Episode 367: What do you want in a home robot?

In this week’s show we question whether or not we want Amazon’s Astro home robot after seeing a few reviews. We then note that Google has introduced gaze as signal to wake up Google Assistant, which is one of the first uses of gaze as a wake-up indicator for the smart home. Then we talk about wearables starting with a recollection from Eric Migicovsky, the founder of Pebble, about what went wrong ending up with Pebble’s assets sold to Fitbit. We compared the Pebble story to the latest funding for the Oura ring, and mentioned Fitbit’s new FDA-approved atrial fibrillation detection. Then we discuss smarter tags manufactured in a new Brazilian factory for Avery Denison before discussing two new options in air purifiers: one from Wyze and one containing a UV-filter from Xiaomi. In other product news, here’s a new smart grow lamp and watering system for houseplants and some smart trackers with a greener footprint. And for all of our Home Assistant fans, Kevin checks in on the platform after a one-year-hiatus. We close by answering a listener question about consolidating smart lights.

Amazon’s Astro robot roves around the home trying to be helpful. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Dan Simpkins, CEO and co-founder of Dwellwell, a startup that aims to create a check-engine light for the smart home. Simpkins started the company in 2018 after experiencing a flood caused by frozen pipes, and realizing that many of the options available to monitor the home were too expensive and siloed. The solution he’s worked out is a SaaS product called Dwellwell that relies on custom-sensors that contribute data to several algorithms to check on the health of several home systems. We discuss how it works, why he chose to go after the multi-family and rental market and why he needs to use his own sensors. We also discuss the role Matter will play in the smart home and eventually, his platform. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Simpkins, CEO of Dwellwell
Sponsors: Impinj and InfluxData

  • Is your home robot ready?
  • What we’ve learned in a decade of wearables
  • Home Assistant’s worth another look
  • Why companies should base their AI on their own sensors
  • How Dwellwell rethinks traditional maintenance devices

Episode 351: Smart homes in the metaverse

What happens when the smart home meets the metaverse? We talk about the potential for better user interfaces and home mapping if we build digital twins of the home in a metaverse, while also discussing the potential of UWB to expand the amount of information contained in that digital twin. Then we discuss an excellent article on the Matter protocol and a new chip for Matter devices before noting Samsara’s successful public offering. In some anti-consumer news, Toyota is disabling features in its radio-controlled keyfobs unless people pay a subscription, leading us to wonder how we assess value in software as compared to hardware. We then look at LoRaWAN coverage maps for the combined Helium and Senet network, a new deal in the satellite IoT sector. Finally, we answer a listener question about Shelly RGBW modules for lighting and Home Assistant.

The Fi collar costs $149 and requires a subscription for its location-tracking feature. Image courtesy of Fi.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi, a maker of a connected dog collar. We discuss the product and why people buy a connected collar. Then we cover the connectivity options and why the Fi collar uses cellular as opposed to some of the other low-power wide-area networks such as Amazon’s Sidewalk. Lastly, we talk about subscription options and how to build a plan that works for your audience. Whatever Bensamoun is doing works, because 93% of people who buy the collar subscribe to the service. That’s amazing! Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Does the metaverse have a role in the smart home?
  • How UWB can help make the smart home better
  • Where there’s LoRaWAN coverage, and where there isn’t
  • Why cellular still beats Amazon Sidewalk and LoRaWAN
  • How to price a subscription for an IoT device

Episode 339: Much ado about privacy and support

This week’s show kicks off with the news of the Raspberry Pi Trading company closing a new funding round of $45 million. We talk about what the Pi Trading company is, how it relates to the Foundation, and how companies are building Pis. We then dig into Apple’s plans for healthcare, including plans for tracking mental illness. Plus, we give an update on what iOS 15 means for HomePods. Helium’s network expands, or rather Senet’s LoRaWAN network expands thanks to a deal with Helium, and Inmarsat provides some context about how COVID-19 is driving adoption for IoT connectivity technologies. Arlo has updated its support options, and we hate them. Facebook has introduced new devices, and we’re kind of meh on them. But Wyze has a new camera that pans, and we’re into that. Then we talk about Kevin switching to the Meross HomeKit garage door opener. We also answer a listener question about the newly launched Home Assistant Amber device on the IoT Podcast Hotline.

Home Assistant has introduced a new hardware concept called the Amber, but if you order now it won’t be delivered until November 2022. Image courtesy of Home Assistant.

This week’s guest is Leo Simonovich, the head of industrial and cyber at Siemens Energy.  He and I talk about the threats facing the grid, especially as we add renewables and more two-way devices. He also points out that while the media focuses a lot on nation-state attacks, issues like ransomware and other threats are far more likely and damaging. Siemens Energy recently announced a new security product, so he explains how the company is closing the divide between IT and OT while also adding credence to the idea that we need to watch how devices behave in the real world and not just on the network when it comes to security monitoring.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Leon Simonovitch, Siemens Energy
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • You may be surprised by who’s buying Raspberry Pis
  • Do you want an algorithm to diagnose mental illnesses?
  • Arlo’s new support plan is anti-consumer
  • Why the energy grid is such a reliable target for malicious hackers
  • Siemens is using digital twins to help secure the grid

Episode 332: The IoT gets a good idea and a bad idea

This week, news slowed down a bit so Kevin and I kick off the show talking about a connected manual device to physically press buttons or twist dials as needed to turn older appliances “smart.” After praising that idea we panned Amazon’s new soap dispenser for having a Wi-Fi chip that’s really underused. In other Seattle news, Wyze, the makers of so many connected devices, has raised $110 million from a venture firm associated with Jay-Z and IKEA launches an air-purifying side table. Sure. Philips Hue plans to launch a slightly brighter color-changing (and tunable white) bulb while Home Assistant has added energy-monitoring features as part of its latest update. We also talk about the creation of Alphabet’s industrial robot software startup Intrinsic and what innovation in robotics software could enable and end with Kevin’s take on the U.S. being behind in smart cities.

IKEA’s new air purifier is built into the side table. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped, who is on the show explaining why smart buildings are getting more attention lately.  We talk about what matters for real estate with the ongoing pandemic (I can no longer bring myself to say Post-COVID, y’all) and a renewed focus on energy savings. For the nerds, we cover technologies and data layers such as Haystack, Brick, and Microsoft’s Real Estate Core for building digital twins. He also shares his thoughts on how buyers are maturing when it comes to evaluating the security of their tech purchases. It seems buyers are asking more questions and better questions, which can only be a good thing. I agree.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped
Sponsors: Very

  • We have a good idea/bad idea segment this week
  • Wyze has $110 million in new funding for AI
  • Home Assistant gets energy monitoring as a feature
  • Why smart buildings are having a moment
  • Which standards matter for smart buildings

 

Episode 324: HomeKit and Home Assistant embrace Matter

We start this week’s show with a quick update on Amazon’s Sidewalk and then focused on the smart home news from Apple’s WWDC event earlier this week. We’re excited about third-party devices getting Siri support. We then cover the EU’s thoughts on anticompetitive behavior by IoT device companies, as well as the launch of a new standard that allows for low-power, highly-dense, mesh networks for 5G and Bluetooth. While on the topic of networking, we explain why Qualcomm’s new cluster of IoT chips is pretty cool. Then we talk about Google backing off AR Measure and Helium getting a new customer. I also review the new Nanoleaf Elements light panels and explain why you might want them, despite their cost. We close by highlighting a caller’s demand for two-factor authentication on smart home devices, specifically the Moen Flo products.

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat will be one of the first third-party devices to support Siri. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant, a smart home platform for DIYers. He talks about why he built the service as well as plans for new hardware later this year. We also discuss his plans for the Matter protocol and difficulty implementing the available Matter code on Github. Schoutsen also shares his recommendations on what buyers should look for in a connected product, especially one that connects back to the cloud. We end with a bit about Home Assistant’s business model, and with me asking for his help on a common listener question. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Apple’s bringing Siri to more devices and opens up on Matter
  • The EU isn’t keen on walled gardens in the smart home
  • This new low-power, highly-dense wireless network is worth a look
  • The folks at Home Assistant are working on new hardware
  • Will Home Assistant support Matter? You betcha!

 

Episode 262: Use your wearable data to detect COVID-19

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion of who should be tracking you during the pandemic and what rules companies and governments should use in order to protect user privacy. We also dig into the importance of APIs after Apple purchased the Dark Skye weather app. Then we explain the tightening relationship between carriers and the cloud with Microsoft’s preview launch of Azure Edge Zones. From there we dig into how social media can influence people during the pandemic, the best home Wi-Fi system, the new Fitbit, turning your Wyze Cam into a webcam, and a discussion of what we want broadband to be in the world we want to live in after the pandemic. We close on Kevin talking about Home Assistant integrations and his answer for a question on the IoT Podcast Hotline about how secure Home Assistant is.

The Fitbit Charge 4 will be out on April 13 and cost $149.95. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

This week’s guest is Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Scripps is trying to recruit people who have a Fitbit or other wearable to participate in a study to detect COVID-19 using variations in resting heart rate. We talk about the DETECT study (which you can sign up for from the link) as well as how to design a legitimate health study that includes consumer wearables. We also discuss the use of data and data privacy for those who want to understand those things before dedicating data to science. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Should Google and Apple implement contact tracing using our phones?
  • Azure Edge Zones are an example of the carriers and clouds getting closer
  • Home Assistant integrations are all over the map
  • What doctors look for when building studies around wearables
  • Why the DETECT study matters and how it’s data practices work

Episode 260: How to make telemedicine work in a crisis

Kevin and I kick off this week’s show discussing COVID-19 again. We start with a virus tracker for Home Assistant, a handwashing sensor, relaxed healthcare rules, disaster relief networks, Israeli tracking software, and Kevin’s tips for connected workout gear and online resources to keep you fit while quarantined. We then talk about a partnership for smarter SIMs with Thales Telstra, Microsoft, and Arduino before talking about some scary security research. Smart speakers, Sonos’ new OS, Amazon open-sourcing its checkout-free shopping system, and a smart ring that doubles as an activity tracker, round out the news. Finally, we answer a question about whole-home smart lighting.

Only 13% of connected device makers have any sort of bug reporting program according to a new survey.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, who has had several roles at the intersection of medicine and design at places such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Kaiser Permanente. We talk about the state of telemedicine today and where it may go after COVID-19 forces changes in the current medical system. We also talk about the role of connected health gadgets in these times, and advice for individuals who want to help solve some of the medical challenges facing us today. I learned a lot about why it’s 2020 and we still don’t have widespread telehealth.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, designer
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Smart things for a viral pandemic
  • Make ways for DuckLinks
  • Smarter SIM cards are coming to the IoT
  • What’s holding back telemedicine today
  • Go ahead and buy an oximeter if you’re worried

Episode 259: Lights out for first-gen Hue hubs and Lightify

This week’s show starts off with Kevin and I explaining exactly what’s happening with the death of the first-gen Philips Hue hubs (which we mentioned way back in November) and the death of the cloud servers powering OSRAM’s Lightify products. We then talk about Kevin’s experience installing Home Assistant and mine with the Helium hotspot. In news, we’re discussing Amazon putting its Amazon Go tech up for sale, Google’s Jacquard finding a new home in sneakers, an update for Apple Watch, Google Assistant getting support for sensors, Arlo updating security, and new Ring doorbells. We end by answering a question from a landlord about monitoring his rental properties.

Google’s Jacquard is now inside an insole designed for soccer fans. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared, a web site and newsletter dedicated to manufacturing (and other cool stuff). He’s sharing his and his community’s perspective on the COVID-19, what it means for Apple, big manufacturers and for companies starting on their product journey. It’s not all doom and gloom. He provides great reasons to get comfortable with making your product and suggests that like most crises, there could be opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Two smart lighting platforms are shutting off support
  • Kevin thinks Home Assistant needs some tweaks for normals
  • Google Jacquard’s price isn’t crazy high
  • COVID-19 could affect your holiday gift options and next year’s laptop
  • Why you should try to manufacturer your product if you can