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 181: Are you ready for IoT to be a $520B business?

A lot of people are getting a smart speaker for the holidays. That’s one of the takeaways from a recent survey by Adobe that Kevin and I talk about this week. We follow that up with the new Sonos integration with IFTTT before covering a $6.7 billion semiconductor merger. Also on the chip side, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for smart watches and why I think it’s worth noting. On the security side, we cover a new security chip for Google IoT core, more botnets and a new security bill that awaits the signature of California’s governor. We update some older stories, cover IKEA’s possible smart blinds and talk about my experience with the new Brilliant Switch. We end the news segment of the show answering a question about programming lights to change color in response to the weather.

Adobe surveyed 1,000 consumers about smart speakers.

Our guest this week is Ann Bosche, a partner with Bain & Company. She discusses how IoT will become a $520 billion business by 2021 and which companies will get a piece of that pie. She also explains how vendors need to step up if we want to see more IoT pilots become integral parts of a business. Her suggestions and advice are practical and worth hearing. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ann Bosche who is a partner with Bain & Company
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • What weird things do you ask your smart speaker?
  • Renesas’ big bid for Integrated Device Technology
  • Is IKEA making smart blinds?
  • What companies will win in IoT?
  • To be good at IoT companies must focus

Episode 177: Defcon hacks and blockchain facts

We kick off this week’s show with an overview of the stories coming out of the Defcon security conference held this week in Las Vegas. Keeping security in mind, we talk about Amazon Web Services’ new cloud IoT security product, and Google’s lack of transparency around location data tracking. From there we move to Wi-Fi stories, covering the new Arris Wi-Fi Easy Mesh router and Samsung’s new SmartThings gear that uses Plume’s software for better Wi-Fi. In a section on digital assistants we get Kevin’s options on the new Samsung Galaxy Home speaker and talk about Microsoft’s Cortana collaborating with Amazon Alexa. On a related note, Kevin completes his review of the Lenovo Smart Display and I talk about my test of the Joule sous vide cooker. To wrap it up we answer a listener question about installing a connected wall switch to control his ceiling fan.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker doesn’t look like the competition.

Our guest this week is Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament who came on the show to discuss what blockchain can do for the internet of things. One big area we discussed was micropayments. Another was how Clift-Jennings realized that to create the business she envisioned, she was going to have to build some hardware. We also spent a lot of time thinking about building decentralized trust and where information theory meets economic theory. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Hacked Alexas and voting machines
  • Google needs to be transparent about user data
  • An update for SmartThings featuring Plume
  • Why Filament had to build a special chip for the blockchain
  • The parallels between information theory and economic theory as it relates to data

Episode 175: GE slims down and Otis tries Alexa in elevators

This week on the show Kevin and I speculate what digital assets GE will sell and discuss the sad bankruptcy of French smart home company Sen.se. After hitting the sad news, we talked about the latest HomePod feature expected in iOS 12 and the fact that Apple didn’t say much about HomePod in its latest financial results call. We shared a new smart home device for dedicated DIYers from Machinon, discussed Control4’s new intercom function and Lenovo’s application for the FCC to test a smart bulb. Kevin shared his initial thoughts on Lenovo’s Smart Display for Google Assistant and a pro tip for anyone with a connected home. We share another ridiculous IoT idea for the week and answer a question about connecting Wyze, IFTTT and SmartThings to turn on a light.

Kevin’s 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display can play YouTube videos, Netflix and images from his Nest cameras. Image by K. Tofel.

This week’s guest is Chris Smith, vice president of service innovation at Otis Elevator Company. He talks about how Otis connects its elevators, the architecture, and most importantly what it learned in trying to use data to predict failures. In addition to his practical knowledge he also answers everyone’s big question: Does the door close button on an elevator actually work? Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Smith of Otis Elevator Company
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Is GE’s Predix for sale? And who would buy it?
  • Another smart home company bites the dust
  • The Lenovo Smart Display is really nice!
  • Predicting failure is a subtle art
  • Sure, let’s put Alexa in an elevator

 

Episode 174: How Wyze makes such a crazy, good camera for cheap

This week I was at Google’s cloud event in San Francisco while Kevin swapped out his video doorbells. We discuss Google’s news related to edge computing and several pieces of doorbell news before talking about a few recent articles that show how far the smart home has to come. Kevin talks about the first NB-IoT tracker for the U.S., a new Bluetooth security flaw, and how Google’s cloud differs from AWS in his experience connecting our voicemail hotline to the cloud. We also cover a surprise contender for the worst connected device seen this week and answer a question on Alexa and hubs that is probably pretty common.

This is the $20 Wyze camera.

This week’s guest is Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs, who came on to explain how the company can make a high-quality HD camera for between $20 and $30. The combo of a low price and a good camera obviously works. Wyze has sold more than 500,000 cameras so far! She also answers questions about security, privacy and the company’s recent integration with Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs
Sponsors: Afero and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • How Google’s IoT cloud stuff compares with Amazon’s and Microsoft’s
  • Neurotic people might not want smart home gear
  • The dumbest IoT product of the week
  • How does Wyze make a camera that costs 10X less than Nest’s?
  • Wyze has sold half a million IoT devices. That’s insane!

Episode 171: Your smart home questions, answered!

This week Kevin and I decided to do something a bit unusual, turning our segment where we answer listener’s questions into the entire show. You guys have been sending a lot of interesting questions to the Schlage IoT Podcast Listener Hotline, and we hated to leave so many unanswered, so we combined a slow holiday news week with some Q&A. Remember, if you have a question, give us a call at 512.623.7424.

Kevin and I at CES in 2018 when we hunt for cool new stuff and ask manufacturers about your questions.

We tackle issues such as insurance discounts for smart home gear, local hubs and the best skills for Alexa in a classroom setting. We failed to find a perfect USB cable for someone, but did locate a smoke detector that will work with SmartThings for a Canadian listener. We also dug into details on several home hubs for listeners debating Home Assistant, Home Bridge, Open HAB, SmartThings and Wink. We hope you enjoy the show and keep those questions coming. Next week, we’ll be back to the usual format.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: Control4 and Schlage

  • When will my insurer give me a discount on my smart home?
  • A question about smart locks
  • Which home hub is best for first timers?
  • These five Alexa skills are good for education

Episode 162: Smart walls and dumb homes

This week Kevin and I discuss Amazon’s big security install reveal and how it made us feel. Plus, a smart home executive leaves Amazon and Facebook’s rumored smart speaker makes another appearance. China is taking surveillance even further and Kevin and I share our thoughts on the state of the smart home, and failed projects. In our news tidbits we cover a possible new SmartThings hub, a boost for ZigBee in the UK, the sale of Withings/Nokia Health, the death of a smart luggage company, and reviews for Google Assistant apps. We also answer a reader question about a connected door lock camera.

The Smart Wall research was conducted at Disney Research. The first step is building a grid of conductive materials. Later, researchers painted over it.

This week’s guest Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, share his creation of a smarter wall, one that responds to touch and also recognizes electronic activity in the room. We discuss the smart wall, digital paper, how to bring context to the connected home or office, and why you may want to give up on privacy. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • A surprise appearance from the Wink hub
  • What happens when IoT can read your thoughts?
  • Kevin swapped hubs and is pretty unhappy about it
  • A cheap way to make connected paper
  • Go ahead, rethink you walls

Episode 155: New toys, Pi Day and insect-tracking LIDAR

We have reached the purported end of Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm, so Kevin and I finally shared our thoughts on the topic. After that we discussed a murder that was solved using evidence from connected devices, Google Routines and Strava’s privacy clean up. We used the SmartThings outage to discuss whether or not we need a hub in the smart home before hitting an array of new devices, including the new Raspberry Pi Model B+, Ecobee’s new light switch, and a new security hub/camera from Abode. Kevin’s Nest Cam solved a crime as well and we answered a listener question about taking the first steps to learn about the IoT.

The Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ has more computing power and still costs $35.

Our guest this week was Tobias Meene, the global head of digital farming at Bayer AG, who shared a bunch of insights about bringing sensors, machine learning and intelligence to farmers. He discussed how the firm has managed to remotely identify insects by their wingbeats using LIDAR, several startups working with Bayer to make farming more productive and how Bayer sees IoT remaking its business and business model. Plus, Bayer has built a cool app to identify weeds and problems called Xarvio. I couldn’t try the app because it’s not compatible with my devices, but I would love to. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tobias Menne of Bayer
Sponsors: Samsung Artik and IoT World

  • Chip consolidation ain’t over yet
  • Google Routines is a step forward, but not far enough
  • This week’s crop of new devices is strong
  • The problem with using LIDAR to track insects
  • How Bayer finds customers who want to buy into its new business plan

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