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Podcast: What you really need to know before buying connected devices

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In my time talking to people about the internet of things, we sometimes get so excited about the possibilities of the technology that we forget about the consumer who has to install it or has their own vision for connected living that they are trying to implement. So this week I brought my colleague Kevin Tofel onto the show to discuss how consumers should literally buy into the internet of things.

Tofel is our gadget and mobile device reporter (he has a podcast too!), and has been trying connected devices in his home (pictured) since 2010, so he has hands on experience setting up a home automation system using an Insteon-based system. But as, we discuss on the podcast, this limits the connected devices he brings into his home and it doesn’t work with his Nest thermostat for example. He offers some good tips for those planning their own connected homes such as planning ahead, picking a protocol and thinking about what you really want to achieve. Toward the end we even debate the merits of apps versus voice and gesture controls for telling our smart homes what to do.

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Show notes:
Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Kevin Tofel

  • Kevin’s 41 solar panels aren’t connected to his Nest thermostat. Should they be?
  • We offer two practical considerations consumers must think about before buying connected devices. Hint, one is the protocols you’ll be using.
  • Why you need to plan ahead when buying connected devices for your home.
  • Kevin predicts the death of the remote control and I complain about having too many apps.


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3 Responses to “Podcast: What you really need to know before buying connected devices”

  1. Scotland

    Good Podcast – thanks. This is timely.

    I’m considering a Z-wave based system because it seems to have better vendor support than Insteon, and Zigbee does not seem to be as mature at this point (too many standards and interpretations of standards – for example, Phillips Hue uses Zigbee but then it can’t control or be controlled by anything else).

    Wi-Fi based systems concern me for security reasons (not sure I want home automation riding my regular wi-fi network given some devices talk to the internet and I’ve already read about security flaws in the Belkin products) and power usage.

    So Z-wave seems like the best option at the moment. Hopefully, as we go forward, there will be some degree of backward compatibility, because, as you mention, it’s not easy to switch once you’ve already made a commitment in time and money in a particular ecosystem. There is some reason to be optimistic on this – various newer home automation products still have support for X-10, for example.

  2. Interesting. ZigBee in particular has come a long way towards clear standardization.

    One of the up-and-coming players in the wireless sensors space for home-automation is NYCE Control.

    They use open-standard ZigBee for the products sold on their website

    I originally came across them through Control4, which isn’t DIY. But their open-standard stuff is.