Episode 215: What Google killing Works with Nest means

This week’s show is a long one, thanks to both Google I/O and Microsoft Build happening this week. We kick off with news from I/O about local processing and gesture controls before digging deep into what it means that Google is killing its Works with Nest program. We explain what it means for consumers, the industry, and for developers. From there we move to the privacy one can expect in Amazon’s Echo products and generally what Amazon knows about you. We also talk about the new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera. The enterprise gets a lot of love from Microsoft at Build with new conversational talents, a way to migrate old embedded devices to the modern Windows 10 IoT OS and support for robots and Windows 10 IoT. We end with news bits including an update on Bluetooth’s success and an update on the lawsuit over landlords installing smart locks. I also review Wyze Sense sensors.

The new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera will sell for $89.99.

This week’s guest is Kiva Allgood, the new head of IoT and Automotive at Ericsson. She has worked at GE Ventures and at Qualcomm, so she’s familiar with the history of the IoT. She discusses agile factories that will be enabled by 5G networks, why we need industry-wide standards for the IoT and explains why adoption has been slow. We also talk about the importance of resiliency in the industrial IoT, something that is occasionally lost on the IT folks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kiva Allgood of Ericsson
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Consumers should only buy Nest gear if they are Google-only homes
  • Would you dump your digital assistant?
  • At last Azure Sphere security service is being used in the real world!
  • Standards will make the industrial IoT profitable
  • With 5G you can reprogram your factory like you reprogram software

Episode 207: The smart home at SXSW

This week’s show features a lot of little news bits starting with a discussion about Charter testing a new smart home device management platform and another chat about facial recognition. We then return to the lessons that Boeing’s 737 MAX saga have to teach the IoT industry before diving into Google news starting with continued conversations for Google Smart Displays, the new local transcription service and what it means for the smart home, and a cool service for the visually impaired. The Amazon purchase of Eero is now closed and an appliance maker added an easier way to connect its products to Wi-Fi, so keep an eye on that. We close by answering a question about an appropriate outdoor plug for a Wyze camera.

A huge thanks to Yonomi for hosting the event. People from left Stacey Higginbotham, Devren Hobbs, Jim Hunter, Hanns Anders, Dan Davis, and Mark Reimer. Image courtesy of Andrew Allemann.

Our guest this week is actually five guests who joined me for a smart home panel in Austin during South by Southwest. The panel was hosted by Yonomi and sponsored by Resideo, Schlage, and Gentex. Thank you to Yonomi, which also provided the recording. The panel covered who gets your data, why people are willing to accept microphones in their homes and what businesses get out of connected products. Our guests are Jim Hunter, CTO, Delos; Hanns Anders, investment director, iRobot; Devren Hobbs, director of product, Tendril; Dan Davis, director, IoT and Emerging Markets, LexisNexis Risk Solutions; and Mark Reimer, sr. director connected home and home security products, Charter Communications. You’ll feel like you’re at SXSW ready to catch some live music and a free beer.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Jim Hunter, Delos; Hanns Anders, iRobot; Devren Hobbs, Tendril; Dan Davis, LexisNexis Risk Solutions; and Mark Reimer, Charter Communications
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Facial recognition follies are all the rage this week
  • Will your future dishwasher phone home without your knowledge?
  • Why do manufacturers want to connect their devices?
  • The connected world should stop hiding behind terms and conditions
  • If your house can predict an illness who will it tell?

Episode 200: These are the features that matter in the smart kitchen

This week’s podcast kicks off with a discussion about property owners forcing smart apartments on renters. The discussion was sparked by a series of tweets. Kevin and I discovered the name of the company behind the service and cover some of the challenges associated with the proposition. (Here’s a hack of the device on GitHub.) From there we talk about various device and subscription cleanses and new low-power Wi-Fi chips. There’s also a new gateway for the abode security system, a setback for Microsoft’s Cortana and Kevin’s rediscovery of Node-RED. In our voicemail, we answer a question about finding smart lights that are equivalent to 100-watt bulbs.

Abode launched a new hub with 4G cellular and improved Z-wave security.

Our guest this week is Michael Wolf, the creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and publisher of The Spoon, which covers food tech. We talk first about the state of the smart kitchen and where various appliance manufacturers are in adopting connectivity. He then goes through all the major appliances and explains which features I should look for when I’m shopping for new white goods in the next 18 months or so. We end with a discussion about the Wirecutter’s shocking (to us) review of the June oven. There’s a lot to talk about.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Wolf, the creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit and the publisher of The Spoon
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • Tenants have the right to avoid the smart home
  • I dumped smart devices and Kevin sumped subscriptions
  • Abode does a gateway upgrade right
  • Your new fridge absolutely needs a camera
  • But does your oven need a screen?

Episode 195: We’re switching to Google’s Home

Kevin is back this week and we kick off the show discussing GE’s decision to spin out its industrial IoT business. From there we talk about the closure of Lighthouse, the smart camera maker, a critical update for Hue bulbs and Qualcomm’s new IoT chip. Then we dive into a swath of Alexa related news, including updates that tailor routines for locations, a new wall clock and the beta program from Amazon’s Guard security feature. The show isn’t all about Alexa. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Google Home Hub and I get excited about being able to see my G Suite calendar data on my Google Smart Display. (Here’s that Norm photo album we talked about.) We also handle the rather late-breaking news about Ring’s lack of camera footage security. We also answer a listener question about why some connected devices don’t work with mesh Wi-Fi systems.

The Amazon Alexa wall clock costs $30.

My guest this week is my family. My husband and daughter come on the show each year to discuss what they like and don’t like from the world of smart devices. While we love Alexa and use it often, we’re switching over to Google Home after seeing the Nest gear and how well it performs with the Google Smart Displays. We also discuss our thoughts about what to take with us when we move and which devices we’ll miss most. I hope you enjoy the show, and the holidays!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • What the new GE IIoT business needs to do
  • Thank you Hue!
  • Alexa gets a lot of cool features and integrations
  • There’s a smart bulb in my room?
  • Yes, they are still talking about the June oven

Episode 185: Google’s news and smart kitchens

This week Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts from the Google event, including a lot of information on the new Google Home Hub. Kevin talks about what it means for Google and the smart home race between Amazon, Apple and now Facebook. Yes, we discuss the Facebook Portal as well. Also the latest software updates from both Amazon and Google on the respective digital assistant apps. We finish the first segment of the show with GE’s new connected light bulbs designed for the Google ecosystem.

The Google Home Hub comes out just in time to show off Google’s new Home app.

We had too much news to have a guest this week, so we continue the show with my tips from the Smart Kitchen Summit this week. I checked out an update from the June oven as well as a bunch of new screens on cooktops, range hoods and refrigerators. Plus, I tried out the Rotimatic flatbread-making robot and it’s expensive but good. We talk about cybersecurity, privacy and whether or not we are ready for the responsibilities associated with the internet of things. We close with an answer to a listener question about wireless doorbells and security cameras.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Which Google hub is right for you?
  • This is the year of getting the smart home ready for normals
  • Facebook gets in your face
  • How many screens does a kitchen need?
  • What about a roti-making robot?

 

Episode 173: Nest CEO is out and Jacuzzi is in with the IoT

Nest’s CEO has been forced out, and GE and Microsoft create even deeper integrations for industrial IoT. Also this week, UPS creates a partnership with a startup to take on Amazon Key, and we discus the common question of if you should upgrade your Echo? There’s a lot of lock news, some connected car fundings (Zoox and Light) and an Alexa-enabled microwave that feels perfect for dorms or bachelors. Kevin also shares a secret to turn your Kindle FireHD tablet into an Echo Show and some news for those still hoping for a decent Android WearOS device. This week’s listener question is also about smart locks but for a very particular use case.

GE’s latest microwave costs $139 and can be controlled with Amazon’s Alexa. Image courtesy of GE Appliances.

Our guest this week is Mark Allen, vice president of IT at Jacuzzi, who discusses why and how Jacuzzi connected its premium line of hot tubs. Jacuzzi has connected 1,000 hot tubs so far and since it starting selling them in April, it has 500 of the connected tubs in consumers’ homes. Allen explains the tools Jacuzzi has used to get the hot tubs online and connected to dealers’ service operations. He also shares his thoughts about privacy rules and how connected devices will change Jacuzzi’s business. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Allen of Jacuzzi
Sponsors: Afero and Avnet

  • Why Microsoft and GE got a little closer
  • Lots of lock news from the home to the enterprise
  • Should you update your Echo?
  • Which platform did Jacuzzi choose to connect its tubs?
  • GDPR will affect your hot tub

Episode 168: How GE’s Current curtailed dreams to meet reality

This week Kevin and I spend a bit of time on industrial IoT news with Rockwell Automation’s $1 billion investment in PTC and also ARM’s buy of a Stream Technologies. On the consumer side, we debate Wi-Fi subscription plans and Nest’s price drop and Ring’s new security system. We also talk about Thread’s milestone in industrial IoT, Verizon’s new CEO, and whether or not Google Home can now handle three consecutive commands. I review the Wyze Pan Cam and we answer a question about the Qolsys’ IQ Panel 2.

Ring’s security system lands on July 4 for $199.

This week’s guest comes from GE’s Current lighting business. Garret Miller, the chief digital officer at Current by GE explains why the division is for sale, why GE has to offer lighting as a service, and how reality forced a shift in thinking for Current. When Current launched, it had grand plans to deliver electricity as a service but realized that it was several steps ahead of the market, so it now offers lighting as a platform. It’s a good interview about how to reassess the market when needed.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Garret Miller, chief digital officer at Current by GE
Sponsors: Praetorian and Control4

  • Why ARM bought Stream Technologies
  • Ring and Nest gear up for home security fight
  • I like the Wyze Pan Cam
  • Why GE had to change the way it sells lights
  • Why Current changed business models and what it says about IoT

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

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

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education