Episode 193: Inside Calgary’s sensor network

This week we tackle a bunch of device news, the rebranding of TrackR, the end of ARM’s Cordio Bluetooth IP and Nokia’s latest data on IoT botnets. We also ask what y’all think about network security devices and services for the connected home. We don’t currently consider them a must-have device, but should we? In device news, we mention Arlo’s new 4K security camera, iHome’s new mirror and alarm clock, IKEA’s $10 smart plug, Bose’s connected sunglasses, and Free ISP’s new Freebox Delta. We also discuss Kevin’s purchase of the Google Home Hub and my review of the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector and smart speaker. Finally, we answer a question about what connected tech belongs in the bedroom.

A chart from Nokia’s Threat Intelligence report showing the increase in detection botnets using IoT devices.

Our guest this week is Heather Reed-Fenske, the chief information technology officer at the City of Calgary. She talks about how Calgary has built a sensor network on top of its existing city-wide fiber network. Calgary is using LoRa radios that cost about $45,000, and is layering all kinds of new services on top of the network. She talks about what that has meant for city workers, trees and even concert promoters. We also discuss privacy and how governments should think about deploying smart tech in municipal settings. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Heather Reed-Fenske, the CITO at the City of Calgary
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Bluetooth trackers are boring, so those companies are changing
  • Should a network defense product be part of your smart home?
  • First Alert’s smart smoke detector is pricey and smart
  • How Calgary uses its LoRa network to keep trees alive
  • Real time noise sensors keep outdoor concerts in line

Episode 192: Amazon’s big news and UL’s cyber safety standard

This week Kevin and I start off on a heavy note discussing the things that went wrong during the Lion Air crash at the end of October relating that to the increase in sensors, software and inadequate procedures for marrying the Silicon Valley mindset with the real world. We then tackle the many, many announcements made by Amazon at its Re:Invent event, focused on the elements that matter to the internet of things. From there we discuss smaller news such as the Open Connectivity Foundation’s standards becoming an ISO standard, ISO’s new drone standard proposal and a new Google speaker. Kevin shares his thoughts on the future of digital assistants and we tell a father which connected light switches won’t require a neutral wire.

The Klipsch Google Assistant speaker is pricey, but pretty. Image courtesy of Klipsch.

After that, I speak with Gonda Lamberink, who is  a senior business development manager at UL, about the cybersecurity standards UL is working  on. We talk about best practices, why UL charges for its standard and how many UL certifications an IoT company should expect to get. We also discuss the challenges in preparing a standard for the software world, which changes so rapidly. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Gonda Lamberink, UL
Sponsor: Afero

  • Sensors can lie, so how do we adapt?
  • Amazon’s new IoT services take aim at the enterprise and industrial IoT
  • Kevin is waiting for Jarvis
  • How will UL adapt it’s standards work for software?
  • What makes a device secure in UL’s eyes?

 

Episode 191: Lowe’s wants to dump Iris

This week on the show, Kevin and I talk about Lowe’s putting the Iris smart home system on the block, Apple buying Silk Labs and why now is a perfect time to pull the trigger on the smart home device you’ve been eyeing. We then dug deep on a swath of Alexa-related news such as the ability to bring Bluetooth devices to the Alexa ecosystem, Anki’s Vector robot getting Alexa integration and the new Alexa Wake-on LAN commands. Google also has some new features to discuss such as an ability to replace Siri on an iOS and a new developer board with microcontrollers linked to Google’s cloud. We also teased our gift guide coming out on Friday in the Stacey on IoT newsletter and shared the new Abode security device plus a new Google Assistant Smart Display from LG. In this week’s voicemail, we advise a dad about what smart home gear he should buy his two daughters for their first apartments.

The Iota gateway and camera from Abode costs $259. Image courtesy of Abode.

November is National Diabetes Month, and so I brought on Mike Nelson who is the head of IoT security at DigiCert, but for the show purposes, is a father whose 4-year-old daughter has diabetes. He does too. Nelson talks about how connected devices have changed the way he manages his illness and what it means for him as a parent. He also shows how insecure devices, especially medical devices, can become deeply concerning for patients and parents. It’s a good interview that will bring home the need for better security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson of DigiCert
Sponsor: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • What went wrong with Lowe’s Iris
  • Why Apple bought a smart home hub company
  • Alexa and Google add new IoT talents
  • How IoT changed the world of diabetes care
  • Why security really, really matter for medical devices

Episode 190: The Federal government takes on consumer privacy

We kick off this week with an in-depth discussion of the NTIA’s suggestions for regulating consumer privacy in a digital era. It’s a long discussion, but one worth having, and we welcome your thoughts as well. From there, we talk about botnets, neural networks on a stick, and then Alexa’s new talents and devices. Then some Google Home and Wi-Fi news makes the cut as well as a new Withings activity tracker and new services from IFTTT. From there we end with some enterprise security stats and a new effort to bring IoT to the enterprise. This time the platform is intelligent windows! Instead of answering a listener question we offer a suggestions from a listener that may solve some outdoor camera and sensor problems.

The Withings Pulse HR costs $129.95 and has a projected 20-day battery life!

Our guest this week is Emily Silverman, a program manager for Denver’s smart city efforts. Silverman explains how Denver is thinking about smart infrastructure and how to provide new citizen services. She also details how the city is trying to safeguard citizen privacy and protect data. Some vendors aren’t keen on the plans, but Silverman says the attitude is changing. It’s a good interview and important for anyone who wants to be an informed citizen.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Emily Silverman, program manager for the City and County of Denver
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Here’s how the feds want to boost consumer privacy
  • Why Alexa’s new talents matter
  • Why not add another enterprise IoT platform?
  • Some vendors aren’t ready to let go of your data
  • How Denver anonymizes traffic data. Really.

Episode 189: Meet the Digital Standard for IoT security and privacy

The battle for more secure IoT products will get its day in court now that a judge has rejected requests for summary judgment in a case pitting the FTC against D-Link. The agency called out D-Link for making insecure routers and cameras. Now, the courts will decide. A smart glass maker gets a whopper of an investment, we discuss two new cellular modules from Sierra Wireless and Gemalto and there’s a creepy new twist on insecure IP cameras. Microsoft is switching things up for Cortana, and there’s a good idea for getting 9-1-1 calls on your Echo or Google Home. Finally, Kevin shares a tip on getting Alexa to notify you of events in the home using a new skill and IFTTT.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport uses smart glass from View to reduce heat and glare from the sun.

Our guest this week, Andi Wilson Thompson, a policy analyst at New America’s Open Technology Institute, also hits on privacy and security of connected devices, discussing a new effort called The Digital Standard. The goal of this year-old effort is to offer specific criteria and tests that connected devices should follow in order to be considered secure. Consumer Reports is using it to evaluate products and I think we’ll start formally assessing products against it in our reviews. Learn more in this week’s show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andi Wilson Thompson from New America’s Open Technology Institute
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Is this case the key to better IoT security?
  • Want a private LTE network? It might be yours.
  • Here’s how to solve e911 for Amazon Echo devices or Google Homes
  • The Digital Standard is a real stab at a safer IoT
  • A solution for extending the life of unsupported devices

Episode 188: How to design a better smart home

Smart home hubs are dying, DIY will become increasingly niche and smart companies are prepping for this. For example, Honeywell’s smart home spin out Resideo went public this week with an eye to removing complexity from smart homes. Meanwhile, Calix unveiled a gateway device and a service to make it easier for ISPs to deliver the smart home. In other failed IoT efforts, Kevin and I talk about the fall of beacons and point out what might take its place. Google’s new deal with iRobot comes up, and then we segue into Microsoft’s plans for a smart office followed by some of the more recent security breaches. We end with a low-power AI chip and by answering a listener’s question about a Wi-Fi motion sensor to work with his LIFX bulbs.

Roomba i7 robots will share mapping information with Google if users agree.

Our guest this week has written a new book on the smart home. We welcome Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, who is an industrial designer and author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life. We talk about more than a century of smarter homes, how the term has changed and why today’s efforts are not succeeding. She also asks us to question our current design methodologies for digital assistants and explains what might replace them. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • To normalize smart homes, DIY will die
  • Google’s getting home mapping data from robotic vacuums
  • Google’s Home Hubs compromised? How to think about risks.
  • We’ve been pitched the smart home for more than a century
  • Digital assistants should be helpers, not servants

Episode 187: It’s time to take privacy seriously

We’re nearing the end of 2018, which is as good a time as any to relaunch the smart glasses concept. We discuss the new new Focals glasses, tie them in with Qualcomm’s new chips for Alexa-based ear buds and then tackle the Google Home Hub. From there we cover Amazon’s face recognition software, Tim Cook’s statements on privacy and use GM and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs as a case study to explain why privacy is so important. After that, we talk about a new device to detect falls, a resource article for those dealing with domestic violence in smart homes and a new chip company using a novel form of energy harvesting. We conclude the news segment by answering a listener question about issues with Apple’s iOS 12 update making it difficult for some IoT devices.

The new Focals glasses cost $999 and have limited functionality. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Hugo Fiennes, the CEO of Electric Imp, who shares how a connected product made by a company that no longer exists can still operate and get security updates. For fans of the Quirky egg minder this is great news. We also talk about the rush of new IoT platforms that have cellular connectivity and why they are so popular now. We end with a fun workplace IoT project involving Slack, some code and connected speakers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Hugo Fiennes, CEO of Electric Imp
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • New AR smart glasses test the market for connected eyewear … again
  • Privacy will be the defining issue of the IoT
  • Walabot is designed to detect falls
  • How the Quirky Egg Minder works even after the company that made it failed
  • Can cellular take over the IoT?

Episode 186: ARM’s new architecture and Anki’s adorable robot

This week’s podcast kicks off with a deep dive into the news shared at ARM’s TechCon event happening in Santa Clara, Calif. We talk about ARM’s new architecture, move on to Facebook’s privacy fudge and then spend a lot of time discussing the UK’s new standards for IoT device security. We then take a look at Github’s new Actions and speculate on what it could mean for IoT, and discuss Simplisafe’s new video doorbell, the Pixel Stand and Nest integration. We also share a website that’s great for finding frameworks for industrial IoT projects. We then discuss the death of the Myo armband and the launch of Anki’s new Vector robot. Finally, we close by answering a question about smart locks for a listener.

The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is will cost $169 and will be sold on the SimpliSafe site and at Best Buy. Image courtesy of SimpliSafe.

Our guest this week is Teo Swee Ann, founder and CEO of Espressif Systems. Espressif makes the ESP8266 and the ESP32 chips used by thousands of people and customers making IoT devices. We learn about the history of the ten-year-old company, discuss building IoT devices that can last 20 years and what Teo thinks about IoT in China. We also get the lowdown on the new architecture that Espressif plans to launch for IoT devices next year. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Teo Swee Ann, founder and CEO of Espressif Systems
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Explaining ARM’s big bets on IoT
  • The UK publishes great IoT security advice for business and consumers
  • Sometimes it’s hard to imagine your industrial or enterprise IoT project. This site can help.
  • What the heck is an ESP32 or an ESP8266?
  • What type of chip will the IoT need next?

Episode 185: Google’s news and smart kitchens

This week Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts from the Google event, including a lot of information on the new Google Home Hub. Kevin talks about what it means for Google and the smart home race between Amazon, Apple and now Facebook. Yes, we discuss the Facebook Portal as well. Also the latest software updates from both Amazon and Google on the respective digital assistant apps. We finish the first segment of the show with GE’s new connected light bulbs designed for the Google ecosystem.

The Google Home Hub comes out just in time to show off Google’s new Home app.

We had too much news to have a guest this week, so we continue the show with my tips from the Smart Kitchen Summit this week. I checked out an update from the June oven as well as a bunch of new screens on cooktops, range hoods and refrigerators. Plus, I tried out the Rotimatic flatbread-making robot and it’s expensive but good. We talk about cybersecurity, privacy and whether or not we are ready for the responsibilities associated with the internet of things. We close with an answer to a listener question about wireless doorbells and security cameras.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Which Google hub is right for you?
  • This is the year of getting the smart home ready for normals
  • Facebook gets in your face
  • How many screens does a kitchen need?
  • What about a roti-making robot?

 

Episode 184: How to remake the Internet for IoT

This week Kevin and I start out discussing The Wi-Fi Alliance’s new branding for the wireless standard and why you don’t need to rush in to buy Wi-Fi 6 gear. We then turn to space, specifically, Iridium and Amazon’s decision to create an IoT network that uses satellites to deliver signals around the world where cellular doesn’t reach. California passed an IoT security law and Kevin talks about his high hopes for bringing IBM’s Watson into his smart home setup. We then ask why we’re not using NFC on door locks, talk about a thermostat acquisition, GE’s woes and Kevin shares his ideas for what else you can do with motion sensors. This week’s listener question involves a keg, a freezer and a request for electricity monitoring.

Lux Products makes the Kono thermostat. It was just purchased by Johnson Controls.

We continue with the space theme with this week’s guest Matthew Prince, who is the cofounder and CEO of Cloudflare, discussing a future version of the internet that would even handle the rigors of space travel. We talk about building an internet that is cheaper, distributed and not beholden to Google, Amazon and Facebook. We also talk about Cloudflare’s Workers edge computing platform, cheaper bandwidth and more. It’s a show that will make you feel smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, who is the co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsor: Cognizant and Auklet

  • What’s up with Wi-Fi’s new branding?
  • The internet is going to space thanks to Amazon and Iridium
  • Four ways to use your open/close sensors
  • How the Bandwidth Alliance could save you money
  • Cloudflare updated its faster edge computing platform hosted around the globe