This week we didn’t see a ton of news, yet we managed to talk about several big trends in IoT. We started with an update on Amazon’s planned acquisition of iRobot, and Amazon dropping the price by 15%. We explain why and then decided to explain in depth why we need the planned cybersecurity labeling plan for connected devices because so many people asked me why we need this. We then talk about Unabiz creating a partnership with Semtech to bring Sigfox technology into the Semtech network. Then we talk about insurance companies using data gleaned from drones, satellite photos, and IoT devices and how that may hurt consumers, as insurance companies try to cancel policies in risky areas. This is where climate change, the IoT, and data privacy will all intersect in ways that will harm consumers. We then ponder what will happen with Google displays as the company pulls back from its Fuchsia OS, and how a smart home reporter’s broken HVAC system made her realize the limits of the smart home. Finally, we answer a listener question about using a motion detector to make sure kids turn off their lights.
Our guest this week is Adrian Dybwad, CEO and founder of PurpleAir, which makes a line of air quality sensors. As we head into wildfire season here on the West Coast, air quality data is becoming more important for people. For example, I turn regularly to PurpleAir data from the app, its web site, or on my Google display to see if I should go outside for a run or hold off. Dybwad and I talk about why the company was created, and how the air sensors are helping communities lobby for positive policy changes that can improve air quality. We also talk about how to think about connected devices contributing to citizen science, and why having a lot of sensors can mitigate concerns over accuracy. We spend a lot of time on how air quality sensors work and how to place them optimally as well. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Robert Pile, the head of real estate strategy at Homma, a company that is building smart homes. The company started out building smart homes but has since switched to building townhomes and multifamily units for rentals thanks to the changing real estate market. Pile talks about the technical challenges of building the infrastructure for smart homes and what types of buyers are choosing their properties. He also discusses the price premium that people are paying to buy or rent a smart home that’s built smart from the first foundation pour. I’m not sure if I’m done with my DIY efforts, but it does sound nice to have everything already smart when you move in. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Robert Pile, head of real estate strategy at Homma Sponsors: OnLogic and Silicon Labs
GroundWorx sensors makes water use visible, and reduces it
Could ambient sensing be the key for aging in place?
Home Assistant has a really nice Matter implementation
How much will people pay for a smart home or apartment?
What does the “plumbing” for a smart home look like?
Our guest this week is Stefan Witkamp, the commercial director at Athom, the company behind the Homey smart home hub. Witkamp explains Honey’s privacy-focused smart home hub and the plan to launch the latest generation of the Homey Pro hub at CES. This will be the first time Homey is available in the U.S. after six and half years of availability for the original Homey hub in Europe. Homey Pro has all of the radios that a smart home needs, including Thread and IR. For listeners who care about privacy, Witkamp explains how Athom created a business model that allows the company to respect user privacy. This means the $399 pro version of the hub is more expensive than other options on the market, and the cheaper version comes with a monthly subscription. We talk about what it costs to keep a home hub running and how investors can push a company to choose alternative business models. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Stefan Witkamp, Commercial Director for Homey Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Wait a minute before updating to Matter
Will a Roomba story get everyone to care more about device privacy?
The smart home meets insurance in this acquisition
Our guest this week is Elizabeth Parks, president and CMO of Parks Associates, a research firm focused on emerging technologies. Parks discusses how COVID changed the home security market as well as how monitored security providers have moved downmarket while DIY security companies have expanded upward into offering monitored security. All of this jostling has expanded the overall market. We also talk about the coming demand for energy management services as well as trends in new home building. Expect more connected devices! We end with a quick overview of what to expect from the CEDIA Expo happening this week in Dallas. It’s a fun conversation.
Our guest this week is Rob Davies, the chief insurance officer at Vivint. We start the interview by asking what a monitored security company is doing in the insurance sector, and move on to discuss what data might be most useful in building new insurance products. We also talk about how an insurance company might use smart home data to become more proactive about alleviating risk as opposed to paying out once the worst has happened. Davies uses the example of someone who has forgotten to lock their door. With Vivint’s platform, the insurance provider can let the homeowner know their door is unlocked before someone tries to break in. This creates a new relationship between insurers and their clients, and it will be interesting to see how far insurance companies take this idea. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Mark Benson, the head of Samsung SmartThings US. Benson is on the show to explain how SmartThings plans to eliminate the use of Groovy apps on hubs. The way forward is using APIs for cloud-to-cloud integrations, and LUA-based event handlers for smart apps that run locally. The final shift from Goovy takes place Sept. 30 so get ready for disruption if you have an older, niche routine or app on SmartThings, or update before then. Benson also shares more information on how SmartThings plans to support Matter and what it will mean for Samsung’s overall strategy in the smart home. We dig into what it means to be a Matter controller versus a Matter bridge and what role SmartThings will play. It’s a good show.
Our guest this week is Ron Rock, CEO and co-founder of Microshare.io, who discusses why his company started building pre-packaged IoT solutions and selling the data, as opposed to trying for some horizontal IoT platform. He also talks about the next big use cases for enterprise IoT after COVID. First up is figuring out how to best use corporate real estate in a hybrid work environment and how to rightsize corporate real estate holdings post-pandemic. His third use case is my favorite. He talks about why ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) demands are driving companies to adopt IoT solutions across a wide variety of use cases and industries. We end with a bit of conversation about new building standards and how he expects those standards to develop in the next three to five years. It’s a fun show.
Our guest this week is Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot and CEO of Tertill, a weeding robot. We discuss what she learned building a robot designed for the mass market, and how to think about introducing new capabilities over time. We also discuss how the Tertill works. It’s surprisingly low-tech for a robot, but that’s intentional to keep the price low enough to convince skeptical consumers to shell out $349 for a robot designed to keep gardens weed-free. We also talk about adding a subscription business model to the company’s mix and why that matters today. We end with Greiner’s vision for the smart garden of the future. It’s a fun interview just in time for spring.
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.
Our guest this week has written a new book on the smart home. We welcome Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, who is an industrial designer and author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life. We talk about more than a century of smarter homes, how the term has changed and why today’s efforts are not succeeding. She also asks us to question our current design methodologies for digital assistants and explains what might replace them. It’s a fun show.