Episode 210: Hannover Messe and haptic IoT

This week’s show focuses on the tremendous amount of industrial IoT news coming out of the Hannover Messe event held in Germany. We cover Microsoft and BMW’s Open Manufacturing Platform and the similarly named Open Industry 4.0 Alliance as well as the prevalence of 5G news at the show. After explaining what is going on in the industrial world, Kevin and I discuss a patent for silencing drones from Amazon, news on Google’s shopping partnership extension with Wal-Mart, and a new Google Hub. Kevin also shares his scoop on Google’s new Mistral board. We then discuss surveillance in smart cities before revisiting our answer from last week’s voicemail to add more ways to connect your smart blinds to Alexa.

A figure from Amazon’s hot air balloon patent issued this week.

This week our guest is Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks, which makes a product called the Wayband. The Wayband uses haptic feedback to guide visually-impaired people using haptic feedback. Kirkland explains what his team learned about building a product, the opportunities offered by haptic feedback and how other designers should think about adding haptic feedback to their devices. And all of this started because he just wanted to build a connected suit that would help him learn Kung Fu. It’s a fun interview!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • The IT industry digs into industrial IoT at Hannover Messe
  • Why wireless matters for industrial IoT
  • Kevin’s got a scoop on a possible Google device
  • Waterproofing is somewhat important
  • Touch isn’t the same everywhere on the body

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 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 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 189: Meet the Digital Standard for IoT security and privacy

The battle for more secure IoT products will get its day in court now that a judge has rejected requests for summary judgment in a case pitting the FTC against D-Link. The agency called out D-Link for making insecure routers and cameras. Now, the courts will decide. A smart glass maker gets a whopper of an investment, we discuss two new cellular modules from Sierra Wireless and Gemalto and there’s a creepy new twist on insecure IP cameras. Microsoft is switching things up for Cortana, and there’s a good idea for getting 9-1-1 calls on your Echo or Google Home. Finally, Kevin shares a tip on getting Alexa to notify you of events in the home using a new skill and IFTTT.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport uses smart glass from View to reduce heat and glare from the sun.

Our guest this week, Andi Wilson Thompson, a policy analyst at New America’s Open Technology Institute, also hits on privacy and security of connected devices, discussing a new effort called The Digital Standard. The goal of this year-old effort is to offer specific criteria and tests that connected devices should follow in order to be considered secure. Consumer Reports is using it to evaluate products and I think we’ll start formally assessing products against it in our reviews. Learn more in this week’s show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andi Wilson Thompson from New America’s Open Technology Institute
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Is this case the key to better IoT security?
  • Want a private LTE network? It might be yours.
  • Here’s how to solve e911 for Amazon Echo devices or Google Homes
  • The Digital Standard is a real stab at a safer IoT
  • A solution for extending the life of unsupported devices

Episode 188: How to design a better smart home

Smart home hubs are dying, DIY will become increasingly niche and smart companies are prepping for this. For example, Honeywell’s smart home spin out Resideo went public this week with an eye to removing complexity from smart homes. Meanwhile, Calix unveiled a gateway device and a service to make it easier for ISPs to deliver the smart home. In other failed IoT efforts, Kevin and I talk about the fall of beacons and point out what might take its place. Google’s new deal with iRobot comes up, and then we segue into Microsoft’s plans for a smart office followed by some of the more recent security breaches. We end with a low-power AI chip and by answering a listener’s question about a Wi-Fi motion sensor to work with his LIFX bulbs.

Roomba i7 robots will share mapping information with Google if users agree.

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.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • To normalize smart homes, DIY will die
  • Google’s getting home mapping data from robotic vacuums
  • Google’s Home Hubs compromised? How to think about risks.
  • We’ve been pitched the smart home for more than a century
  • Digital assistants should be helpers, not servants

Episode 183: Amazon’s news bonanza explained

Last week Amazon released a ridiculous amount of news that we’ve covered in detail, but Kevin and I talk it out and draw attention to some of the things we thought were relevant. We stay in the Seattle area to cover the Microsoft news out this week on new Azure products and Cortana’s new enterprise skills. We also talk about the new Withings watch, August’s module for Yale locks, and HomeKit support for Rachio sprinklers. Our hotline question this week is a listener’s challenge with kids and his freezer.

Amazon launched a $60 Microwave with Alexa inside as well as a $25 smart plug.

This week’s guest is Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy to discuss his company’s digital transformation. He walks listeners through the process of creating a group to handle the technical demands of building products around data and analytics, and then talks about how to communicate with vendors and business units. It’s a detailed look at this utility’s two-year process to get a grip on the potential inherent in the internet of things. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Alexa listens for broken glass and whispers
  • Microsoft embraces digital twins
  • So many ways to track a freezer’s status
  • Workshopping your way to an IoT future
  • How Entergy has seen a 12x ROI with IoT

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 167: Apple’s WWDC news and connected musicians

Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference news, including Siri’s new IFTTT-like abilities. We continue with Alexa finding a home on computers and a discussion of the OVAL sensor that’s hoping to crowdfund a second-generation product. I’m disappointed that Lenovo’s new Google Assistant screen-enabled device won’t ship until September, but super excited about Microsoft’s new IoT offerings, including spatial intelligence. There’s yet another industrial IoT platform for cellular low power wide area networks, this time from Sierra Wireless. Finally, Kevin and I share our latest buys, an Aware Glow air quality monitor for me, and an app that puts Alexa on the Apple Watch for Kevin.

My Awair Glow plugged into my bedroom wall.

Our guest this week is Anya Trybala, a musician and creator of SynthBabes, a group that supports female electronic music artists. Trybala talks about how connectivity and technology could change the way artists perform and introduces a concept for VR called The Elevator. For a look at her work, check out this video. To hear her thoughts on how to use AR/VR and the blockchain for changing music, listen to the interview.

Hosts: Stacey Hgginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anya Trybala of SynthBabes
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

    • Apple still isn’t changing the game in the smart home
    • Microsoft continues making its IoT services better
    • Check out Alexa on an Apple Watch
    • Building a connected concert experience
    • Are you ready for drone microphones?

Episode 163: Everything IoT from Microsoft Build and Google I/O

This week was a big one in the tech ecosystem with Microsoft and Google both hosting their big developer conferences. Microsoft’s featured a lot more IoT. Google shared a few updates for its Google Home and, prior to the show, made its Android Things operating system available. In Alexa news, Microsoft showed off its integration between Cortana and Amazon’s digital assistant, and Amazon added in-skill payments to Alexa. Ring has a new app, Fibaro has a new button, Netgear has a new update, Wyze has a new camera, Intel Capital has a new partner,  and we share a new report on camera security. I also share my experience with the Nest Hello Doorbell and the Nest Yale lock before we answer a question about moving music from room to room using the Amazon Echo.

The Fibaro HomeKit compatible button is $60.

Our guest this week is Microsoft’s head of IoT Sam George. He’s been on the show before, but this time we run down the big news on edge computing from Microsoft Build and discuss how a company can avoid messing up their business transformation. It’s a fun show no matter what you care about.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sam George, head of Microsoft’s IoT platform
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • Google’s turning the Home into a hub
  • How much is your hacked camera feed worth?
  • Thoughts on the new Nest gear
  • Why Microsoft’s edge strategy is open source
  • How to out of pilot purgatory for enterprise IoT