Episode 296: Gifts galore and a recipe for smarter food prep

This week’s podcast is full of gift suggestions from our annual gift guide, many of which are aimed at those people on your list who have a green thumb. We then discuss my disappointment with Wemo after almost a decade of using its devices, and Kevin shares his plans to eliminate data-mining services from his life. On a related note, we do a deep dive into Amazon’s Sidewalk network plans and talk about trust. From there, we discuss new features for Google Assistant, an adorable AI bird feeder on Kickstarter, and my thoughts on the Chef IQ smart cooker. We end by answering a listener’s question about wearables and their accuracy.

The BirdBuddy feeder won’t ship until Sept. 2021, but I can’t wait to review it for next year’s gift guide. Image courtesy of BirdBuddy.

In honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday, our guest this week is Nick Holzherr, head of product for Whisk at Samsung Next, who talks about the future of the smart kitchen and food preparation. We discuss the role recipes can play as a standard for smarter kitchens, how to solve the problem of pantry management, and why it’s so hard to build updated kitchen experiences when everyone has kitchens that are from different eras. We even discuss the challenges of personalization and how to get users to trust the services to which they’re asked to give up their personal information. It’s a good show to listen to while prepping a meal.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Holzherr, Head of Whisk at Samsung Next
SponsorsCalix and Teracode

  • Four gift ideas for people obsessed with their plants
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t as invasive as you might think
  • The ChefIQ smart cooker combines gadgets and makes cooking easier
  • The future of the connected kitchen is almost here
  • The big trend in kitchen gadgets is combo cookers

Episode 295: Project CHIP goes commercial and the Eero Pro review

This week’s podcast kicks off with the news that Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) will also have a commercial element focused on offices, apartments, and public buildings.  Then we focus on edge computing with a new way to bring machine learning to the edge and Arm expanding its free IP license program to some of its edge ML chips. We also talk about the new IoT Cybersecurity bill that passed the Senate, a virus prediction score on Airthings devices, and another new Wyze product. We round out the news with LoRaWAN, facial recognition laws, telemedicine, an upgrade to Google Fit, and a new name for Plume’s Wi-Fi service. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Eero Pro Wi-Fi system, and a quick impression of the new HomePod mini. We end this segment by answering a question about updating old Z-wave switches.

This sensor is part of a network that will detect and monitor wildfires. Image courtesy of Katia Obraczka.

Our guest this week is Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz. She’s designing a sensor network to detect and monitor wildfires. She explains how she’s handling a lack of connectivity, power constraints, and budget constraints, all while trying to build in resiliency. After all, elements of this network are in fire-prone areas, and it stands to reason some of it will burn. She discusses how she’s using simulations of the network to figure out power budgets and what types of sensors she needs. She also talks about using drones as flying access points to build in more resiliency in case other forms of connectivity burn. It’s a good way to think about building a sensor network for a harsh environment.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Project CHIP has commercial ambitions but needs a better name
  • TinyML is a big deal and the tools are getting better
  • Eero Pro is expensive but does provide quite the speed boost
  • What matters most in building a sensor network for detecting wildfire
  • Repurpose drones as flying Wi-Fi access points to make your network resilient

 

Episode 294: Let’s talk about Thread and digital twins

This week’s show starts off with a conversation about Thread because it’s clear that it’s going to become an important radio for the future of the smart home. We explain why before discussing an update to LoRaWAN and an alternative to the big voice-controlled smart speakers from Josh.ai. After that, we express frustration with exploding doorbells, discuss a fitness tracker that finally covers pregnancy, and get excited about a new robot vacuum. On the industrial side, I try to get excited about Hitachi Vantara’s deal with Amazon Web Services and explain why Honeywell is trying to become more than just a process manufacturing powerhouse. We conclude the show by answering a listener’s question about Wi-Fi.

The new Wyze vacuum has LIDAR and will cost $199 at first. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft. He explains what a digital twin is and isn’t and attempts to cut through some of the marketing hype about where we are in terms of building real-time updateable models of machines and manufacturing processes. If that gets too esoteric, he also tries to talk about what they mean for IoT business models and shares how digital twins might be helping us find a vaccine for COVID-19. It’s a good interview if you want to figure out what’s real and what is just marketing.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Why Apple cares about Thread and you should too
  • Why not put LIDAR on a vacuum cleaner?
  • What it means when Honeywell’s CEO says it’s a controls company now
  • What’s real and hype when it comes to digital twins
  • How digital twins can help us discover a COVID vaccine

 

Episode 293: Amazon’s Halo and the election and IoT

We kicked off the post-Election Day show with an update on ballot initiatives in Massachusetts, Maine, and California that have an impact on the internet of things. After that, we discussed Google’s ability to predict HVAC problems and the promise of smart thermostats. Then we focused on two devices worth covering, a smart lamp from Byte-Dance and a communications tool for outdoor adventures from Milo. Smarter AI in the form of voice detection and drones that can tell the number of people in a building rounded out the news. After that, I discussed my first impressions of the Amazon Halo fitness tracker and had a small break down over body fat percentages. We ended with a call from a football fan who wants to play AM radio over his smart speakers during the game.

The Amazon Halo is an activity tracker focused on wellness. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

Our guest this week is Nick Kucharewski, VP and GM of wired and wireless infrastructure and networking at Qualcomm. He’s on the show to explain where Wi-Fi is heading in the next few years and why you should upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 if you’re in the market for a new router. He also makes the case for a new router even if you don’t think you need one. And he explains what we can expect from home Wi-Fi in the future such as security services, monitoring of the elderly, and more. But the next generation of Wi-Fi isn’t something that will come in a box; it’s something you’ll pay subscription fees for. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Kucharewski of Qualcomm
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Teracode

  • Ballot initiatives that impact the IoT
  • An expensive gift idea for outdoor fans
  • The Amazon Halo makes me feel a lot of things
  • What’s up with the latest Wi-Fi routers?
  • Why do I need Wi-Fi 6?

 

Episode 292: We play with Whoop bands and Wyze cams

First up on this week’s show are Forrester’s predictions for the year ahead in IoT, followed by me talking about my latest tech gadget, the Whoop Strap. Whoop recently raised $100 million in funding for its subscription-based band designed for hardcore athletes. From there we talked about the new Arduino Oplà IoT Kit, the real steps we’d like to see companies take with their green gadget efforts, and the FCC’s decision to allocate spectrum for both unlicensed use and cellular connected-car technology. In our news bits, we talk about Amazon, Mercedes, Google Nest, and Starlink. From there, Kevin reviews the latest version of the Wyze Camera that launched this week. We close by answering a listener question about smart light sockets.

The Whoop strap is a fitness tracker/coach that requires a monthly subscription.

Our guest this week is Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected. Three years ago he launched the company with a Kickstarter project: A replacement for motherboards inside old alarm systems, turning the existing panel and sensors into a smart security system. DIYers love the ability to control their existing sensors and Clark explains where the product is going and how he handled SmartThing’s transition from its Groovy IDE to the cloud. He ends with advice for anyone who wants to build a business in the smart home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Forrester predicts COVID-19 making IoT pretty ubiquitous
  • Whoop is a different kind of fitness tracker
  • Wyze’s third-generation cam looks familiar
  • SmartThings’ platform shift explained by a developer
  • Advice for people building a niche connected product

Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

Episode 290: Apple’s smart speaker and cheap thermostats

This week’s IoT podcast kicks off with a focus on Apple’s new HomePod mini and the inclusion of the Thread protocol on the device. We then discuss how it fits into the world of smart speakers and my own recent purchases, such as my feelings about the Echo Studio and the Nest Audio. We then talk about the $129 Nest Thermostat and what cheap thermostats mean for the smart home. From there we share news about e-waste, AR goggles for dogs, smart benches in Auckland, Alphabet’s smart farming device, and Cisco’s easy IoT sensors. We then answer a listener question about the purpose of hubs.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

This week’s guest is a blast from the past. I am running my chat with Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell, who spoke at my event in July focused on machine learning at the edge. I am running his interview because ML at the edge is getting a lot more attention and Jeavons did a good job explaining what it can and can’t do yet, and how hard it is to use machine learning in edge use cases. We also talked a bit about synthetic data, another hot topic. So if you attended the event, this guest will sound familiar, but many of y’all will likely hear it for the first time.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Why does Apple’s Homepod mini have a Thread radio?
  • Which $99 smart speaker is right for you?
  • What inexpensive thermostats say about the smart home
  • How Shell is using machine learning at the edge
  • Why doesn’t machine learning scale at the edge?

 

 

Episode 289: Nest Audio and IoT trends in the enterprise

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of data from Microsoft’s latest IoT Signals report which shows that, for a third of companies, COVID-19 is speeding up their IoT deployments. We discuss the data and then talk about updates on the Nvidia deal for ARM from ARM’s developer conference, a cheaper Jetson AI module, and another Telnet weakness. Yes, we also discuss the hacked sex toy, the $50 Wyze thermostat, my experience with the brighter Philips Hue bulbs, and my thoughts on the new Nest Audio speaker. We round out the show with a cheaper Jacquard backpack and Google’s latest accessibility efforts. We end by answering a question about using a Wyze sensor to alert a grandparent to a toddler near the stairs.

Even in my cluttered office, the $99 Nest Audio fits right in and sounds pretty good. Image courtesy of me.

Our guest this week is Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab, discussing how Ecolab is using Hololens and IoT to save time and keep workers away from manufacturing plants. Ecolab provides sensors and services to ensure water quality for industrial clients. Cerilli explains how different industries use water and what the company has learned after 25 years of offering a custom-designed connected sensor. He also shares tips on augmented reality and how it’s helping Ecolab keep workers remote.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab
Sponsors: Perceive and Very

  • The average IoT project deployment takes 12 months
  • ARM and Nvidia’s CEOs think the deal will go through (but it will be slow)
  • Nest Audio fits on your shelf and sounds great for $99
  • Can augmented reality help cram a week’s worth of training in a few hours?
  • IoT is going to help companies with water use and conservation

Episode 288: New devices and new threats

This week’s show covers device launches from Amazon last week and Google this week. We also talk about connected coffee machines getting hacked, Amazon letting people pay with their palm, and Apple’s smart home patents. After that, we switch to developer news with Twilio’s new IoT platform and ARM’s chip designs for autonomous robots and cars. Vodafone added a new feature to its IoT modules, Yale has a smart package box for your business or home, and Swarm’s IoT module is out and somewhat pricey. In this week’s IoT Podcast hotline segment, we take a tip from a listener about pausing your 5GHz Wi-Fi when adding certain types of connected devices.

Amazon wants to let people pay with their palms.

Our guest this week is Emily Anthes, a science journalist, and the author of The Great Indoors, a book that covers how we live now. Anthes talks about how the smart home is turning into a medical device to meet the needs of the elderly and how important people still are in figuring out what to do with connected device data. She then talks about how employers are using sensors in the workplace to help boost health and productivity. However, boosting productivity can be benign or almost totalitarian depending on the employer so we discuss surveillance and how to ensure people’s rights aren’t trampled in the process of making workplaces smarter. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Emily Anthes, author The Great Indoors
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

 

Episode 287: Amazon’s new network and cleaner air from 3M

This week’s podcast covers our thinking on Amazon’s new Sidewalk network, but not the devices the retailer launched on Thursday. As part of the network conversation, we also discussed LoRaWAN network operator Senet’s new $16 million in funding before detailing three upcoming products from Wyze. We then talked about sharing Alexa routines, Google’s new mystery product, Intel’s new edge chips, a new automation hub that controls IR-based devices, Microsoft’s foray into satellite networks, and Mozilla spinning out WebThings. Kevin now has the new contact tracing app in his state and he also reviews the Nuheara IQ Buds2 Max hearables. We conclude by revisiting a question from two weeks back when we gave the wrong answer. We got it right this time.

The Wyze video doorbell will cost $29.99 and offers two-way audio and 1080p video. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Andy Boyd, a product manager who handles the business side of 3M’s Filtrete brand. He came on the show to talk about wildfires, a little COVID, and mostly about 3M’s plans to make indoor air quality better using the IoT, by combining its materials expertise with connected devices and other platforms. Boyd talks about the lessons learned building a Bluetooth-based connected air filter, an upcoming Filtrete air purifier, and plans for a smart plug that will let customers link their older air purifiers to the Filtrete ecosystem. I really love Boyd’s approach to the smart home. 3M clearly knows what it has to offer and is willing to work with others or take on all the elements needed to deliver good indoor air quality.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Boyd, 3M
SponsorsPerceive and Ayla Networks

  • Why Amazon decided it needed to build an IoT network
  • Intel’s edge chips are really designed for industrial use cases
  • Alternatives to WebThings now that Mozilla is spinning it out
  • How to clean indoor air, even during wildfire season
  • Why 3M wants to work with everyone when it comes to better air quality