Episode 352: As Alexa goes, so does the smart home?

We’re back after a one-week break in the Internet of Things Podcast, and we didn’t miss too much. The biggest stories of this show are the slow collapse of CES 2022 and a Bloomberg article that uses internal Amazon documents to show how Alexa growth has stagnated and illustrates the hopes Amazon has for its smart speakers. We also talk about Alexa’s unfortunate suggestion to a 10-year-old looking for a challenge. After that, we discuss a survey related to edge computing from Zededa after we explain what edge computing means for different folks. Then, in smaller news, we highlight Level Lock’s new keypad, a smart ring, sales data on connected appliances, and my review of the Fi collar. We close out the news portions of the show by answering a listener question about why he can’t find Wi-Fi motion sensors anywhere.

The Level keypad fulfills an essential need for people who don’t carry a smartphone — or their keys. Image courtesy of Level.

Our guest this week is Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean. Wijergangs joined EnOcean in August to help the maker of energy-harvesting IoT devices expand into building management with a focus on sustainability. In the interview, Wijergangs talks about what he’s learned from his efforts building out the Z-wave standard, and how he’s trying to apply an ecosystems approach to making buildings smarter. We also talk about the challenges of designing energy-harvesting sensors and what new energy harvesting technologies might become available. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • I’m no longer going to CES, and I’m not alone.
  • Alexa and the smart home are stagnant.
  • I love keypads with my smart locks.
  • Sustainable buildings should be smart and need middleware to get there.
  • New polymers might drive the next generation of energy harvesting devices.

Episode 344: Energy harvesting sensors are finally real

This week’s show kicks off with news from many of the big smart home players offering their plans for the Matter smart home protocol. First, we discuss Google’s plans, before focusing on Samsung’s latest announcements and then a surprise update from Eero, which is owned by Amazon. Sticking with Amazon, we also cover the news that Alexa is now employed in hospitals and senior living facilities. We cover industrial IoT sensor provider Augury’s $180 million round of funding, and a new report from Palo Alto Networks on how remote working and IoT devices have compromised enterprise security before heading into some news from Amazon, Aqara, Inmarsat, and two retailers removing Chinese cameras from their shelves. Finally, we answer a listener question about a switch for LIFX lighting without a neutral wire.

Alexa is heading to senior living facilities and hospitals. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Steve Statler, the senior vice president of marketing at Wiliot, a company that had been making Bluetooth beacons that don’t require batteries. Now the company offers sensing as a service and licenses its chip technology. Statler explains the shift and discusses how Wiliot had to build up a web of relationships to make the sensing-as-a-service option possible. We also discuss how smart Bluetooth tags can create what Statler calls the demand chain to track products on an individual level and ensure supply meets demand based on reality instead of estimates. Statler also talks about how to make the tags recyclable, and what he still needs to make that happen. It’s a fun interview for people who have high hopes for smart labels, and who want a glimpse of the future where items in your fridge or closet may communicate with you after you’ve purchased them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Statler, Wiliot
Sponsors: Very

  • More support for Matter (and more questions too)
  • Alexa now has a role in senior living facilities and hospitals
  • Augury’s sensors have saved Colgate-Palmolive a lot of tubes of toothpaste
  • Why Wiliot switched from selling chips to selling a service
  • Do we want our clothes to ask us why we haven’t worn them in a while?

 

Episode 342: Explaining the IoT’s latest $11B deal

The industrial automation world got a jolt of news with Emerson combining some of its industrial IoT software businesses with AspenTech in an $11 billion transaction. We explain why the deal matters and what it means, before hopping over to discuss Best Buy’s acquisition of Current Health. Then we review large funding rounds for Plume and Magic Leap. On the product news front, AT&T will provide connectivity for Blues Wireless, Tile’s new trackers have Ultrawideband, and Ecobee has added Siri support for its voice thermostat. Apple is also thinking about health sensors inside its AirPods, although this has been a dream of headphone companies for years, and Amazon Alexa has new Halloween routines. I’m less excited about the routine and more excited that Amazon has found an easy mechanism to share routines. We close out the news segment of the show by answering a listener question about smart devices for woodworking workshops.

Tile uses AR to help find your lost objects. Image courtesy of Tile.

Our guest this week is Jim Carroll, who is the CEO of Sendal, a fairly new smart home company that wants to create services built on the backs of popular connected devices. We discuss the planned business model, why people will pay for good user experiences in the smart home, and how to share revenue among many device makers. We also get Carroll’s perspective on the smart home from his time as the CEO of Savant until now. Like me, he’s disappointed at where we’re at and hopes to change it. We then discuss how you can differentiate a true IoT company from a hardware company, and how to graduate from thinking like a device maker to a services company. It’s a fun interview, and I always enjoy a good Boston accent.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jim Carroll, CEO of Sendal
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Why Emerson’s deal with AspenTech matters for the industrial IoT
  • Best Buy aims to be the connected device integrator for remote healthcare
  • Why Magic Leap got more money
  • After Savant, this is the smart home problem Jim Carroll wants to solve
  • Are you a real IoT company or just a pusher of connected hardware?

 

 

Episode 340: Amazon wants you to trust its devices

This week’s podcast is all about Amazon (with a few other stories for variety). We start the show with a rundown of the devices and services Amazon launched at its device drop on Tuesday. We then explain what it means for the smart home and ask if this is what we want. We also question if the Astro robot is really all it seems before offering a public service announcement about updating to iOS 15 beta software. After that, we cover a new Helium miner called Finestra, designed for the mainstream consumer. As an added bonus, the company behind the new miner, Mimiq, is also building LoRaWAN devices, which is desperately needed if we want these networks to actually provide real value. After that, we talk about a smaller satellite signal module that works indoors and an incredibly irritating marketing campaign for the new Flic Twist device that puts me off from what is actually a good idea. Then, Kevin talks about his experience with the new Wyze Cam Pan 2. We close the news segment by answering a listener request for a Spanish-speaking smart home.

Amazon launched a $1,000 robot. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week continues the Amazon theme. We have Anne Toth, head of Alexa Trust to discuss how Amazon is trying to introduce friction into the Alexa experience as a way to promote privacy and help consumers open up to Alexa at their own pace. She didn’t answer my question about the number of false positives or give me a convincing reason why Alexa keeps interrupting me with suggestions about other things I can do with the device, but she does a good job talking about the challenges of explaining what Alexa does and doesn’t know about people and why people may want Alexa to know more. It’s a good interview, even if I didn’t get all the information I’d like.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anne Toth, Head of Alexa Trust at Amazon
SponsorsTrek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Ambient intelligence is code for stop looking at your smartphone
  • There’s a looming wave of new Helium miners
  • Flic has a cool new device coming, but finding out about it is annoying
  • Amazon does care what you think about privacy
  • Alexa talks back so you know all of the cool things it can do

Episode 339: Much ado about privacy and support

This week’s show kicks off with the news of the Raspberry Pi Trading company closing a new funding round of $45 million. We talk about what the Pi Trading company is, how it relates to the Foundation, and how companies are building Pis. We then dig into Apple’s plans for healthcare, including plans for tracking mental illness. Plus, we give an update on what iOS 15 means for HomePods. Helium’s network expands, or rather Senet’s LoRaWAN network expands thanks to a deal with Helium, and Inmarsat provides some context about how COVID-19 is driving adoption for IoT connectivity technologies. Arlo has updated its support options, and we hate them. Facebook has introduced new devices, and we’re kind of meh on them. But Wyze has a new camera that pans, and we’re into that. Then we talk about Kevin switching to the Meross HomeKit garage door opener. We also answer a listener question about the newly launched Home Assistant Amber device on the IoT Podcast Hotline.

Home Assistant has introduced a new hardware concept called the Amber, but if you order now it won’t be delivered until November 2022. Image courtesy of Home Assistant.

This week’s guest is Leo Simonovich, the head of industrial and cyber at Siemens Energy.  He and I talk about the threats facing the grid, especially as we add renewables and more two-way devices. He also points out that while the media focuses a lot on nation-state attacks, issues like ransomware and other threats are far more likely and damaging. Siemens Energy recently announced a new security product, so he explains how the company is closing the divide between IT and OT while also adding credence to the idea that we need to watch how devices behave in the real world and not just on the network when it comes to security monitoring.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Leon Simonovitch, Siemens Energy
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • You may be surprised by who’s buying Raspberry Pis
  • Do you want an algorithm to diagnose mental illnesses?
  • Arlo’s new support plan is anti-consumer
  • Why the energy grid is such a reliable target for malicious hackers
  • Siemens is using digital twins to help secure the grid

Episode 338: Wyze comes back from the edge

I need to warn y’all in advance that we don’t discuss Apple news at all this week because nothing really jumped out at us for the IoT. But we did have a lot of other big news starting with Wyze raising $100 million and sharing the precariousness of its situation over the last 18 months. We then talk about a political risk for Tuya and what that might mean for your devices, and three pieces of news from Silicon Labs’ Works With event that have big implications for radios, Matter, and security. After the chip news, Kevin sets the record straight on a story that got Matter wrong, I get excited by new chips coming out of a stealthy startup, and there’s an acquisition that will help developers work with more IoT devices.  Google has a new digital twin service for supply chains, Whoop has a new fitness wearable with a fancy battery, and Yale added HomeKit support for its cabinet lock. We end the segment by answering a listener question about new smart home cameras.

The Luci device fits onto existing power wheelchairs. Image courtesy of Luci.

Our guest this week is Jered Dean, who is a co-founder and CTO of Luci, a startup making a smart addition for power wheelchairs. First, Dean explains why power wheelchairs are so dangerous and why he created Luci. Then we dive into other challenges of building specialized millimeter-wave radar sensors for the device and specialized ultrasonic sensors and how challenging it is to combine those sensors and cameras into one view of the world. We also talk about why Dean added integrations to connect Luci with health monitoring platforms and digital assistants. And finally,  we talk about what it could mean if Luci shared data about what it “sees” with smart city or mapping platforms. I really had fun with this one.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jered Dean, co-founder and CTO of Luci
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Wyze shares the details of its near-death experience
  • Silicon Labs has new radios, a new security option and software for a unified smart home
  • JFrog’s Upswift buy is good news for the IoT
  • Why this startup had to build its own sensors to see the world
  • How smart cities could help people using smarter wheelchairs

 

 

Episode 333: An IoT networking bonanza

Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellite broadband company is getting into the IoT with the acquisition of Swarm, a smallsat IoT connectivity provider. We talk about that deal, plus what it means that Helium scored $111 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. After that, we talk about malvertising infiltrating the IoT and the Samsung smartwatch that launched Wednesday. We also discuss the creation of a virtual border wall built with surveillance tech and facial recognition. In other news, Wyze has a new camera option, there’s a connected sump pump on the market, and Legrand is using Netatmo’s tech to launch battery-powered light switches that can control pre-installed Legrand dimmers and switches, allowing them to work as a remote control for existing switches. Finally, we answer a listener question about older Insteon gear and telnet.

Legrand’s new battery-powered switches can act as a remote for existing Legrand switches in the home. Image courtesy of Legrand. 

Our guest this week is Rob Aitken, a fellow and director of technology at Arm, who came on the show to discuss the new priorities in designing chips now that Moore’s Law is less of a driver for innovations in silicon. His argument is that price-performance per watt is the new focus for designers, although flexibility and cost still matter a lot. We talk about the drivers for chip innovation in the past and he also shares his thoughts on a future where chip design is less focused on the latest process node, and embraces older alternatives. This might also help us mitigate some of the problems associated with the chip shortage. Aitken packs a lot of insights into his interview, and you’ll learn something even if you aren’t a huge chip nerd.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Aitken, a fellow and director of technology at Arm
Sponsors: Very

  • Why Swarm got snapped up by SpaceX
  • Helium’s 5G network needs more details
  • Samsung’s new smartwatch isn’t bad
  • Why Moore’s Law matters less
  • Chip designers have more freedom to play without Moore’s Law

 

Episode 330: Amazon’s Matter plans and how IoT helps first responders

This week we got great news on the Matter front, as Amazon announced its plans for supporting the smart home interoperability protocol on most of its Echo devices. We talk about new features for Alexa developers before talking about new research from ARM showing a 32-bit ARM-based chip printed on flexible plastic. We then turned to a discussion of Qualcomm’s attempts to build something for wearables and plans for a new smart lighting platform from Nokia. (Actually, the platform is from Smartlabs Inc. which makes the Insteon brand and has now launched Nokia-branded smart lighting products.) We also focused a bit on industrial IoT security with the results from MITRE’s testing of several industrial IoT security platforms including Armis, Dragos, and Microsoft. We also mentioned Samsung’s upcoming Unpacked event that you can watch on August 11. Then we ended by answering a listener question about creating a sunrise/sunset-based schedule for Wyze lighting outside the native app.

The Nokia smart lighting keypad switch will sell for $59.99. Image courtesy of Smartlabs Inc.

Our guest this week is Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS, a company that provides software to 9-1-1 providers that lets phones, cars, and IoT devices send sensor data to 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 infrastructure has been having trouble adapting to the end of stable location data provided by landlines and the adoption of cell phones, so when people call for help on a cell phone, 9-1-1 agents can have trouble getting their location. RapidSOS has deals with Apple and Google to use a phone’s GPS to share location and is also working with clients in the vehicle space and now in the smart home to bring in new sources of data for emergency workers. Martin talks about what sensors would be most useful for first responders and what the future might entail. It’s a good glimpse of how the smart home might help people in the years ahead.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Almost all Amazon Echo devices will support Matter
  • What could you do with flexible electronics?
  • Welcome the Nokia brand to the smart lighting world
  • Why you might want to send your health data to 911
  • Smart cameras, cars, and wearables would help first responders

Episode 329: Radar is coming to the smart home

Welcome to another show! We’re spending the first few minutes of the show diving into the rise of RF sensing in the IoT, covering the news of Amazon applying for an FCC waiver to use radar for sleep tracking, the FCC creating a notice of proposed rulemaking to use the 60 GHz spectrum for radar, and a deep dive into other technologies in the 60 GHz spectrum such as ultrawideband and even Wi-Fi sensing. Then we talk about Ring’s end-to-end video encryption, right to repair news, and how to use local control on the Amazon Echo. Our news bits include stories about Google, an IIoT vulnerability, new light strips from Wyze, and Motorola Solutions planning to buy Openpath. We end by answering a listener question about Wyze.

The latest generation Google Nest hub uses radar to track sleep. Soon, we could see the tech in more devices around the home and in cars. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Chris Grove, product evangelist at Nozomi Networks, who is on the show to discuss a new report detailing the escalation of ransomware attacks across several industries. He also talks about how the recent spate of ransomware attacks has and will continue to affect manufacturing operations. He breaks down how attacks on IT networks can affect operations networks and he offers some advice on how governments and companies can mitigate the harm of ransomware attacks. One suggestion I found worth noting was his idea that more companies start adopting separate Safety Instrumented Systems,  which are separate networks that monitor and can shut down other network systems in case of an error. It’s a really informative interview for those who want to understand more about the demands of OT systems and what they can teach us about IT security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Grove, product evangelist at Nozomi Networks
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Want to understand everything you need to know about radar?
  • Biden’s right-to-repair rules target smart farming equipment
  • In which we discover Alexa has local control options
  • Why IT folks should know more about safety instrumented systems
  • Cameras are everywhere, and they are still pretty vulnerable

Episode 311: How P&G’s plans for smart products evolved

This week’s show has a security focus with us discussing the Verkada hack, a new security camera from Abode, which basically puts expensive IP cameras on notice, and recommendations from Consumer Reports on helping victims of domestic abuse lock down their devices and services. We then talk about a rumored Alexa robot, a new Raspberry Pi chip designed for TinyML, the new State of Edge report from LF Edge, and Honeywell’s latest smart building acquisition. On the new products and services front, we cover Best Buy’s plan to sell fall detection and emergency services using the Apple Watch, the Sonos Roam, and a new air sensor from Airthings that detects particular matter. Kevin shares his opinion about the Logitech Circle View Doorbell as he continues to deploy HomeKit in his home. We close by answering a listener question about sensors for small businesses.

Airthings View Plus will track particulate matter and will cost $299. Image courtesy of Airthings.

This week’s guest is Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures. She and I discuss how P&G Ventures operates and what sorts of products they are interested in bringing to market. We talk about how the phone can help create a new relationship with a consumer, even if the product isn’t connected. We also discuss what P&G has learned from its previous forays into connected devices and how that influences Procter & Gamble going forward. I like the holistic view they are taking around smarts, consumer products, and respecting the user’s time and experience. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures
Sponsor: Switch Always On

  • This camera hack is a good example of why MFA rocks
  • Companies will spend $800 billion on edge computing from 2019-2028
  • Are we going back to Sonos with the new Roam Bluetooth speaker?
  • How P&G Ventures works and what it’s looking for
  • P&G is using the smartphone to change its relationship with customers