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

Episode 139: The 2017 IoT Podcast Gift Guide!

You guys, this week’s podcast is all about the toys. Specifically toys for your kids, your dog and your loved ones. In the last year Kevin and I have tried many devices and have compiled our experiences into a gift guide for the connected life. You’ll find both our favorites like the June oven and utilitarian objects like the Ecobee 4 thermostat among a $20 smart camera and $30 motion sensor for kids. We also handled the few news items for the week– namely Apple deciding to delay the sale of the Home Pod.

This is the $20 Wyze camera. It’s a solid gift.

We also took on an incredibly topical question from Aaron in Ontario who asked about heating cables for his roof and recommended switches for automating outdoor holiday lights. As a Texan I’m drawing a blank on the remote control for the heating cables, but I shared my favorite outdoor-rated smart plugs with him. This year there have been a bunch of new Wi-Fi options, which is awesome. Enjoy the show.

  • I’m losing faith in HomeKit again
  • This year’s best gifts for the smart home
  • The best connected gifts for kids
  • Cool connected stocking stuffers
  • Crazy expensive stuff that is hard to justify

Episode 138: Wink’s security system review and Las Vegas is a smart city

There was a lot of small news this week including updates to the Google Home/Assistant ecosystem that Kevin and I discuss on this week’s podcast. I share my feelings on the Google Mini and then we segue into a conversation about Google’s new AI framework for embedded devices that launched this week. We also discuss the push by smart home and lock companies to give delivery or service people access to your home. SmartThings gets local control for some devices this week. Kevin reviews the Wink Lookout security bundle and we take a listener question about what to look for in a smart home camera.

The Wink Lookout bundle works right out of the box.

Our guest this week is awesome. I speak with Michael Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas, about plans for a traffic light that detects pollution and can send cars along before it builds up, and what it really means to build a smart city. Sherwood shares a lot of good insights about the challenges of building a smart city that we don’t often see. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Michael Sherwood Director of Technology and Innovation City of Las Vegas
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Google’s making some changes to Now and Google Assistant
  • Who would you let into your home alone?
  • Wink’s new security system has one big flaw
  • How a smart city gets that way
  • This is the biggest challenge halting innovation in smart cities

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. She also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10

Everything you need to know from CEDIA

Grab your headset for a special bonus edition of the Internet of Things Podcast from the CEDIA show floor in San Diego. Last week I attended the show, which is aimed at the professional AV installer market to understand what’s hot, what’s not and how the business of home automation will evolve. I saw some beautiful televisions and more light switches than I even knew existed, while I walked away despairing of ever getting the smart home experience right.

This OLED screen is actually two OLED screens mounted back-to-back in a sheet of glass. It costs $20,000 and is designed for high-end retail.

I spoke with Julie Jacobson, the founding editor of CEPro to find out what she thought was cool, met with Tim McInery of Savant to talk about the benefits consumer tech has on the installer business and asked Richard Gunther of the Digital Media Zone to explain the changes in business models. I also interviewed the CEO of Josh.ai to understand why the smart home industry has progressed so slowly, and talked to Ragan Mena, the president of Audio Zeal, a custom installer to see what toys he was excited about. He did like the Josh Micro, which enables voice access for older custom systems.

This entire episode was sponsored by Ring, which is offering discounts on bundles of home security items to both consumers and pro installers. Visit www.ring.com/stacey to learn more.

  • Stacey’s highlights and news (0:45)
  • Julie Jacobson of CEPro on trends and cool stuff (10:25)
  • Tim McInerney of Savant on the benefit consumer tech has for installers (14:40)
  • Richard Gunther of The Digital Media Zone discussing the custom installer business model (16:20)
  • Ragan Mena, president of Audio Zeal explain how he decides what consumer tech to use (22:00)
  • Alex Capecelatro, of Josh.ai on why Crestron, Control4 and others have a hard time competing against consumer tech (25:10)

Episode 127: Alexa gets multi-room audio and teaching devices to lie to one another

GE is not giving up on its industrial IoT dreams, but it is scaling back a bit. We discuss what that means before diving into an array of assistant news. Kevin and I give some tips for using the Amazon Echo’s multi-room audio feature before discussing what the partnership between Amazon and Microsoft’s Cortana means. We also download some news about Google Assistant from IFA, where we also learned of new Elgato sensors. They are pretty.  Finally, Kevin built us all a present!

The upcoming Elgato window guard sensor.

This week’s guest, Alasdair Allan, is a tinkerer and researcher who is thinking about the way we secure highly distributed systems. His concern is malicious data inserted into a system that can report false information to bring about a destructive action. In his example, someone created an imaginary moisture sensor that told a vineyard sprinkler system the ground was dry. It wasn’t. The resulting overwatering was a problem for the vines and resulted in a large fine. If you’re a blockchain fan, you’ll want to hear this one too.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Alasdair Allan
Sponsors: Forgerock and Xively

  • Even GE can’t build a scalable industrial internet platform
  • Alexa, why is multi-room audio so limited?
  • There’s a new speaker in town with the Josh Micro
  • Have a question for us? Call the IoT Podcast Listener Hotline at 512-623-7424
  • Should we teach our devices how to lie?
  • Blockchain may help secure the distributed IoT

Episode 109: How to scale the industrial IoT

Google Home can recognize your voice, SmartThing’s Connect app on Samsung’s Galaxy 8 can act as a hubless hub for the home, and Spotify may be considering its own connected device. Kevin and I discuss these stories, plus Waymo’s autonomous car testing in Phoenix, and why iDevices was acquired. There’s also a quick discussion of Symantec’s latest security report and Microsoft’s new IoT suite.

iDevices, the maker of this connected dimmer, was acquired this week.

We did forget to discuss Juicero’s challenges, and the Amazon Look came out after our recording, which just means you’ll have more to look forward to next week. In the meantime, sate yourself with a deep dive into the launch of the EdgeX Foundry platform for the industrial internet of things. Dell’s Jason Shepherd describes the newly launched open source effort as a way to scale IoT like we once scaled the PC. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Jason Shepherd, Director IoT Strategy and Partnerships at Dell
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • Kevin bought a Samsung Galaxy 8
  • Who the heck is Hubbell?
  • Microsoft’s IoT efforts are compelling
  • Dell’s push to make industrial IoT scale
  • Standards? We don’t need no stinkin’ standards!

Episode 104: Vint Cerf has a lot of questions on IoT

This week we discuss a personal assistant from Samsung, Amazon Alexa on phones and mistakes from Google Home. We also talk about a Legend of Zelda superfan and how he controls his home through an ocarina. We then talk about ARM’s new architecture and discuss two deals ARM did last month to boost support for low power wide area networks. Finally, I now have my SmartThings and Lutron integration working, and it’s awesome!

Image of Vint Cerf courtesy of Veni Markovski.

Have you ever wanted to know what Vint Cerf, a vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google, has in his smart home? Find out in our guest segment, as one of the fathers of the internet comes on the show to discuss the internet of things and the questions we should be asking. We discuss standards, architecture, privacy and more. You’ll enjoy it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vint Cerf of Google
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and wolfSSL

  • Google needs to pivot, and its latest misstep shows why
  • Kevin isn’t sold on ARM’s new architecture
  • Yes, standards are important for the internet of things
  • We talk about Vint Cerf’s connected wine cellar
  • More questions than answers on IoT from Vint Cerf