Episode 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

Episode 266: Startups get ARM IP for free

ARM is expanding access to its chip designs to startups that have raised less than $5 million through its Flexible Access program. Kevin and I explain why this is a big deal and then go on to discuss a new gesture-based interface that could be either a gimmick or a gamechanger. From there we talk about the pandemic delaying Ford’s self-driving car plans, the closure of PetNet, and the acquisition of a smart ring by a digital key card company. Plus, we cover a robot for kids, AR contact lenses, a Google AI muddle, Google Assistant getting router controls, and a new satellite network for the IoT. We also review the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Kevin talks about his experience with the Blink Mini camera. We end by answering a question about choosing smart home devices based on your digital assistant.

The Moxie robot from Embodied will start shipping in October. Image courtesy of Embodied.

Our guest this week is Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai, which makes a voice platform for the pro installer market. The company has just raised $11 million in funding, and Capecelatro tells us what he plans to do with that money as well as explains why Josh.ai shifted from making software to building hardware. He also offers perspective on the development of the voice market in the smart home. Josh.ai started in 2015, a few months after Amazon released the Echo speakers, and before Amazon had enabled the smart home features on the Alexa platform. The interview offers a history of voice, IoT hardware, and a hint of the future. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai
Sponsor: Very

  • Why silicon startups are on the rise
  • Companies blaming the pandemic
  • Should you buy the new Blink Mini camera?
  • Why Josh.ai pivoted from software to hardware
  • Can a dedicated voice platform for the smart home beat a digital assistant?

Episode 203: Amazon’s Eero buy and RISC-V

There were several acquisitions this week and the end of two prominent IoT platforms to cover, so Kevin and I had a lot to talk about. We kick off the show with Amazon’s purchase of mesh Wi-Fi company Eero and then segue into a conversation about Amazon’s data collection efforts. From there we move into security company ADT buying a DIY security company called LifeShield, and then DIY security company abode entering into a partnership with do-it-for-me helper Hello Tech. After that, we talk about Google’s demotion of the Android Things platform and the end of Samsung’s Artik module and cloud.  We cover news from Sigfox, a new wearable, and Arlo’s earnings before getting Kevin’s thoughts on the Hubitat Elevation hub. And we end by answering a listener question on how to prevent smart TVs from spying on you.

Ford’s smart bed concept uses lane-change detection to wrangle restless sleepers.

Our guest this week is Loic Lietar, CEO of Greenwaves Technologies, a chip design firm using the new open-source RISC-V architecture to design a low-power IoT processor. Lietar explains what RISC-V is, how difficult it is to get the industry to adopt a new processor architecture and what RISC-V could mean for the IoT. He also discusses how the economics of open source silicon could change how chips get adopted and designed. You’ll want to tune in.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Loic Lietar, CEO of Greenwaves Technologies
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • Why Amazon bought Eero and other routers you might choose now
  • The death of Samsung Artik and the demotion of Android Things
  • Hubitat Elevation hub review
  • Why is Ford making a bed?
  • What the heck is RISC-V
  • Why does the world need a new instruction set?

Episode 131: Amazon’s new gear and Nest’s Matt Rogers

This week’s show features a quick rundown of Amazon’s new devices. It also has a lot of exciting news on the wearable front. Kevin Tofel reviews his Apple Watch with LTE and we also discuss a new program from the Food and Drug Administration that will allow nine companies to get pre-certifications for their devices. I’m optimistic that consumers will get more innovation and better data. We also hit on a stealthy new lighting startup from a former Nest co-founder, a partnership around autonomous vehicles and a fight between Google and Amazon.

The Echo spot has a camera, a screen and costs $129.99.

My guest is Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nest, who discusses the rationale behind the new Nest Security system and where Nest is heading. We also talk about efforts to build a closer relationship between the Google Home and Nest teams. Plus, he offers hope for an eventual HomeKit integration, although I am not going to hold my breath. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, Nest
Sponsors: Qualcomm and Eero

  • Which new Amazon device will you buy?
  • The FDA gets into wearables
  • Advice for a listener on creating audio-activated scenes
  • Why Nest is aiming at the high end for security
  • Will Nest gear ever get HomeKit support?

Episode 55: Find out what Ford learned from Tesla

With ride-sharing, electric vehicles and millennials who aren’t super keen on owning a car all converging, the auto industry is in a panic. But Ford, led by both Bill Ford and Ford CEO Mark Fields has created a plan to keep the carmaker relevant, even if fewer people buy cars. With this being said, there will always be people out there who love vehicles like the Ford Maverick and collecting vintage cars. In this week’s show, I chat with Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, about moving from making cars to delivering transportation. Butler shares Ford’s thoughts on connecting the car, the integration with the Amazon Echo, and a few things Ford has learned from Tesla. Is this exciting news?! An upgrade at long-last to the Ford! If you want to get yours ordered, you may want to have a look at the car finance options available to you. Of course, getting a car on finance isn’t the best option for everyone. Some people still prefer to buy their cars outright. However, with the prices of newer vehicles, this can be difficult. Although, more people are finding ways around this. For example, some people might look into applying for a Petal credit card to help them build their credit up. Having a reputable credit score can increase an individual’s chances of being able to receive a loan from a bank, allowing them to own their car instead of paying for it monthly.

The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.
The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.

Before Butler and I get talking, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Intel’s job cuts and internet of things strategy as well as a Zigbee chipmaker’s acquisition. We then talk about the challenge of matching tech components to the long lifespan of some home products. Kevin bought a Pine 64 development board and we talk about what he should do with it, we add a few other updates on devices such as the Philips Hue lights and cover a new deal to bring connectivity to your clothes

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Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Don Butler at Ford

  • Can Intel matter in the internet of things?
  • My smart bulb’s radio broke so now it’s dumb
  • Connected clothes are coming
  • What Ford learned from Tesla
  • Discover Ford’s biggest asset as it seeks to transform its business