Krogers and Walmart are both expanding various IoT devices to more of their stores as part of a larger shift in how connectivity and intelligence will change how we shop. Walmart is deploying electronic shelf labels in 500 stores while Kroger is installing Cooler Screens’ connected refrigerator doors that replace the glass doors with a screen and uses optical sensors to track when people are walking by a case to show them ads. We talk about how these changes may or may not benefit shoppers and why broad deployment may also lead to better broadband quality. Then Kevin shares his dreams of a home robot and the launch of an easier way to program embedded hardware from Microsoft. We also look at the history of the Internet of Bees with news from Sateliot, and focus on projects from Microsoft, Oracle, and many others. In smaller news, Wyze has a new outdoor light with AI features, NXP has a new line of industrial application processors, Amazon is getting rid of celebrity voices, and Level debuts a connected doorbell product for multifamily units. We’re going to see more smart home companies pivot toward apartments in the next few years. There’s also a new Mirai variant spreading across IoT devices. Finally, we answer a listener question about installing low-voltage wiring during a home renovation.
Our guest this week is Nate Williams, founder and managing partner at Union Labs VC. He’s on the show to answer my questions about the current fundraising environment for startups. We talk about what it takes to raise an early round of funding, and why venture capital firms are reluctant to invest in new companies while they try to figure out what their existing investments need. He also mentions that Union Labs is raising a second fund, and discusses what areas he’s excited about. We then discuss the hype around generative AI and what he’s looking for in AI investments. We end with our thinking about the current state of smart home investments. Enjoy the show.