Episode 70: Distributed computing comes to the smart home

Wearables make a return to the podcast with Philips’ news of a suite of medical-grade devices to measure health. Plus, I give my impressions of the UnderArmor Fitness box after a few months living with it. Kevin Tofel and I also talk about Black Hat and IoT security, including a $9.4 million grant to study the electromagnetic noise made by hacked devices as a means of detecting hacks. There’s also new lighting tech from Philips on the Hue light bulb side! We end our segment with a first look at the Brita water pitcher connected to the Amazon Fulfillment service.

The Plum light switches in their package. The switches cost $289 for three.
The Plum light switches in their package. The switches cost $289 for three.

Our guest is Utz Baldwin, the CEO of Plum, the maker of a Wi-Fi light pad. Smart home aficionados will appreciate the quality Wi-Fi light pad that accepts dimming and other commands, while nerds will be excited by the fact that this light switch runs Erlang and acts as a node for a distributed compute network in the home. Baldwin also is the former head of CEDIA, which means he gives a professional installer’s point of view on DIY smart home devices. You’ll enjoy this episode!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Utz Baldwin, CEO of Plum
Sponsors: Xively and ThingMonk

  • Thoughts on Philips’ new consumer medical device suite
  • Thoughts on UnderArmour’s products
  • Brita’s Amazon Dash water pitcher in the real world
  • How a CEDIA president views the smart home today
  • Why the smart home needs a fog

Episode 62: Tony Fadell set to Away mode

This week we got to the big story of the last few days, Tony Fadell leaving Nest. We discuss what that means for any Nest buyers out there and what it says about selling connected device. And because Father’s Day is around the corner, we came up with three gift ideas for Dad. None of them relate to ties, golf or grilling. And for people who love lighting as much as I do, we found reports of white BR30 lights from Philips Hue, something I’ve been eagerly awaiting since the launch of the white, standard A19 bulbs.

The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.
The Nest thermostat courtesy of Nest.

Then we move to this week’s guest, Chris Penrose, the SVP of IoT at AT&T. He chatted with me about the carriers plans for building an IoT business beyond cars, and also talked about the opening of the latest AT&T innovation center devoted to medical devices. This AT&T Foundry is based in Houston, Texas and will tackle home health devices as well as challenges associated with connected hospitals. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Chris Penrose, SVP of IoT, AT&T

  • Next steps for Nest
  • 3 gift ideas for Dad
  • My dreams have come true
  • AT&T takes on medical devices
  • Why the last mile is now the last meter

Episode 55: Find out what Ford learned from Tesla

With ride-sharing, electric vehicles and millennials who aren’t super keen on owning a car all converging, the auto industry is in a panic. But Ford, led by both Bill Ford and Ford CEO Mark Fields has created a plan to keep the carmaker relevant, even if fewer people buy cars. With this being said, there will always be people out there who love vehicles like the Ford Maverick and collecting vintage cars. In this week’s show, I chat with Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, about moving from making cars to delivering transportation. Butler shares Ford’s thoughts on connecting the car, the integration with the Amazon Echo, and a few things Ford has learned from Tesla. Is this exciting news?! An upgrade at long-last to the Ford! If you want to get yours ordered, you may want to have a look at the car finance options available to you. Of course, getting a car on finance isn’t the best option for everyone. Some people still prefer to buy their cars outright. However, with the prices of newer vehicles, this can be difficult. Although, more people are finding ways around this. For example, some people might look into applying for a Petal credit card to help them build their credit up. Having a reputable credit score can increase an individual’s chances of being able to receive a loan from a bank, allowing them to own their car instead of paying for it monthly.

The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.
The 2017 Ford Escape is possibly the smartest car Ford has to offer said Butler.

Before Butler and I get talking, Kevin Tofel and I discuss Intel’s job cuts and internet of things strategy as well as a Zigbee chipmaker’s acquisition. We then talk about the challenge of matching tech components to the long lifespan of some home products. Kevin bought a Pine 64 development board and we talk about what he should do with it, we add a few other updates on devices such as the Philips Hue lights and cover a new deal to bring connectivity to your clothes

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Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Don Butler at Ford

  • Can Intel matter in the internet of things?
  • My smart bulb’s radio broke so now it’s dumb
  • Connected clothes are coming
  • What Ford learned from Tesla
  • Discover Ford’s biggest asset as it seeks to transform its business

Episode 47: New money for IoT startups, new routers for homes and Eero’s CEO

This week was so full of small news items Kevin and I could barely keep up. We kicked off the show with a review of the Eero routers that launched on Tuesday, that I tried for this show and wrote about for PCMag, and we also had Eero CEO Nick Weaver on the show to explain why previous routers have sucked for so long, what Eero is doing about security woes and why the company is not focusing on software to help manage devices … yet. Weaver has a lot to say about Wi-Fi in the home and the state of the industry, especially about security, so check him out. The majority of homes now have access to the internet. With routers being password-protected if a Netgear router is one that is installed within the home, knowing how to access the Netgear router login will enable members of the family to be able to use the internet freely. The same goes for any router that’s purchased.

If you’ve just brought your new router home, you may be trying to get to grips with the default usernames and passwords – see here for more.

The Eero router 3-pack.
The Eero router 3-pack.

But first, Kevin and I heard back from Philips about its messed up Android app that we discussed last week, we covered Verizon’s surprising gains in the Internet of things and Nokia’s launch of a $350 million fund for startups interested in building technologies that help make a highly distributed and connected world a reality. We also talked about some Mobile World Congress news, such as AT&T’s partnership with Intel to test new LTE-enabled drones, a new IoT network from Ingenu, and a new chip design from ARM for wearables. We also snuck in a business idea for anyone who wants it. Maybe you can take it to Nokia’s new fund. So give a listen and we hope you enjoy.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Nick Weaver CEO of Eero

  • Why the I love the Eero routers (for my very specific home)
  • Verizon is doing really well in IoT!
  • MWC news round up with Nokia, a new IoT network from Ingenu, AT&T and more!
  • Why existing routers have weak security and lame software
  • How to focus on what really matters in designing your consumer product

Episode 46: Barbie has a smart home and Sense gives your home computer vision

Andreas Gal, the CEO of Silk Labs has built what feels impossible. With the Sense hub he has created an artificially intelligent home hub that contains a camera, controls for other connected devices and a dedicated to privacy that means he can still offer services but still protect users from blanket surveillance. And the device is beautiful. Gal came on the show this week to talk about the Sense hub and why the world needs yet another connected camera and how he took his role as the former CTO of Mozilla and used that to inform the privacy features the camera offers. We also discussed how to implement AI models and learning on a device as opposed to in the cloud. Many of the challenges Gal has dealt with in his design are ones that hardware designers are thinking through as they implement their own AI or consider how to think about privacy in a world where the U.S. government has declared open season on stalking the Internet of Things.

The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. --Image courtesy of Silk.
The Sense camera and home hub from Silk. –Image courtesy of Silk.

And yes, Kevin Tofel and I discuss James Clapper’s comments before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee from last week in this episode, as well as a bunch of updates to some popular products. Some are good, such as the Wemo updates that boost reliability of the platform and Wink’s updates that bring lighting commands inside the home as opposed to between clouds. Some are frustrating, such as Philips Hue updating its Android app in a way that breaks it if users don’t want to share their location and photos. And some are just awesome, like the continued updates to Amazon’s Echo that include support for Spotify, Uber and the Ecobee3. And yes, Barbie has a smart home. So get set for your commute, your run or however you enjoy the show and have a listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Andreas Gal, CEO of Silk Labs

  • Barbie’s smart home might rival yours
  • Amazon’s Echo gets better and updates gone crazy for Hue, Wemo and Wink
  • The Internet of things is a gift for spies
  • Meet the Sense home hub which uses computer vision to learn more about your home
  • Rethinking privacy for connected devices

Episode 37: Philips Hue drama and plan to fail even as you hope for success

Phillips caused a kerfuffle this week when it stopped supporting third-party light bulbs with its Philips Hue bridge and software. It has since reversed the decision after customers complained, but because the crazy time travel that Kevin and I undergo each week to bring the podcast to you had to record an update. However, the conversation about third-party support and standards still remains relevant for the smart home today. We also dig into IBM’s new program that brings the Watson set of cognitive computing services to the industrial internet and Kevin’s crazy Bitcoin mining operation on a Raspberry Pi. Due to the rising popularity of this online currency, more and more ways are being developed to try and make extra Bitcoins more efficiently in order to trade them on platforms such as bitcoin revolution. Bitcoin mining can be a long and tiring process to go through in order to try and create a profit though, which is why some Bitcoin users opt for bitcoin auto trading instead. Not only does this remove the physical trading aspect, some sites also guarantee a profit daily. Some decide to trade manually by deciding to buy their Bitcoin from websites similar to Bitcoin Australia which can be great if you have an action plan with your trading but isn’t for everyone.

Kevin's Bitcoin mining operation using a Raspberry Pi and a custom dongle.
Kevin’s Bitcoin mining operation using a Raspberry Pi and a custom dongle.

Our guest this week is Santiago Merea who just sold his startup, the Orange Chef Co. to Yummly for an undisclosed amount. Merea discusses the future of the Prep Pad connected scale made by his company, and the future of Yummly. He also talks about the importance of having a plan for failure when you start out building a connected product. It’s a great show, so please enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Santiago Merea of Yummly

  • What’s wrong with Philips Hue?
  • IBM’s calling in Watson for a job on the industrial internet.
  • How to make 4 cents a day using your Raspberry Pi and a $35 dongle.
  • What’s next for recipe provider Yummly after swallowing a connected device company.
  • When building hardware, think about failing even as you plan for success.

Episode 28: Warm and fuzzy drones and living with Apple’s HomeKit

Several HomeKit devices finally arrived in the house and were installed with relative ease. I had the Lutron bridge that had come out earlier this summer paired with two dimmer switches, a lamp module and my Nest thermostat, the new Philips Hue bridge that is HomeKit enabled paired to five Hue lights and a Schlage Sense lock installed on my back door. It was a good smattering of devices, but unfortunately it was the wrong smattering, because none of the apps seemed to have a way to bring all of the individual devices together, unless it was through Siri. Listen up as Kevin and I discuss a full review of the products on this week’s podcast.

The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.
The outside-facing side of my HomeKit-enabled Schlage Sense lock.

We also cover August smart lock’s new video doorbell, keypad and access plans and Savant’s new DIY home automation system. But most of our time is spent on HomeKit, Apple and little bit of comparison between that and other solutions on the market, such as the Amazon Echo. Our guest for the week covers the topic of helping people age in place through the use of drones. In recent years, drones such as the Mavic Mini have soared in popularity thanks to their HD recording capabilities. Drones in general have flown off the shelves as their potential grows and grows, with people finding a multitude of different uses for them. They are not only used for photography and videography now, although you can see some of the amazing videos people have made with them at dronesuavreport.com. However, in the podcast we talk about a whole different use for these consumer electronics. Yes, we are not talking about your typical surveillance drone, but a warmer, fuzzier version that is autonomous. Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois discusses her research in developing autonomous drones that work with people and don’t frighten people. Listen up to find out how she plans to transition from farming to helping the elderly.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Naira Hovakimyan, a professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois

Episode 27: Early adopters will suffer for their love of the smart home

This week the smart home got some new capabilities with Philips Hue announcing a new HomeKit enabled bridge that also will be upgraded to support the newly announced Nest Weave protocol. Kevin Tofel and I discuss both the new bridge and the new Nest Weave protocol and whether or not we want to keep investing in new gear to upgrade our networks. We also touch on the new cloud offerings announced by Amazon and Microsoft for developers looking to build connected products.

designswarm_profile_alex

Our guest this week Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (pictured above), who is a design consultant and the creator of the Goodnight Lamp, joined me to discuss consumerism and selling the internet of things. We touched on product lifecycles, again on the Hue bridge and even about designing for sustainability and the responsibility that connected device designers have to consumers and the environment. She came to a pretty grim conclusion, but it’s good food for thought, especially if you haven’t bought into the connected device bonanza yet.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino of Design Swarm

  • Should you upgrade your Philips Hue bridge to the latest version?
  • A deep dive into the Nest Weave protocol
  • Consumerism and the IoT. Is this what we want?
  • If you buy your connected device today, be prepared to suffer.

Episode 4: The evolution of an IoT services business and build a connected garden

Spring is in the air, so this week’s podcast celebrates with a preview of an upcoming connected garden product that looks pretty smart — the Edyn sensor and connected water valve system that will hit Home Depot shelves in May and is available for pre-orders. Kevin I discuss the solar-powered sensors, and although it’s iOS-only for the time being, there’s reportedly an Android app coming some time in the future. We also talk about my plans for nighttime bathroom lighting, an awesome beta app that uses the Android lock-screen to control your connected devices in the home called Reach and more.

Michael Simon, CEO and Chairman of LogMeIn
Michael Simon, CEO and Chairman of LogMeIn

This week’s guest focuses on the business benefits of adding connectivity to your products with guest Michael Simon, the CEO and chairman of LogMeIn, the maker of the Xively service. Xively provides the back end infrastructure for connected devices, and recently launched an upgrade that offered better compliance and rules associated with devices and data. Simon focused on why that matters, what types of businesses can easily take advantage of connected products to offer higher value services and what the evolution of a connected business looks like. At the very end he dives into the architecture of the Xively platform, which boasts an “MQTT-compliant” messaging layer the Xively team built as well as off-the-shelf MySQL and Cassandra databases. I was hoping for something a little more like a knowledge graph given the relationships it would have to track, but apparently that’s not under the hood.

So, listen up for some inspiration on the home front or for your business, and feel free to let me know what you think.

Listen at Soundcloud and get the download

Download the MP3 file for this week’s show here

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Simon, Chairman and CEO of LogMeIn

  • The Edyn garden sensor doesn’t feed you data, it feeds you information.
  • Using the Hue, SmartThings and a motion sensor for some nighttime bathroom lighting
  • Some sweet software for your Android lock screen from Reach
  • How to move from a connected product to a connected business
  • How do you architect a system to connect millions of endpoints. Simon can tell you.

Episode 2: Is it too late to secure the internet of things?

Fans of the connected home got some exciting news when Amazon showed of its Dash Buttons, a simple, connected button that consumers could press to order a single products from the e-commerce giant. The idea is consumers would pop a Tide button by their washing machine, a Cottonelle button by their toilet and an Oil of Olay or Gillette Fusion button by their medicine cabinet, and as they run low, press the button to order more. It was an idea so simple that it seemed ridiculous and people wondered if it was an April Fool’s prank.

So Kevin Tofel and I discussed the Dash on this week’s show and you won’t believe why Kevin doesn’t like the idea. We also discuss the newly launched Hue Go wireless LED light, which I review ahead of its May or June launch. For $99.95 it’s a splurge, but if you like lights, I think it makes a nice gift. We kicked off the show with me sharing a segment that I recorded with Nightline, the ABC late-night news program. The show came to my home and hired a hacker to film a segment on smart homes and security. You can see the segment below:


ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos

The experience prompted me to ask this week’s guest Joshua Corman to come on the podcast to speak about his efforts with an organization called I am the Cavalry, a collective of hackers, researchers and activists trying to build a more secure connected future. We spent a lot of time discussing the group’s framework for connected cars, but it’s a framework that will translate well to other aspects of the internet of things. So get ready to feel very insecure (watch Corman’s TED talk to feel worse) and to learn a bit more about Kevin Tofel’s odd network habits.

Listen at Soundcloud and get the download

Download the MP3 file for this week’s show here

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Joshua Corman, co-founder at I am the Cavalry

  • How your Nightline smart home sausage was made
  • A review of the new Hue Go wireless light
  • Amazon Dash is a cool retrofit, but Kevin doesn’t want it
  • Here is the bare minimum for a secure internet of things
  • Are today’s cars a BP oil spill waiting to happen?