Episode 284: Amazon Halo, the FBI and smart cars

This week’s show starts off with the FBI’s concerns about the Ring doorbell, then news about Apple and Google making their COVID-19 exposure notification framework easier for states to use. We discuss consolidation in the smart apartment market, vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and then dive into a heap of newly launched devices. First up is the Amazon Halo wearable launched last week, and then new Amazon Blink cameras. (In other Amazon news we talked about paying for gas with Alexa and Amazon getting FAA approval for drone deliveries.) Wyze is planning to build headphones, as is Sonos, and Lenovo has a new smart speaker alarm clock for $50. We end with a listener question about wireless sensor tags.

Blink Outdoor and Indoor Cameras will sell for $99.99 and $79 .99 respectively. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo, an Israeli automotive data company. He came on the show to discuss what we can do with car data. Cars can produce gigabytes of data and Otonomo can pull data in from more than 20 million vehicles, either in aggregate or individually, to provide different services. In smart cities, car data might provide detailed parking information or flag dangerous intersections. For companies, Otonomo can provide fleet management, but it also foresees a future where third-party businesses can build services such as a tire-pressure management service that ensures all the cars in a fleet have enough air in their tires. Broadly, Matan convinced me that connectivity and sensors in cars could become a platform as powerful as the mobile phone. See what you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Surveillance tech can go two ways
  • Get ready for consolidation in the connected MDU world
  • Amazon is launching several cool new products and functions
  • If you think of a car like a smartphone what could you do?
  • How cars can help cities flag dangerous intersections

Episode 266: Startups get ARM IP for free

ARM is expanding access to its chip designs to startups that have raised less than $5 million through its Flexible Access program. Kevin and I explain why this is a big deal and then go on to discuss a new gesture-based interface that could be either a gimmick or a gamechanger. From there we talk about the pandemic delaying Ford’s self-driving car plans, the closure of PetNet, and the acquisition of a smart ring by a digital key card company. Plus, we cover a robot for kids, AR contact lenses, a Google AI muddle, Google Assistant getting router controls, and a new satellite network for the IoT. We also review the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Kevin talks about his experience with the Blink Mini camera. We end by answering a question about choosing smart home devices based on your digital assistant.

The Moxie robot from Embodied will start shipping in October. Image courtesy of Embodied.

Our guest this week is Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai, which makes a voice platform for the pro installer market. The company has just raised $11 million in funding, and Capecelatro tells us what he plans to do with that money as well as explains why Josh.ai shifted from making software to building hardware. He also offers perspective on the development of the voice market in the smart home. Josh.ai started in 2015, a few months after Amazon released the Echo speakers, and before Amazon had enabled the smart home features on the Alexa platform. The interview offers a history of voice, IoT hardware, and a hint of the future. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai
Sponsor: Very

  • Why silicon startups are on the rise
  • Companies blaming the pandemic
  • Should you buy the new Blink Mini camera?
  • Why Josh.ai pivoted from software to hardware
  • Can a dedicated voice platform for the smart home beat a digital assistant?

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 237: ARM’s big move and the future of food

In this week’s episode, we start off with speculation about wearables and why we might put the internet of things into clothing. From there we speculate on whether IoT is the new asbestos.  I did this show from ARM’s annual tech conference, where I tried to explain some of the big news from the show, such as ARM opening up its instruction set and the creation of a new automotive consortium. From there we cover the new Tile sticker format, the new Linksys security feature that uses wireless signals instead of a camera, and more fallout from Ring’s marketing agreements with municipal police departments. We also talk about Google’s new streaming music feature, a semiconductor deal in the industrial IoT and a bad security flaw in older D-Link routers. We then answer a listener’s question about what tech features she should include while building a new home.

Innit provides the backend tech and data for Mars brands on Google Lens. Image courtesy of Innit.

Our guest this week is Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit, a company trying to build a back end operating system for food. The company has products that serve consumer packaged good brands, it’s embedded in appliances and also offers apps for consumers.  Brown and I spend most of our time talking about how the rise of Amazon, and technology more broadly, will affect the way consumers choose what to eat and where they buy their food. We also talk about how to make the idea of food as medicine more palatable for people. It’s a quick segment, but it may make you excited about the future of food.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit
Sponsors: Nutanix and HiveMQ

  • Could healthcare drive the adoption of smart clothing?
  • We need a building safety code for connected devices
  • ARM’s instruction set news could drive a lot more innovation
  • Alexa, let’s make a lasagna
  • Will you keep buying name brand foods in a decade?

Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

Episode 230: Which IoT satellite efforts will fail?

This week I get excited about a new home water monitoring product from Phyn while Kevin migrated his Nest account over to a Google account. We also discussed the creation of IKEA’s new Home Smart business unit and Amazon’s dream of putting Alexa in every car. SimpliSafe adds a door lock, MIT researchers build an energy-harvesting underwater sensor and a Chinese IP camera company is taking worries about security and U.S. fears of Chinese brands seriously. We also answer a question about Walmart’s Merkury Innovation brand of connected products.

The Phyn Smart Water Assistant will cost $299 and tracks leaks.

Our guest this week is Tim Farrar, of TMF Associates, who is a consultant in the satellite industry. I’ve turned to Tim to answer questions about the rush of companies trying to offer connectivity to the IoT using satellites. Do the economics make sense? How many of these businesses can the industry support and what the heck happens if these companies fail? Plus, we address the issue of space trash. You’ll want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tim Farrar of TMF Associates
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • This water monitoring device is worth a look
  • How Google’s Nest migration works
  • Will Chinese companies start locating IoT cloud services in the U.S.
  • The economics of satellite make broad IoT use cases tough
  • Why broadband satellite efforts may doom smaller IoT plans

 

Episode 226: Google’s Nest exec isn’t into smart homes

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing how Google’s head of IoT isn’t a believer in the smart home. Except he is. He just calls it something else, and we explain his rationale for doing so. We also explain why I am so excited about Microsoft’s new contracts for sharing data and why Tile just scored $45 million in funding. From there we wonder if Google’s machine learning-based approach to recognizing electricity use in appliances is cool, who would buy the OmniFob smart keychain, and why Wyze is building a scale. Then we move to news from Huawei, Abode going deeper with Google Assistant, Adobe’s voice study and LG adding HomeKit to new TVs. Kevin shares his impressions of the Firewalla device, and then we answer a listener question about bring smart bulbs outside and finding wireless switches that work. It must be summer, based on these outdoor inquiries.

The OmniFob can replace your car keys, your house keys and control your smart home.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful, a newly launched startup building apps for smart home devices. Kraftful is a company at YCombinator that is working with big brands to make the apps for connected devices work better. She explains what features mainstream consumers want, why big companies aren’t building these apps themselves and why her business isn’t a feature of a larger tech stack. It’s a good intro to a new company.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Call it intuitive, smart or helpful, just make it happen
  • Microsoft’s contracts serve a burgeoning need for enterprises
  • Firewalla makes a big impression
  • Why do so many smart device apps suck?
  • Can Kraftful turn app development into a scalable business?

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 212: How to find connected devices in your home or enterprise

This week’s show is all about visibility. Kevin and I get started discussing the new IoT Inspector program that tracks what devices are on your network and how they behave.  In other surveillance, we talk about how easy it is to identify total strangers using public cameras and public facial recognition programs, before discussing the destruction of a privacy law in Illinois. Intel’s decision to get out of the smartphone modem business gets a mention, as does Apple’s LIDAR investments and a new app from Waymo. In news bits, we talk about Schlage locks working with Ring, a new Alexa Skill certification, a new sport, Norsk Hydro’s ransomware, and how to run open source smart home software in the cloud instead of a Pi. We also answer a question about connected double-cylinder locks.

AI created a game called Speedgate. This image is taken from a video of people playing it.

This week’s guest is Nadir Izrael, the CTO of security firm Armis. He discusses how security challenges have changed in the era of connected devices and the business pressures behind some connected devices getting onto the network even when IT wants to say no. He also shares some horror stories associated with insecure connected devices, such as a hospital infusion pump infected with malware that was connected to a patient. Izrael says the hospital had to get a nurse to watch the patient all night to make sure the infusion pump didn’t misbehave. Weak security can cost lives, not just spam all your friends.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nadir Izrael, CTO at Armis
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • Here’s where you can download IoT Inspector for Mac OS
  • Will you be playing Speedgate, a new, AI-developed sport?
  • What can we learn from Norsk Hydro’s ransomware attack?
  • Connected treadmills might be your enterprise’s weak link
  • How a hospital guards against malware-infected infusion pumps

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans