home has a secret API
  • IBM and Maersk ask what blockchain can do for shipping
  • What 5G means for IoT and which flavor arrives first
  • Things to know when picking a LPWAN
  • Our anticompetitive regime is built for the 20th century, not the 21st

CES 2018 was about more than voice

CES is full of stories if you know where to look. This year we had to look beyond companies putting Alexa in everything from toilets to toothbrushes. If you did, you could find out all kinds of fascinating things, such as the big opportunities in the enterprise internet of things or what Comcast is doing with its purchase of Stringify. While roaming the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo, I asked people what they were excited about, what they were looking for and what they think the future might hold.

Once again, we bring you the less obvious side of CES.

The results are in this podcast, with interviews with Alex Hawkinson, CEO of SmartThings; Nate Williams, an EIR at Kleiner Perkins; a CEO who sold his camera startup to Ooma, and many more. I also share my favorite device from CES, which is not exactly something you can buy at Best Buy. But if we’re lucky, we could soon see it in something from Amazon. I hope you enjoy. If you do, thank the Open Connectivity Foundation which sponsored the entire episode, and gave an update on that standard effort.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: There are a lot
Sponsor: Open Connectivity Foundation

  • Comcast explains what’s next for Strinigfy
  • Alexa Hawkinson on Samsung’s plans for SmartThings
  • Ben Nader of Butterfleye on how to pick a buyer
  • Nate Williams on enterprise tech
  • Willy Pell on how to architect machine learning at the edge

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 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 126: Sonos wants to brick your speakers

The breaking story as we recorded this show was Sonos updating its Terms of Service to prepare for the Amazon Echo integration. As part of this update, the connected speaker maker confirmed that customers who did not accede to the new terms of service would see their devices stop working in the future. This didn’t go over well, but this is a complicated issue. Kevin and I break many of these issues down. We also talk about Google’s Assistant plans, hacked robots, what has happened to the Nvidia Spot, the potential sale of AT&T’s Digital Life service, and answer a reader question.

Accept Sonos’ new terms of service or else.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Sibley innovation hub. If you want to hear about applying some DIY tech to healthcare, Dawson has stories for you. He describes how his team built a separate network to experiment with Amazon Dash buttons, Amazon Echoes, Sonoses, Philips Hue lights and even using Slack as a way to track patient calls. He’s looking for feedback, so if you have ideas, want to talk security or even hospital IT, you can find him at www.debughealthcare.com or @nickdawson on Twitter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, executive director, Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • Are companies selling services or devices?
  • What ever happened to the Nvidia Spot?
  • We advise a reader to check out Blue Iris camera software for Alexa and SmartThings integrations
  • This hospital built a rogue network for IoT experimentation
  • How to use Slack and Amazon Dash Buttons to get quick data

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?