Our guest this week is Calista Redmond, the CEO of RISC-V International. She explains what RISC-V is and the why the chip world needs a new instruction set. She also gives some examples of RISC-V architectures used to design chips for the IoT. There are hearing aids and edge computing gateways that currently use the technology as well as automotive chips. We also addressed concerns about the lack of software that supports the RISC-V architecture and how the organization plans to handle fragmentation. Enjoy.
This week’s show is full of both good news and bad news, starting with Google apparently dropping software update support for third-party smart displays. We question Google’s commitment to the smart home, even though the good news from Google is that it has released more capabilities to control new device types — a bit of good news. Then we review Nanoleaf’s Matter-enabled Essentials light bulbs and strips and are a bit worried about what it means for Matter. If you’re putting these bulbs in your smart home, you’ll need the Nanoleaf app and can only control them on one hub ecosystem based on our testing. That’s not what Matter was designed to do! In more bad news, Samsung SmartThings deleted a bunch of hubs on April 5, and we suggest some alternative options if you’d like to switch platforms. Digital privacy rules are getting more attention and I think smart medical device implants represent a tipping point. In generative AI news, Siemens and Microsoft are bringing AI to factories and we explain how they might work, while the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has a request for comment out on auditing AI. You have until June 10 to submit comments. The CSA has announced the launch of Zigbee Pro 2023 with better security features and a new transmission band. Finally, we answer a listener question about bringing smart charging his Tesla with his solar panels.
Our guest this week is Eben Upton, the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd. and co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Upton explains why Sony Semiconductor has made an undisclosed investment in the Pi Trading company. He also details the end of the supply chain challenges for the PI and says customers should see the shortage of Pis end in the second quarter (which is now). We also talk about why Raspberry Pi won’t get ML accelerators or smarter sensors on the board, what the industrial world is doing with Pis, and when we might see a Pi 5. We close with thoughts on RISC-V and future custom Pi designs. It’s a great interview.
Our guest this week is Svein-Egil Nielsen, the CTO of Nordic Semiconductor. We talk about the DECT-NR standard for massive IoT, defining both the standard and what we mean when we talk about massive IoT. We also cover use cases for energy harvesting technology and Nielsen gets cagey about Nordic’s plans for energy harvesting technology in Nordic chips. We end with a conversation about TinyML and how Nordic is planning to make its modules ML-ready for developers. It is a fun interview.
Our guest this week is François Baldassari, CEO and co-founder of Memfault, who is on the show to discuss his startup, the history (and future) of reliability in products, and his thoughts from a decade of participating in building connected devices. Baldassari was a former engineer at Pebble and built Memfault to solve the problem of debugging connected devices at scale. We talk about why he’s focusing on industrial customers, how reliability has been slipping over time, and why AI will need its own form of debugging in the near future. He also explains the two big trends he’s noticed in a decade of building connected devices. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Jaser Faruq, Senior Vice President, Innovation at Schneider Electric, who is on the show to discuss why his company is betting big on smart home technology to manage energy consumption, storage and generation. We talk about the three reasons energy management is such an important feature for smart homes, and what it will take to get consumers to adopt it. We also talk about what role utilities will play in the development of a smarter grid and how long it will take before this becomes more mainstream. It’s an important topic, especially for those of y’all considering the purchase of an electric vehicle. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Kevin Fu, who is a professor of electrical and computer science at Northeastern University, and the former acting director of medical device cybersecurity for the Food and Drug Administration. I’ve followed his efforts to hack physical sensors for years, and was excited when he started focusing on medical device security for the FDA. On the show, he discusses new federal legislation that will require companies to get an FDA review of their medical device’s cybersecurity before it goes on the market. This is a first for the U.S. in terms of requiring some sort of cybersecurity review before a product is released, and it might become an inspiration for legislation in other industries going forward. We also talk about how to regulate AI in healthcare and more. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Stefan Witkamp, the commercial director at Athom, the company behind the Homey smart home hub. Witkamp explains Honey’s privacy-focused smart home hub and the plan to launch the latest generation of the Homey Pro hub at CES. This will be the first time Homey is available in the U.S. after six and half years of availability for the original Homey hub in Europe. Homey Pro has all of the radios that a smart home needs, including Thread and IR. For listeners who care about privacy, Witkamp explains how Athom created a business model that allows the company to respect user privacy. This means the $399 pro version of the hub is more expensive than other options on the market, and the cheaper version comes with a monthly subscription. We talk about what it costs to keep a home hub running and how investors can push a company to choose alternative business models. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Stefan Witkamp, Commercial Director for Homey Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Wait a minute before updating to Matter
Will a Roomba story get everyone to care more about device privacy?
The smart home meets insurance in this acquisition
Our guest this week is Sean Petterson, the CEO and founder of StrongArm Tech, a company that makes wearable safety devices for industrial and warehouse workers. We talk about the company’s history of building exoskeletons and its pivot to data analytics and wearables, and then the challenges associated with converting worker safety into an ROI. Petterson makes the case that analytics can drive home the importance of keeping workers healthy despite the costs of the system and the perceived costs in terms of productivity. He gives a good example from a warehouse customer using StrongArm’s analytics to send workers home after they meet their quota for the day, even if it means they get sent home early. Petterson says it’s simply not efficient or smart from an ROI perspective to keep them working. We also talk about the ethics of such software and how StrongArm tries to make sure its data isn’t used to retaliate against poor performers. Enjoy the show.
The biggest news in the internet of things this week was the staggering story about Amazon’s Alexa business being responsible for the majority of an estimated $10 billion loss in the year ahead. So Kevin and I discuss what Amazon pulling back on Alexa might look like and what it means for voice and the smart home. Then we talk about how a newly available Amazon device signals Amazon’s problem and the potential solutions to that problem. After talking about voice, we take a look at a new controller from Aqara that uses gestures and share our thoughts about the form factor. After all our user interaction talk, we then cover some news, such as the FIDO Alliance planning to work on security and authentication issues for the IoT, Google’s plans for aggregating fitness data, and a new dev kit from T-Mobile. We also talk about new devices from Wyze and Firewalla. Finally, we answer a listener’s question about connecting LED fairy lights. Then it’s time to talk about the holidays.
Every year we choose 10 devices that we think make good holiday gifts for our audience and their loved ones. This year we suggest a few in the first part of the show, such as the JaxJox kettlebell and my perennial favorite, the Ember mug. (I gave this to my mom in 2019, and she still uses it every day.) This year’s gifts include a smart plug designed for Matter, a device to reboot your router, and multiple options for smart buttons from Philips Hue and Shortcut Labs. We also include a Nanoleaf option because we’re such fans of the devices as gifts for teens. We also include some fancier gifts for chefs and dog owners. There are more options in this week’s newsletter, but before we sign off we also want to thank our listeners for the gift of their time this year, and the nine years that Kevin and I have been producing this show. Y’all are awesome.
This week’s episode kicks off what I hope is a flurry of news from vendors about their Matter plans. We hear when and how vendors such as Amazon, Eve, Nanoleaf, and Schneider Electric plan to roll out Matter to new and old devices. We also call out companies that haven’t yet shared information and what you’re likely to see get support first. Then we go to other news such as leaked photos of Amazon’s Ring Car Alarm, a privacy lawsuit against Amazon going forward and new security and camera devices from Arlo. In less exciting news, we talk about a lock-picking lawyer’s discovery that the HomeKey version of the Level Home lock (the Level Lock+) can be easily picked with a simple lock pick or a bump key. Also in the bad news department, Orro Systems, the makers of a smart lighting switch and system, is looking for more investment and will stop distributing its gear so as to support existing customers. This looks like the beginning of the end. Kevin got his hands on Google’s Nest Wifi Pro, and decides that people on existing Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems probably won’t benefit much from this update, but those coming from older Wi-Fi 5 systems (like Google’s prior mesh Wi-Fi kit) will. Finally, we answer a listener question about Matter on smoke alarms.
Our guest this week is Peggy Carrieres, VP of Sales Enablement at Avnet, who is coming on the show to discuss what the changes in the chip sector mean for hardware designers. Carrieres spoke with me a year and half ago to talk about the chip shortage, and now has new data thanks to a survey of Avnet customers. The survey shows that 29% of respondents believe chip prices will continue to rise and that 26% expect to see more supply shortfalls. We talk about what’s driving challenges in sourcing chips and components for hardware as well as how engineers are starting to change how they design products amidst the shortage. We also point to some software developments that may help. It’s a nerdy interview, but worth the time if you’re building hardware.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Peggy Carrieres, VP of Sales Enablement at Avnet Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Matter is coming to Amazon, Nanoleaf, Eve and more
Amazon’s next device may have a cellular data plan
I’m worried about Orro Systems and its future
Why chip shortages continue to cause problems for designers
Steps to help make hardware design easier in times of shortages