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 283: Cloudflare’s CEO on ethics and building out edge computing

ARM is back in our news lineup this week, as Kevin and I discuss who might be interested in buying the chip design company and why it decided not to spin out its IoT assets. We also talk about a new lock that opens with a touch, biometrics on other locks, and Fitbit’s new wearables. Some Roomba vacuums received a new update that makes them easier to control via voice and we talk about appliance companies’ approaches toward IoT security updates. Spoiler alert: they’re mostly not great. Then we cover a new product from Mueral, data on LPWAN adoption and satellite networks for IoT. We also answer a listener question about what the success of Project CHIP might mean for Zigbee and Z-wave.

The Level lock with touch or a keycard retails for $329 and doesn’t have the clunky hardware associated with most connected locks. Image courtesy of Level.

This week’s guest is Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare who starts off with a history of computing and an insight into his college dorm room decor. The history will be especially valuable for folks who are not in the IT world but who have to deal with it thanks to the IoT. Prince then discusses what comes after containers and talks about what drives usage on his company’s distributed edge compute service. Then, he explains why he views his engineering work through the lens of others, and how Cloudflare tries to make ethical decisions when building products and offering them. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why ARM isn’t spinning out its IoT assets
  • Fitbit has a new, wellness device
  • Let’s talk about security in appliances
  • How computing has moved from individual servers to containers
  • How to create a culture where engineers can discuss ethics

 

Episode 282: Philips Hue has high hopes for Project CHIP

This week’s show kicks off with the Bluetooth SIG’s effort to bring Bluetooth-based contact tracing to individuals who might not have phones, and then segues into what’s behind the Z-Wave Alliance’s organizational shakeup.  After that, we pause to remember the passing of Verizon’s IoT platform dreams and cover the end (or maybe just a momentary pause) of Alphabet’s smart city dreams. Kevin and I debate the utility of research that can use your phone’s accelerometer to tell if you’ve had too much to drink, and we cover news from IBM’s security team, Zoom, Google Nest, and Microsoft. Kevin and I also talk about bringing a new interaction modality to the smart home. We end with a tip from a listener on the IoT Podcast Hotline that covers new ideas for smart plugs.

Expect to buy one or more hubs over the life of your Philips Hue bulbs, as the system gets smarter or addresses new opportunities over time.

Our guest this week is George Yianni, head of technology at Philips Hue, who came on to discuss what Hue is trying to do with smart lighting and where it wants to go next. We also get his thoughts on Project Connected Home over IP, the unifying standard that Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung are trying to create. For users who want to understand the decision to kill the version 1 Hue hub, Yianni explains that move and covers a good lesson for other device manufacturers on how to handle the tough calls to stop supporting a device. It’s a good show that has me eager to spend money on color-changing light bulbs.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: George Yianni, head of technology at Philips Hue
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why the Z-Wave Alliance shook up its organizational structure
  • Remember the days of the IoT platform play?
  • Your smartphone may know when you’ve had one too many drinks
  • Has Philips Hue achieved what its inventors hoped?
  • How Project CHIP could help, or hinder Philips Hue

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 279: GE Appliances goes for the Gold in security

This week Kevin and I start the show with our thoughts on CES going digital, and then turn to subscriptions for smart products, specifically tied to the news that the Mellow sous vide is now charging for functionality that had been free. We then move on to pandemic-era fundings for Density, Withings, and connected fitness company Tempo. Rite-Aid face recognition, a new Alexa app (yay!) challenges for Google/Nest, and HomeKit support for Arlo’s cameras round out our newsy segments. We then showcase a new product for securing the smart home called Hedgehog, and Kevin shares his review of the Wyze Outdoor Cam. We close by answering a listener question about Gosund products.

The Mellow sous vide has new owners and a new subscription plan. Image courtesy of Mellow.

This week’s guest is  John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances. He came on the show to discuss UL’s new IoT security framework and why GE Appliances chose to use it. We also talk about security challenges facing connected appliances, how to manage long-lived connected assets in the home, and why it will get more and more difficult to buy non-connected devices. I walked away more confident that major brands are really taking security seriously. Hopefully, you will too.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances
Sponsor: Very

  • Struggling hardware companies have three options to manage surprise IoT costs
  • These startups are raking in the cash during the pandemic
  • Kevin likes the new Wyze Outdoor Cam but had one tiny glitch
  • GE Appliances was serious about security but needed a way to tell consumers
  • How GE thinks about security by design and risk models for your fridge

 

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 275: Does the smart home need glasses?

This week Kevin and I talk about my recent move and what I am looking for in a video doorbell before diving into our thoughts on Google’s planned smart home event for next week. Then we cover the big IoT acquisitions of the week from Google, lululemon(!), and Amazon. After that, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for wearables, Netgear’s mid-range Orbi router, Amazon’s new space services, Nest installations, and companies giving up on 360 video for VR. Kevin then shares his thoughts on the Echo Frames, which is Amazon’s attempt to put Alexa on your face. We conclude the news segment by answering a question about why we like color-changing light bulbs.

The North Focals glasses cost $999 and now belong to Google. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise, who came on the show to discuss the partnership Honeywell signed last month with SAP to combine operations data from buildings with business data. She explains that this deal is about bringing the analytics common in the IT world to the action-oriented information from the OT world, allowing companies to understand how their buildings affect their bottom line. She talks about the details of the partnership but also explains what’s behind the IT/OT convergence and shares her thoughts on how far companies can get with a horizontal solution for enterprise IoT. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise,
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • Which video doorbell did I buy?
  • Google buys North and gets another pair of glasses
  • Kevin tries on Amazon Echo Frames
  • What’s behind the new SAP and Honeywell partnership
  • How COVID-19 pushed Honeywell and SAP to focus on smart buildings

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 267: How to build your own IoT device

This week on the show, Kevin and I start with a potential privacy bill in the Senate related to COVID-19 track and trace and then discuss the challenges legislation and Bluetooth track-trace efforts will face. We then talk about a possible acquisition by Microsoft of an industrial IoT security company. Kevin shared his hope for a smart home with common sense based on advances in AI research before we dig into new IoT malware called Kaiji. In news, Nordic Semiconductor is touting new smart gear for hospitals, Nest is requiring all users to use multi-factor authentication, Ring has a new $99 doorbell, and Automatic joins other companies in shutting down because of the pandemic. This week on the IoT Podcast hotline, we answer a question about Z-Wave repeaters and buggy mesh networks.

Image of the MailPig mailbox sensor courtesy of Christine Sunu.

Our guest this week is Christine Sunu, who got a lot of attention a week or two ago with the creation of a sourdough fitness tracker called Sourd.io. She joined us to walk us through the creation of a sensor to detect if your mail has arrived (specifically if your mailbox has been opened). As an IoT developer community engagement manager with Twilio, and a former developer engagement manager with Particle, Sunu has been making connected devices for years, so she helps with the terms you might want to Google and how to get over common barriers standing in the way of a final project. It was so much fun to talk to her, and she has written a blog post to go with the interview in case you need more than the auditory guidance.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Christine Sunu
Sponsors: Very and Liveworx

  • The latest on COVID-19 track and trace news
  • Is Microsoft getting more serious about industrial IoT?
  • Ring’s got a new doorbell
  • How to build a connected mailbox sensor
  • Two common barriers to finishing your projects

 

Episode 265: How to make the electric grid more like the internet

This week Kevin and I dig into two sets of best practices for privacy and data collection relating to track-and-trace programs enacted on our devices. One is from Microsoft, and the other is from MIT. We also talk about Ring asking users if they want the ability to read license plates in their security cameras and offer some insights about the recently launched update to the Ring Alarm system. From there we discuss vulnerable smart hubs, vulnerable servers, and a power-efficient NB-IoT modem. Next up is a bit of news about Folding@Home using a Raspberry Pi, smart swim googles, using computer vision to save coral reefs, and a bit about blood pressure monitors. We end by answering a listener question about available Wi-Fi 6 routers.

The $199 swim goggles from Form include a heads up display, heart rate tracking, and more. Image courtesy of Form.

This week’s guest is Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission, who explains how we’re going to get to a dynamic energy grid that helps consumers and businesses react in real time to the price of energy. We have plenty of energy-saving devices and even the ability to turn off or lower the energy demands in our home, using smart tech, but there’s not much of an incentive. If states and utilities work to make real-time pricing changes available to the home (likely a governing device) then the home can react by reducing electrical demand. She talks about the tech and regulations that will make this possible and informs me that FM broadcasts might be the best way to disseminate the pricing information cheaply. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission
SponsorsCalix and Ayla Networks

  • How to think about data privacy during a pandemic
  • Ring’s interest in surveillance style tech continues
  • Smart googles and microamp modems are pretty cool
  • Why California wants an energy grid that looks like the internet
  • Maybe FM radio has a role to play in the IoT