Episode 140: How IoT will change war

This week we kick off the show with a bit about voice such as Google getting better at understanding your commands, the ability to talk to Waze and notifications coming to the Amazon Echo. We also touch on China’s plans to create standards for the smart home, including a preference for NB-IoT over Wi-Fi. Weather reporting gets more accurate without sensors and Kevin and I discuss the end of two smart light bulb startups. Finally, I offer a pro tip for the holidays and we answer a listener question about WeMo and HomeKit.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

After all the news, things get a bit grim as I discuss the future of battle with Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He’s part of a team that won a research grant from the U.S. Army Research Lab to figure out how to bring the internet of things to the battlefield. Our discussion ranges from technical elements to the ethics of having machines kill people. It will make you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tarek Abdelzaher, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Sponsors: Spark Cognition and ADT

  • Google Home gets a great new feature
  • China’s setting some standards for the smart home
  • Goodbye Emberlight and so long Stack Lights
  • What can Facebook teach us about programming sensors?
  • Will machines kill in the war of the future?

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 133: August’s new doorbell and Vitamix blends with Bluetooth

Both Dell and Salesforce made big announcements about their internet of things plans this week, so Kevin and I try to break that down for people. We then discussed Amazon trying to deliver things to the trunk of your car, Google Home going too far in recording conversations and updates to hardware for autonomous cars. We also review the latest August lock and doorbell hardware and answer a listener question from Sally about linking her Sonos with her August locks for some musical automation.

This Vitamix blender has Bluetooth and an app.

I was at the Smart Kitchen Summit this week, and ran into Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, which just launched a connected blender. I had a few moments to ask Ciepiel how Vitamix was thinking about bringing its blenders into the 21st century and why. He explained how to think about technology in a product designed to be an heirloom and what it means for the company’s operations to support a connected device. We also talk about sharing data across connected products and how technology changes blenders’ capabilities. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix
Sponsors: Qualcomm and SAP

  • Dell and Salesforce are adapting to the IoT
  • Cheaper LIDAR and smarter cars are coming
  • August locks are good but the doorbell made me angry
  • Why use Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi in a connected blender
  • Software can let you count calories even more granularly

Have a question? Leave a voicemail on the IoT Podcast hotline at 512.623.7424 and we might answer it on the show!

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

Everything you need to know from CEDIA

Grab your headset for a special bonus edition of the Internet of Things Podcast from the CEDIA show floor in San Diego. Last week I attended the show, which is aimed at the professional AV installer market to understand what’s hot, what’s not and how the business of home automation will evolve. I saw some beautiful televisions and more light switches than I even knew existed, while I walked away despairing of ever getting the smart home experience right.

This OLED screen is actually two OLED screens mounted back-to-back in a sheet of glass. It costs $20,000 and is designed for high-end retail.

I spoke with Julie Jacobson, the founding editor of CEPro to find out what she thought was cool, met with Tim McInery of Savant to talk about the benefits consumer tech has on the installer business and asked Richard Gunther of the Digital Media Zone to explain the changes in business models. I also interviewed the CEO of Josh.ai to understand why the smart home industry has progressed so slowly, and talked to Ragan Mena, the president of Audio Zeal, a custom installer to see what toys he was excited about. He did like the Josh Micro, which enables voice access for older custom systems.

This entire episode was sponsored by Ring, which is offering discounts on bundles of home security items to both consumers and pro installers. Visit www.ring.com/stacey to learn more.

  • Stacey’s highlights and news (0:45)
  • Julie Jacobson of CEPro on trends and cool stuff (10:25)
  • Tim McInerney of Savant on the benefit consumer tech has for installers (14:40)
  • Richard Gunther of The Digital Media Zone discussing the custom installer business model (16:20)
  • Ragan Mena, president of Audio Zeal explain how he decides what consumer tech to use (22:00)
  • Alex Capecelatro, of Josh.ai on why Crestron, Control4 and others have a hard time competing against consumer tech (25:10)

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 126: Sonos wants to brick your speakers

The breaking story as we recorded this show was Sonos updating its Terms of Service to prepare for the Amazon Echo integration. As part of this update, the connected speaker maker confirmed that customers who did not accede to the new terms of service would see their devices stop working in the future. This didn’t go over well, but this is a complicated issue. Kevin and I break many of these issues down. We also talk about Google’s Assistant plans, hacked robots, what has happened to the Nvidia Spot, the potential sale of AT&T’s Digital Life service, and answer a reader question.

Accept Sonos’ new terms of service or else.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Sibley innovation hub. If you want to hear about applying some DIY tech to healthcare, Dawson has stories for you. He describes how his team built a separate network to experiment with Amazon Dash buttons, Amazon Echoes, Sonoses, Philips Hue lights and even using Slack as a way to track patient calls. He’s looking for feedback, so if you have ideas, want to talk security or even hospital IT, you can find him at www.debughealthcare.com or @nickdawson on Twitter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, executive director, Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • Are companies selling services or devices?
  • What ever happened to the Nvidia Spot?
  • We advise a reader to check out Blue Iris camera software for Alexa and SmartThings integrations
  • This hospital built a rogue network for IoT experimentation
  • How to use Slack and Amazon Dash Buttons to get quick data

Episode 120: Learn how 3-D sensors work before Apple puts them in the iPhone

What did you buy for Prime Day this week? This week we tackle if Amazon’s new program to help folks install Alexa-enabled devices is a big deal and Apple’s retail plans for HomeKit. We also discuss fashion-forward wearables, and a new startup called Nodle that’s trying to create crowdsourced Bluetooth-based IoT networks. We have a lot of data on voice thanks to IFTTT and spent some time discussing a friendly French IoT company.

Lighthouse combines machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision to create an assistant for your home that can see, hear and speak.

Then I chat with Alex Teichman about Lighthouse, his new startup that marries computer vision with a voice-based personal assistant to make your life easier. For the nerds out there, we also discuss the category of sensors available for 3-D sensing and how they differ. This matters for Lighthouse, self-driving cars and maybe even for the next-generation iPhone. Get ready to cover everything from recurrent neural networks to frickin’ lasers!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Teichman co-founder and CEO at Lighthouse
Sponsors: Schlage and Affiliated Monitoring

  • Do you need a Mother? It’s on sale.
  • Can Apple build the right showroom to sell the smart home?
  • Louis Vuitton gets into wearables
  • How to use 3-D sensing to make computers see more
  • How Apple may choose to use 3-D sensors to unlock phones

Episode 117: Intel’s new IoT strategy has fewer things

Intel plans to discontinue several of its boards designed for makers. Kevin and I discuss what this means for Intel’s IoT strategy. We also talk about ARM’s extension of a program that eliminates license fees to design custom chips, Ring’s new doorbell and Hue’s new lights. We then circle back on Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase and the availability of the Dash wand, while Kevin shares his favorite new Alexa Skill.

Too hot for the IoT?

Next up is blockchain, specifically how it could build sustainable IoT business models and even help generate wealth in the subscription economy. My guest Paul Brody is a principal at EY and a blockchain expert. You’ll learn a new way of thinking about subscriptions, fractional ownership and why blockchain and IoT are like chocolate and peanut butter. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Brody from EY
Sponsors: TE Connectivity and Affiliated Monitoring

  • What happens to the Intel Quark?
  • I replaced my doorbell transformer to handle the connected options
  • What do you think about Amazon’s interest in food?
  • Using blockchain to share cars or even solar farms
  • Open source software and blockchain can cut consumer IoT operating costs