Episode 356: Smart home improvement is now a thing

This week’s show starts with a healthy portion of chips, with the main course being Nvidia’s reported acceptance that its deal to acquire ARM isn’t likely to happen. We then turn to the U.S. Commerce Department’s plans to combat the chip shortage crisis, new ML chips from Silicon Labs, Google’s first TinyML Coral microcontroller, and an Arduino-like RISC-V product. Feeling full from all of this chip ingestion we discuss how Peloton is trying to work out its excess inventory challenge. Two smart tracking companies raised some funding this week: Pebblebee on the consumer side and newly launched Tag-n-Trac for shipping and logistics. We then discuss how Thread turned the Wemo Stage controller from “meh” to “must-have” and share details of new Philips Hue fixtures. Rounding out the episode is a listener question from Michael asking if Alexa can control his Google Nest thermostat.

Peloton is changing its production plans, but we still think it has value. Image courtesy of Peloton.

Our guest this week is Oisin Hanrahan who is the CEO of Angi, the home services company formerly known as Angie’s List. He’s on the show to talk about startling data his company discovered late last year. According to Angi’s data, for the first time ever, smart home investments were in the top three home improvements made by homeowners. Hanrahan explains what homeowners are doing and why they are willing to invest in more technology. He also offers advice to device makers who want to attract the pro-installer business and makes recommendations on how pros think about the smart home. It’s a great interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Oisin Hanrahan, CEO of Angi
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Nvidia may be giving up on its ARM-acquisition
  • $52 billion for U.S. chip factories won’t fix the real problem
  • Peloton could learn a thing or two from Apple
  • Painting, bathroom remodels, and smart home drive home improvements
  • What a pro wants

Episode 355: Get ready for an active FTC and energy storing appliances

The big story this week in IoT was the joint venture between Ford and ADT to add smart home security to cars through an in-vehicle security system. Then we discuss the FTC and Department of Justice reconsidering how they evaluate mergers. We also explain variations on Wi-Fi, from the launch of new Wi-Fi 6E gear to the coming Wi-Fi 7 standard. We include a blast from the past with an update on Misty Robotics and, in other robot news, we cover research from the MIT Media Lab on giving robotics a personality. We’re also sharing news about energy harvesting Bluetooth company Atmosic, which has a new product and $72 million in funding. In smaller news, we are excited about smart home company Tado going public, and a new way of handling IR sensing that could figure out the nutritional value of food. We stick with the food topic by discussing my latest purchase, a smart induction range from GE Appliances. Finally, we listen to a question from Kevin in St. Louis about using Amazon Sidewalk or LoRaWAN in wearables.

Furhat Robotics has acquired Misty Robotics for better social robotics. Image courtesy of Furhat. 

Our guest this week is Kailas Nair, a co-founder and director at Plentify. The South African startup is trying to help power companies store energy generated by renewable sources for later use by home appliances. Nair discusses how his startup is trying to use sensors and data analysis to make it possible to power a fridge, a heat pump, or a water heater when power is cheap and clean, for use when renewable energy isn’t available. He also explains how important it is to manage energy across many homes, not just on an individual basis. For the last five years, Plentify has sold its electronics and algorithms for water heaters in South Africa, and now he’s bringing the tech to the U.S. and hoping to convince appliance manufacturers to put the Plentify tech into their own products.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kalais Nair, co-founder and director at Plentify
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Canopy will bring smart home security to cars
  • U.S. merger guidelines are set to change
  • Let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7
  • Smart appliances will become a source of stored energy
  • How Plentify will use insurers and utilities to bring energy storage to homes

Episode 354: Google’s Soli pivot and Amazon’s Sidewalk news

This week Google reminded us that we don’t actually own our connected products when it removed functionality from grouped Nest speakers after losing a patent case filed by Sonos. Amazon’s Sidewalk network is getting a boost and this should spark a really interesting fight between LoRaWAN and Sidewalk in the coming years. We then talk about why sensors should have standards or maybe just a certification body for calibration, pay-what-you-want plans for IoT services, and Google’s surprise pivot around its Soli radar technology. The chip shortage has made it tough for Canon to find the silicon used to enforce its digital rights management that locks people into buying Canon toner cartridges, and we love to see it. In other news, researchers can detect malware using a Raspberry Pi and electromagnetic frequencies, Abbott Labs is getting into consumer wearables that track glucose and ketones, Netatmo launches its first Thread sensor, and Wind River will be acquired for $4.3 billion. Finally, we take listener feedback on accessibility and update an answer about Wi-Fi sensors.

Abbott Labs is launching a new line of wearables for measuring glucose, ketones, and more. Image courtesy of Abbott Labs.

Our guest this week is Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance, which launched last week at CES. Choi joins me to discuss the reason the HCA exists, how it’s recruiting new members and why we want our appliances to interoperate. He addresses questions about security, why the HCA is promoting cloud-to-cloud integrations instead of local ones, and if the HCA wants to work with the Matter protocol. It’s still unclear what the HCA wants to produce in terms of APIs or certifications, but it’s clear that the companies involved recognize that collaboration will be essential for building worthwhile intelligence into washers, dryers, HVAC systems, TVs, and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Google loses Sonos patent spat, but so do consumers
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk plans set up a low-power wide-area network fight
  • Has Google given up on Soli?
  • What exactly is the HCA trying to create?
  • Why the HCA is embracing a cloud-to-cloud strategy

Episode 353: Virtual CES extravaganza

It’s CES week, and neither Kevin nor I are physically there for the second year running. That makes it really tough to get a macro sense of cool tech and upcoming trends outside of press releases and product launches. Normally, we spend so much time trawling for the weird or futuristic in the demos and report on the stuff that isn’t pre-packaged in a release. Maybe we can return to that next year. In the meantime, there are a lot of stories, but the biggest trends in the smart home relate to the upcoming launch of the Matter interoperability standard for the smart home, a bunch of new products that will support HomeKit, and new products for Amazon Alexa and the Google ecosystems. We are also are excited about the newly launched Home Connectivity Alliance and what it might mean for future product features and energy consumption in the home.

Arlo’s new DIY security system includes an all-in-one sensor and keypad. Image courtesy of Arlo.

After a quick break, we share our non-amazement of John Deere’s automated tractor. It’s cool, but it has also been half a decade in the works, so it’s not like it comes as a huge shock. We then discuss new products from Samsung (an energy harvesting remote and a tablet for the smart home), Schneider Electric’s update to its energy management software, a new assistive robot, and Arlo’s smart home security system with an all-in-one sensor. Outside of product news, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released an update to the Wi-Fi 6 standard with more uplink capacity and better power management. This will ensure that Wi-Fi 6 is more relevant for IoT devices and perhaps ensure those chips get used in more end devices, especially in cameras and video doorbells. Masonite also showed off its smart door at CES so we share our impressions. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about power consumption in IoT devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Matter may be late, but it’s looking much better
  • All three digital assistants got a lot of love from new product launches
  • John Deere’s robot tractor shows how technical farming has gotten
  • Wi-Fi 6 gets an update custom-made for the IoT
  • How much energy does Alexa or Siri consume?

Episode 352: As Alexa goes, so does the smart home?

We’re back after a one-week break in the Internet of Things Podcast, and we didn’t miss too much. The biggest stories of this show are the slow collapse of CES 2022 and a Bloomberg article that uses internal Amazon documents to show how Alexa growth has stagnated and illustrates the hopes Amazon has for its smart speakers. We also talk about Alexa’s unfortunate suggestion to a 10-year-old looking for a challenge. After that, we discuss a survey related to edge computing from Zededa after we explain what edge computing means for different folks. Then, in smaller news, we highlight Level Lock’s new keypad, a smart ring, sales data on connected appliances, and my review of the Fi collar. We close out the news portions of the show by answering a listener question about why he can’t find Wi-Fi motion sensors anywhere.

The Level keypad fulfills an essential need for people who don’t carry a smartphone — or their keys. Image courtesy of Level.

Our guest this week is Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean. Wijergangs joined EnOcean in August to help the maker of energy-harvesting IoT devices expand into building management with a focus on sustainability. In the interview, Wijergangs talks about what he’s learned from his efforts building out the Z-wave standard, and how he’s trying to apply an ecosystems approach to making buildings smarter. We also talk about the challenges of designing energy-harvesting sensors and what new energy harvesting technologies might become available. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • I’m no longer going to CES, and I’m not alone.
  • Alexa and the smart home are stagnant.
  • I love keypads with my smart locks.
  • Sustainable buildings should be smart and need middleware to get there.
  • New polymers might drive the next generation of energy harvesting devices.

Episode 351: Smart homes in the metaverse

What happens when the smart home meets the metaverse? We talk about the potential for better user interfaces and home mapping if we build digital twins of the home in a metaverse, while also discussing the potential of UWB to expand the amount of information contained in that digital twin. Then we discuss an excellent article on the Matter protocol and a new chip for Matter devices before noting Samsara’s successful public offering. In some anti-consumer news, Toyota is disabling features in its radio-controlled keyfobs unless people pay a subscription, leading us to wonder how we assess value in software as compared to hardware. We then look at LoRaWAN coverage maps for the combined Helium and Senet network, a new deal in the satellite IoT sector. Finally, we answer a listener question about Shelly RGBW modules for lighting and Home Assistant.

The Fi collar costs $149 and requires a subscription for its location-tracking feature. Image courtesy of Fi.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi, a maker of a connected dog collar. We discuss the product and why people buy a connected collar. Then we cover the connectivity options and why the Fi collar uses cellular as opposed to some of the other low-power wide-area networks such as Amazon’s Sidewalk. Lastly, we talk about subscription options and how to build a plan that works for your audience. Whatever Bensamoun is doing works, because 93% of people who buy the collar subscribe to the service. That’s amazing! Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Does the metaverse have a role in the smart home?
  • How UWB can help make the smart home better
  • Where there’s LoRaWAN coverage, and where there isn’t
  • Why cellular still beats Amazon Sidewalk and LoRaWAN
  • How to price a subscription for an IoT device

Episode 350: Lexmark shares how to manage millions of connected devices

Today’s show is our 350th episode, so we start off with a little bit of celebration before hitting half a dozen pieces of Amazon-related news, including the AWS outage that took out many smart home services, and a newly submitted FCC listing that could be a big deal for those needing a low-power wide-area network. Then we mention Amazon’s latest Halo device and the new Amazon Alexa Together service, which launched this week (it works with a radar sensor from Vayyar to monitor for falls). Then we talk about long-term support for FreeRTOS and an update bringing Alexa smart home capabilities to the FireTV platform. After all that time on Amazon, we then turn to some LiFi news and a bit on how LiFi could be adapted to become relevant for the IoT. Then, we celebrate again over Sonos’ plan to design its devices to last longer and be easily recycled when they reach the end of life.  We also cover some slimy data practices by Life360, a big round of funding for IoT platform Afero, and a new Thread-capable device from Eve. Finally, we end by answering a listener question about smart smoke detectors.

The sensor from Vayyar costs $250 and can work with Amazon’s Amazon’s Alexa Together service to track falls. Image courtesy of Amazon.

This week’s guest is Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark, the printer giant. He’s on the show to share what Lexmark has learned through more than a decade of managing millions of connected printers around the world. He shares how the company built a predictive maintenance program, uses sensor data from printers to redesign new printers to handle common problems, and even discusses how connected devices help with Lexmark’s sustainability goals. Lexmark has taken its expertise and created its own IoT platform called Optra. Lexmark launched the first Optra service this year, and Carter talks about why Lexmark launched the platform and why it felt that a consulting element was essential for the platform. It’s a very practical interview for those trying to build and manage a bunch of connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • So much Amazon news from data center outages to new devices
  • We’re really excited about how Sonos is designing gadgets for sustainability
  • Boo. Life360 forces people to opt-out of allowing it to share location data
  • Why Lexmark decided to launch an IoT platform of its own
  • How connected printers can help reduce Lexmark’s environmental impact

 

Episode 349: AWS overload and Libelium embraces the cloud

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of IoT-related news from Amazon’s re:Invent conference happening this week in Las Vegas. We cover the launch of a fleet management service, a digital twin service, an easy way to securely connect hardware to Amazon’s cloud, a way to manage massive robot deployments, and the launch of three analytics services that are now serverless. We then discuss new funding for Ember and its plans for that money before highlighting one of the most consumer-friendly device shutdowns I have ever seen from Schneider Electric. Because every yin has a yang, we also covered Owlet’s decision to stop selling its baby-monitoring sock after the FDA called it out for misleading marketing. In smaller news, Twinkly’s smart holiday lights now support HomeKit, the Raspberry Pi Trading Group has hired bankers to possibly go public and the UK passed a cybersecurity law aimed at smart devices that will fine manufacturers for poor security practices. Also, Allegion Ventures has created a second fund with $100 million for IoT companies. We end the show by answering a listener’s question about keeping teenagers from turning off all the lights in a home.

The Ember mug was the best gift I’ve ever given. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

Our guest this week is Alicia Asin, the co-founder and CEO of Libelium, which this week launched its own cloud service. She is on the show to talk about Libelium’s shift from making hardware sensors for the IoT to building a complete IoT platform that includes devices, connectivity, and the cloud. She also shares her perspective on the changes in the marketplace over the last decade and then in the last two years with the pandemic. Finally, she discusses her future plans for Libelium, which include several acquisitions in the coming 24 months as Libelium adds consulting services that require industry expertise. She talks about what verticals make sense and more in this interview. Stay tuned!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alicia Asin, the co-founder and CEO of Libelium
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Amazon re:Invent has lots of IoT news so far
  • Schneider Electric deserves an award for its Wiser thermostat shut down
  • Will the FDA crack down on companies selling digital snake oil?
  • As the IoT matures, having a platform matters
  • Why Libelium plans on buying up smaller IoT firms

Episode 348: We’re thankful for smart cows

Heading into the holiday weekend, Kevin and I share what we’re thankful for (mostly y’all, our sponsors, each other, and Thread), while also talking about the sad sale of Tile to Life360. We also discuss ClevrQeexo, and efforts to make AI accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to code. After that, I discuss my desire for a new activity tracker and the rise of Wear OS. We also talk about a new HomeKit camera from Aqara that’s pretty fancy without having a high-end price tag before diving into some of the financials and data from Samsara’s IPO filing. This week on the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about the anti-drunk driving provision in the Build Back Better legislation.

Smaxtec can track the health of cows for better milk and fewer farts.

Our guest this week is Stefan Scherer, the CEO of Smaxtec, a company making health sensors for dairy cows. First, we learn a lot about cows and how to assess temperature, motion, and data on acidity from a cow’s stomach and translate that into health metrics. Then we talk about the challenges of building a sensor that’s rugged enough to last three to five years in a cow’s stomach as well as the challenges of keeping such a device connected. With this data, farmers are able to track disease spread in dairy cows and prevent costly illnesses that could mean their milk gets tossed, while also tracking data that can help prevent cow farts from causing as much damage to the environment through the release of methane. You’re going to learn a lot about cows and a lot about solving a connectivity problem I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stefan Scherer, CEO of Smaxtec
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Several things we’re thankful for
  • Why the Tile buy makes us a bit sad
  • How no-code AI will make information overload less of an issue
  • Rugged sensors can lead to smart cows, and smart milk prodiction
  • Smaxtec wants to optimize a cow to produce fewer carbon emissions

Episode 347: McKinsey reevaluates IoT’s impact

This week’s show has a lot of big numbers starting with $12.6 trillion, which is at the upper end of what McKinsey believes the economic impact from IoT will be by 2030. We cover the latest report, which is a reassessment of McKinsey’s famous 2015 report on the IoT that said it would be worth $11 trillion by 2015. That didn’t quite pan out. We also discuss Qualcomm’s plans for the IoT business to generate $9 billion in revenue by 2024. Still on the chip front, we cover additional delays in the ARM-Nvidia deal before discussing a weird Apple patent, and Apple losing its head of home services. Amazon also has news with brand new, cheap smart light switches for as low as $17.99 and an update for the latest Echo speakers and Echo Dots that lets them detect occupancy using ultrasound. We then talk about a dupe for the Nanoleaf lights available from Yeelight, a Xiaomi company, and Kevin shares his thoughts on a helpful app for HomeKit users that’s worth paying for. Finally, we end by answering a listener question about how to find a HomeKit-compatible method of connecting light strips to a sensor.

The Yeelight panels are dupes for the original Nanoleaf panels, but are half the cost at $97.99. Image courtesy of Yeelight.

Our guest this week is Jen Caltrider, lead on Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included list of creepy and not-so-creepy connected devices and apps. This year’s list was the largest ever with 147 services and devices, and I was actually surprised by how much improvement there has been in some of the security and data practices. Caltrider shares the methodology, particularly egregious devices, and where we seem to be heading on the security and privacy front. We also get advice for consumers that still want to buy these gadgets and recommendations for the companies making them. I was excited to see that list was compelled by a person who loves gadgets as much as I do, but who is still concerned about the impacts poorly secured products or lackluster data policies have on trust.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jen Caltrider, Mozilla
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Okay, so maybe the IoT won’t be worth $11 trillion by 2025
  • Qualcomm is going to invest big in IoT and the edge
  • If you want advanced HomeKit controls, Kevin’s got an app for you
  • The good news is security is getting better but privacy lags behind
  • Local processing is making smart home devices less invasive