Episode 223: How Amazon treats your Alexa data

This week Kevin and I read and discuss the letter from Amazon responding to inquiries about how it keeps and handles data. We go in-depth because it’s important to discuss the tradeoff between services and privacy. We also discuss a company leaking smart home data, the FTC settlement with D-Link and a smart home hub for apartments that can be hacked. After the bad news, we move to analyze HPE’s goal of selling everything as a service by 2022 and Kevin’s experience trying out Olisto, an IFTTT-like service. There are few news bits to cover, and then we answer a listener question about how to set up Amazon or Google accounts when two people with their own accounts move into the same house.

RealWear CEO Andy Lowery, wearing a RealWear head-mounted display. Image courtesy of RealWear.

Our guest this week is Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear, a company that makes a head-mounted display for industrial workers. The company raised $80 million this week, so I ask about Lowery’s plans for that kind of capital. I also want to know why people were using head-mounted displays, and how RealWear’s products are different from something like Google Glass or Microsoft’s HoloLens. We also talk about the shift in industrial work that will come about thanks to real-time collaboration in the field over remote connections, and what it means for workers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Privacy is nuanced, and that’s what makes it hard to talk about
  • HPE wants to make all of its products a service by 2022
  • Philips Hue’s Bluetooth bulbs make Kevin happy
  • $80 million can buy a lot of R&D
  • Are you ready for the centaur workforce?

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

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