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 241: How a smarter edge can make schools safer

This week on the show, Kevin and I started with a discussion of reports of how smart speakers can receive remote commands from a hacker with a laser. We then shifted gears to talk about company research showing how much data your smart homes are sending and a brand new network product from Firewalla. Cortana’s pivot to productivity gets a mention, as does Kevin’s take on Google buying Fitbit. From there we reviewed the Twinklys smart lights, talked about new Ecobee features, smart apartment deals and the open-sourcing of Google’s Titan chip. We then answer a listener question about smart garage door opener alternatives for  Chamberlain’s MyQ product.

The new Firewalla security device is now also a router. Image courtesy of Firewalla.

Our guest this week is Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion. We start off talking about smart edge capabilities that could be used to make schools, offices and other spaces safer. Then we discuss how smart home device manufacturers have changed their goals when trying to create partnerships. Before, the focus might be on marketing on one-off features, but manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated. Find out what’s new, and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion.
Sponsors: Legrand and Afero

  • Using frickin’ lasers to hack Alexa
  • What do your devices do while you are sleeping?
  • Why Amazon should have purchased Fitbit
  • Stopping tailgaters at college requires smarts at the edge
  • Privacy is becoming a point of negotiation in the gadget world

Episode 235: How Amazon is defining the smart home

This week’s show covers the big Amazon announcements in the guest segment, but first Kevin and I focus on the retailer’s smaller announcements around its new show and tell feature and voice interoperability efforts.  Kevin has thoughts about cameras in the home. We also talk about Google changing how it handles voice recordings to help address user outrage while covering a study about the privacy challenges of other IoT devices. Then we dive into the geeky idea of merging Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN into a super IoT protocol, cover Zira’s industrial IoT software and figure out who might buy FitBit. We end by answering a question about smart bedside table lamps.

For 99 cents you can get an explicit or clean version of Samuel L. Jackson to replace Alexas voice for some features of the Echo.

Our guest this week is Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon who runs through some of the bigger announcements from the Amazon Alexa and services event on Wednesday. We cover why Alexa has moved beyond a physical device to become a digital assistant and platform. We talk about how Amazon wants to make money on that platform as well as some of the new devices that will showcase Alexa. These include Frames and the Loop ring. Plus, we do a deeper dive into Sidewalk, Amazon’s new wireless protocol for the front yard (and maybe more). Rausch ends by telling us how long we’ll take to see Amazon deliver a truly smart, proactive home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon
Sponsors: Control4 and HiveMQ

  • Are cameras the secret to smart home dominance?
  • The pros and cons of voice interoperability
  • This Wi-Fi plus LoRaWAN plan isn’t too crazy
  • The digital assistant is the new tech platform and Alexa is queen
  • More on Amazon’s new Sidewalk wireless protocol

Episode 226: Google’s Nest exec isn’t into smart homes

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing how Google’s head of IoT isn’t a believer in the smart home. Except he is. He just calls it something else, and we explain his rationale for doing so. We also explain why I am so excited about Microsoft’s new contracts for sharing data and why Tile just scored $45 million in funding. From there we wonder if Google’s machine learning-based approach to recognizing electricity use in appliances is cool, who would buy the OmniFob smart keychain, and why Wyze is building a scale. Then we move to news from Huawei, Abode going deeper with Google Assistant, Adobe’s voice study and LG adding HomeKit to new TVs. Kevin shares his impressions of the Firewalla device, and then we answer a listener question about bring smart bulbs outside and finding wireless switches that work. It must be summer, based on these outdoor inquiries.

The OmniFob can replace your car keys, your house keys and control your smart home.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful, a newly launched startup building apps for smart home devices. Kraftful is a company at YCombinator that is working with big brands to make the apps for connected devices work better. She explains what features mainstream consumers want, why big companies aren’t building these apps themselves and why her business isn’t a feature of a larger tech stack. It’s a good intro to a new company.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Call it intuitive, smart or helpful, just make it happen
  • Microsoft’s contracts serve a burgeoning need for enterprises
  • Firewalla makes a big impression
  • Why do so many smart device apps suck?
  • Can Kraftful turn app development into a scalable business?

Episode 219: The summer Q&A episode!

Twice a year Kevin and I gather up a bunch of your questions from the Internet of Things Podcast Hotline and find answers for them. The episode stars all of our listeners and this time around y’all want to know about helping students build Amazon Alexa skills, how to use a sensor to track when the washer or dryer is done, and how to know when you left the stove on. Y’all also asked for an update on my Grand Google Home experiment, which caused my family to mutiny.

What the heck is up with Wink? We still don’t know.

Smarter appliances were a big trend this episode, but y’all also wanted a smarter mailbox, an update on Wink and the safest way to set up a Wi-Fi network for your devices. Sadly, we recorded this before Apple shared the news that it would work with router makers to create a separate network for IoT devices. John asked a question about surge protectors for IoT devices, which was honestly something I had never considered. Kevin thinks it’s a good idea for those higher priced items. We round it out with a question from Kiril about which tablet he should buy to support remote monitoring of his Ring doorbell. We hope you enjoy the show, and appreciate Schlage and Afero for their continued support of the IoT Podcast Hotline.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

Resources from the show:

Episode 215: What Google killing Works with Nest means

This week’s show is a long one, thanks to both Google I/O and Microsoft Build happening this week. We kick off with news from I/O about local processing and gesture controls before digging deep into what it means that Google is killing its Works with Nest program. We explain what it means for consumers, the industry, and for developers. From there we move to the privacy one can expect in Amazon’s Echo products and generally what Amazon knows about you. We also talk about the new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera. The enterprise gets a lot of love from Microsoft at Build with new conversational talents, a way to migrate old embedded devices to the modern Windows 10 IoT OS and support for robots and Windows 10 IoT. We end with news bits including an update on Bluetooth’s success and an update on the lawsuit over landlords installing smart locks. I also review Wyze Sense sensors.

The new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera will sell for $89.99.

This week’s guest is Kiva Allgood, the new head of IoT and Automotive at Ericsson. She has worked at GE Ventures and at Qualcomm, so she’s familiar with the history of the IoT. She discusses agile factories that will be enabled by 5G networks, why we need industry-wide standards for the IoT and explains why adoption has been slow. We also talk about the importance of resiliency in the industrial IoT, something that is occasionally lost on the IT folks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kiva Allgood of Ericsson
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Consumers should only buy Nest gear if they are Google-only homes
  • Would you dump your digital assistant?
  • At last Azure Sphere security service is being used in the real world!
  • Standards will make the industrial IoT profitable
  • With 5G you can reprogram your factory like you reprogram software

Episode 212: How to find connected devices in your home or enterprise

This week’s show is all about visibility. Kevin and I get started discussing the new IoT Inspector program that tracks what devices are on your network and how they behave.  In other surveillance, we talk about how easy it is to identify total strangers using public cameras and public facial recognition programs, before discussing the destruction of a privacy law in Illinois. Intel’s decision to get out of the smartphone modem business gets a mention, as does Apple’s LIDAR investments and a new app from Waymo. In news bits, we talk about Schlage locks working with Ring, a new Alexa Skill certification, a new sport, Norsk Hydro’s ransomware, and how to run open source smart home software in the cloud instead of a Pi. We also answer a question about connected double-cylinder locks.

AI created a game called Speedgate. This image is taken from a video of people playing it.

This week’s guest is Nadir Izrael, the CTO of security firm Armis. He discusses how security challenges have changed in the era of connected devices and the business pressures behind some connected devices getting onto the network even when IT wants to say no. He also shares some horror stories associated with insecure connected devices, such as a hospital infusion pump infected with malware that was connected to a patient. Izrael says the hospital had to get a nurse to watch the patient all night to make sure the infusion pump didn’t misbehave. Weak security can cost lives, not just spam all your friends.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nadir Izrael, CTO at Armis
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • Here’s where you can download IoT Inspector for Mac OS
  • Will you be playing Speedgate, a new, AI-developed sport?
  • What can we learn from Norsk Hydro’s ransomware attack?
  • Connected treadmills might be your enterprise’s weak link
  • How a hospital guards against malware-infected infusion pumps

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 206: Why your smart devices cost so much

This week Kevin and I start off the show with a discussion about Google’s new Coral board that provides machine learning at the edge. We then jump to sensor company Centralite’s bankruptcy filing in Alabama. We also discuss the death of Jibo and how the end of Lighthouse meant new patents for Apple. After covering all of that sad news we jump to new Alexa skills, why I want an Alexa Auto, and a new video doorbell from August Home. From there Kevin and I spend the rest of the show discussing the challenges associated with smart home hubs, the best home hubs and why you should delete your devices from your home hubs. We end by answering a listener question about connected car devices for teens.

The Centralite family of products.

Our guest this week is Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures and a former product manager at companies that include Square and Apple. She shares her experiences building connected devices, where companies tend to go wrong and what to look for in a manufacturing partner. She also explains why a device that costs $100 to make might end up costing $300 on the shelves at Best Buy. It’s a good conversation for anyone building or buying connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Why we need machine learning at the edge
  • Could the next Homepod have video?
  • Hubs are complicated even for experts
  • How to give your favorite device startups an extra chance to succeed
  • What to look for in your manufacturing partner

Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage

Episode 178: Facebook’s smart speaker and a new security startup

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I trying to figure out Facebook’s voice ambitions. We then explain how Google is using IoT data and AI to shave 40% in energy use in its data centers. This is the future. From there we talk about that future’s dark side with a survey on consumer fears, a security exploit of Wemo devices and an attack that could waste a lot of water. We then discuss news bits such as C3 working with Google Cloud, using Wi-Fi for airport security, my thoughts on the new FitBit Charge 3, the acquisition of the maker of the Vera hub and the acquisition of CE Pro. We also answer a question about tracking when your kids come in and out of the home.

This is how I picture myself in the FitBit Charge 3. Not stuck behind my computer screen.

Our guest this week is Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io, a company created to provide continued security for connected devices. Baker explains why Foundries.io exists, how it works and the company’s attempts to become the Red Hat of IoT security software. Unlike some of the recent IoT security platform efforts out there, Foundries.io isn’t linked directly to hardware. You’ll learn more on the show. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Why Facebook needs your voice
  • A new type of IoT attack changes how I think about risks
  • 50 ways to track your children
  • Foundries.io is taking open source security and turning it into a service