Episode 191: Lowe’s wants to dump Iris

This week on the show, Kevin and I talk about Lowe’s putting the Iris smart home system on the block, Apple buying Silk Labs and why now is a perfect time to pull the trigger on the smart home device you’ve been eyeing. We then dug deep on a swath of Alexa-related news such as the ability to bring Bluetooth devices to the Alexa ecosystem, Anki’s Vector robot getting Alexa integration and the new Alexa Wake-on LAN commands. Google also has some new features to discuss such as an ability to replace Siri on an iOS and a new developer board with microcontrollers linked to Google’s cloud. We also teased our gift guide coming out on Friday in the Stacey on IoT newsletter and shared the new Abode security device plus a new Google Assistant Smart Display from LG. In this week’s voicemail, we advise a dad about what smart home gear he should buy his two daughters for their first apartments.

The Iota gateway and camera from Abode costs $259. Image courtesy of Abode.

November is National Diabetes Month, and so I brought on Mike Nelson who is the head of IoT security at DigiCert, but for the show purposes, is a father whose 4-year-old daughter has diabetes. He does too. Nelson talks about how connected devices have changed the way he manages his illness and what it means for him as a parent. He also shows how insecure devices, especially medical devices, can become deeply concerning for patients and parents. It’s a good interview that will bring home the need for better security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson of DigiCert
Sponsor: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • What went wrong with Lowe’s Iris
  • Why Apple bought a smart home hub company
  • Alexa and Google add new IoT talents
  • How IoT changed the world of diabetes care
  • Why security really, really matter for medical devices

Episode 190: The Federal government takes on consumer privacy

We kick off this week with an in-depth discussion of the NTIA’s suggestions for regulating consumer privacy in a digital era. It’s a long discussion, but one worth having, and we welcome your thoughts as well. From there, we talk about botnets, neural networks on a stick, and then Alexa’s new talents and devices. Then some Google Home and Wi-Fi news makes the cut as well as a new Withings activity tracker and new services from IFTTT. From there we end with some enterprise security stats and a new effort to bring IoT to the enterprise. This time the platform is intelligent windows! Instead of answering a listener question we offer a suggestions from a listener that may solve some outdoor camera and sensor problems.

The Withings Pulse HR costs $129.95 and has a projected 20-day battery life!

Our guest this week is Emily Silverman, a program manager for Denver’s smart city efforts. Silverman explains how Denver is thinking about smart infrastructure and how to provide new citizen services. She also details how the city is trying to safeguard citizen privacy and protect data. Some vendors aren’t keen on the plans, but Silverman says the attitude is changing. It’s a good interview and important for anyone who wants to be an informed citizen.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Emily Silverman, program manager for the City and County of Denver
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Here’s how the feds want to boost consumer privacy
  • Why Alexa’s new talents matter
  • Why not add another enterprise IoT platform?
  • Some vendors aren’t ready to let go of your data
  • How Denver anonymizes traffic data. Really.

Episode 187: It’s time to take privacy seriously

We’re nearing the end of 2018, which is as good a time as any to relaunch the smart glasses concept. We discuss the new new Focals glasses, tie them in with Qualcomm’s new chips for Alexa-based ear buds and then tackle the Google Home Hub. From there we cover Amazon’s face recognition software, Tim Cook’s statements on privacy and use GM and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs as a case study to explain why privacy is so important. After that, we talk about a new device to detect falls, a resource article for those dealing with domestic violence in smart homes and a new chip company using a novel form of energy harvesting. We conclude the news segment by answering a listener question about issues with Apple’s iOS 12 update making it difficult for some IoT devices.

The new Focals glasses cost $999 and have limited functionality. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Hugo Fiennes, the CEO of Electric Imp, who shares how a connected product made by a company that no longer exists can still operate and get security updates. For fans of the Quirky egg minder this is great news. We also talk about the rush of new IoT platforms that have cellular connectivity and why they are so popular now. We end with a fun workplace IoT project involving Slack, some code and connected speakers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Hugo Fiennes, CEO of Electric Imp
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • New AR smart glasses test the market for connected eyewear … again
  • Privacy will be the defining issue of the IoT
  • Walabot is designed to detect falls
  • How the Quirky Egg Minder works even after the company that made it failed
  • Can cellular take over the IoT?

Episode 178: Facebook’s smart speaker and a new security startup

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I trying to figure out Facebook’s voice ambitions. We then explain how Google is using IoT data and AI to shave 40% in energy use in its data centers. This is the future. From there we talk about that future’s dark side with a survey on consumer fears, a security exploit of Wemo devices and an attack that could waste a lot of water. We then discuss news bits such as C3 working with Google Cloud, using Wi-Fi for airport security, my thoughts on the new FitBit Charge 3, the acquisition of the maker of the Vera hub and the acquisition of CE Pro. We also answer a question about tracking when your kids come in and out of the home.

This is how I picture myself in the FitBit Charge 3. Not stuck behind my computer screen.

Our guest this week is Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io, a company created to provide continued security for connected devices. Baker explains why Foundries.io exists, how it works and the company’s attempts to become the Red Hat of IoT security software. Unlike some of the recent IoT security platform efforts out there, Foundries.io isn’t linked directly to hardware. You’ll learn more on the show. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Why Facebook needs your voice
  • A new type of IoT attack changes how I think about risks
  • 50 ways to track your children
  • Foundries.io is taking open source security and turning it into a service

Episode 162: Smart walls and dumb homes

This week Kevin and I discuss Amazon’s big security install reveal and how it made us feel. Plus, a smart home executive leaves Amazon and Facebook’s rumored smart speaker makes another appearance. China is taking surveillance even further and Kevin and I share our thoughts on the state of the smart home, and failed projects. In our news tidbits we cover a possible new SmartThings hub, a boost for ZigBee in the UK, the sale of Withings/Nokia Health, the death of a smart luggage company, and reviews for Google Assistant apps. We also answer a reader question about a connected door lock camera.

The Smart Wall research was conducted at Disney Research. The first step is building a grid of conductive materials. Later, researchers painted over it.

This week’s guest Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, share his creation of a smarter wall, one that responds to touch and also recognizes electronic activity in the room. We discuss the smart wall, digital paper, how to bring context to the connected home or office, and why you may want to give up on privacy. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • A surprise appearance from the Wink hub
  • What happens when IoT can read your thoughts?
  • Kevin swapped hubs and is pretty unhappy about it
  • A cheap way to make connected paper
  • Go ahead, rethink you walls

Episode 159: The Nest doorbell is a great video doorbell

Microsoft plans to spend $5 billion on the internet of things, and it’s more than the usual shell game that big firms play with these sorts of announcements. We discuss its plans on this week’s podcast. We also talk about Qualcomm’s new vision chips for edge devices, what it means that apps are disappearing from the Apple Watch and Kevin’s thoughts on getting Alexa or Google to talk to you. Comcast shared its vision and new features for Stringify, August is working with SimpliSafe, there’s an old UPnP exploit hitting the IoT and I dumped a gadget for poor performance. I review the Nest doorbell before we answer a question on Z-wave and ZigBee for a listener.

My Nest Hello fresh out of the box.

This week’s guest is Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, who came on the show as part of an IEEE event at SXSW last month. We talk about where hearables are today, what’s changing and some of the cool things we can look forward to. I suggest a mute button for people you dislike, which Crum admits is possible. We also dig into the things that kill your hearing, and how we perceive sound. You may never take an aspirin again. Listen and learn, y’all.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories
Sponsors: Yonomi and Forgerock

  • Why every chip company has a chip for computer vision at the edge
  • This is a great podcast on Amazon Alexa
  • Goodbye Ikea lights and hello Nest video doorbell
  • Every ear is different and so is its perception of sound
  • You can jam a lot of sensors into a hearable

Episode 157: Why Foxconn is buying Belkin and the future of healthcare

We discuss two big news issues this week with the first being Foxconn’s offer to buy Belkin for $866 million. The deal would include the Wemo line of smart home devices and the Phyn leak detection joint venture. After that, data, privacy and surveillance rule the show in light of Facebook’s decision to delay its smart home speaker device. Before we lose hope in IoT entirely, Kevin brings up an effort in the UK to enshrine some basic consumer rights around the IoT including a device expiration date. We also talk about new Google Home skills, August’s updates, an acquisition by Particle, and Kevin’s thoughts on the Fibaro wall plug. We end our segment answering a question about smart door locks.

Particle’s recently launched mesh-enabled boards were part of a collaboration with the newly acquired RedBear Labs.

After the news segment, I interview Dr. Leslie Saxon who heads up the Center for Body Computing at USC, who believes that we’ll soon get 80 percent of our healthcare virtually. She talks about what we’ll need to make that happen and offers up a unique idea—a virtual version of herself that uses AI to provide basic care in her image and demeanor. The implications of all of this are pretty big, so we dig into two of the big ones; privacy and how it changes the relationship individuals have with healthcare. You’ll end up doing a lot more work. It’s an eye-opening episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Leslie Saxon of USC
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK and Ring

  • Why Foxconn wants Belkin
  • Why would anyone want a Facebook smart speaker?
  • How the UK is advancing IoT security
  • The virtual doctor is in your pocket, your car and even your airplane seat
  • Get ready to take charge of your own healthcare

Episode 153: Mobile World Congress news and a deep dive into IOTA

The big news from this week has been Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Ring for $1 billion or more. Kevin and I explain the deal and share our concerns before turning to the issue of smarter cameras including the recently reviewed Google Clip. From there we discuss news from Mobile World Congress and then dig into financings, Google winning over a former Alexa exec, the death of Staples Connect and a new device from Fibaro. We also answer a voicemail about setting up a separate guest network for your IoT devices.

The Google Clip camera retails for $249.

This week’s guest is Dominik Schiener, who is a co-founder of IOTA, a distributed ledger for machine transactions. I met Schiener at Bosch’s Connected World event in Berlin, and he explained the rationale behind IOTA’s creation, how it differs from traditional blockchain-based ledgers and why the focus on cryptocurrencies is driving the wrong attention for distributed ledgers. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dominik Schiener of IOTA
Sponsors: Yonomi and IoT World

  • Amazon Rings up its second largest deal
  • Cameras are smart and we aren’t prepared
  • Google has a new employee and Kevin liked this article
  • What is IOTA?
  • Use cases for distributed ledgers explained

Episode 150: Mozilla’s IoT Gateway and LoRa Roaming

There was a lot of smart home related news this week as Mozilla launched IoT gateway software, Apple’s HomePod reviews came out and Nest was folded into Google. Kevin and I discuss all of that, plus Netgear spinning out its Arlo home camera business and offering a 20 percent stake in an IPO, Amazon’s creepy wristband patent, Alexa at the Superbowl and some feature changes in popular devices. We also spend a lot of time talking about Apple’s health ambitions in light of a new study on detecting diabetes with the Apple Watch. We also answer a listener question about how to configure their Echo for Drop-In calls.

Screenshots from Mozilla’s new IoT Gateway web software. Clean design, but this is still very DIY. Image courtesy of Mozilla.

For the enterprise minded, we bring in Bruce Chatterley, the CEO of Senet, to talk about LoRa networks and offer some use cases in the smart city, enterprise and residential setting. I learned some new things, including efforts to allow roaming onto LoRa networks. Chatterley also brought up a new business model and said that new partners mean that Semtech no longer holds all the cards when it comes to LoRa networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Grab your Pi and order a Z-wave dongle for Mozilla’s new IoT software
  • What does Nest going into Google mean for consumer hardware?
  • Kevin bought a WeMo HomeKit Bridge
  • LoRa, what is it good for?
  • Could you IoT devices one day roam?

Episode 131: Amazon’s new gear and Nest’s Matt Rogers

This week’s show features a quick rundown of Amazon’s new devices. It also has a lot of exciting news on the wearable front. Kevin Tofel reviews his Apple Watch with LTE and we also discuss a new program from the Food and Drug Administration that will allow nine companies to get pre-certifications for their devices. I’m optimistic that consumers will get more innovation and better data. We also hit on a stealthy new lighting startup from a former Nest co-founder, a partnership around autonomous vehicles and a fight between Google and Amazon.

The Echo spot has a camera, a screen and costs $129.99.

My guest is Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nest, who discusses the rationale behind the new Nest Security system and where Nest is heading. We also talk about efforts to build a closer relationship between the Google Home and Nest teams. Plus, he offers hope for an eventual HomeKit integration, although I am not going to hold my breath. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, Nest
Sponsors: Qualcomm and Eero

  • Which new Amazon device will you buy?
  • The FDA gets into wearables
  • Advice for a listener on creating audio-activated scenes
  • Why Nest is aiming at the high end for security
  • Will Nest gear ever get HomeKit support?