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 206: Why your smart devices cost so much

This week Kevin and I start off the show with a discussion about Google’s new Coral board that provides machine learning at the edge. We then jump to sensor company Centralite’s bankruptcy filing in Alabama. We also discuss the death of Jibo and how the end of Lighthouse meant new patents for Apple. After covering all of that sad news we jump to new Alexa skills, why I want an Alexa Auto, and a new video doorbell from August Home. From there Kevin and I spend the rest of the show discussing the challenges associated with smart home hubs, the best home hubs and why you should delete your devices from your home hubs. We end by answering a listener question about connected car devices for teens.

The Centralite family of products.

Our guest this week is Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures and a former product manager at companies that include Square and Apple. She shares her experiences building connected devices, where companies tend to go wrong and what to look for in a manufacturing partner. She also explains why a device that costs $100 to make might end up costing $300 on the shelves at Best Buy. It’s a good conversation for anyone building or buying connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Why we need machine learning at the edge
  • Could the next Homepod have video?
  • Hubs are complicated even for experts
  • How to give your favorite device startups an extra chance to succeed
  • What to look for in your manufacturing partner

Episode 205: How technology will shape your energy bills

There were two big shows this week with Embedded World and Mobile World Congress. Thus, this week’s show focuses a lot on industrial and enterprise news starting with a deep dive on ARM’s PSA certification announcement. We explain what it means and how it should improve IoT security for all before moving to news about new chips that bring Alexa to microcontrollers and to Wi-Fi access points. We also discuss a gesture-based interaction model for smart homes and explain why we’re getting excited about it for the home and office. From there we spend time on Alexa in hospitals as well as a bunch of small industrial and embedded news from Google, Microsoft, Wind River, SAP, and Qualcomm. This week’s IoT Podcast Hotline inquiry is about finding a chime for the Nest Hello doorbell.

NXP’s MCU-based solution for Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service. Image courtesy of NXP.

Our guest this week is Beth Karlin, CEO and founder of the See Change Institute, a research institute aimed at solving environmental and social justice issues. Karlin came on the show to discuss how utilities view smart home devices. She discusses their goals in offering connected device rebate programs and talks about methods they might use to stabilize the grid when more of our devices are connected and have computing power. We also talk about the role the big tech guys could play in the energy sector.  Plus, she talks about the best device to buy if you want to save money on energy costs.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beth Karlin, CEO and founder of the See Change Institute
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • ARM’s security plan is looking good
  • Is this the beginning of a gesture revolution?
  • A bunch of IoT news from MWC and Embedded World
  • How your utility may change the way you think about drying your clothes
  • What device should you buy to save energy?

Episode 204: Apple’s next big market and Silicon Labs’ CEO

This week Kevin and start the show with an educated guess about what comes next for Apple after the iPhone and then discuss the leadership transition at IFTTT. In the wake of Google saying that it didn’t disclose the microphone inside the Nest Guard box, Kevin and I reiterate our take from last week, which is that cameras and microphones should always be disclosed in the specs. We also talk about Osram being for sale, smart circuit breakers, Libellium’s embrace of NB-IoT and what Google needs to do to catch up to Amazon in the digital assistant race. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about creating panic buttons for the home.

The Nest Guard’s hidden mic became apparent after Google announced it offered Google Assistant.

This week’s guest is Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a semiconductor firm that is making a big bet on IoT. Tuttle talks about the role of various radios in the smart home and in industrial settings. He also explains why he’s not worried about the tech giants snapping up gadget-makers that are using his chips. We end with a discussion on how we need to rethink tech and innovation for the edge. It’s a good chat.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • Apple’s HomePod feels like a gimmick
  • Mics and cameras shouldn’t come as a surprise
  • Smart circuit breakers are still a hard sell
  • Are Z-wave and ZigBee doomed?
  • What happens when Amazon buys up your customer?

 

 

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 201: Bluetooth gets better and more smart lights

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released new standards that improve location tracking, so we talk about Kevin’s hopes for that and save the bigger details for our guest segment. We’ve got two new smart lighting products. The first is from Casper —yes the mattress company — and the second is from a startup called Orro. From there we focus on a creepy new lamp, tech giants getting into the utility business and a new energy harvesting method. Plus, Japan is hacking its citizens’ devices, Amazon offers hosting, and here’s a tip sheet on what to look for in smart apartments from an infosec writer whose apartment is about to be made smart. We also answer a question about which Z-wave hub he should buy.

The Casper Glow sells for $89 for one or $169 for two.

This week’s guest is Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup explains what the SIG’s new location services technology is all about and when we can expect it in industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Unsurprisingly, Bluetooth is prepping for a role in industrial and enterprise settings with this move. He also explains why Beacons are not the failure I think they are. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: FairCom and Western Digital

  • Two very different lights, both smarter than you think
  • Why home automation’s next frontier is in energy
  • An update from last week’s show on unwanted smart apartments
  • Get the scoop on Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature
  • Maybe beacons aren’t as doomed as I thought

Episode 199: Check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT

We finish up our CES thoughts this week, although after living it, writing about it and talking about I’m not sure what’s been covered and where. We talk about Wi-Fi devices, Chamberlain working with Amazon’s Key program, and Kevin’s post-CES thoughts. We then turn to some security issues that are still plaguing companies grabbing and storing IoT data from Gemalto and Trend Micro. But avoid despair, IEEE has an idea to help improve security. In fun news, Lutron made an acquisition, Kevin’s excited about robots in his grocery store and there’s a new idea to protect your privacy from smart speakers. We also answer a listener question about tracking when someone comes home from school.

ABB makes robots and the software to work with them. Image courtesy of ABB.

Our guest this week is Guido Jouret, the chief digital officer from ABB. ABB makes everything from industrial robots to plastic zip ties in more than 290 factories around the world. Jouret explains Maslow’s hierarchy of IoT needs, or rather IoT development. From there we discuss the industrial IoT moonshot and new capital models enabled by usage-based pricing. What if pension firms end up owning big industrial assets while other companies merely pay per use? It turns capital expenditures into operating expenditures for manufacturers and lets investment firms own the capital equipment. Crazy. You’ll like this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guido Jouret, chief digital officer of ABB
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • CES was not the leap forward we wanted
  • Here’s our Instagram account
  • Amazon’s Key program just got a lot more compelling
  • There are five layers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT and most of us are only two layers up
  • How usage-based pricing of big equipment might change the assets pension funds hold

Episode 198: Check out CES and a smart KB Home

Kevin and I are at CES this week ready to embrace the future of consumer technology. But so far, we haven’t found much that is new. We discuss the domination by Google at the show, a bunch of news about Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem and a smattering of news from smart home providers. By this point in the show, we had seen several demos of smart home systems, tried on the connected glasses from North and tasted bread baked by a robot. Kevin also rode the ride marketing Google’s Assistant.  This time we conducted the show from a bar in Vegas while we were rehashing our thoughts from the last few days and figured we might as well just hit record. It’s a bit loosey-goosey, but it will help you feel like you’re there.

Google announced a smaller clock display at CES as well as ways to bring the Google Assistant into the car.

This week’s guest was also in Las Vegas, showing off a new concept home from KB Home. Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home, joined us to share the details of KB Home’s concept house in Vegas that combines connected products, wellness-focused AI, pre-fabrication techniques and walls that move to create new rooms on demand. The concept home has air quality sensors built into the walls, lights that are tuned to circadian rhythms and connected an HVAC system that tries to make the house as healthy as possible. Atalla explains the tech and which of these technologies you might see in future homes.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • Google may have the biggest news at CES and that’s sad
  • Alexa is also stealing the show with partnerships galore
  • Smarter kitchens are coming whether you want them or not
  • KB Home has built a house with a wall that moves and solar power
  • How to future-proof sensors built into walls

Episode 197: What to expect at CES and in 2019

This week’s show is all about the coming year. We start with Kevin and I discussing things we expect to see at CES next week as well as overall trends we think 2019 will bring to IoT and the smart home. They include everything from connected toilets to an increasing number of cellular providers for IoT. We also discuss smart speaker IQ tests, what’s up with Samsung’s Bixby and a new way to reduce power usage of sensors. We also talk about drone deliveries, Google’s Project Soli and a new IoT unicorn. For this week’s IoT Podcast Listener hotline, we revisit an answer from last week and answer a new question on how to get a Ring doorbell to work with Google Home.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker is MIA.

Our guest helps us kick off the new year with his thoughts on the industrial and enterprise IoT. Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital manages a fund dedicated to the industrial IoT. He explains why he thinks we’re about to enter a new phase of the internet of things where AI and cybersecurity will become far more important. His thesis is that the last five years of work building out connected machines and putting sensors in more places was building the “body” of the internet of things. And once that has been built, it’s time to focus on building the brain. For this, he’s turning to AI and cybersecurity startups. We talk about what those startups will look like and whether companies who haven’t yet built out a “body” should worry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Your bathroom is about to get seriously connected
  • Voice programming and MVNOs for IoT devices are top enterprise trends for 2019
  • Will Kevin beat last year’s CES walking goal?
  • The next five years of IoT are about a brain and an immune system
  • Is it too late for your company to digitally transform?

Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage