Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

Episode 280: Meet the new security standard for the smart home

This week’s show kicks off with us talking about Johnson Controls buying the remaining stake it didn’t hold in security company Qolsys and parallels with Google’s big partnership and investment with ADT. From there Kevin and I share a bit about our own smart home experiences, starting with my Alexa-related temper tantrum. Kevin then shares how his outdoor Wyze Cam fared during Hurricane Isaias and a hack to alert him to people sneaking up behind him while at his desk. We also share news of a funding round for an AI chip company, a new talent for Google Assistant, Samsara’s partnership with Nationwide Insurance, and a startup that can use a camera image to detect your heart rate, preparation, and other health insights. We also answer a listener question about transitioning away from Hue bulbs and the hub model.

Brainworks has launched the Medio Smart Health web app that uses a camera image to track certain health metrics. Image courtesy of Brainworks.

Our guest this week is Brad Ree, the CTO of the ioXt Alliance. The Alliance is pushing a new security standard for connected devices and is backed by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Resideo, Le Grand, and more. Ree explains how the group got started, what the group is trying to do, and why it’s not endorsing “nutritional labels” for device security or different levels. Ree answers my questions about the two different methods one can use to get certified, which devices the certification works for today, and whether or not retailers or large partners might require the certification in order to sell or integrate with a device. It’s the same group of companies that are bringing you Project Connected Home over IP, so listen up and see what you think.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Brad Ree, the CTO of the ioXt Alliance
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • What’s behind Google’s deal with ADT?
  • Alexa, screw you!
  • Why on earth do we need another security standard for connected devices?
  • Why nutritional labels and levels of security are too much
  • Ree explains the concept of self-certification

 

Episode 277: Does your house need a mouse?

This week on the show Kevin and I start with a speculative Google project dubbed the “house mouse” by researchers at Google’s ATAP group. Then we cover a bit on Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit, Amazon’s new smart cart, Amazon’s developer event next week, and how Amazon can compete in the digital assistant game without a phone. We also talk about SiteWise, the AWS service for industrial IoT equipment monitoring, and Microsoft and Samsung partnering on real estate in the smart home and apartment world. From there, we discuss a proposed cybersecurity law for connected devices in the UK, Zoom’s fancy new hardware, Arm’s proposed sale or IPO,  and another device to prevent your smart speakers from eavesdropping. We also answer a listener question about smart outlets.

 

The Zoom hardware costs $599 and has three cameras, eight mics, and a 27-inch screen.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks, who explains how companies need to think about the connected tech they are adding to their offices to keep employees safe after the pandemic. We talk about what he’s doing at Ayla, what he recommends other leaders think about when trying to bring employees back, and why companies probably shouldn’t buy this stuff in haste. We also discuss security, privacy, and what you don’t want to know about your employees. It’s a helpful interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Google’s house mouse may give point and click new meaning
  • Amazon’s SiteWise for IIoT is designed to lock you in
  • Who would buy Arm and would it be a good investment?
  • Define your business problem and then buy IoT
  • What should a business consider before surveilling workers

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