Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

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 225: How to fix smart speaker privacy issues

This week on the show Kevin and I share our misgivings about smart speakers and some ideas to help address the privacy issues for those who want to continue to embrace the convenience, but don’t want strangers hearing their fights, farts, and friends. We also talk about the acquisition of Centralite’s assets by Ezlo, which has acquired other struggling home automation startups in the last year. Then we tackle ARM’s new licensing plan, Intel’s neuromorphic chips, and an update on Wyze (plus its next device). News bits include a new drone platform, UbiquitiLink’s funding, Eve’s new Bluetooth extender, and hacked insulin pumps. In our voicemail this week we answer a reader question about an outdoor Amazon Echo speaker.

One of Intel’s Nahuku boards, each of which contains 8 to 32 Intel Loihi neuromorphic chips. Intel’s latest neuromorphic system, Poihoiki Beach is made up of multiple Nahuku boards and contains 64 Loihi chips.  Image courtesy of Tim Herman of Intel.

This week’s guest is Rags Srinivasan, who is a senior director of growth verticals at Seagate. He’s on the show to talk about Seagate’s efforts to make its wafer manufacturing process smarter. The company started with the idea of implementing a predictive maintenance program for manufacturing machinery but realized that if it could instead use AI earlier in the manufacturing process it would have a larger impact on the company’s bottom line. Srinivasan explains the tools the company used for Athena, how it hopes to achieve a 300% return on investment and why internal branding is essential. He also extols the virtues of cameras as the ultimate IoT sensor. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rags Srinivasan of Seagate
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • How companies should fix their smart speaker QA process
  • What happened to Centralite?
  • ARM’s new licensing model and Intel’s new chips have something in common.
  • Seagate tried edge processing solutions from HPE and Nvidia
  • How to get buy-in from your bosses for an IoT project

Episode 224: Wyze Bulbs and the Echo Auto reviewed

This week Kevin and I spend more time reviewing gadgets than on news. First, we hit the latest update for Z-Wave which basically makes it easier to grab a new Z-wave device and get it on a network. Then we talk about vulnerabilities in medical devices before turning to the new Wyze camera person detection. I also review the current state of the Wyze light bulbs which I have in early release. In the smarter device side, Google may be testing some form of package delivery recognition for its doorbell, while ADT has created its own doorbell.  Ikea has made some new smart lights, which are more expensive than the Wyze bulbs, but a bit brighter. Google’s new local home control is in developer preview and I offer impressions on the Amazon Echo Auto device. We also answer a listener question about smart buttons for SmartThings.

The Amazon Echo Auto is a handy tool if it works in your car.

Our guest this week is Guneet Bedi, VP of global sales at Relayr, who discusses the role of insurance firms in making IoT business models possible. For example, insurance provider Munich Re, which owns Relayr, now provides guarantees behind “as a service” IoT business offerings for smaller companies who may need the backing of a big insurance provider to get customers over the hump of trusting a big operation to a smaller company deploying untested technology. We also talk about the mismatch in revenue coming in when a product company tries to implement a product-as-a-service model and how financial firms might step in to help. It’s a look at how the IoT can and will affect balance sheets in the near future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guneet Bedi, VP of global sales at Relayr
SponsorsDell Technologies and Afero

  • The Z-wave Alliance makes it easier to get products online
  • Wyze bulbs are a nice product for a nice price
  • Put Alexa in your car if Android Auto or Apple CarPlay isn’t for you
  • Insurance can play new roles in the industrial IoT
  • How to match new business models to changing revenue streams

Episode 217: Lutron has saved the smart bulb!

This week, Lutron introduced the Aurora dimmer switch, which attaches to a traditional light switch to control your smart bulbs without any need of an electrician or tools. We love it! We also discuss the launch of Wyze’s light bulbs and newly added Google Assistant integration, Comcast’s proposed health sensors and Mediatek’s new chips for IoT.  From there we chat about GDPR, over-the-air updates for cars and Google’s new version of Glass. Our news bits feature Savant, Arduino Nano, Tado and Lenovo. This week’s hotline question concerns how to track when people are in a room for automation purposes, so we introduce RoomMe and a new security device called Minut as possible solutions.

The Lutron Aurora sells for $40 and is easy to install.

The guest this week is Zach Supalla, the CEO of Particle, who shares the results from a company-commissioned a survey of 800 IoT developers. We talk about the industries spending money on IoT and their use cases and then talk about the things that companies tend to struggle with once they scale up an IoT project. Surprisingly data isn’t the challenge you need to worry about. There are good learnings here.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Zach Supalla, the CEO of Particle
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Lutron Aurora is a must-have for renters
  • Do you want Comcast all up in your health?
  • Microsoft wants GDPR-style regulations in the US too
  • Here are the top five industries buying IoT
  • Here are the top three use cases so far for industrial IoT

 

 

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 213: A deep dive into IoT Inspector

This week’s podcast starts out with a focus on Clear Ventures’ new, $180 million venture fund dedicated to Industry 4.0. We stay with enterprise and industrial IoT to discuss a new round of funding for security firm VDOO and VMware’s new version of the Pulse IoT Platform. After that, we move to the smart home with a scoop on Arlo’s new video doorbell, Wyze getting a Google Assistant integration, Wing’s teleoperated drones, and a wearable that doubles as an EpiPen. We then answer a listener request for a smart sensor that can measure temperature, motion, humidity and light.

Our guest this week is Danny Huang, one of the co-creators of Princeton’s IoT Inspector program. Huang shares why they created the program that tracks what smart devices are on a network and what they talk to and explains how it works. Some of his findings, such as the lack of security and vendors who seem to be confused about how good their security is, are worrisome. He also discusses how Princeton is handling privacy and what the program will do to your network.  If you have a device that runs Mac OS, check IoT Inspector out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Danny Huang, post-doc fellow at Princeton
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • Why the IoT needs a new type of computer architecture
  • How many IoT ecosystems do we need?
  • Tele-operations is going to be a big deal
  • Understanding the security categories in IoT Inspector
  • In the IoT, you can’t opt-out of data sharing

 

 

 

 

 

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 168: How GE’s Current curtailed dreams to meet reality

This week Kevin and I spend a bit of time on industrial IoT news with Rockwell Automation’s $1 billion investment in PTC and also ARM’s buy of a Stream Technologies. On the consumer side, we debate Wi-Fi subscription plans and Nest’s price drop and Ring’s new security system. We also talk about Thread’s milestone in industrial IoT, Verizon’s new CEO, and whether or not Google Home can now handle three consecutive commands. I review the Wyze Pan Cam and we answer a question about the Qolsys’ IQ Panel 2.

Ring’s security system lands on July 4 for $199.

This week’s guest comes from GE’s Current lighting business. Garret Miller, the chief digital officer at Current by GE explains why the division is for sale, why GE has to offer lighting as a service, and how reality forced a shift in thinking for Current. When Current launched, it had grand plans to deliver electricity as a service but realized that it was several steps ahead of the market, so it now offers lighting as a platform. It’s a good interview about how to reassess the market when needed.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Garret Miller, chief digital officer at Current by GE
Sponsors: Praetorian and Control4

  • Why ARM bought Stream Technologies
  • Ring and Nest gear up for home security fight
  • I like the Wyze Pan Cam
  • Why GE had to change the way it sells lights
  • Why Current changed business models and what it says about IoT