Episode 256: The tech industry is growing up

This week Kevin is back and we’re digging into Ring’s decision to listen to its critics and change some of its security features. It’s a welcome sign of overall maturity in the tech industry. At the same time, it’s unclear if the Ring cameras are that helpful to law enforcement. We then discuss the rise in smart speaker sales, a privacy-focused bracelet, funding for cool new technology, and how China’s handling of the coronavirus shows off the pros and cons of IoT in society. We hit some news bits related to 5G networks, a way for ISPs to make sure your IoT gear is working, funding for Bluetooth chips, and a cybersecurity warning for healthcare. Kevin also shares his planned Home Assistant project. We end with a way to keep your Google Assistants on your home devices from fighting with your Pixel.

The prototype is a self-contained wearable comprised of ultrasonic transducers, a signal generator, a microcontroller, a battery, a voltage regulator and a 3W amplifier. Image courtesy of the University of Chicago. 

This week’s guest is Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems, who comes on to share details of the firm’s technology and to discuss how the company is trying to respect user privacy. Cognitive Systems has developed technology that measures disruptions in a home Wi-Fi network and uses those disruptions as a way to track actions in the home. Currently, ISPs and router makers can use the technology to offer motion sensing for security purposes, but eventually, it might offer a way to detect falls or even motion as subtle as a baby breathing. That level of insight also creates privacy concerns, so Manku explains exactly how the firm handles consumer data and the steps it has taken to ensure even law enforcement can’t see inside the home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems
SponsorsDigiCert and Very

  • Ring has decided to listen to consumer security complaints
  • China’s surveillance state is one version of our IoT future
  • Kevin’s planning to embrace Home Assistant
  • How to see inside a home without using cameras
  • A cloud-to-cloud approach and encryption are some ways to protect your privacy

Episode 255: A deep dive into NIST’s new privacy framework

This week’s show features Chris Albrecht, editor in chief of The Spoon, as a guest host, which means there will be a review of a connected kitchen gadget — in this case, a connected smoker from Traeger. We kick off the show discussing the FTC’s surprising antitrust review and discuss IoT acquisitions that might get scrutinized. We also mention the Sprint and T-Mo merger and what that might mean for IoT. From there we dive into Nest’s plans to require two-factor authentication, ARM’s new AI edge chip designs, a new product from LIFX, and an NB-IoT module from Tuya. Chris then discusses the sale of a connected brewing appliance called PicoBrew before reviewing the Traeger smoker. We also answer a listener question about which connected doorbell to buy.

The new LIFX switch is pricey but beautiful. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework in the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She comes on the show to explain what the many, many pages actually mean and how companies should think about and adopt the framework. She also shares why she avoids connected devices in her own life. Unsurprisingly, the complex user agreements aren’t inspiring a lot of trust.  You’ll want to hear this show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht of The Spoon
Guest: Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework at NIST
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Apple and Google could see some smart home deals come under review
  • Nest’s two-factor decision could lead to better two-factor authentication methods
  • Should I spend $800 on a smart grill?
  • Breaking down the NIST privacy framework with a connected fridge
  • The new framework won’t make you legally compliant, but it can build user trust

Episode 254: Google goes enterprise with Glass

This week Kevin and I start the show with a focus on Google’s new Glass product for the enterprise, and a newly discovered smart hub from the Craftsman brand (h/t Jimmy Hawkins). We also cover the Starling smart hub that can link your Nest gear to your HomeKit account, and discuss Kevin’s reaction to Ring partnering with his local police force. In smaller news, there’s a new industrial hardware board for IoT, Google can help find your Tile, MIT has doubled wireless carrying capacity with a smart surface, and Philips Hue fixes a security flaw. We also muse on Google’s hardware numbers  — or lack thereof — and close with a question about Zigbee devices falling off a SmartThings’ network.

The Paranoid device turns off the mic on your smart speaker or spouts white noise that interferes with the speaker until you want to ask Alexa or Google for something.

My guest this week is one of the creators of a new device designed to stop your smart speaker from listening to your conversation. Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions. The Candian software development firm has launched a device called Paranoid that sits on top of your smart speaker and either physically turns off the microphone or uses white noise to block the mic from listening in. When the user activates the Paranoid device using their voice the Paranoid either physically unmutes the smart speaker or stops generating white noise so Google or Alexa can hear the request. Pimentel explains why Pleasant built this and how it works for our listeners. It feels like a security blanket for people who are worried enough about their smart speaker to spend $49 for a Paranoid device but are still enamored by the convenience of their smart speaker.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions
Sponsors: Digicert and Very

  • Can Google’s new Glass cut it in the enterprise?
  • Kevin discovers that Ring doorbells in his neighborhood may share with police
  • This industrial IoT board may double as a space heater
  • What is Paranoid, and will it protect my privacy?
  • Is this a necessary device or a patent grab?

Episode 253: Smart cities, Ring, and the new surveillance state

On this week’s show, privacy was a big theme beginning with our conversation about Ring’s sharing of certain user data with third-party tracking sites, a plea from 40 organizations for the U.S. to stop using facial recognition technology, and a new way to think about smart cities. Kevin and I also discussed proposed device security rules for the U.K. and security challenges associated with LoRaWAN networks. We touched upon new water sensors for HomeKit homes, Ciscos’s new security service for industrial IoT, another satellite network for IoT, and Verizon’s deal to put 4G modems on Honeywell’s smart meters. Kevin also found a ring that doubles as an activity tracker. In this week’s IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about how to build a smart home that works for visitors.

A rendering of a home in a KB Home planned community near Seattle. Image courtesy of KB Home.

My guest this week is Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home. As a home builder, KB Home has started to integrate some smart devices into their portfolio. Bridleman explains what those options are and how KB plans to support (or offload the support) of a smart home. He also shares what he’s excited about in the home sector and why newer technologies could do away with expensive home infrastructure like copper wiring to switches.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • Ring is bad, but it’s hardly the only offender
  • Smart cities are the opposite of a smart home
  • The U.K. may mandate a device expiration date!
  • No one comes in wanting a smart home
  • New tech could replace a lot of expensive home wiring

Episode 252: Bricks, CHIP and Wi-Fi 6

Kevin and start the show with our takes on Sonos deciding to stop updating older speakers and stereo components. We broaden the conversation to include Under Armor killing its UA gear and Charter/Spectrum’s decision to stop supporting smart home and security products in its footprint, leaving some customers out equipment costs. We even delve into the challenges of wealth creation in a society where physical goods are increasingly delivered as a service instead of owned.  From there we discuss Teserakt, an open-source encryption effort for IoT, NIST’s new privacy framework, Clearview AI, the fate of Noon lighting, and other bits of news. Kevin tells us what he thinks about the home automation experience with Samsung’s SmartThings Wi-Fi gear, and we end with a question about connecting a personal fan.

The Noon light switches now belong to the parent company that owns the Savant brand.

Our guest this week is Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks. Correll also acts as the liaison between Extreme Networks and the Wi-Fi Alliance and the IEEE’s 802.11 standards committee. We discuss why Wi-Fi 6 is such a sea change for networks, and also why you shouldn’t rush out and change your router. He also explains why Wi-Fi 6e is a big deal and updates us on the FCC’s progress in allocating spectrum. His comments will help both consumers and enterprise customers get a sense of the future of Wi-Fi.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • We should mandate expiration dates for smart devices
  • Privacy isn’t dead … yet
  • SmartThings has really improved as a mainstream smart home hub
  • How Wi-Fi 6 revolutionizes Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi 6E sounds strange, but enterprises and public spaces will love it

Episode 251: Here’s what people at CES said about CHIP

This week’s show was dedicated to a wrap up of CES 2020. Kevin and I shared how the show has changed in the last 15 years, talked about technology for Boomers, the Withings ScanWatch and ran through several new maker boards. We covered the $2 Wemos W600-PICO board, a new Arduino board for industrial use and a RISC-V development board. From there we moved on to pretty light switches from Iotty and Legrand as well as Mixtile’s local AI as part of a smart home hub. I also saw a connected chai-maker at a friend’s house that handled personalization well using Bluetooth and we talked through the SmartThings app migration that started this week. We also covered an industrial IoT acquisition and a plant-powered sensor that sent data to space. Our question this week was about light switches, and we need your help.

The Withings ScanWatch offers medical-grade heart monitoring and sleep apnea detection. Image courtesy of Withings.

Our guest segment this week is comprised of five different guests who I cornered at CES to talk about the new Connected Home over IP standard.  First up was Lee Ratliff, senior analyst with IHS Markit, who explains why he thinks CHIP is a positive development, what each player is likely to bring the standard and why the IP aspect of the standard matters so much. Then I spoke with Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance and Chris LaPrè, a solutions architect at the Zigbee Alliance, about the need for schemes and a name change for the Alliance. Matt Johnson, SVP and general manager of IoT at Silicon Labs, shares his take on CHIP and as the company behind the Z-Wave standard, talks about what happens to Z-Wave as CHIP gains ground. Scott Harkins, Vice President Connected Home Resideo, explains why Resideo is backing CHIP and why he’s not giving up on the Open Connectivity Foundation, or any of the other standards efforts Resideo is involved in. And finally, Brian Van Harlingen CTO of Belkin International talked about how CHIP could help his company and whether or not he thinks it’s going to happen. There’s a lot here, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Lee Ratliff, senior analyst with IHS Markit; Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance and Chris LaPrè a solutions architect at the Zigbee Alliance; Matt Johnson, SVP and general manager of IoT at Silicon Labs; Scott Harkins, Vice President Connected Home Resideo; and Brian Van Harlingen CTO of Belkin International.
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • Say goodbye to the old guard at CES
  • Healthcare startups and maker boards catch our eye
  • Get ready for the SmartThings app migration
  • Why the Zigbee Alliance is contemplating a name change
  • What’s so special about IP anyway?

Episode 250: Everything that mattered at CES

This week Kevin and I went to Las Vegas for the annual CES event showcasing thousands of technology products under dozens of roofs. We recorded the show before we had the chance to see everything, but we did pull together this show with some of the big themes we saw developing and the news that we felt would matter most to our smart home listeners.

Kevin and I in front of our official CES podcasting booth!

We saw several products purporting to adapt to the user and their environment to deliver a product or experience. L’Oreal showed off personalized makeup and skincare that adapted to the environment and your face on a daily basis, while Nanoleaf promised a lighting system that would learn your habits and deliver the right lighting. We also talked about a bunch of new Wi-Fi routers and a new talent that some routers will get. The third big trend revolves around healthcare for people and pets. We’ll have more on that next week as well.

We hit on a bunch of news items including the launch of Bluetooth 5.2, which brings quality audio and sharing to Bluetooth Low Energy. We also saw a variety of new locks, several new light switches or bulbs, and Google Assistant’s newly announced talents. And Kevin and I both share some of the cooler companies we have seen so far including Binah.ai, Sunflower Labs and Camect.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: MachineQ and IoT World

  • Smarter personalization is almost here
  • Wi-Fi 6 is here, but you don’t need to upgrade yet
  • Urine luck if you want to monitor your health
  • There were a lot of locks and real innovation in the category
  • Lights went hipster and everyone now has a platform
  • These are a few of our favorite things

 

Episode 249: Welcome to the internet of senses

Happy New Year, y’all! This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a chat about the Wyze security breach. We talk about what it means for you and I offer an idea on how to stop some of these breaches. We also mention the lawsuit against Ring, discuss how the new IoT security and privacy laws in California might be enforced, and talk about our CES predictions. They include robots, digital snake oil, and new entrants into the IoT market. We end by answering a question about pro installations and what to do when Wi-Fi goes down.

Some of your Wyze camera data is probably out in the world, but not your videos.

This week’s guest helps kick off the new year with a discussion about the future, specifically the future of the internet in 2030. I talk to Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab, about the company’s recent consumer survey on the future of the internet. We talk about brain-to-computer interfaces, building digital taste buds and how to deliver touch and scents over the internet. We also talk about the business models necessary to make this future possible. Hint: It’s not advertising.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab
SponsorCirrent

  • What Wyze data was leaked? And what wasn’t?
  • Let’s start enforcing developer checklists to protect data
  • CES is going to be good for health tech and robots
  • The next decade is when wearables replace smartphones
  • How we’ll get touch, taste and smells delivered via the internet

 

 

Episode 248: Should I put my IoT devices on a guest network?

This week’s Internet of Things Podcast is a bit different from our typical format. Instead of discussing a range of topics and sharing a guest interview, we’re tackling the question we get so often from our listeners who are rightfully concerned about their home network security with smart devices installed: Should all of these webcams, smart locks, thermostats, and other devices be segmented to a guest network?

On the surface, that sounds like a smart idea. The main reason is that any compromised smart devices won’t be able to infect computers and other things on your primary network. A secondary reason is to limit access to your smart home when guests are over.

Credit: Google

So here’s what we did: We both created guest networks in our home and migrated all of our smart devices over to them. And we found out some very interesting things. For starters, we didn’t lose access to any of our devices through this setup, which is good. However, we also found out that the reverse situation is a bad one. When on our guest networks with devices on the regular network, we still had access to many of them unexpectedly, which is bad.

Our takeaway is that if you want to put your smart home devices on a guest network, that’s fine but it may not add much more security. In particular, if your smart device credentials are stolen, as was the case with recent “hacks” of the Ring and Nest systems, this setup won’t really help you. We’re thinking that using a network monitoring system such as a Firewalla is a better solution. And better yet would be installing a router that supports VLANs, or Virtual LANs, for your smart home devices. Tune in and let us know what you think or if you have additional related network concerns or solutions.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

 

Episode 247: We explain Amazon, Apple and Google’s new smart home standard

This week’s big news is that Amazon, Apple, and Google have agreed to collaborate on the creation of a new smart home standard called the Connected Home over IP (CHIP). We lay out what this is and what it means for consumers, manufacturers, and developers. We then talk about a device for tracking crypto micropayments and the vulnerability with digital certificates in the IoT. We also review the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi system, mention Wyze’s new Alexa skill and talk about LIFX testing its bulbs for outdoor use. We end with a listener question about the tradeoff between security and convenience.

The LIFX BR30 bulbs are now IP65 rated and cold tolerant down to -30 Celsius. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Lee Reiber, COO of Oxygen Forensics, who talks about how law enforcement officers view your connected devices. He shares his perspective on the value of these devices when it comes to solving crimes and explains the current safeguards. The encouraging news is that it’s tough to get most of this data. That, plus the learning curve that police officers have to take judges and prosecutors down makes using it even more difficult. Thus, police officers report to device data only in bigger cases. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Reiber, COO of Oxygen Forensics
Sponsor: Cirrent

  • The CHIP effort is a gamechanger. If it comes together.
  • Thanks to your questions, LIFX bulbs are now outdoor-ready
  • Why must security be so inconvenient?
  • How does law enforcement view our worries about Ring?
  • Murder makes it worth the trouble of getting device data. Shoplifting does not.