All posts by Andreea Borcea

#9 • Bitcoin & The IoT

Bitcoin can be used to pay for stuff, but it’s interesting for reasons that go way beyond that — and it may be especially interesting when applied to the Internet of Things. How interesting? We audaciously propose that Bitcoin will be central to the IoT.

Find out why in this episode, in which Charles and Andreea help contextualize bitcoin as it relates to the Internet of Things.


  • What is bitcoin?
    • It’s a currency, like cash
      • Digital currency, a.k.a. crypto currency, a.k.a. smart cash
      • Anonymous (not really)
    • It’s a system
      • No central authority, a.k.a. distributed, a.k.a. decentralized
      • Invented by Satoshi Nakamoto
      • At the center: The “blockchain”
  • Currency is just one application of the underlying tech
    • Bitcoin (mostly) solves: How to get a people who don’t trust each other to reach consensus
    • We have not discovered the most interesting applications of underlying system
  • The bitcoin mining gold rush is over
  • Developers, entrepreneurs and investors are growing companies around the bitcoin ecosystem
  • The technology behind bitcoin
    • What is the blockchain?
  • Bitcoin gives IoT devices their own wallets
    • Why would things need their own wallet?
  • Boom! Micropayments
    • Why would things need to make tiny payments?
  • How bitcoin will revolutionize money in developing countries
  • Content monetization
  • Security
  • The most interesting uses of bitcoin have yet to be discovered

#8 • Beacons & Micro-Location

Sure, GPS was a game-changer. But as stars were to ancient mariners, “beacons” are the true wayfinders of the Internet of Things. They’re the enabling tech behind “micro-location”, and they’re about to revolutionize location services all over again.

Beacon on clothes rack


  • What are “beacons”?
  • Beacons vs. iBeacons
    • Generic names vs. Apple branding
    • Compatibility
  • Cost
  • Design
  • Hardware and service providers
  • GPS vs BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), and why you need both
  • Micro-location applications (see “Use cases” section below for more)
  • A way for retail to compete with Amazon?
  • Geofencing
  • Ultra-microlocation (!)
  • Light (vs. RF) becaons


Use cases

While the use cases for this technology is pretty endless, here are just a few we touch on:

  • Airports
  • Shopping malls
  • Retail
    • Personalized shopping
    • In-store contextual advertising
    • Radically different checkout experience (“real-life one-click”)
  • Augmented reality
  • Casinos
  • Museums and libraries
  • Medicine (Proteus are pills that notify a patch that you’ve digested the pill)
  • Sports and games
  • Theme parks
  • Within a car (!)


#7 • The End of Browsers

Right now, web browsers are your window to the internet. Thanks in part to the Internet of Things, that’s gonna change. Can’t imagine it? Listen to this, and you will!


This episode is about why and how, with some free extra bonus conversation about how the way we interact with “things” is going to look very different within our lifetimes.


  • The end of URLs?
  • Bigger screens, smaller screens, flexi-screens
  • The end of car mirrors?
  • Other ways the IoT will disintermediate browsers
  • The always-watching, always-listening IoT
  • Voice recognition
  • Distilling multiple inputs to emotional state and intent
  • Anticipatory computing
  • Devices sharing sensor data



#6: Battle of the IoT Giants — Apple, Google, Samsung

The big three duke it out! Which company is best positioned to become the owner of the Internet of Things in the consumer market? Which will win in our first ever Farstuff Battle of the IoT Giants?

Stuff we talk about

  • Operating Systems
  • Gadgetry
  • Customer Reach
  • Our 3 C’s: Connect, Communicate, Compute
  • Android isn’t open source, it’s faux-pen source
  • Apple is a consumer electronics company, Google is a technology company
  • Web services for IoT devices
  • “Being the store” vs. “being the doormat”
  • “Apple has my credit card, so we’re in a relationship that way”
  • Hybrid (local+cloud) computing

The ridiculously arbitrary results

[table width=”500″ colwidth=”100|100|100|100|100|100″ colalign=”left|center|center|center|center|center”]
Contender,Tech/OS,Gadget Portfolio,Customer Reach,Services,Total


#5: Monitoring the Monitors

Imagine a world where your every move, heartbeat, body temperature change and sleep is tracked by an intricate network of activity monitors. In this episode we talk about the wearable world of activity monitors, which live at the intersection of health and the Internet of Things.

Sensors in activity monitors

  • Accelerometer — G-force acceleration
  • Gyroscope — Rotation
  • Compass — Orientation
  • GPS — Location
  • Altimeter — Altitude

Activity monitors

[table colalign=”left|center|center|center|left”]
Fitbit ($89-$130),Yes,No,Yes,Stairs
Basis ($199),Yes,No,Yes,Heart Rate
Withings Pulse,Yes,No,Yes,Distance\, Heart Rate
Jawbone Up ($100),Yes,No,Yes,Alarms
Nike Fuelband ($149),Yes,Yes,Yes,Goals
Misfit Shine,Yes,Yes,Yes,Waterproof
Garmin Vivofit ($130-$170),Yes,Yes,Yes,GPS
BodyMedia Fit ($89),Yes,Yes,Yes,Temp
Striiv Play ($40),Yes,Yes,No,Stairs
Fitbug Orb ($50),Yes,Yes,Yes,Distance

More fashionable activity monitors

“Wearable” clothing (activity monitoring clothing)

Other fun diversions in this category

  • Whistle — The dog activity monitor
  • Google Glass — Come on! You know this will show up on lots of lists!
  • Notch — 10 sensors for athletic training
  • Tao Wellshell — Isometric device, pitting your muscles against themselves
  • Beddit — Sleep monitor for your bed, just slip it under your sheets
  • Trace — The ultimate for Surfers, Skateboarders, Skiers and Snowboarders
  • Empatica — Real-time stress monitor

Episode topics

  • Apple and iWatch and Healthbook, oh my
  • The possibility of privatized EHRs (electronic health records)
  • The Apple iWatch: It’s not a thing yet™!
  • What is the Internet of Things, again?
  • Gamification
  • Fashionable wearables
  • What’s in these things anyway? (See “What’s in activity monitors?”)
  • Accuracy (a.k.a. “truth devices”, a.k.a. how do they test these things?)
  • The smarts is in the software
  • “Wearable clothing”
  • Smart socks
  • Prescribing the Internet of Things
  • Implications for sports, including board sports
  • IoT-based scoring

#4: What Happens When Things Can Think?

What’s the likelihood that our network of Internet of Things will exceed our own human intellect? What would this mean for the rights of robots? Join us for a fun discussion involving some of our favorite fictional robots, and speculation about what the world would look like with a society that includes incredibly intelligent creatures of our own making.

Shows and characters we mention:

We talk about:

  • What is “The Singularity”?
  • Sentient Roombas
  • But will it have Scarlett Johansson’s voice?
  • Robot civil rights
  • My Siri and your Siri
  • “I wanna see that movie!”
  • The robot version of X-Men
  • Analogy with other civil rights movenents
  • Why Will Smith gotta be mean to robots?
  • “Doing almost nothing all of the time”
  • Hoping Watson stays on our side
  • Capping AI skill levels
  • Robot labor party!
  • Paying people to be your friend
  • Virtual pop stars vs. meatspace pop stars: Fight!
  • “Well I think that you wouldn’t want a used one”
  • Dogs vs. Furbys

Enjoy! We’d appreciate it if you could help us get the word out about Farstuff by sharing your thoughts on the podcast to your social media network(s) of choice.