Episode 244: How AWS plans to take on the IoT

This week Amazon announced several new services ahead of its re:Invent event next week including news about Alexa Voice Services and the IoT elements of the cloud. We also touch base about Wink’s latest problem and try to explain the kerfuffle on lightweight IoT encryption. In smaller news bits, we talk about Wyze killing its person-detection feature unexpectedly, NB-IoT trackers from See.Sense and Flok, Google’s Ambient Mode coming to phones and Black Friday deals. We then review the Philips Hue Smart Button and the RoomMe presence detection devices from Intellithings. We end by answering a listener question about ways to remotely track his parents’ medicine adherence.

The Flok is one of several upcoming trackers that will rely on NB-IoT. Image courtesy of Flok.

Our guest this week brings us back to where we started, with Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at Amazon Web Services, coming on the show to talk about how Amazon plans to compete in the industrial and enterprise IoT with cloud and on-premise services. She talks about the latest news, the architecture required for the IoT, and the three laws of building a connected service. Plus, she explains why containers and serverless computing matter so much for the internet of things. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at AWS
Sponsors: Legrand and Schlage

  • Amazon doubles down on the cloud for Alexa
  • What’s up with the lightweight-encryption debate
  • I loved the Hue Smart Button but Kevin didn’t go for the RoomMe sensors
  • How Amazon plans to compete for enterprise and industrial cloud services
  • Amazon’s three laws for architecting services

Episode 242: Google explains itself and new Wyze gear!

Wyze makes some of the most reasonably-priced smart-home gear on the market and said earlier this month that it was planning a smorgasbord of new products, which Kevin and I detail in this episode. We then cover low-power wide-area networks with news that Twilio’s NB-IoT network and boards are now generally available and news that Amazon has joined the LoRa Alliance. From there we cover a security flaw, the longevity and reliability of connected home devices and a story about automation and jobs. We close with talk about a fitness company raising $55 million and another attempt at delivering wireless power at a distance. We then answer a question about who should swap out their Nest account for a Google Account.

The Whoop 3.0 fitness band is a compelling device with a pricey service.

Our guest this week is Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem, who explains why Google had to kill its Works with Nest program and what it means for users. You’ll also learn how Google thinks about privacy, that it doesn’t keep device state data and how it cordons off home data from its advertising network. We also talk about the local SDK and making it easier to add devices to the Google Home network. It’s an essential episode for Google fans.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem
SponsorsLegrand and Afero

  • Wyze has a lock, doorbell, scale and more on the way
  • Amazon gets deeper into LPWAN
  • Why Google had to kill Works with Nest
  • What’s inside Google’s Home graph
  • What to expect with Google’s local efforts

Episode 239: Tuya, toilets and Twinklys

This week Kevin and I start with an update on Tuya full of a variety of news the company announced at a conference held this week in Shenzen, China. From there we discuss two updates with the maker of Philips Hue light bulbs that means you won’t need a hub with SmartThings or Google Home devices. On the Google front, we chat about builders ditching Nest, missing Google Actions, a new hack, and an updated machine learning board. Nvidia hits our radar this week with machine learning at the edge, as does Shine’s smart toilet device. Kevin shares his review of the Nest Mini and we answer a listener’s question about smart holiday lights.

The Shine Bathroom Assistant cleans and detects leaks. Image courtesy of Shine.

After all that, join our guest Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast for a discussion about the role science fiction writers play in shaping our understanding of technology, We talk about the role fiction should have in setting tech policy, the different types of sci-fi and where stories should help guide our understanding of tech.  It’s a deep discussion that ends with a few book recommendations. I hope y’all enjoy it.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • Tuya’s rapid rise as an IoT platform
  • Nvidia’s edge news was big for telcos and some IIoT
  • Here’s a smart take on the smart toilet
  • My sci-fi may not be your sci-fi
  • What can science fiction writers teach us about IoT?

Update on 10/24/2019: In the podcast, we mistakenly noted that the new SmartThings integration with Philips Hue bulbs doesn’t require a hub. Because the SmartThings Hub doesn’t support Bluetooth, a Philips Hue bridge is still required.

 

 

Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

Episode 195: We’re switching to Google’s Home

Kevin is back this week and we kick off the show discussing GE’s decision to spin out its industrial IoT business. From there we talk about the closure of Lighthouse, the smart camera maker, a critical update for Hue bulbs and Qualcomm’s new IoT chip. Then we dive into a swath of Alexa related news, including updates that tailor routines for locations, a new wall clock and the beta program from Amazon’s Guard security feature. The show isn’t all about Alexa. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Google Home Hub and I get excited about being able to see my G Suite calendar data on my Google Smart Display. (Here’s that Norm photo album we talked about.) We also handle the rather late-breaking news about Ring’s lack of camera footage security. We also answer a listener question about why some connected devices don’t work with mesh Wi-Fi systems.

The Amazon Alexa wall clock costs $30.

My guest this week is my family. My husband and daughter come on the show each year to discuss what they like and don’t like from the world of smart devices. While we love Alexa and use it often, we’re switching over to Google Home after seeing the Nest gear and how well it performs with the Google Smart Displays. We also discuss our thoughts about what to take with us when we move and which devices we’ll miss most. I hope you enjoy the show, and the holidays!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • What the new GE IIoT business needs to do
  • Thank you Hue!
  • Alexa gets a lot of cool features and integrations
  • There’s a smart bulb in my room?
  • Yes, they are still talking about the June oven

Episode 179: IFA news and bringing extreme wattage to your kitchen

This week in Germany, the IFA trade show is the place to be. Unfortunately Kevin and I aren’t there, but we share a lot of the news that came out from the first half of the show. This includes smart speakers at the high end and lower end, crazy connected kitchen tech and a HomeKit enabled air quality monitor. From there we discuss $50 million in funding for Puls and Kevin’s experience with the Philips Hue Outdoor Lights. We also talk about some disappointing experiences with various updates of our products, from latency to services breaking. After that we answer a question about what to give a student leaving for the dorms. I will confess that I forgot to recommend a Tile, but we did recommend this (affiliate link).

The Joule sous vide cooker packs a lot of power and plenty of connected smarts. But no physical interface. Image courtesy of ChefSteps.

Our guest this week is Chris Young, the CEO of ChefSteps, which operates a recipe site and makes the Joule sous vide cooker. We talk about why the Joule doesn’t have any external controls, and what happens if the company goes bust, as well as why ChefSteps doesn’t plan to license Joule’s tech to other appliance companies. He also shares a recipe that will change your perception of beef. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Young, CEO of ChefSteps
Sponsor: Afero

  • All about IFA
  • When updates go wrong, or take too long
  • Gifts for college-bound kids for $50 or less
  • What is sous vide?
  • Putting the power of a nuclear reactor into your stock pot

Episode 164: New Wi-Fi standards and robots

The Wi-Fi Alliance has created a new standard for mesh networks, and Kevin and I are on top of it, discussing what it means, who’s participating, and whether or not it matters. We then tackle Sigfox’s new sensor and network in a box offering before sharing details on a new home hub from Hubitat that keeps your data local. We then talk up a new product for communicating with your kids, plans for outdoor lights from Philips and Netgear’s Arlo, and Kevin discusses his experience with the $20 Wyze v2 camera. He also bought a Nest x Yale lock, so we talk about that before getting a tip from a listener on the hotline about using cameras to set his alarm.

The Misty II is cute and somewhat affordable.

Our guest this week is Chris Meyer, who is head of developer experience at Misty Robotics. We talk about the newly launched personal robot that is aimed squarely at developers. In our conversation we get technical (so many specs), physical (why do robots fart?) and philosophical (will playing with robots turn our kids into monsters?). You’re going to enjoy this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Meyer of Misty Robotics
Sponsors: MachineQ and Bosch

  • Where’s Eero in this new Wi-Fi spec?
  • A hub privacy-minded folks could love
  • Why wouldn’t you buy this $20 camera?
  • Robots are in their infancy
  • Why do robots fart?

Episode 157: Why Foxconn is buying Belkin and the future of healthcare

We discuss two big news issues this week with the first being Foxconn’s offer to buy Belkin for $866 million. The deal would include the Wemo line of smart home devices and the Phyn leak detection joint venture. After that, data, privacy and surveillance rule the show in light of Facebook’s decision to delay its smart home speaker device. Before we lose hope in IoT entirely, Kevin brings up an effort in the UK to enshrine some basic consumer rights around the IoT including a device expiration date. We also talk about new Google Home skills, August’s updates, an acquisition by Particle, and Kevin’s thoughts on the Fibaro wall plug. We end our segment answering a question about smart door locks.

Particle’s recently launched mesh-enabled boards were part of a collaboration with the newly acquired RedBear Labs.

After the news segment, I interview Dr. Leslie Saxon who heads up the Center for Body Computing at USC, who believes that we’ll soon get 80 percent of our healthcare virtually. She talks about what we’ll need to make that happen and offers up a unique idea—a virtual version of herself that uses AI to provide basic care in her image and demeanor. The implications of all of this are pretty big, so we dig into two of the big ones; privacy and how it changes the relationship individuals have with healthcare. You’ll end up doing a lot more work. It’s an eye-opening episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Leslie Saxon of USC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Ring

  • Why Foxconn wants Belkin
  • Why would anyone want a Facebook smart speaker?
  • How the UK is advancing IoT security
  • The virtual doctor is in your pocket, your car and even your airplane seat
  • Get ready to take charge of your own healthcare

Episode 117: Intel’s new IoT strategy has fewer things

Intel plans to discontinue several of its boards designed for makers. Kevin and I discuss what this means for Intel’s IoT strategy. We also talk about ARM’s extension of a program that eliminates license fees to design custom chips, Ring’s new doorbell and Hue’s new lights. We then circle back on Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase and the availability of the Dash wand, while Kevin shares his favorite new Alexa Skill.

Too hot for the IoT?

Next up is blockchain, specifically how it could build sustainable IoT business models and even help generate wealth in the subscription economy. My guest Paul Brody is a principal at EY and a blockchain expert. You’ll learn a new way of thinking about subscriptions, fractional ownership and why blockchain and IoT are like chocolate and peanut butter. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Brody from EY
Sponsors: TE Connectivity and Affiliated Monitoring

  • What happens to the Intel Quark?
  • I replaced my doorbell transformer to handle the connected options
  • What do you think about Amazon’s interest in food?
  • Using blockchain to share cars or even solar farms
  • Open source software and blockchain can cut consumer IoT operating costs

Episode 84: Google Home is in the house!

The Google Home arrived this week and I detail a few first impressions here. Kevin Tofel and I also came up with a sneaky way to control a wider variety of devices using If This Then That and the Google Home. We kicked off the show talking about the recent hack of the Philips Hue light bulbs and then covered the Nest appliance news. We also discussed a new mindfulness device I’m testing, Talkies, a way to connect with your kids, and Bixi a gesture-controlled button.

The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron. Image courtesy of Spire.
The Spire mindfulness tracker feels like an oxymoron. Image courtesy of Spire.

The next half of the show features Rammohan Malasani, the CEO of Securifi, which makes the Almond Router, discussing how the Wi-Fi demands in the home are changing, how to secure routers and why consumers may never buy a smart home hub. We also talk about adoption rates and what he’s learned in four years of selling the idea of a smart home. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rammohan Malasani, founder and CEO of Securifi
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Bluetooth

  • First impressions of the Google Home
  • Philips bulbs (and ZigBee lights in general) are vulnerable
  • Check out Spire, a wearable for mindfulness
  • Why combine a router with a home hub?
  • How many devices are on your network?