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 339: Much ado about privacy and support

This week’s show kicks off with the news of the Raspberry Pi Trading company closing a new funding round of $45 million. We talk about what the Pi Trading company is, how it relates to the Foundation, and how companies are building Pis. We then dig into Apple’s plans for healthcare, including plans for tracking mental illness. Plus, we give an update on what iOS 15 means for HomePods. Helium’s network expands, or rather Senet’s LoRaWAN network expands thanks to a deal with Helium, and Inmarsat provides some context about how COVID-19 is driving adoption for IoT connectivity technologies. Arlo has updated its support options, and we hate them. Facebook has introduced new devices, and we’re kind of meh on them. But Wyze has a new camera that pans, and we’re into that. Then we talk about Kevin switching to the Meross HomeKit garage door opener. We also answer a listener question about the newly launched Home Assistant Amber device on the IoT Podcast Hotline.

Home Assistant has introduced a new hardware concept called the Amber, but if you order now it won’t be delivered until November 2022. Image courtesy of Home Assistant.

This week’s guest is Leo Simonovich, the head of industrial and cyber at Siemens Energy.  He and I talk about the threats facing the grid, especially as we add renewables and more two-way devices. He also points out that while the media focuses a lot on nation-state attacks, issues like ransomware and other threats are far more likely and damaging. Siemens Energy recently announced a new security product, so he explains how the company is closing the divide between IT and OT while also adding credence to the idea that we need to watch how devices behave in the real world and not just on the network when it comes to security monitoring.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Leon Simonovitch, Siemens Energy
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • You may be surprised by who’s buying Raspberry Pis
  • Do you want an algorithm to diagnose mental illnesses?
  • Arlo’s new support plan is anti-consumer
  • Why the energy grid is such a reliable target for malicious hackers
  • Siemens is using digital twins to help secure the grid

Episode 321: Google decides Matter matters

This week’s show focuses on news from Google I/O 2021 where it’s clear the search giant is trying to build out a fairly open ecosystem based on the Matter protocol and WebRTC for audio and video streaming. Google also said it would use Wear OS for Fitbit and combine Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS. Google also announced a CarKey deal with BMW. There’s bad news on the data-sharing front from Imperial College London and Northeastern University, where researchers tracked how many connections popular smart home devices opened, and what it means for privacy. In security news, Consumer Reports found flaws in four security cameras and video doorbells, and we discuss the Eufy video camera bug. Additionally, cyber risks are so high that the CEO of Swiss Re, a reinsurer, said insurance for cyberattacks was becoming impossible. Finally, we mention the new Echo Frame options, although Kevin is still not a fan. In our hotline, we answer a question about Matter and keeping a SmartThings hub.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at Google I/O 2021. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America. We talk about embedded computer vision and what it means to have machine learning taken care of on the image sensor itself. It enables lip-reading applications, occupancy sensing, and new ways to track inventory in stores. (He’s very excited about  inventory sensing cameras.) Hanson also says the sensor and its DSP can provide training at the edge, allowing a user to show the sensor images and then have the sensor later recognize those images. We also talk about how product designers can figure out if they need a camera for a particular use case.  Hanson really wants to get new ideas from everyone listening about use cases for embedded computer vision, so see if any of the interview sparks your creativity.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America
SponsorVery

  • Google will embrace Matter in most displays, smart speakers and on Android
  • Do you know who your smart devices talk to?
  • Cyberattacks are becoming too big for insurance to cover
  • Why adding ML to an image sensor makes sense
  • How to use a “dumb” sensor to offload some computing tasks

 

Episode 317: Apple’s AirTags and greener devices

The week’s Apple event is the star of the podcast, with Kevin and I spending time noting a smart use of iPhone sensors with the new Apple TV 4K. We then discuss the AirTags tech, the implications for consumers, frustrated competitors, and the things we find disappointing. Then, we talk about the EU’s proposed rules for AI and AI-based applications before questioning the market for the just-announced Fitbit Luxe tracker that hews closer to jewelry than the company’s traditional devices. Enterprise IoT security gets some attention with the FIDO Alliance’s new provisioning protocol and app certification from the ioXt Alliance. In honor of Earth Day, Samsung is boosting its upcycling efforts for old smartphones, and we cover an update and news from smart electrical panel company Span. We end the show by answering a listener’s question about how Thread devices will work in homes.

The Fitbit Luxe is designed to look more like jewelry. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

Also in honor of Earth Day, our guest this week is Phil Skipper, head of business development and strategy for IoT at Vodafone Business. Skipper explains how Vodafone is trying to reduce the carbon footprint of its networks and IoT devices. For example, Vodafone uses an integrated SIM card for some of its devices to cut down on plastic. In other designs, it is using different batteries that are more recyclable than lithium-ion batteries. The company is trying to extend the life of its equipment by selling it to other network operators, which ensures that the carbon created to produce the equipment at least is spread out over a longer life. He also touches on how Vodafone is helping customers reduce their carbon footprints using connected products provided by Vodafone. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Skipper, Vodafone Business
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • Apple’s AirTags go above and beyond the traditional Bluetooth trackers
  • What the EU gets right with its proposed AI legislation
  • Two new security standards for the IoT
  • Don’t forget reuse when thinking about your carbon footprint
  • What’s an iSIM, and why is Vodafone pushing it?

Episode 313: We are super pumped about Thread

In this week’s show, we focus on Thread because Kevin tried out the new Eve sensors that use the wireless protocol, and fell head over heels in love. “This is what the smart home should be, ” he says. After that, we talk about additional sensors on the HomePod Mini and wonder when and if Apple would make a smart home display. Then we discuss Masonite’s connected doors and why it’s such a disruptive move. Peloton made several acquisitions, so we cover those before discussing another radar product and funding for Flex Logic, an edge-based machine learning chip startup that raised $55 million in funding. We also answer a question about getting a list of your connected devices from your Wi-Fi router.

Vayyar’s new radar module can use one device to monitor all three rows of a large SUV. Image courtesy of Vayyar.

Our guest this week is Carla Diana, who is a product designer whose new book “My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can make New Products More Human” comes out next week. We start the conversation with her thoughts on whether we should anthropomorphize devices like Roombas or Alexa. We talk about the frameworks that designers should consider when designing connected products and some best practices to consider. If you’re interested in design, ethics, or how we could have a better-designed future, you’ll enjoy the interview, and likely, the book. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carla Diana
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Kevin says some tough things about Bluetooth
  • Peloton’s acquisition strategy is oriented around delivering smart services
  • Smart doors that come with power and connectivity
  • Can I call Alexa or Siri her?
  • How to incorporate calm design into the smart home

Episode 308: Chipageddon and deets on the Pi Pico

Silicon is the theme of this week’s show, starting with a rundown on the chip shortage affecting the automotive and IoT world. Then we talk about the Los Angles Police Department requesting footage from connected doorbell cameras during the Black Lives Matter protests before moving on to Amazon’s new Kickstarter-like program for new Alexa products. In new product news, we cover Wyze’s color-changing light bulbs, Facebooks’ rumored smartwatch, and a peer-to-peer mesh network using the ClusterDuck protocol. We then share a new command for Google Assistant, discuss funding for an AI chip company, speculate on Verizon’s purchase of a robotics software startup, and dig into the many DIY options for building your own image recognition models. We end by answering a question about products that might help you save money on your electric bill.

If you want to see Amazon build a scale that works with Alexa for $34.99, you can pre-order it today. If enough people order it, Amazon will make it. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Allan explains why the Foundation decided to build its own chip for the first Pi Pico microcontroller and why the Pi Foundation even built a microcontroller in the first place. He also discusses how the Pi Pico differs from an Arduino, talks up some use cases, and dives into ways it might be used for machine learning at the edge. After declining to tell me what might be next for the Pi Foundation, he did point out that no one assembles a chip design team to build just one chip, so it sounds like there’s a lot to look forward to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Sponsor: Very

  • What’s behind the chip shortage and how long will it last?
  • We can’t expect Ring to police the police, so here’s what we should expect
  • Project OWL is a public safety or industrial mesh network
  • The custom-chip in the Pi Pico is designed for flexibility
  • Tiny ML means less internet in the IoT

 

Episode 307: Wi-Fi 6 for IoT and water plant security

This week’s podcast starts off with the launch of the Tuya Wi-Fi 6 modules, which will bring features of Wi-Fi 6 to IoT devices. Keeping on the Wi-Fi theme, we also discuss the new Shelly Wi-Fi motion sensor. We then talk about the new Raspberry Pi Pico, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s first custom chip before delving into Bosch’s win with AIoT. In consumer news, we cover rumors of an Amazon wall-mounted display and Fitbit’s addition of glucose monitoring. Then we explain why Renesas is buying Dialog Semiconductor, new funding for SecuriThings, and a big round for IoT security company Armis. We end by answering a listener question about Wi-Fi 6 for IoT devices, which brings the show full circle.

Tuya’s new Wi-Fi 6 modules will bring next-generation Wi-Fi to IoT devices. Image courtesy of Tuya.

This week, our guest is Beau Woods, a cybersecurity expert who came on the show to discuss this week’s hack of a water treatment plant in Florida. He lays out the hack and lets us know whether we should freak out or not. After discussing that particular hack, we dig into the nature of threats facing the IoT and how the landscape has changed in the last four years, touching on ransomware, the new IoT Cybersecurity Act, and more secure chips. We end with Woods promoting his upcoming book, Practical IoT Hacking, which will teach readers how to hack IoT devices and help the non-technical get a sense of the types of threats they need to consider as they design their products. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Woods, a cybersecurity expert
Sponsors: Very

  • What to expect from Wi-Fi 6 IoT devices
  • The smallest Pi has a custom-designed microcontroller and runs FreeRTOS
  • Why smart homes need a display or some useful ambient notifications
  • Should we freak out over Florida’s water treatment plan hack?
  • Organized crime and hackers are teaming up

Episode 298: SmartThings works with Google Nest again!

This week’s podcast starts with good news. Samsung’s SmartThings platform will once again work with Google devices starting in January. We discuss SmartThings a bit more to cover how sensor company Aeotec is launching a new smart home hub that will work with SmartThings before we move on to Logitech’s new HomeKit-enabled video doorbell. Wyze has launched a home security monitoring service, and ISP equipment provider Calix has teamed up with Arlo. Google reminded us that its Fuschia OS exists, even if we still don’t know what it’s for, and software-based programmable logic controllers are about to hit the industrial IoT. In smaller news bits we cover Google’s Look to Speak, LoRa adding support for QR code provisioning, Apple Music landing on Nest speakers, and Amazon’s new ML service for business metrics. We conclude the show by answering a question about Nest doorbells and LIFX bulbs.

The Logitech Circle View Doorbell will cost $199.99. Image courtesy of Logitech.

Our guest this week is Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine. We start by talking about the ability to use data to help optimize for additional metrics such as sustainability. We then discuss how the ability to prioritize different metrics and more flexible production lines means that manufacturers are now able to create custom product runs designed for highly targeted audiences. We then discuss how such flexibility and customization will change the roles of manufacturing workers.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine
Sponsor: Calix

  • SmartThings works with Google’s Nest devices at long last
  • The first video doorbell with HomeKit Secure Video is from Logitech
  • The ACRN hypervisor makes its industrial debut
  • Manufacturers can use the IoT to optimize for more than yields or profitability
  • More data might mean factory operations staff can go remote

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 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data