This week we bring our first impressions and several bits of news from CES, the consumer electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. I’m here while Kevin avoids the lines by staying in Pennsylvania, but we’re both happy to talk about connected grooming products, robots and the onslaught of Echo-related news. I also noticed that connected gadgets are essentially becoming a consumer’s chance to pay to be in a focus group, as their data is harvested through connected products.
Outside of the CES news, this week also has an enterprise IoT slant, with our guest Tim Crawford explaining how CIOs view the internet of things. Crawford is a CIO-for-hire and consultant who has helped advise companies through several tech transformations. We discuss how the role of the CIO needs to change and what new skills the IT organization as a whole must acquire.
We’re heading into the holidays with a guest appearance from my family who share their thoughts on what it’s like to live in a smart home, the products they like and what’s missing so far. My husband has been on the show before, but I also invited my 10-year-old daughter on to talk about her favorite toys and what she thinks of Philips Hue bulbs and the Amazon Echo (and Google Home). It’s a short and sweet reality check for us all.
Comcast has decided to bet big on the internet of things by investing in LoRa, a radio standard used for low power wide area networks. Kevin and I discuss the cable company’s plans in this week’s show along with Amazon’s new streaming music service, new Arlo indoor/outdoor cameras and wireless charging. We also point out that SmartThings may be the best bet if you are a UK smart home user with an Echo. It’s the only Echo-integrated smart home system supported in the UK.
This week’s guest, Eric Hansotia, is the VP at agricultural conglomerate Agco. He spends the first few moments discussing precision farming and the rest of the interview talking about how to transform your business. Agco is trying to move from selling farm equipment to selling outputs. Instead of a tractor a farmer would buy a specific yield of crops, for example. This is a big transition, and Hansotia walks us through it.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Eric Hansotia, senior vice president, global harvesting, crop care and advanced technology solutions at Agco Sponsor: ARM
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank making an offer to buy chip design firm ARM in a deal worth $32 billion kicks off our show this week, as Kevin and I weigh the merits and opportunities presented by the deal. We then skip over to ZenReach, the Wi-Fi provider that uses Wi-Fi as a means to capture more data about you. Kevin and I share some tips to ensure privacy. On a somewhat related note, the Federal Trade Commission is eyeing the longevity of connected devices and the marketing practices uses to sell them to consumers.
We also touch on a White House plan for $400 million in “IoT” funding, but it’s really for 5G wireless research, some doorbell camera news and a bit on why your garage door and LED lights might cause interference problems. Then we have a guest who is building a sensor for farmers to discuss how farmers are adopting technology. It’s not actually the farmers doing the buying in all cases.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guests: Adam Wolf, CEO of Arable Labs Sponsor: Xively
Do you want your smart jewelry to have a screen? If we have multiple pieces of connected jewelry how do you make it easy to program for the day? Or will you only have one sensor-laden wearable akin to to a smart watch that does everything? These are some of the questions Matt Manley, of Fjord tackles with me on this week’s show. We start off discussing jewelry, but veered off into how devices should deliver ambient information and the state of wireless power. Even if you aren’t into wearables, Manley’s comments on notifications is worth a listen.
Kevin and I kicked off the show with jewelry as well, discussing the newly launched Aries bracelet from Ringly. We then talked about the $12.5 million in funding for Luma, one of the companies trying to make a mesh router. This one offers parental controls and should be out in April. We also took a look at the Wirecutter’s review of the best smart switch (outlet). For those of you shopping, they liked the Belkin Wemo Insight Switch. We quickly discuss Pfizer’s plan to use existing sensors to monitor Parkinson’s patients and the lifesaving Fitbit data everyone was so excited about. And like the rest of you on SmartThings, we’re waiting for a fix of the system which has been broken for almost four weeks.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Matthew Manley, group design direct at Fjord
New smart jewelry and mesh networking routers!
Medicine embraces the internet of things. And off-the-shelf hardware.
If you haven’t gone totally paper free on your bills yet, it’s highly likely that the envelope that arrives via the mail has been touched by a Pitney Bowes machine. Pitney Bowes is a $4 billion company that makes mail its business, and Roger Pilc, its chief innovation officer, came on the show this week to explain how it thinks about the Internet of things, how it works with startups and invests in them to rethink how it manages mail. He also talks about how he’s challenging the company to improve by signing up startups as customers who demand services that are a year or two ahead of the curve.
Sure it’s a week after Thanksgiving, but we are all about Pi with this week’s episode. Yes, I went there! With the launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero, the cheapest Linux computer yet at $5, we invited Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton on the show to discuss how Google’s Eric Schmidt helped inspire the cheaper computer, when it might be available to buy again and his ideas for connected projects. We also discussed what’s missing and how to add things like connectivity and battery life. He also gives a bit of advice for engineers and non-engineers alike.
But before we get to Pi, Kevin and I discuss the VTech hacks and a scary survey from SEC Consult, that lays out how many vendors of connected products are sharing code and thus, sharing static keys used for encryption. This is a big problem as connected devices proliferate, and one the industry is already addressing. Still, it’s worth delving into. We also got a little holiday cheer going, as I described how I used my Amazon Echo and SmartThings (or Wink) plus my GE/Jasco outdoor modules and Wemo indoors to create a voice command that lets me “Turn on Christmas.” So please, listen up and enjoy the show.
Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Eben Upton, creator of the Raspberry Pi
Exploited kids accounts and everything is vulnerable
Have a connected holiday with Alexa
What on earth is the Raspberry Pi?
Let’s talk about specs
Whew, now let’s talk about how this whole cheap computer thing happened
This week’s guest Rob Katcher is working with Wal-Mart to take a little of the pain out of grocery shopping with the Hiku connected fridge magnet. I chatted with Katcher to understand how he decided to create an entirely new category of device—a button that sticks to your fridge and lets you scan or tell it what you need. It then adds it to a shopping list that is available on a mobile app. With a new deal to link its magnet to Wal-Mart’s curb-side pick up in parts of the country and Peapod’s grocery delivery, Hiku is creating a service that consumers will love and a new revenue stream.
In the first half of the show, Kevin and I take a Mulligan on the SmartThings hub, after discovering a hub replacement solved many of my issues. We also discuss a new integration with the Ring doorbell, Google’s Brillo OS and finally talk about Kevin’s new toy. It isn’t connected, but you watch the snippets of him riding around above and tell me that you don’t want one of these things. Actually, I am sure I’ll hear from y’all. Please enjoy the show.
Replacing my SmartThings hub made it a whole new experience.
What is Google Brillo good for?
Self balancing scooters are pretty hot right now.
What it’s like to build a category defining device (you hope).
Does your office need more conference rooms? Or maybe there’s wasted space where the printer and several reams of paper sit. In this week’s podcast we discuss how companies can use connected sensors in their lights to make better decisions about their real estate while also saving money on their energy costs with Joe Costello, the CEO of Enlighted. Before we talk to Costello, Kevin Tofel and I cover the SmartThings version 2 hub.
After the show aired I got on the phone with SmartThings and swapped out the hub, but my initial experience was terrible (you’ll hear). Since the show was recorded, I’ve since managed to join most of the sensors to the network using the new hub and will keep testing. Kevin and I also talk about Verizon’s plans for the Internet of things and a list the National Association of Realtors put together to help people sell their smart homes without compromising their data. You can find it here!
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Joe Costello, CEO of Enlighted
This week has a bunch of updates on old favorites for the smart home with a third generation thermostat from Nest and a new home hub from SmartThings. We start the show with Kevin and I discussing the slimmer Nest thermostat with a bigger screen and software upgrades. Our decision? There is no need to upgrade, but the Nest is still a winner. We also review the reviews of the new router from Google and Kevin decides if he can find one, he’ll try it out and report back. But the biggest news on the smart home front is probably the upgrade to the SmartThings hub, which I’ve had in my home since 2013 and is getting an upgrade on Thursday.
Our guest is SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson, who covers some of the changes and the new services model the company first unveiled at CES. We also talk about how it is handling Apple’s HomeKit and competition after its acquisition by Samsung last summer. The company has handled the challenge of being open while also trying to make a consumer-friendly product, which isn’t easy, as any Android user can tell you. This iteration may be the one that pushes it into the mainstream. Listen up and see what you think.
Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO and founder of SmartThings
The new Nest is skinner and can double as a clock with Farsight.
Reviewing the OnHub reviews. Should Kevin buy Google’s router?
SmartThings’ new hub is finally here!
How to walk the line between open and usable.
Why SmartThings isn’t supporting Apple’s HomeKit.
As a note to this show, there’s a slight ghosting on Hawkinson’s voice that I couldn’t quite take care of in editing. I apologize.