Episode 425: Smarter grocery stores are coming

Krogers and Walmart are both expanding various IoT devices to more of their stores as part of a larger shift in how connectivity and intelligence will change how we shop. Walmart is deploying electronic shelf labels in 500 stores while Kroger is installing Cooler Screens’ connected refrigerator doors that replace the glass doors with a screen and uses optical sensors to track when people are walking by a case to show them ads. We talk about how these changes may or may not benefit shoppers and why broad deployment may also lead to better broadband quality. Then Kevin shares his dreams of a home robot and the launch of an easier way to program embedded hardware from Microsoft. We also look at the history of the Internet of Bees with news from Sateliot, and focus on projects from Microsoft, Oracle, and many others. In smaller news, Wyze has a new outdoor light with AI features, NXP has a new line of industrial application processors, Amazon is getting rid of celebrity voices, and Level debuts a connected doorbell product for multifamily units. We’re going to see more smart home companies pivot toward apartments in the next few years. There’s also a new Mirai variant spreading across IoT devices. Finally, we answer a listener question about installing low-voltage wiring during a home renovation.

Cooler Screens makes doors for cold storage that can show shoppers what’s inside. Image courtesy of Cooler Screens.

Our guest this week is Nate Williams, founder and managing partner at Union Labs VC. He’s on the show to answer my questions about the current fundraising environment for startups. We talk about what it takes to raise an early round of funding, and why venture capital firms are reluctant to invest in new companies while they try to figure out what their existing investments need. He also mentions that Union Labs is raising a second fund, and discusses what areas he’s excited about. We then discuss the hype around generative AI and what he’s looking for in AI investments. We end with our thinking about the current state of smart home investments. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nate Williams, founder and managing partner at Union Labs VC
Sponsors: Particle and Kudelski IoT

  • Will smart store technology benefit retailers or consumers?
  • Microsoft’s DeviceScript is a cool software tool for embedded devices
  • A brief history of the Internet of Bees
  • A closer look at the venture market for those seeking funding
  • If you’re selling AI to investors, you need a moat

 

CES 2018 was about more than voice

CES is full of stories if you know where to look. This year we had to look beyond companies putting Alexa in everything from toilets to toothbrushes. If you did, you could find out all kinds of fascinating things, such as the big opportunities in the enterprise internet of things or what Comcast is doing with its purchase of Stringify. While roaming the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo, I asked people what they were excited about, what they were looking for and what they think the future might hold.

Once again, we bring you the less obvious side of CES.

The results are in this podcast, with interviews with Alex Hawkinson, CEO of SmartThings; Nate Williams, an EIR at Kleiner Perkins; a CEO who sold his camera startup to Ooma, and many more. I also share¬†my favorite device from CES, which is not exactly something you can buy at Best Buy. But if we’re lucky, we could soon see it in something from Amazon. I hope you enjoy. If you do, thank the Open Connectivity Foundation which sponsored the entire episode, and gave an update on that standard effort.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: There are a lot
Sponsor: Open Connectivity Foundation

  • Comcast explains what’s next for Strinigfy
  • Alexa Hawkinson on Samsung’s plans for SmartThings
  • Ben Nader of Butterfleye on how to pick a buyer
  • Nate Williams on enterprise tech
  • Willy Pell on how to architect machine learning at the edge