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 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 158: Stacey and Kevin debate robots

Intel said it would sell its nine-year-old IoT acquisition Wind River to private equity firm TPG this week. We explain why, and offer some context on the deal. Driven by Spotify’s public listing, I suggest how it can improve its service for the IoT, and then Kevin and I debate what we’d like to see in robots. Kevin shares a smart radon detector. News bits include stories about Google possibly building its own smart display, controlling the Nest Secure system through Google Assistant, Sigfox doing a deal with Louis Vuitton, and enabling devices to use emotion as a form of contextual insight. I also offer a word of caution for those installing video doorbells and we answer a question from Zach about multiple users and the Google Home.

The Airthings Wave is a smart radon detector for €199.

Our guest this week is Elecia White who is the creator of the Embedded podcast and an embedded systems engineer. She has spent 20 years building software for devices that aren’t computers and has a lot of insights on how the internet of things is changing the role of such engineers and the tradeoffs one makes when building a connected product. I enjoyed her stories on the challenges of security, the future for her job and the ideal team you need if you want to build a connected device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elecia White producer of Embedded
Sponsors: Forgerock and Ring

  • Why Intel dumped Wind River
  • Should digital subscriptions be tied to homes or to users?
  • I do want a Google display
  • What the heck does an embedded systems engineer do?
  • What your ideal smart device team should look like

Episode 152: Hot new sensors and Google’s latest deal

Every week we talk about Alexa, and this week’s story is about Amazon showing Alexa off at the annual Toy Fair in New York City. I went there three years ago to explore tech in toys and didn’t find much. It seems that things haven’t changed much. The Alexa implementations aren’t that exciting. We also talked about letting Amazon invest in your startup, awesome new sensors and Google’s plan to buy Xively. Plus we cover new features and a camera from Wyze, Google’s retina scans to predict heart attacks, and the best ways to get Alexa into the car. We also answer a question about a mixed Google and Apple smart home.

The Nucleus video conferencing device. Amazon invested in the maker, and then put out a competing product.

The guest this week is Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock. She talks about the multiple personas we have and how to tie that back to the internet of things in a way that’s scalable and doesn’t require a user to have dozens of passwords. She introduces the User Managed Access standard as a way for people to control access to their many many things and talks about the complexities that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations will mean for data and identity management. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology at ForgeRock
Sponsors: Ring and IoT World

 

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 129: Apple’s missing IoT news and adding blockchain to the energy grid

This week’s Apple announcement didn’t offer much for the IoT fans in the audience, although Kevin is deciding if he want’s the LTE-capable Apple Watch. We also talk about a big Bluetooth security vulnerability and Chamberlain’s decision to charge customers who want to create IFTTT integrations. We cover some news about EdgeX Foundry, a new energy monitoring product and an enterprise translation service that requires a “thing.” Finally, we answer a reader’s question about upgrading an old alarm system.

The Apple Watch with LTE and a set of Air Pods might be the future of computing.

Our guest this week talks about a particularly relevant topic given the recent hurricanes. David Martin, co-founder and managing director of Power Ledger, is building an energy trading market using blockchain, connected meters and a network of residential solar. He discusses the bifurcation of the energy market, the trend towards resiliency and how the blockchain can help generate revenue for consumers and the larger energy grid. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, it’s a disruptive concept.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Martin of Power Ledger
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Hey Apple, show me the HomeKit!
  • In which we shame Samsung on Blueborne missteps
  • What to do with an ancient security system? Rip it out.
  • How to use blockchain to make money on renewables
  • Building a more resilient grid starts with IoT (and the blockchain)

Have a question? Call the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and get an answer!

Episode 128: The coolest fridges at IFA and how to build a connected product

This week launched our new hotline feature with a comment and question from you guys. Keep them coming! Before we got to the Q&A, Kevin and I discussed news from IFA, Europe’s largest appliance show. There are smart fridges, roaming fridges, washing machines and yes, speakers. We also discussed a Cat-M1 network in Africa, noting that it has an unusual property. Because it’s a day ending in Y we also had a security breach to discuss. We ended with a user experience adventure I had with my WeMo dimmer switch.

It’s a Big A** Fan!

Want to build a connected product? Then listen to Landon Borders of Big A** Fans talk about his company’s experience building a high-end connected ceiling fan. It’s a look at the beginnings of the internet of things and also shows off lessons every product manager should heed when thinking about building a connected product portfolio. He offers thoughts about working with HomeKit, Alexa and Google as well as his thoughts on manufacturing and customer service. He also drops a few surprising stats. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Landon Borders, VP of connected products at Big A** Fans
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Roaming fridges and what makes a smart speaker?
  • Greg has a question about Homeseer
  • Only half of Big A** Fans customers use the connected features
  • Thoughts on Thread
  • There are the platforms that matter in the smart home

Episode 127: Alexa gets multi-room audio and teaching devices to lie to one another

GE is not giving up on its industrial IoT dreams, but it is scaling back a bit. We discuss what that means before diving into an array of assistant news. Kevin and I give some tips for using the Amazon Echo’s multi-room audio feature before discussing what the partnership between Amazon and Microsoft’s Cortana means. We also download some news about Google Assistant from IFA, where we also learned of new Elgato sensors. They are pretty.  Finally, Kevin built us all a present!

The upcoming Elgato window guard sensor.

This week’s guest, Alasdair Allan, is a tinkerer and researcher who is thinking about the way we secure highly distributed systems. His concern is malicious data inserted into a system that can report false information to bring about a destructive action. In his example, someone created an imaginary moisture sensor that told a vineyard sprinkler system the ground was dry. It wasn’t. The resulting overwatering was a problem for the vines and resulted in a large fine. If you’re a blockchain fan, you’ll want to hear this one too.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Alasdair Allan
Sponsors: Forgerock and Xively

  • Even GE can’t build a scalable industrial internet platform
  • Alexa, why is multi-room audio so limited?
  • There’s a new speaker in town with the Josh Micro
  • Have a question for us? Call the IoT Podcast Listener Hotline at 512-623-7424
  • Should we teach our devices how to lie?
  • Blockchain may help secure the distributed IoT