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About this episode

In this episode of The IoT Podcast, Gabe Kassel – Senior Product Manager at eero (an Amazon company), discusses the simplicity of eero’s home connectivity solutions. Learn how eero’s products make setting up Wi-Fi effortless, prioritise security and privacy, and introduce the latest innovation, the eero Max 7. Gain insights into the future of Wi-Fi and smart home connectivity, including Thread and the Matter standard, and the role of AI in enhancing user interactions.

Chapters…

  • 00:00 Introduction and Background
  • 02:09 The Ease of Use and Simplicity of eero
  • 06:14 The Concept of eero Devices in Homes and Businesses
  • 08:07 The Importance of Security and Privacy in Eero Products
  • 10:32 Differentiating True Mesh in eero Devices
  • 14:49 Simplifying Security in eero Products
  • 24:27 Residential Users and the Need for High-Speed Connectivity
  • 27:09 Understanding Thread and its Benefits
  • 31:58 The Importance of the Matter Standard
  • 34:19 Simplicity and Ease of Use in Smart Home Devices
  • 37:36 AI and Automation in Smart Home Innovation

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Tom White (00:01.056)
Gabe, welcome to the IOC Podcast.

Gabe Kassel (00:04.142)
Thanks for having me, hi Tom.

Tom White (00:06.08)
I’m really looking forward to it. I said to you in our kind of discovery post, post even pre podcast call that I’ve been using, Iroh and myself for a number of years, I actually got my dad onto it. My dad’s 75 and he actually said, how easy is this to sell up, right? He even turned his kind of router into a Molan, plugged it in, did all those bits and pieces at 75. So if my dad can do it, then I think anyone could do it. But it’s great to have you on and…

and get into a bit more about your business and what you do. So without further ado, could you give us a bit of a background on who you are and how you got into where you are today?

Gabe Kassel (00:45.262)
Absolutely. Gabe Castle, I’m a principal product manager at Eero, now part of Amazon. Eero was acquired by Amazon. We became part of the Amazon team about five years ago. And I’ve been at Eero a little over nine years. So I was on part of the founding team before we shipped our first product. But kind of stepping back from there, my background had nothing to do with consumer electronics or networking.

I actually worked in digital marketing and advertising, at large tech companies for, for several years. and I found Eero and, and it was, it was like finding an oasis in the desert. I think similar to the story of our, of our three founders where I was the IT person for all of my friends and family. You know, you, you described your dad. you know, it’s the same, I think for, for a lot of us where, I’d have starting as far back as high school.

I’d have friends that would call me and they’re like, I need you to come over and fix my wifi. And so I found Eero and saw what they now we were trying to do in fixing, improving connectivity and it just, it clicked for me. And so I’ve been here almost a decade, still trying to make connectivity in homes and businesses just work and be seamless. So that’s kind of how I got here.

Tom White (02:08.864)
Amazing. Yeah, and it’s really nice that you’ve been there, you know, pre -Amazon.

position and subsequently post now and where you are. I think one of the things that I feel personally with Iroh, and I know my peers and my friends have hope within the industry and also my personal life, is just the ease of use, right? It’s just so simple. Like changing a password or SSIDs, et cetera. It was almost a bit like the dark arts, right? When we looked at Wi -Fi and home connectivity in the past. And that’s one of the things that Iroh has been synonymous with actually is keeping it super simple.

and making it really easy. And is that one of the kind of foundational elements that you see in connectivity within homes and businesses that Eero set out to accomplish and has achieved?

Gabe Kassel (02:58.798)
Well, first I’d say our work is never done. Customers are never satisfied and there’s always more we can do. But that really was part of our founding premise is, at the time, the state of the art was you open up your browser, you type in an IP address, 192 .168 .1 .1, you look on the bottom of your router to find a password, and then you’re presented with an interface and you might not know what any of it means and there’s lots of buttons and lots of things to click. And so…

That was very foundational to where we started of how can we make setup happen in a few minutes using a mobile app such that elderly people or not even just people that are not tech savvy or are just busy can get through it very quickly and just get going. And so definitely that was where we started. And I think we’ve accomplished a lot. Of course, being on the inside, there’s always so much more that I want to do. But.

Yeah, I think we’ve done a pretty good job with the user experience so far.

Tom White (04:02.208)
Yeah, absolutely. Because just talking about it now, like I remember, as you say, going into a browser, typing in the IP, logging in and seeing this like really poor UI, with something that looked like it was in the late 80s, right? It seems as though, well, it’s always like that thing, right? It’s so obvious when it’s done, but no one did it really, or no one made it as prominent as Iro did. Why do you think that is, just out of interest?

Gabe Kassel (04:33.55)
I think one reason that I can think of is sort of the type of people that are doing the types of work involved. If you think about, at least stereotypically, who would be working on a Wi -Fi router or home networking gear, they’re the nerds. They’re the people like me that want to go in and configure a lot of settings and want to be able to tweak and tune a lot of things. And I think one thing that…

Eero did early on that was kind of unique was we brought together people with a lot of different subject matter background and user experience and human interface design type people really to think about, let’s start with the lay customer and work our way backwards to how do we get them to accomplish the goal of setting up their network? And so I think we ended up with a user experience that was far different from what was kind of common practice.

Tom White (05:32.224)
Yeah, completely agree. And now it’s just so simple, right? You simply plug them in, they work, you’ve got a mesh and it’s almost archaic to think of how we used to do it and what it used to be like.

And I think that’s really prominent when it comes to kind of IOT and setting up and managing, you know, growing numbers of IOT devices, generally in homes or businesses, is often overwhelming. So to explain for people who may not know IRO, how does it do what it does and what’s the concept of an IRO device in a home or in a business?

Gabe Kassel (06:14.798)
magic, I can’t tell you. You know, I think Eero solves a few different challenges in a few different ways. So we’ve already talked a good bit about the setup and onboarding user experience of, you know, you unbox this thing that converts the internet coming into your home to wireless Wi -Fi, which itself is absolute magical alien technology.

And we spend a lot of time demystifying and kind of making that experience simple. But then there’s so much more to it around, you know, a big promise of Eero is extending or expanding coverage. So you have a corner in your house or you have, you know, maybe a granny flat or a pool house or whatever your situation may be. One area that we’ve innovated a lot is around what we call mesh.

basically allowing you to take multiple Eero devices, plug them in, pepper them around your home, and they’ll automatically connect to each other, extend coverage, pass data from one to the next to the next. And we have a lot of unique bits around how we do that, but at the end of the day, we were able to eke out better performance, better reliability than a lot of what existed 10 years ago with.

with traditional wireless repeaters. So it’s again, it’s really setup and onboarding and ease of use there, mesh or coverage extension. And then related back to ease of use is kind of a genre of troubleshooting. You know, things will go wrong. You’ll bring a device home and try to get it on the wifi and it won’t work or your internet will go down and there’s half a dozen at least reasons why that could happen.

Tom White (08:06.912)
Yeah.

Gabe Kassel (08:13.102)
So we spend a lot of time building capability behind the scenes to understand what’s happening. And then over time, translate that knowledge or that, I guess that data into the term we like to use our insights. So imagine you have a device that’s trying to connect to your network over and over and over with the wrong password. Well,

What we can do is in our app, we can say, hey, you have a device that seems to have the wrong password, and then walk you through some troubleshooting recommendations around how to reset the device, or here’s where to find your password in the Eero app, and some helpful tips around that. And so I think that’s where there’s a lot of magic to help people at those acute moments when they’re really frustrated.

Tom White (09:04.64)
Yeah I think some of the insights you know is really quite eye -opening as well. One of the things that I’ve noticed from

being a user myself is actually seeing the amount of devices connected or devices trying to connect. I think everyone’s got the story of someone pinching the WiFi from the coffee shop or from the neighbour upstairs. And you can see that really easily with Aero where you couldn’t previously because you had to kind of look into the computer and what was connected or even look at it like the packets and analyse the packets, et cetera. But the average user just isn’t going to do that, right? So that’s again another real benefit, isn’t it?

Gabe Kassel (09:40.942)
Yeah, and with that, we give a lot of tools to help manage, right? So lots of parental control related tools where if you want to pause kids’ devices on a schedule or only give them a certain amount of access to the internet per day, or if you just see a device show up and you’re like, I don’t really know what this device is, it has a strange name, it’s very easy to go into our app and just block it, just prevent it from talking to the network and to the internet until…

Tom White (10:05.055)
Hmm.

Gabe Kassel (10:08.526)
Usually that’s a great way to figure out what device it is because, you know, at least in my household, my wife will come yelling at me that some, something, you know, she’s like, I’m trying to turn the fan on and it doesn’t work. And I’m like, I, I blocked that device because I wasn’t sure what it was. so yeah, we, there are a lot of really, really helpful tools to manage, manage your devices because that’s, you know, connectivity is kind of fundamental to our daily lives now. Yeah.

Tom White (10:19.808)
Yeah.

Tom White (10:32.352)
Absolutely, yeah. You touched on it earlier, the story of mesh and how mesh came around. What kind of sets Eero apart when we look at maybe like true mesh and what would you say is true mesh as opposed to mesh? That’d be quite nice to clear up for our listeners.

Gabe Kassel (10:53.358)
So a lot of systems that talk about mesh or talk about range extension, they’re often using what’s termed as a dedicated backhaul. So in these wireless access point products, you typically have two or three different radios and bands. And so,

for your listeners, they may be familiar with 2 .4 gigahertz or five gigahertz. And now, starting with Wi -Fi 6E and into Wi -Fi 7, we have new spectrum with six gigahertz, which is really exciting. But often, as a simplifier, the backhaul or the mesh extension portion will only send traffic across one of those radios. And if you think about each of those radios, it’s kind of a set amount of capacity. And the way that Wi -Fi works,

When one device, one person is sending data, everyone else has to be quiet and just sit there listening. So what Eero really innovated on with TrueMesh and why we call it a TrueMesh is we mesh every single radio that we have in every product to every other Eero peer that we see around us. And then roughly once per second in every direction,

we make a decision about the fastest path to get data from one era to the next. And so it’s not even how do we get data from your client device back to the internet as fast as we can, but imagine you’re moving a file between two computers on your network or you’re printing or you’re doing AirPlay or Chromecast. All of those kind of local communication conversations, if you will.

we pick the best path in every direction. And so we call it a true mesh because it is a fully connected mesh where every Eero, every radio is connected to each other. And we’re constantly kind of making those decisions about how to pass traffic through the network.

Tom White (12:55.456)
Yeah, that’s smartly impressive. It reminds me actually of many years ago working with satellite navigation businesses when they talk about Distrecker’s pathfinding algorithm, right? So the process of just being able to take that quickest route as quickly as possible. And to do that,

Gabe Kassel (13:16.558)
It’s actually, yeah, I was going to say the math is actually the same. I have a colleague who is one of our one of our founding colleagues. He has a background in graph theory, which is basically the mathematical study of what you were kind of describing. And so I’ve actually seen him kind of write down that math before. And it’s basically the same, like how you triangulate or how you find the fastest path between two points. That’s exactly how our mesh works, where every

Tom White (13:20.576)
Gabe Kassel (13:46.286)
every connection gets a score and we basically add up all those scores and whichever path has the lowest score, I guess, because we like, it’s like golf. That’s the path that we take. So yeah, it’s the exact same science.

Tom White (14:00.32)
Yeah, okay, interesting. Yeah, it’s funny, isn’t it, how these things transcend over the years, right? So the other aspect that you mentioned there around how IRO is able to monitor devices being connected is the security element, right? So a lot of the topics that we have on the podcast is around IoT security and simplifying the security process because sadly, you know, probably more.

so than many people gave is that security often doesn’t reach the forefront of people’s minds, right, consumers. They want to know if it’s secure, but actually, do they want to go through hassle in order to do that? And Aero really does simplify that, being able to block devices, as you mentioned, or look at security across that mesh. So that’d be interesting just to delve into a little bit as well, if we could.

Gabe Kassel (14:49.486)
Yeah, I think where I start on security, it’s exactly what you’re describing, at least in the residential space, where, you know, if you ask a customer, do you want your devices to be secure and private? Of course, they’re always going to say yes. But then if you say, okay, well, how, you know, what do you know about this? How are you going to do it? Blank stares, you know, it’s overwhelming. And so I think, again, the topic of security and privacy,

Tom White (14:56.224)
Hmm.

Gabe Kassel (15:16.782)
we kind of take a lot of the same tenants and approaches that we take to the product overall where it has to be simple and it has to be very approachable. And so.

I think one example or a genre of an example that I think of is really just having sane defaults and not letting users get themselves into unsecure or bad situations. And so at the most basic level, if we look at the wireless encryption and authentication protocols that we use, when we started a decade ago, it was very common for routers, access points to allow you to use WEP, or Web.

as well as WPA version one, which even at the time, a decade ago, it was known that both of those were completely insecure, could easily be cracked, but a lot of routers would continue to allow them because customers would have legacy devices that required them. And we took a different stance where we basically said, if you have a device that uses that encryption, you should replace it with a different device. Like it was so well known that those were…

compromised by that point in time, we just didn’t even give you the option. I think similarly, WPS, wireless protected setup, it was another example where we’re like, we’re just not going to support this in the product because we know that it’s bad for customers. But it’s always a trade off. There are other technologies like UPnP, Universal Plug and Play, where customers want their Xbox to just work. And from a security posture perspective,

It’s a tough call, but we made the call to kind of lean on the side of customer experience and simplicity to make your Xbox work, but then over time build tools so that you’re more aware that that’s happening. And if you want to turn it off or if something strange is happening, we can give you that ability. So I think, again, user experience is kind of where we start. And then, of course, we have services like the EuroPlus service that wrap together.

Tom White (17:14.112)
Hmm.

Gabe Kassel (17:25.678)
DNS based security VPN and a few other technologies to again just take the complexity totally away from you and give you some guarantees that you know, we will use a DNS provider that is highly private, very low latency, very secure and can block malware, you know, phishing attacks, like all these bad things happening on the internet in a way that you just don’t need to manage it yourself. So,

That’s, I think that’s where I kind of start on security. And then behind all of that, I think that there’s a whole aspect of, we just build a really high quality product and we have a lot of security engineers that spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff. And I think that our brand, hopefully kind of it stands for some of that where both the Euro brand and of course now being part of Amazon, the quality bar for things like how, how our, our physical device is secured is so incredibly high.

that it’s almost like bank level security that we’re putting in your home. So there’s definitely a lot more behind it, but yeah, overall just making it really simple.

Tom White (18:35.68)
Yeah, I mean that’s Yeah, that that’s the whole purpose of this week I’ve got a friend of mine who’s an advisor to the UK government on cyber security and He’s often quoted by saying if it ain’t secure it ain’t smart. So it can’t be a smart device, right? So I think there’s layers of kind of baked in

protection that you do, but equally we all know that security is a gold plating exercise. So how many more layers and layers and layers of security do we want to add? And the consumer just kind of wants it to work. So I can understand it’s got kind of, you’re at odds really with which way to go, but ultimately if the consumer isn’t going to use it, work it from a residential context, then that’s actually going to be detracted from the overall product proposition as well, right?

Gabe Kassel (19:19.214)
Yeah, I think one other thing that you kind of reminded me of is no one’s perfect, right? And so we’re always going to find, like I saw one in the last few weeks of an esoteric, you know, Wi -Fi attack that some researchers had published that I still don’t fully understand. But I think what I’m getting to is we’ve spent a lot of time.

Tom White (19:25.12)
Hmm.

Gabe Kassel (19:42.446)
making it really simple for our products to be automatically updated and kept up to date. And we’ve made a really strong commitment to keep our products working for a fairly long time. So that even if things pop up that we need to go correct, we have that capability. And we’ve pushed out a lot of updates. There have been situations. I think there was a Wi -Fi attack or vulnerability a few years ago called crack. We patched our whole fleet of devices within about 24 hours.

And we were well ahead of the rest of the industry by, in some cases, weeks or a couple months. So we spend a lot of time making sure that we can react really quickly as things evolve as well.

Tom White (20:25.696)
Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s so important, right? To be able to move as quickly as possible with these things and work in a kind of pair with the wider community, security community around there. I guess that brings me on quite nicely actually to the next part of our new products coming out into the home. Obviously we’ve got new standards, et cetera, which of course means new product lines potentially from Nero. So do you want to talk about some of your newer products that are coming out, Gabe?

Gabe Kassel (20:54.286)
Yeah. So recently we announced the Eero Max 7. It’s our first Wi -Fi 7 based Eero device. And it’s the highest performance Eero we’ve ever built. Supports over 4 gigabit per second across the wireless mesh. I mean, these numbers are getting kind of crazy. It has 10 gigabit ethernet. So I think especially in the UK, there’s a lot of 10 gig deployment. But also in the US, in North America, we’re seeing it as well.

So it’s really dang fast. That’s almost expected at this point. But it also, of course, being a Wi -Fi 7 device, has capability for all of the new kind of enhancements in Wi -Fi 7, really aimed at improving latency or reducing latency, as well as handling even higher density, more capacity, more client devices. So kind of the…

the typical drum beat that we’re seeing in the Wi -Fi generational standards of not just, you know, making the speeds go higher, but also really starting to focus on how do we handle density? You know, how can we handle hundreds of devices in a relatively small space, you know, all vying for airtime? And the biggest innovation probably in Wi -Fi 7 is in the new 6 GHz spectrum where…

Wi -Fi 7 now supports 320 megahertz width channels, which is really technical speak for it’s really, really fast. So in 5 gigahertz, we had up to 160 megahertz channels. And then in 6 gig or 6 to 7 gigahertz, now that it’s so open and so wide, we can double that again. And so that’s how we’re able to get up to these several gigabit speeds over Wi -Fi today.

Of course, we’ll probably get there later in the conversation. All of our products have a built -in smart home hub with matter thread, thread border outings, Zigbee, BLE, all of that good stuff. And of course, we’re really, I think the thing that we’re especially proud of is all of our products interoperate together. And that’s part of that differentiation around TrueMesh and how it works, where you can take a product that we sent out to you in 2015.

Gabe Kassel (23:17.998)
and it will connect and extend coverage and work perfectly with the device that we’re selling in 2024, which is pretty cool.

Tom White (23:24.992)
Yeah, that is impressive. I think the speeds that we’re talking at now are colossal, right? And I think generally speaking, both the consumer and at business, we’ve got kind of two forces at play. We’ve got the emergence of private 5G networks that are coming out and…

But that has its pitfalls, actually, in quite a number of different contexts, no leaks from the security. But also just that range, as you mentioned, is just colossal. And you start to think, actually, who’s sending what so quickly to require that? But from a business aspect and the amount of devices connected to it, and with the latency, as you mentioned, being low and more robust, et cetera, we kind of have to scale this for tomorrow.

and where it will be in the future. But do you see residential users having a need for such speed and so on? And what does that look like? Is it the kind of gaming, the streaming generation, et cetera?

Gabe Kassel (24:27.789)
Yeah, I think, you know, certainly there are a lot of customers that just want it. It’s available to them. And they get really excited, you know, being able to download a movie in 20 seconds and being able to see a really big speed test. Do customers need it? You know, I guess I lean on the side of if you want it, we want to give it to you. You know, I don’t feel like I strictly need it, but it is, you know,

Tom White (24:52.192)
Nice.

Gabe Kassel (24:57.006)
It’s not just about how can I download things from the internet as fast as possible. Even in my house, I’ve actually seen situations with the Mac 7 where I can move files across my local network at speeds that are now greater than ethernet, greater than gigabit ethernet. And so it starts to reframe what you can do with wireless networking where I don’t need to run wires, run cables through my house.

Wi -Fi has gotten to the point that it is faster than cabling in some cases. So that’s, I think that’s really interesting. I do think that there are some customers that are running servers from their house or for whatever reason want to tunnel back into their home so that wherever they are in the world, they can print to their printer or play things on their Sonos or whatever the use case is, where having these higher throughputs from the internet.

are really beneficial and make it so fast that it feels like you’re sitting at home on your couch, which is pretty cool.

Tom White (25:59.784)
Yeah, absolutely. There’s a big element to that, in the sense of people will have it because it’s available. I’m recording this off an M3 laptop, which I absolutely don’t need, but I wanted to get it. And so I think you’ve got the technologist that wants it, but also…

We can’t go backwards and we have to innovate and we have to create higher standards, but also from the range, as you mentioned, with interference with other devices, etc., or Wi -Fi. Wi -Fi kind of needs its own place and it needs its own freedom to be able to operate with the emergence now of so many different devices just being connected.

and the sheer magnitude of that. So it kind of needs to be a little bit uncluttered, right? So I do get that. You touched on Fred, so Fred would be a really interesting thing to talk about. So Fred’s obviously quite an emerging standard now, and people are talking about Fred, and I see that you’re personally invested in Fred, and I think you’re the Fred guy. It certainly says so online anyway. So for people that don’t understand Fred, can you talk a little bit about what it is and why people are so optimistic about it?

Gabe Kassel (27:09.262)
Yeah, I am indeed the thread guy, at least within Amazon. Yeah, we’ve been working with threads since about 2015. I think that the thread group was founded in 2014. So we’ve been around the technology for quite a while now. At its simplest, I like to describe thread as Wi -Fi for low power, low bandwidth devices. Of course, there is Wi -Fi halo, which has maybe confused that analogy, but…

Tom White (27:11.264)
Hashtag.

Gabe Kassel (27:39.962)
The main benefits of thread are one, it’s internet protocol or IP based and specifically IPv6. And what’s really cool about that is historically headless, low power, low data rate, IoT devices for them to communicate with wifi devices in a home or in a business or communicate with the internet, they would always have to go through a hub. And the hub was a device that would translate a proprietary protocol.

into internet protocol. What’s compelling with thread is it is internet protocol. And so a thread device can talk directly to things on the internet. And it indeed has to go through a device that to a common customer, a common person looks like a hub, but what it’s doing is much more similar to a router where it’s taking IP packets on a thread network and getting them to the internet.

And so I think foremost for me, the coolest thing is you take a $5 thread dongle that is a little tiny microcontroller and you can do things like download a whole webpage, not that you have anything to render it on, but you can download a whole webpage or ping Google or talk to the internet. So I think that’s foremost a big differentiator. The other is it is a mesh, but it’s a mesh in a…

very different way, even different from all the mesh stuff I talked about with Eero, where Thread is a multi -vendor, completely distributed mesh. And what I mean by that is in Thread, you have routers, which translate or repeat data inside of the network. And then you have a special role, which is called a border router, which is…

It’s that router that sits at the edge of a thread network and is usually attached to a wifi or ethernet network and ultimately allows the thread network to talk to the internet. Thread networks can have multiple border routers from multiple vendors. So imagine in my home actually, I have thread border routers in the same thread network from Eero, Amazon, Echo, Google Home and Apple Home.

Gabe Kassel (29:58.702)
they’re all on the same network. If I unplug any of them, all of my thread devices can still communicate with the rest of my house and with the internet. And all of those companies are sharing that mesh. And so, unlike Eero, where Eero forms the mesh and it’s really for our own devices to communicate amongst each other, thread is completely decentralized. And it kind of causes some people’s heads to explode because…

They then ask, well, who’s in control of the network? Who’s in charge? And the answer is no one. It is, once you hop onto the network, you get all of the same information and all of the same privileges as everyone else. And it’s the self -forming thing. So from a benefit perspective, it uses IP, which is what every device on the internet speaks. It is low power.

So you can build devices that run on a coin cell for years. And it is very secure, partly due to the fact that it’s a newer protocol that was able to stand on the shoulders of many others and stand on the shoulders of all of the internet engineering that’s happened to use the best encryption and the best paradigms for security. So I think I’ll stop there.

Tom White (31:21.28)
It’s such a good concept, right? And in terms of the interoperability for me, right? To be able to connect different hardware together and all to form part of the thread seems, again, it seems so logical. I’m learning pitfalls of this. Can you see a world where actually people don’t want to be part of the thread or the OEM or the hardware?

there’s some drawback, there’s a security challenge or so on. And do you think that might limit potentially the growth or the progression of it?

Gabe Kassel (31:58.446)
So, you know, having been around it now for almost a decade, the challenges for thread historically were that because it is a pure network layer technology, much like Wi -Fi, it kind of sat there waiting for an application layer to come in and make use of it. And in a real way, that didn’t happen.

meaningfully until matter started to evolve. And so now that matter is becoming a well -adopted application layer protocol, and we can talk about that as well, but the cool thing about matter is that it runs over internet protocol. And so it’s the opposite side of the same coin where it doesn’t mandate or expect a network layer, right? So it can run over ethernet or wifi or thread or any other IP bearing.

protocol that we invent, Thread really needed an adopted application layer. And so now that we have one, we’re seeing Thread get adopted much more quickly. I think that point that I made around the network really not having an owner or not enabling a single company to dictate what the policies and rules are on a network.

I think for a lot of device makers, that feels unnatural. They’re not used to that. It also means that there’s a much stronger onus on the community of companies working closely with each other to make sure that things interoperate well, make sure that these many vendor mixed networks work well, that that happens. And I…

I sit on the board for the Thread Group for Amazon. I attend all the member meetings. It’s a very healthy, vibrant community. And I think for a new device maker coming in, you kind of just have to jump into that community and start learning the people, the key people, getting involved and figuring out how to make it all work together. Doing it kind of in a vacuum, in a silo with that technology probably won’t be very successful.

Tom White (34:19.104)
Yeah, and I think, yeah, you touched on it. This is, of course, why matter matters, right? You know, and trying to take, you know, a step together to try and bring some harmony to quite a noisy environment.

So it’d be interesting to see developments specifically around the era and the future with this and what that looks like, about how things were shaped. But it’s inspiring to hear you talk about it and your view on Thread and with MATA. Just to touch on MATA briefly then. So, and that’s to a lot of acclaim in the past, right? And people talking about, you know, the potential of MATA.

Still probably a little way to go actually in terms of members and so on, but are you hopeful that it’s going in the right place, in the right direction?

Gabe Kassel (35:13.23)
Yeah, absolutely. Amazon more broadly, colleagues that I know well, we’re extremely active and have been a founding member of Matter. It is going in the right direction. Speaking even just as a customer myself, being able to go into a store, buy a device, and have the confidence that I can use it with multiple smart home platforms, smart home controllers, and do so.

all at once, you know, not having to choose that I’m going to only set this device up against one controller. That’s been really liberating for me in my house where certain tools, certain platforms are good at some things and others are better at other things. And so it’s pretty exciting as a customer to be able to have that choice. And I can attest on that side that it works. I mean, it is delivering on that promise of interoperability and…

You know, from a lay customer, a normal customer perspective, customers don’t really care. They don’t need to care. And so I think it’s the community of companies’ jobs to figure out how we just, again, make it simple, make it so that you take this thing out of the box, you plug it in. You may not even know how it connected to your network or what technologies it’s using. It just works. And then from that moment on, it works reliably. It stays connected. It’s low latency.

And that I think matter is a great forum for this community, for all these companies to come together along with Thread to make that a reality. So it’s not so much we must sell matter to customers, it’s rather we need to give this set of experiences to customers and we must interoperate with each other for that to be true.

Tom White (37:03.296)
Yeah, I completely agree. I think, you know, it’s…

The analogy is, well, the analogy that I always think of is if the customer does care, the chances are they care because it isn’t working, because they have an opinion, right? They don’t care, but it just works, but they don’t form an opinion, much like a review, right? People only leave a review if they’ve had a hard time, right? They don’t tell you about the good experience that they had, because why would they, right? Their own emotions do it when it is. So I completely agree with you on that. And that kind of takes us on quite nicely to the final part of the show, and I wanted to talk about future.

perspective. So for you and on behalf of Aero in terms of exciting possibilities in the future is that again the further adoption of MATA, increasing standards and so on, is that what’s kind of really kind of driving innovation forward with you guys?

Gabe Kassel (37:53.998)
Yeah, I mean, I think speaking for Eero specifically, it’s again that drumbeat of every day we get some customer report of something not working. And each of these escalations or customer requests end up kind of splintering into a few directions of one, what’s the root cause? Like what’s actually going on? And on that side, it’s usually some complex combination of…

symptom or scenario we’ve never seen before, or frankly, our product just continuing to get more and more complex as standards evolve, as we add more capabilities, and so figuring out how to make all of the jigsaw pieces fit together. But it also always splinters into what could we have provided as a tool or as an insight to the customer directly or to our support team.

or to all of the Internet service providers that we work directly with, how could we have made it so that I didn’t need to go have a Wi -Fi expert on our Wi -Fi and mesh team spend three days going really deep and figuring out what happened? And so every day we end up with a handful of, wouldn’t it be nice if we had this new tool or this new capability in our product? And so to me, it feels like we’ve still just scratched the surface of…

of kind of ease of use and helping customers understand why things are happening or how they can fix them. So I think there’s certainly innovation happening there. There, you know, of course, AI ML is the hot thing to talk about. But for us, you know, as I was driving in this morning, listening to some of your other episodes, it occurred to me that for us, we actually have a lot of

what I think you can term as machine learning, but it’s things that we’ve been doing for years. And so I think that we’re now waking up to how do we explain these to customers? And so there are things that we do behind the scenes around, I mentioned how our mesh makes decisions or how we make decisions on where your phone should be connected in the network and how it roams around the network. And so I think…

Gabe Kassel (40:16.334)
Again, in the lens of how do we explain things to customers? It’s taking the invention that we’ve already made and just figuring out how we turn that into something that we can express outward to you. And it’s really challenging. Again, we’re always towing the line between giving a lot of detail, but also making it simple enough that the average person is like, I get it. That’s cool. I understand what it’s doing, but without overwhelming them.

So that’s a lot of what I spend my days thinking about.

Tom White (40:49.344)
Yeah.

Yeah, I can see that. You talk quite eloquently around it, around future perspectives and what that is. And I guess that’s how people will interact in the future with devices. They would be more ubiquitous, not having to worry so much that it is just part of the network and so on. And I guess the important aspect there is how you remain that element of safety, security around it, functionality and so on. And do you see that happening in the future?

then it just being this, it’s being which is done, you don’t need to worry about it. We talk a lot about IIT and the fact that, you know, actually we’re just going to not call anything IIT in the future because it is just what it is, right? It’s just a device that’s connected and you don’t really need to say, is that how you see things going in the future perhaps in terms of the interaction point of view?

Gabe Kassel (41:40.366)
Yeah, I think from the, I’ve been thinking a lot about this as well from the interaction side. I think that it’s going to be a…

not that things will only happen automatically, but that things will also happen automatically. I have a two and a half year old and there are countless moments in the day where it actually happened for the first time last week where she could actually ask an assistant a question and it was coherent enough that she got the right answer back. So I still think that voice is a really powerful interface. I think that the…

Tom White (42:15.808)
Yeah.

Gabe Kassel (42:18.702)
our phones or tablets or devices with a display. I think that those are also very powerful in certain moments. But I’ve also, as sort of an example, I’ve been playing around with Home Assistant a lot lately and Home Assistant is starting to add a lot of automatic automation. I don’t know what they’re calling it, but things that just happen or things that get chained together or things that are more context -based.

Tom White (42:42.336)
Mm.

Gabe Kassel (42:48.654)
You know, what’s shown on my dashboard is modified based on what room I’m in or what time of day it is or who I am. And that to me, once you start using it, I think that sort of to the point you made very early in the conversation around that response of like, how did it ever work a different way? I think we’re going to get to that point where it’s just the expectation. It becomes so ubiquitous, so anticipated.

that when it doesn’t work like that, that will be the surprise, if that makes sense.

Tom White (43:22.688)
Hmm.

Yeah, yeah, 100%. And that’s when the consumer starts to care, right? You know, because it doesn’t work. Yeah. Gabe, it’s been great having you on the podcast. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. Yeah, I think your insights have been fantastic and it’s great to see the innovation within Aero and keeping that simplicity, right, moving forward, which is something that it’s known for. I started the podcast by talking about my dad and, you know, hopefully my dad will still continue to be able to use it and configure it and not call me, right? That’s the litmus test.

Gabe Kassel (43:27.566)
Yeah. Yeah.

Gabe Kassel (43:32.334)
Okay.

Gabe Kassel (43:52.27)
Absolutely. Yeah.

Tom White (43:53.538)
We’ve got a couple of questions to wrap up as we always do with a series of questions. So a little bit off -piece, Gabe. But what challenge do you currently face that there is not a solution for in tech at all? There is no tech solution for it, and that you would like to change that?

Gabe Kassel (44:12.046)
Interesting.

Gabe Kassel (44:16.13)
I’m sure that there are tech solutions, but I feel like just keeping our life calendar and our work calendars aligned, I almost feel like my wife and I need a, you know, need a personal assistant at this point. And so I, maybe I’m optimistic that some AI can solve that for us, but it literally, we spend our Sunday nights now.

Tom White (44:27.552)
Mm -hmm.

Gabe Kassel (44:42.414)
sitting on the couch, comparing our calendars, figuring out who’s doing daycare pick up and drop off and all of that. And so that’s, I think that’s what comes to mind for me.

Tom White (44:52.032)
Do you know what I feel the same? I end up pulling into my work phone when I’m gonna go and see the new Mad Max film, right? Or when I’m gonna do this. And I think, well, why is that in my work calendar? But if it’s not in my work calendar, I won’t necessarily remember it, or it might clash with something that comes up anyway. So I completely get it. I’m on that one with you, Gabe. What’s a gadget that you can’t live without? And you can’t say your Aero device at home.

Gabe Kassel (45:17.134)
Yeah, I have a and this is this is not an ad or a plug. I have a spin coffee maker SPINN. I saw it at CES two years ago. It’s a it is not a super automatic, meaning it doesn’t froth your milk for you. It doesn’t make lattes, but it just makes like

Tom White (45:23.392)
Hahaha!

Tom White (45:28.704)
Okay.

Gabe Kassel (45:41.998)
pour overs and pour over style and espresso and that kind of stuff. But again, like now that we have a toddler, being able to just like push a button and get a decent coffee out of it, that’s a gadget that I probably can’t live without now. Yeah. Yeah.

Tom White (45:55.776)
Okay, all right, I might check it out. Yeah, I do a V64 of myself, but we do it manually and it kind of takes a bit of time, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, it does. Yeah, it does. Most unexpected thing that you’ve learned this month.

Gabe Kassel (46:01.902)
It takes too much time. Yeah, it takes too much time.

Gabe Kassel (46:11.182)
Yeah. Last week, I had some Tesla Powerwalls and solar installed at a house that I’ve lived in for about a year now. And none of that is that novel, except I watched them install solar in about two to three hours, and then the next day, multiple Powerwalls in about two to three hours. And it…

startled me at how modular and how sort of well packaged all of this home energy stuff is getting that it, you know, the average installer can do this in a few hours and fully light up your home. It just totally blew me away.

Tom White (46:51.52)
I suppose they need to, right? With the way things are going in the EV market and if we are all gonna, you know, bin the ice off, right? That’s incredible. And finally, what’s a passion that you’re, what’s a passion outside of work, outside of WiFi and connectivity?

Gabe Kassel (47:07.886)
Yeah. I really like to work out. I’m a big guy. I like I about five years ago walked into a gym like off very randomly. There was a community of people there that compete in Strongman. I know Strongman is really popular in the UK actually. And I kind of just like caught the bug and have been competing for a few years and do it off and on as an amateur. And yeah, I just really enjoy doing it outside of work. But.

Tom White (47:12.512)
Okay.

Tom White (47:26.336)
Yeah, yeah.

Gabe Kassel (47:36.846)
Now that I have a toddler and a house built in the 60s, most of my time goes to swim practice and fixing up the house.

Tom White (47:37.088)
That worked.

Tom White (47:45.632)
Okay, it’s a bit eerie days because aside looking vaguely similar I also like going to the gym and I’m actually going to train after this podcast which is bizarre. So yeah, well it’s a morning for you right? It’s evening for me. It’s coming up 7pm. But once again, thank you so much for coming on to the IoT podcast. I’ve had a blast.

Gabe Kassel (47:55.246)
I’m jealous. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Gabe Kassel (48:06.35)
Thanks, Tom. Thanks for having me.

 

About our guest

Gabe Kassel is the Principal Product Manager at eero, leading eero’s low-power and smart home networking strategy. Collaborating both internally within Amazon and externally with device manufacturers, he focuses on enhancing the performance, variety, and dependability of consumer connected home products. With a career spanning back to 2016, Gabe brings extensive expertise in Thread technology. His background includes proficiency in hardware development, embedded software engineering, scaling cloud infrastructure, and crafting mobile user experiences.

About eero

eero is a leading provider of home connectivity solutions, renowned for its seamless and user-friendly Wi-Fi and smart home products. Founded in 2014, eero is committed to simplifying Wi-Fi setup and management with features like mesh technology for extended coverage and intuitive troubleshooting tools.

They prioritise security and privacy, offering automatic updates and built-in security services to ensure a high-quality user experience. eero’s latest innovation, the eero Max 7, boasts high-performance Wi-Fi 7 capabilities and interoperability with other eero devices. With a focus on innovation and simplicity, eero is reshaping the landscape of home connectivity.

Find out more about eero: HereĀ 

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