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 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 116: Meet Eero’s new routers and see how Aclima uses IoT to stop pollution

There was a lot of Wi-Fi news this week with new routers and services from Eero. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance has created a certification program for builders to ensure that newly constructed homes get the best in-home coverage available. Since I was out this week, Kevin and I recorded early, so there’s news of AWS Greengrass and Softbank buying Boston Dynamics. Plus, Kevin and I share how to connect your smart locks to Alexa and further information on the WeMo dimmer.

This is BigDog, one of Boston Dynamic’s scarier robots. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

My guest this week tackles a serious topic. Davida Herzl, the CEO Aclima, discusses how we can use sensors on cars to map pollution data and shares the results of a study conducted in Oakland with Google. We talk about the importance of scientific validation for sensor data and algorithms as well as how to charge for this type of data. Beyond that, she shares why she thinks this sort of granular pollution monitoring is the future of fighting climate change.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Davida Herzl, the CEO Aclima
Sponsors: Affiliated Monitoring and TE Connectivity

  • So much news on the Wi-Fi front
  • How to tell Alexa to lock your doors using IFTTT
  • Testing Wink’s new service and WeMo’s dimmer
  • Where in Oakland is pollution the worst?
  • All IoT companies should be validating their data

Episode 113: Google Home gets way better

It has been a week since Google I/O, which gave Kevin and me time to wade through some of the developer videos and ponder the features Google is announcing for the home and for Google Home. The jury is still out on whether Kevin is buying the device, but he is tempted, y’all! We discussed Dish’s integration with the Amazon Echo, the new maker tier on IFTTT and IKEA’s plans to make its smart lights work with a variety of platforms.

Google’s Home speaker and AI assistant.

Our guest this week gives us a chance to discuss both the smart grid and saving sea turtles, which I imagine is a relative rarity. Michael Bell, the CEO of Silver Springs Networks, joined us this week to talk about scale, the future of the electric grid and the trouble with solar power. He also talks about new businesses for Silver Springs and turtles. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Bell, CEO of Silver Springs Networks
Sponsors: Aeris and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • Google Home makes calls, offers shortcuts and has new partners
  • IFTTT gets way more flexible
  • The smart grid is just the beginning
  • How to scale to 25 million devices (and then more)
  • Saving sea turtles with smart street lights

Episode 110: IKEA’s smart home plans and will you buy an Amazon Look?

This week we discuss Apple’s plans to introduce Siri in a can, Amazon’s Style maven ambitions and a few other items on the personal assistant front. We also discuss Orbit, a new security idea from Cloudflare, and a lawsuit filed by ADT against Ring and Zonoff’s former CEO. From there we go straight into an ad which launches my new IFTTT channel so you can get the podcast and articles on my site in the form you favor.

IKEA’s smart lighting products will expand over time.

After that, I interview Bjorn Block of IKEA about the company’s four-year old effort to combine technology with the home and home furnishings. Block and I discuss the newly launched TRADFRI lights, the astonishing number of meatballs IKEA customers consume each day, and IKEA’s plans for future connected home efforts. We also discuss the environmental impact of connected products and IKEA’s plans to keep technology inside long-lived goods fresh.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bjorn Block of IKEA
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • The one thing Apple must fix before launching an Echo-killer
  • A new idea for IoT security
  • IKEA thinks smart homes must solve a real dilemma
  • Will IKEA open up its ecosystem?
  • I’m opening a second-hand smart bulb store

Episode 109: How to scale the industrial IoT

Google Home can recognize your voice, SmartThing’s Connect app on Samsung’s Galaxy 8 can act as a hubless hub for the home, and Spotify may be considering its own connected device. Kevin and I discuss these stories, plus Waymo’s autonomous car testing in Phoenix, and why iDevices was acquired. There’s also a quick discussion of Symantec’s latest security report and Microsoft’s new IoT suite.

iDevices, the maker of this connected dimmer, was acquired this week.

We did forget to discuss Juicero’s challenges, and the Amazon Look came out after our recording, which just means you’ll have more to look forward to next week. In the meantime, sate yourself with a deep dive into the launch of the EdgeX Foundry platform for the industrial internet of things. Dell’s Jason Shepherd describes the newly launched open source effort as a way to scale IoT like we once scaled the PC. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Jason Shepherd, Director IoT Strategy and Partnerships at Dell
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • Kevin bought a Samsung Galaxy 8
  • Who the heck is Hubbell?
  • Microsoft’s IoT efforts are compelling
  • Dell’s push to make industrial IoT scale
  • Standards? We don’t need no stinkin’ standards!

Episode 108: Owning digital property could save our privacy

Kevin is back for this week’s show, and we talk about Google Home, Amazon’s latest hardware plans for the Echo and how we think voice may evolve. I installed the Honeywell T5 thermostat as well as a leak sensor from Honeywell, and share what I liked and what I didn’t. We also discuss Kevin’s field trip to the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona and the latest developer survey from The Eclipse Foundation.

Bitmark’s platform used a custom-designed blockchain to store digital property records.

After some more news, we turn to this week’s guest. Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Bitmark, explains how he thinks giving people the ability to own digital property will make privacy easier online. His company has built a blockchain based software product that stores rights to someone’s digital data whether it’s photos or fitness info. We discuss why this sort of record matters and how Bitmark plans to make its abstract ideas real. It’s a fun discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Bitmark
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and IFTTT

  • What devices do I want to talk to in the home?
  • News from Lutron, August and Logitech
  • A modest proposal for smart thermostat makers
  • Should we turn digital assets from intellectual property to just property
  • Donate your data — or just keep track of it online

Episode 98: Science fiction prepared me for spying TVs

This week we discuss the city of Louisville, Kentucky adding an If This Then That channel, a settlement over televisions that spy on you, and a possible new feature for the Amazon Echo that could bridge the gap between it and the Google Home. That last tidbit was contributed by Grant Clauser, the smart home editor at the Wirecutter who took Kevin’s place this week. (Never fear, Kevin will be back next week.) Grant also provides input on the professional installer networks like Control4, Crestron and Savant in case you’re wondering about those options. We also have some kitchen M&A and security embedded in the Almond3 router.

Image courtesy of Bruce Sterling.

Our guest this week is Bruce Sterling, a popular science fiction author and the co-creator of a smart house/maker lab in Turin, Italy. Sterling discusses Casa Jasmina, overlooked aspects of the transition to smart homes and how Europe is likely to react to the challenges of security and privacy in connected devices. He also offers up the name “Talking Donkey” for devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. To find out why, listen to this week’s show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Grant Clauser of The Wirecutter
Guest: Bruce Sterling
Sponsors: MIT IoT Bootcamp and Ayla Networks

  • Light bulbs for better health and evil TVs
  • Kitchen tech gets some M&A action
  • Don’t call it old-school home automation
  • What the heck is a talking donkey?
  • How Europe will take our smart tech and make it better

Episode 87: We’ll govern the internet of things with mob rules

Gosh, it’s another week and another show that features security. We kick it off with this week’s news that features ransomware, botnets and a report from the Department of Homeland security discussing the internet of things. Kevin and I then touch on Intel’s new IoT chief and new Automated Driving Group as well as a bunch of Amazon Echo news. Finally, I discuss my impressions of the IFTTT integration with the Kevo lock and gripe about some frustrating sales practices by August.

The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.
The August doorbell cam courtesy of August.

It’s not all complaints on the show. My guest this week is Nick Feamster, the co-editor of a report out last week by a non-partisan group of technical experts focused on how to secure the internet of things. Feamster offers some tangible suggestions and directions where the industry can play a more active and helpful role. We discuss everything from how to create over the air updates that can be authenticated to how to create new types of routers to improve home IoT security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Feamster, professor of computer science at Princeton
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Bluetooth

  • The future may have more cyber extortion than cyber warfare
  • Intel’s new automated driving boss is the same as the old (IoT) boss
  • You shouldn’t claw back functionality on a connected device for a fee
  • Want to secure IoT? Start with routers
  • Should your ISP help secure connected devices?

Episode 57: A deep dive into OpenHAB and some problem devices

We dove into the deep end of wearables this week discussing the dresses at this year’s Met Gala, where Kevin shared that Clare Danes’ princess fantasy gown took 30 battery packs to operate. It’s not all celebrity this week as Kevin and I dove into several devices that unfortunately didn’t all quite work as we expected. I reviewed the Pebblebee Stone, a bluetooth tracker and programmable button that was supposed to connect to If This Then That, but didn’t. Kevin talked about connecting his OnHub router to If This Then That, but also had some troubles. And once again we shared news of SmartThing’s troubles–this time with a security vulnerability. We ended with Microsoft’s acquisition of Solair and Oracle’s acquisition of Opower.

The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.
The Pebblebee Stone next to a pen. The other side is covered in the soft plastic.

Then for the open source, DIY smart home junkies out there, I brought Kai Kreuzer, the founder of OpenHAB onto the show. He discussed the projects ambitions–let people connect all their stuff without worrying about handing over control to a vendor–and how he might commercialize the project. The conversation exposed how tough it is to get the ideals of the open source community to mesh with the reality of trying to connect your home. Listen up.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Kai Kreuzer of OpenHAB

  • You must match your LEDs to your dress
  • Some bumps in the road for IFTTT, OnHub and the Pebblebee Stone
  • Rick Osterloh returns to Google and Kevin and I disagree
  • Want to build your own home hub?
  • Ease of use means totally different things to me and to Kai