Episode 269: Wyze wants to bulk up and Microsoft Build news

This week’s show is all about Seattle-area companies. First up, Wyze wants to raise money, so it shared its sales from last year and plans for 30 more smart home products. Kevin and I talk about the company and its impact on the industry. Then we shift to Microsoft and its Build event, which took place this week. We discuss the IoT news including Azure RTOS, an update to Azure IoT Central (the SaaS IoT platform for Azure), and more.  We also took a side trip to explore a new consortium dedicated to digital twins. We then discuss what $4.99 a month buys you from Wink, a new wearable for contact tracing from Nodle and Avnet, the new Logitech Circle View camera, and Google Assistant getting new skills for appliances. We conclude by answering an email from Australia about door locks for rentals.

The new Logitech Circle View camera works with Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video service and sells for $159. Image courtesy of Logitech.

This week’s guest is Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive. I profiled the company a few years back when it had a different name but the same mission — building battery-free sensors that are powered via energy harvesting. The company has sold its steam trap sensor since 2018 and is now launching a vibration sensor. We talk about how to build a sensor that can harvest enough energy to monitor factory conditions, how COVID-19 is changing the demand for industrial IoT, and what changes once plant managers get a continuous stream of data about their operations. It’s a fun show, and you’ll learn all about steam traps!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive
SponsorsVery and Edge Impulse

  • Wyze sold $95 million in gear last year
  • Microsoft’s really building out an end-to-end IoT infrastructure
  • Wink is charging me $5 a month so my voice assistants integrate better
  • Why we need energy harvesting sensors
  • How to sell a big name on a startup’s tech

 

Episode 268: Subscription news from Wink and Nest

This week’s show is all about subscriptions! First Kevin and I share thoughts on Wink’s decision to charge a subscription fee after giving customers a week’s notice and threatening to shut down their devices if they don’t convert. We also detail Nest’s new subscription plan and keep on the Alphabet/Google topic by discussing the end of the Toronto smart city effort from Sidewalk Labs and a new Google Assistant skill.  After that, we cover a new Teensy board with Ethernet, an acquisition in the smart apartment world, and get details on how reopening is going in Texas from the B8ta point of view. I talk about my experience with the new, smaller Wi-Fi August lock, and then we answer a listener question about how to build a smart home from scratch.

The brains of Johnson’s smart home are packed away in custom-made benches. Image courtesy of Jason Johnson.

Our guest this week is Jason Johnson, the co-founder of August Home. He’s not on the show to discuss the new lock but to talk about his new home and the systems he uses for automation. Like many of us, Johnson went the DIY route and says he spends about five or more hours a week tweaking his set up. He explains why he chose the platforms he uses and how he has routines and automation set up. For those curious about what’s governing the 138 nodes in his home, I encourage you to listen and find out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jason Johnson, co-founder August Home
Sponsors: Very and Edge Impulse

  • Is Wink’s new subscription worth it? Nest’s?
  • Apparently, a few people still need their gadget fix in Texas
  • August’s new lock is great for renters, but may not work for everyone
  • Three organizing principles for a smart home
  • Device longevity is a problem for the smart home

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 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 244: How AWS plans to take on the IoT

This week Amazon announced several new services ahead of its re:Invent event next week including news about Alexa Voice Services and the IoT elements of the cloud. We also touch base about Wink’s latest problem and try to explain the kerfuffle on lightweight IoT encryption. In smaller news bits, we talk about Wyze killing its person-detection feature unexpectedly, NB-IoT trackers from See.Sense and Flok, Google’s Ambient Mode coming to phones and Black Friday deals. We then review the Philips Hue Smart Button and the RoomMe presence detection devices from Intellithings. We end by answering a listener question about ways to remotely track his parents’ medicine adherence.

The Flok is one of several upcoming trackers that will rely on NB-IoT. Image courtesy of Flok.

Our guest this week brings us back to where we started, with Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at Amazon Web Services, coming on the show to talk about how Amazon plans to compete in the industrial and enterprise IoT with cloud and on-premise services. She talks about the latest news, the architecture required for the IoT, and the three laws of building a connected service. Plus, she explains why containers and serverless computing matter so much for the internet of things. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at AWS
Sponsors: Legrand and Schlage

  • Amazon doubles down on the cloud for Alexa
  • What’s up with the lightweight-encryption debate
  • I loved the Hue Smart Button but Kevin didn’t go for the RoomMe sensors
  • How Amazon plans to compete for enterprise and industrial cloud services
  • Amazon’s three laws for architecting services

Episode 243: Nanoleaf Canvas review and a talk with Tuya

We kick off this week’s podcast with Kevin’s struggles to get his Google Home to talk to Wink. Then we unpack some of the standards news out from the ZigBee Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation, which is introducing OCF-over-Thread.  From there we do a quick update on Ring, talk about a new smart grill from Weber, a new way for Alexa to control your TV, and updates to Eero’s Wi-Fi. We then talk about my experience with the Nanoleaf Canvas lights. One of us had a better experience than the other. We end with an answer for a listener who bought low-cost Wi-Fi bulbs and wants a remote to control them.

The new Weber SmokeFire pellet grill has smarts provided by June. Image courtesy of Weber.

Our guest this week is Alex Yang, the COO and co-founder of Tuya. Tuya is an IoT platform that provides everything from connectivity to help building out sales channels for end products. Brands such as Energizer, Walmart’s Merkury Innovation, and more use Tuya’s platform to connect their devices. Yang talks about Tuya’s founding, its multi-country headquarters, and its privacy policies. He also shares details behind the recent appointment of former GE CEO Jeff Immelt to the Tuya board and some details about its new deal with SmartThings. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Yang, the COO and co-founder of Tuya
Sponsors:  Legrand and Afero

  • Wink’s malaise strikes its Google integration … again!
  • Why we might want OFC-over-Thread
  • A fun lighting product that doubles as art
  • Tuya is one of the largest IoT platforms you’ve never heard of
  • Can we trust a Chinese startup with our home data?

 

 

 

Episode 238: Google’s smart home vision explained

This week Kevin and I discuss the aftermath of the big Google event, covering the new devices, the focus on ambient computing, and changes to the Nest subscription and Works with Assistant programs. From there we cover a new smart lock backed by Lennar Homes and Walmart, a new light bulb from LIFX and more security exploits. We hit on some industrial and enterprise news with an overview of Hitachi’s recent conference. Finally, we answer a listener question about what to include when selling a smart home.

The Level Home smart lock hides the electronics inside the door and deadbolt. Image courtesy of Level Home.

Our guest this week is Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa, a company that has created a tracking device for mail, a mobile network operator, and a way to plug sensor data easily into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. We spend most of the time talking about the creation of the ParceLive service which provides subscribers with a postcard-sized device that customers drop into packages before they mail them. The device tracks the package and has several sensors affixed to it that can track temperature, humidity and more.  We talk about creating a sustainable company, the future of Wi-Fi in a 5G world and the engineering challenges associated with building the ParceLive product.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa
SponsorsNutanix and HiveMQ

  • Google’s taking its digital assistant beyond the smartphone
  • There are a lot of failed smart locks
  • Let’s talk about data lakes!
  • Why 5G will make Wi-Fi obsolete
  • How to build a sustainable tracking device

Episode 235: How Amazon is defining the smart home

This week’s show covers the big Amazon announcements in the guest segment, but first Kevin and I focus on the retailer’s smaller announcements around its new show and tell feature and voice interoperability efforts.  Kevin has thoughts about cameras in the home. We also talk about Google changing how it handles voice recordings to help address user outrage while covering a study about the privacy challenges of other IoT devices. Then we dive into the geeky idea of merging Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN into a super IoT protocol, cover Zira’s industrial IoT software and figure out who might buy FitBit. We end by answering a question about smart bedside table lamps.

For 99 cents you can get an explicit or clean version of Samuel L. Jackson to replace Alexas voice for some features of the Echo.

Our guest this week is Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon who runs through some of the bigger announcements from the Amazon Alexa and services event on Wednesday. We cover why Alexa has moved beyond a physical device to become a digital assistant and platform. We talk about how Amazon wants to make money on that platform as well as some of the new devices that will showcase Alexa. These include Frames and the Loop ring. Plus, we do a deeper dive into Sidewalk, Amazon’s new wireless protocol for the front yard (and maybe more). Rausch ends by telling us how long we’ll take to see Amazon deliver a truly smart, proactive home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon
Sponsors: Control4 and HiveMQ

  • Are cameras the secret to smart home dominance?
  • The pros and cons of voice interoperability
  • This Wi-Fi plus LoRaWAN plan isn’t too crazy
  • The digital assistant is the new tech platform and Alexa is queen
  • More on Amazon’s new Sidewalk wireless protocol

Episode 214: Goodbye Anki, hello connected pets

This week Kevin and I mourn the end of Anki, the company behind Kevin’s beloved Vector robot. We also talk about the upcoming Google I/O, privacy expectations in apartments with connected devices and AT&T’s nationwide NB-IoT network. From there we discuss Congressional hearings on device security here and abroad in the U.K. In our quick news bits we talk about a $2,000 pool camera to detect drownings, the evolutions of Mozilla’s Project Things, Alexa speaking Spanish in the U.S., and Ford enabling Amazon Key for its 2017 and newer vehicles. Kevin found two good resources for the pro set. The first is a booklet on using a Raspberry Pi for computer vision and the second is a guide to using Microsoft’s IoT Hub. In this week’s voicemail, we deliver bad news to a gentleman searching for a way to help his parents avoid killing their garden.

Whistle, the company behind a connected dog collar is part of Mars’ new Kinship business.

Our guest this week touches on a topic many of our listeners will love — pets!  Leonid Sudakov is the CEO of Kinship, a newly created business of Mars Petcare. Sudakov comes on the show to talk about the newly created business he’s running that combines connected gadgets and data analytics to understand the secret lives of our pets. He talks about what Kinship is looking for in partners and how technology can help people communicate with our companion animals.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Leonid Sudakov is the CEO of Kinship
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • Residents in Manhattan are suing over a connected door lock
  • AT&T’s NB-IoT pricing is very compelling
  • Would you buy a $2,000 device to prevent drowning?
  • Connected collars and data analysis will give pets a voice
  • Are we ready for telemedicine for pets?

 

Episode 213: A deep dive into IoT Inspector

This week’s podcast starts out with a focus on Clear Ventures’ new, $180 million venture fund dedicated to Industry 4.0. We stay with enterprise and industrial IoT to discuss a new round of funding for security firm VDOO and VMware’s new version of the Pulse IoT Platform. After that, we move to the smart home with a scoop on Arlo’s new video doorbell, Wyze getting a Google Assistant integration, Wing’s teleoperated drones, and a wearable that doubles as an EpiPen. We then answer a listener request for a smart sensor that can measure temperature, motion, humidity and light.

Our guest this week is Danny Huang, one of the co-creators of Princeton’s IoT Inspector program. Huang shares why they created the program that tracks what smart devices are on a network and what they talk to and explains how it works. Some of his findings, such as the lack of security and vendors who seem to be confused about how good their security is, are worrisome. He also discusses how Princeton is handling privacy and what the program will do to your network.  If you have a device that runs Mac OS, check IoT Inspector out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Danny Huang, post-doc fellow at Princeton
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • Why the IoT needs a new type of computer architecture
  • How many IoT ecosystems do we need?
  • Tele-operations is going to be a big deal
  • Understanding the security categories in IoT Inspector
  • In the IoT, you can’t opt-out of data sharing