Episode 141: Alexa suits up for business

Last week Amazon made a slew of IoT announcements at its annual user conference, bringing established functions into general availability and surprising us with the launch of Amazon’s Free RTOS after it hired the man responsible for the most popular embedded OS for microcontrollers. It also introduced Alexa for business. Kevin and I share our thoughts on that and also discussed Microsoft’s own platform announcement, the Google/Amazon spat, and Walmart’s search for a cheap sensor. I share my learnings from an event on IoT business models held at Target’s Open house last week and Kevin shares his thoughts on the GoControl/Linear garage door controller. We also discuss naming conventions thanks to a question on the IoT Podcast hotline.

Amazons IoT dreams are becoming clear.

The guest this week put the challenges of building an IoT project into perspective. After years of being “spoiled by cloud computing,” Upal Basu of NGP Capital says that we have to reframe our IoT projects with longer ROIs and more of a focus on decentralized deployments away from the corporate offices. His ideas make sense for anyone familiar with complexities of deploying sensors, and it’s a good interview for folks thinking about how to transform her business using connectivity, sensors and cloud analytics. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Upal Basu, General Partner at NGP Capital
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Greengrass, Free RTOS, Device Defender and more from Amazon
  • Alexa gets her MBA
  • Sustainable IoT hardware is actually a service
  • You returns on IoT investments should be years, not 12-18 months
  • The value in IoT deployments happens where the sensors are

Episode 137: Is Nest breaking Thread?

This week’s show has flying cars and lawsuits. What more can anyone really ask for? Kevin and I kick off the show discussing Waymo’s autonomous minivans, Uber’s plan for helicars, and the injunction that ADT won against Ring. There are plenty of other bits of security news that span the smart home all the way to a new survey full of dumb things industrial shops do related to security. Finally, Congress is trying again with an IoT security bill. This week also had a huge chip deal, bad news for Logitech device owners and an insightful question/comment related to the Amazon Echo on the IoT Hotline.

One of the Notion sensors that now works with Nest.

Our guest this week is Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group, who tried hard to convince me that this week’s news out of the wireless standard organization wasn’t bad. Thread is implementing an official certification and something called “Thread Ready” which is like some kind of royal bastard. It won’t have all of the features of Thread and certified Thread gear won’t recognize it. I’m worried it will break the standard, but Erickson explains what it means. You’re gonna want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Grant Erickson, the president of The Thread Group
Sponsors: SparkCognition and ADT

  • Why minivans are good autonomous vehicles
  • There is no such thing as an airgapped network
  • Can we please get an expiration date for devices?
  • Did Nest just break the Thread protocol?
  • We’ll see tens of Thread devices at CES next year.

Episode 134: KRACKed security and a river of sensors

This week began with a bang as researchers disclosed a vulnerability in the Wi-Fi protocol that could cause problems for smart device owners. The details of the KRACK vulnerability can be found here, and a list of connected devices affected here. After that, we discuss Bluetooth issues and the trouble with most trackers. Kevin reviews the Sonos One and I review Alexa’s ability to tell different people apart. We also share some ideas from IFTTT to turn your smart home into a spookier one in time for Halloween. News from GE and Apple, an update on smart home device penetration and a spin out of Honeywell’s home division round out the show.

Find out what Kevin thought of the new Sonos One. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

After that I interview John Miri, who is the chief administrator for the LCRA in Austin, Texas. In his role, he oversees 275 sensors spread out over 800 miles of river in Texas. These sensors are part of a real-time flood reporting system that I was glued to during Hurricane Harvey. Curious about how it was managed, I asked Miri to discuss how the agency built it, how they keep it running and what data he’d like to see next. The biggest takeaway from the interview wasn’t that the IoT aspects were hard, but that the operations and maintenance were perhaps the most challenging. It’s a great interview for anyone who thinks IoT is a magic wand that will generate the data to solve your business problems.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Miri of the LCRA
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • What to do after KRACK broke Wi-Fi security
  • Samsung’s global tracker is cool, but can it do this?
  • IFTTT wants to help you automate a haunted Halloween
  • Measuring floods in real-time is harder than you think
  • Anyone want to build a new radio network for the LCRA?

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. She also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10

Episode 130: Nest’s a security company now and Hitachi’s new industrial IoT explained

Wow. This week saw some big news from Nest as it announced a new security system plus other devices. August also updated its line of locks and promised a better doorbell. Meanwhile, rumors of an Amazon Alexa security system or even glasses emerged. And Google leaked some news. We also talked about smart grid M&A and Comcast buying Stringify, a company that links together myriad devices and lets you create scenes. Kevin also shared his thoughts on the Apple Watch with LTE and we answer a reader question about garage doors.

A Nest Detect sensor in action.

On the guest front, we speak with Rob Tiffany, the CTO of Lumada, about Hitachi’s new industrial IoT play Vantara. He discusses the existential threat that faced Hitachi and why it needed to make a move as well as shared how Hitachi is offering trains as a service. There’s a lot to digest in this show, but it’s a solid overview of the big news this week.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Tiffany of Hitachi Vantara
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • The Nest Connect and Security is the return of Weave
  • So much hardware getting released and leaked
  • On the Apple Watch with LTE, manage your networks or manage your expectations
  • IoT posed an existential threat to Hitachi’s business
  • How to turn a train into a service

Episode 129: Apple’s missing IoT news and adding blockchain to the energy grid

This week’s Apple announcement didn’t offer much for the IoT fans in the audience, although Kevin is deciding if he want’s the LTE-capable Apple Watch. We also talk about a big Bluetooth security vulnerability and Chamberlain’s decision to charge customers who want to create IFTTT integrations. We cover some news about EdgeX Foundry, a new energy monitoring product and an enterprise translation service that requires a “thing.” Finally, we answer a reader’s question about upgrading an old alarm system.

The Apple Watch with LTE and a set of Air Pods might be the future of computing.

Our guest this week talks about a particularly relevant topic given the recent hurricanes. David Martin, co-founder and managing director of Power Ledger, is building an energy trading market using blockchain, connected meters and a network of residential solar. He discusses the bifurcation of the energy market, the trend towards resiliency and how the blockchain can help generate revenue for consumers and the larger energy grid. But, as you’ll hear in this interview, it’s a disruptive concept.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Martin of Power Ledger
Sponsors: ForgeRock and Xively

  • Hey Apple, show me the HomeKit!
  • In which we shame Samsung on Blueborne missteps
  • What to do with an ancient security system? Rip it out.
  • How to use blockchain to make money on renewables
  • Building a more resilient grid starts with IoT (and the blockchain)

Have a question? Call the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and get an answer!

Episode 127: Alexa gets multi-room audio and teaching devices to lie to one another

GE is not giving up on its industrial IoT dreams, but it is scaling back a bit. We discuss what that means before diving into an array of assistant news. Kevin and I give some tips for using the Amazon Echo’s multi-room audio feature before discussing what the partnership between Amazon and Microsoft’s Cortana means. We also download some news about Google Assistant from IFA, where we also learned of new Elgato sensors. They are pretty.  Finally, Kevin built us all a present!

The upcoming Elgato window guard sensor.

This week’s guest, Alasdair Allan, is a tinkerer and researcher who is thinking about the way we secure highly distributed systems. His concern is malicious data inserted into a system that can report false information to bring about a destructive action. In his example, someone created an imaginary moisture sensor that told a vineyard sprinkler system the ground was dry. It wasn’t. The resulting overwatering was a problem for the vines and resulted in a large fine. If you’re a blockchain fan, you’ll want to hear this one too.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Alasdair Allan
Sponsors: Forgerock and Xively

  • Even GE can’t build a scalable industrial internet platform
  • Alexa, why is multi-room audio so limited?
  • There’s a new speaker in town with the Josh Micro
  • Have a question for us? Call the IoT Podcast Listener Hotline at 512-623-7424
  • Should we teach our devices how to lie?
  • Blockchain may help secure the distributed IoT

Episode 125: Lockstate’s big goof and a super sensor from CMU

How do you turn a deadbolt into a brick? Update its software! That’s not funny, especially if you’re Lockstate, which rendered 500 connected door locks useless with a software update last week. Kevin and I add a bit of context to the event and then jump right into discussions about Anker’s Eufy Genie, a connected bassinet and a story that portrays Carnegie Melon’s super sensor in a scary light. We end with Caraoke, June’s new wall-mounted oven and a plan to use Outlook to schedule your Roomba.

The Snoo bassinet costs $1,160.

Our guest this week covers what we need to do to continue building out the internet of things. As SVP and General Manager of Silicon Labs’ IoT division, Daniel Cooley has the unenviable task of predicting what features chips will need three to five years before he thinks we’ll need them. In this segment he talks about pushing more math to sensors, how important it is to get security right, the future of human-to-machine interfaces and the types of business models we’ll need. He also dives into the concept of unified data models for the internet of things– essentially defining in software what a physical product can do. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Cooley of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • Lockstate has something in common with Wink
  • Someone put a baby in a Snoo!
  • Another gadget for the hall of shame
  • How silicon companies are thinking about the edge
  • The internet of things needs data models stat!

Correction: This episode credited the super sensor to MIT, but it was built by researchers from Carnegie Melon. The post has been changed on Aug. 29, 2017 to reflect the correction.

Episode 124: How to think about cybersecurity in old-line industries

In this week’s show, we issue a major correction owing to my lack of pop culture information, discuss a fully automated T-shirt factory and wonder why we don’t have more exciting news from the world of energy harvesting technology. On the smart home front, Kevin and I rethink our aversion to Apple’s HomeKit, discuss Google Home’s preview program and the potential for the Amazon Echo to offer multi-room audio. Finally, I talk about the gadget I’ve been waiting for for the last 18 months. No, it’s not the refrigerated crock pot.

This music player puts my Spotify playlists on an iPod shuffle-like device.

For those that want to experience a chill, stick around for Mike Spear, the ‎Global Operations Manager, Industrial Cyber Security at ‎Honeywell Process Solutions. He discusses everything from the differences in securing oil refiners and paper-making plants to how to train IT folks to think like a manufacturing security expert. We also revisit Petya and dig into who should pay for securing plants when compromising them doesn’t necessarily hurt the company’s bottom line, but might hurt the environment or national security. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Spear of Honeywell Process Solutions
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • I can’t believe how many T-shirts this factory makes
  • HomeKit breaks Apple’s historical model and that’s okay
  • The Mighty player rocks!
  • How to train an IT security expert for manufacturing security
  • Which countries are creating good cyber risk regulations?

Episode 123: Whatever happened to Wink and DefCon’s greatest hacks

Security was a big topic this week in the internet of things, so on the podcast we talk about news from Defcon, efforts to hack the Amazon Echo and our take on the Senate’s new IoT security bill. We also cover the week’s big news of the Wink platform getting sold to Will.i.am, Eero’s new employees and $50 million for TrackR, the Bluetooth-based tracking company. Kevin and I also highlight a product that we think is silly and discuss the future of bikes in a world of autonomous cars. Oh, and we answer a reader’s question, recommending this for lighting without a neutral wire and this for gaining voice control for your AV system.

The TrackR Atlas will one day provide location information inside the home.

The industrial and enterprise IoT folks will want to stay tuned for my interview with Microsoft’s Sam George, who heads up the Azure IoT Platform. George and I have had a few conversations in the last two years covering where the IT world stops and the real world begins. We talk about this plus the right architectures for the edge and a bit about Microsoft’s stance on cybersecurity. Finally, he shares a story from the Internet of Twizzlers.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sam George of Microsoft
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • This is not the IoT security law we need
  • Will.i.am doesn’t have Kevin’s endorsement
  • We answer a reader’s A/V and lighting question
  • How Microsoft thinks about security in the overall IoT ecosystem
  • How Hershey’s uses IoT to save money on sweets