Episode 371: Smart screws and massive IoT

This week’s show was recorded a few hours before the annual Google I/O event so we didn’t discuss the new Pixel Watch, but we do discuss Google’s thoughts on the Matter smart home standard from an article in The Verge, which Kevin also tied to a discussion about Sonos launching its own voice assistant. Then we discussed a new gesture-recognition and fall-detection system that combines my love of Tiny ML with RF sensing. In privacy news, we focused on the use of private data by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and why we need stronger laws to govern how state agencies use private data. In smaller news, Qualcomm launched a 5G-capable robotics platform, Inmarsat launches a program to sell its Elera satellite IoT network, and Augury acquires Seebo in an industrial IoT deal. We then turn to my favorite story of the week, the creation of smart screws and a bit on the concepts of Massive IoT. We then discuss a question from a listener about the potential to create ad-hoc mesh networks using LoRaWAN or Amazon’s Sidewalk network.

Vivint’s new doorbell camera will detect package thefts and sound an alarm when it happens. Image courtesy of Vivint.

Our guest this week is Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint. This week, Vivint launched an array of new security cameras and accessories as well as a new feature called smart deter. Child is on the show to talk about the design decisions that went into building the new gear as well as what Vivint had to consider when trying to design its smart deter feature. We discuss why it’s important to own your own hardware when building novel AI-based services and what companies need to consider when evaluating partners for future integrations. He also explains why Vivint wasn’t ready to give consumers the ability to record just any message for intruders on their property. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google and others trying to reset expectations for Matter
  • Why this industrial IoT mashup makes sense
  • Smart screws are why we need tech for massive IoT
  • Why Vivint invested in an AI feature to deter criminals
  • Why building your own hardware is essential for advanced AI features

Episode 368: So long Insteon

This week we start the show with the end of Insteon, which is probably the biggest smart home story this week. We talked about what we know (which isn’t much) and why saving cloud-based smart home services is not as easy as escrowing code and hoping a community continues to support the product. In other bad business news, the company that purchased LIFX has hired a consulting firm to explore a possible sale. We also get an update on the total number of smart homes in Europe and the U.S. It’s more than I thought. In small product news, Wyze has a new door lock and Senet has expanded its partnership with Helium to expand its low-power wide-area network. We didn’t have a voicemail this week because we wanted to provide options for Insteon users who have been left out in the cold.

A three-gang Brilliant switch is $499.99, but it’s pretty powerful. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Aaron Emigh, CEO of Brilliant, who is on the show to discuss Brilliant’s plan to sell its smart home control system to DIYers, builders, and apartment owners. Brilliant makes a smart home control system that’s packed into a light switch with the lighting control, a screen, cameras, and microphones. Emigh shares why Brilliant exists and how it’s trying to meet the market’s need for smart home controls that are easier for the mainstream to work with. We also discuss business models, Matter, and the end of Insteon for an interview that covers a lot of the big issues associated with the smart home today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Aaron Emigh, CEO of Brilliant
Sponsors: Impinj and InfluxData

  • Insteon is dead so what do you do?
  • What is happening at LIFX?
  • The chip shortage strikes the Helium network.
  • Why Brilliant teamed up with Resideo to combine the home’s OT and IT systems
  • What can other device companies learn from Insteon?

Episode 364: Speed queens and Matter dreams

A week after the CSA said that the Matter smart home interoperability standard would be delayed we get a chance to talk about why the standard is delayed until fall, and what it means for consumers and smart home device makers. We then share Omdia data on how much ownership of different smart home devices has grown in the last year and explain what new design and privacy tweaks are coming to the Google Home app. In security-oriented news we share how radar might keep secured spaces clear of people and the latest CISA and FBI alert for infrastructure companies and satellite companies worried about cyberattacks. We then showcase how a new factory 5G network in Lexington, Kentucky deploying a private 5G network might signal the actual beginnings of 5G adoption in other manufacturing settings. In other wireless news, I reviewed the Eero Pro 6E routers mostly because I’m excited about 1,200 MHz of new spectrum for Wi-Fi. Finally, we answer a listener question about the Level Home locks and if it might get support for Apple’s HomeKey.

Omdia chart showing adoption of various smart home gadgets in the last year.

Our guest this week is Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI. Hawkinson is likely familiar to listeners as the founder and former CEO of SmartThings, the smart home platform purchased by Samsung. At his latest company, Hawkinson is continuing to try to add intelligence to the world by taking sensor data and turning it to insights. Only this time, he’s trying to tackle the challenge with more AI and an enterprise focus. We talk about what BrightAI is trying to do and how it ties back to Hawkinson’s history at SmartThings. He explains how BrightAI client CSC Serviceworks uses the internet of things to modernize its operations leading to a 10% to 20% growth in revenue. The case study is impressive, as is the vision of helping lots of older companies retrofit their operations with connected sensors and AI. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • What it means that Matter is delayed again
  • The Google Home app is getting a redesign
  • Will 2022 and 2023 be the year 5G makes it in manufacturing?
  • How to turn 100,000 Speed Queens into smart washers
  • What’s next in sensor tech?

Episode 363: How will DST affect the IoT?

This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would make it possible for states to use Daylight Saving Time all year round, so we discuss what it means for IoT devices and whether or not it will be a return to Y2K. For current crises, we cover China’s latest COVID outbreak and what it means for the supply chain. We then talk about ARM’s layoffs and Google’s new design for Google Home. In privacy news, Carnegie Melon researchers have shown how sensors can easily figure out what people are doing based on their movements. We also cover funding for Copper Labs, an energy intelligence company, the first development board for Wi-Fi HaLow, the first device that will use Z-Wave long range, IKEA’s new smart shades, and a new gun safe from Wyze. For the IoT Podcast Hotline, we tackle a listener question about Wi-Fi switches that don’t require formal wiring.

The Wyze gun safe is $154.99. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Beau Legeer, the director of imagery and remote sensing from GIS software provider Esri. He explains the infrastructure behind the maps we use every day and then talk about how companies are using satellites as part of their IoT sensing infrastructure. Most of us are aware of the potential for using satellite imagery to track all kinds of things, but satellites are launching now that measure heat, various gases and more. We talk about why putting sensors in the sky can help augment those on the ground or supplant them. We also talk about using satellite data as a trigger. And if you’re a startup, we talk about Esri’s partnerships with startups and charities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Legeer, director of imagery and remote sensing, Esri
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • Will year-round daylight saving time affect the IoT?
  • Here comes the Nvidia/ARM merger failure fallout
  • Two new wireless standards hit the real world
  • See something on satellite? Trigger a drone!
  • Satellite can provide more than just image data

Episode 362: IoT security after Russia invaded Ukraine

This week’s show spends a lot of time on security in everything from an Amazon Echo to an infusion pump. But before we get to security stats, we offer a quick overview of Apple’s latest announcements. Then we pivot to discuss the Critical Infrastructure Defense Project, a series of free services enterprises can use to help protect their operations from attack. We also outline some vulnerabilities found in PTC’s Axeda remote management software and research showing that many infusion pumps have existing vulnerabilities. Finally, we discuss research showing that some popular consumer devices might be using vulnerable OpenSSL encryption technology. Then we talk about the end of another French unlicensed low-power wide area network and Space Force adding wearables to ensure the members of Space Force are fit. We also talk about a new predictive maintenance service from Xerox PARC called Novity. We close the news section by answering a listener question about getting rid of your old IoT devices while respecting your friends and the environment.

Space Force Guardians will wear wearable devices to track their physical fitness. Photo taken by Airman 1st Class Samuel Becker and provided by the U.S. Space Force.

Our guest this week is Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe, a cybersecurity firm. Bort is a former U.S. Army officer and a co-founder of the non-profit

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • Three tech firms get together to offer free cybersecurity tools
  • What isn’t vulnerable nowadays?
  • Are employee-mandated wearables okay if being fit is your job?
  • How ransomware fits into the invasion of Ukraine
  • How to shore up your cyber defenses in times of war (and peace)

Episode 361: IoT builds a better mousetrap

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion about smarter robots and new funding for a Canadian general purpose robotics platform. Then we talk about Amazon’s further healthcare ambitions in a deal with Teledoc that lets you ask Alexa to call a doctor. We also give an update on the Sigfox receivership process since bids were due on Feb 25. We then hit some bad news from Wyze regarding its professional monitoring subscriptions and the recall of 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic watches. We also have a lot of new product news starting with Lutron’s new honeycomb smart shades, a smart mosquito-killing system, a new HomeKit and HomeKey-compatible lock and a review from Kevin on a connected mousetrap. We end the show by answering a listener question about reliable smart lighting options and the best HomeKit gadgets for those new to the ecosystem.

Thermacell’s new Liv mosquito-repelling system works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Image courtesy of Thermacell.

Our guest this week is Bob Marshall, the CEO of Whisker Labs. the company behind the Ting fire detection device. Marshall has been working with sensor data for more than a decade, so we talk about his earlier company and where the idea for Ting came from. We also discuss how to get in business with insurance companies and why Ting has elected to build a subscription business. We also discuss what types of service you need to provide if you do plan to charge a subscription. I like the Ting device, so was excited to chat with Marshall. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bob Marshall, CEO of Whisker Labs
SponsorsSomfy and Pantacor

  • Sanctuary feels like a moonshot, not a startup
  • Alexa can connect you to medical care
  • Murder mice humanely with a smarter mouse trap
  • How Ting built a business built on insurance companies
  • How Marshall pivoted from weather to fire prevention

Episode 359: Meet the man who “invented” the IoT back in 1985

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has finally released its plans for securing the IoT, so we discuss what the plans are for a consumer-oriented cybersecurity label. We then give a quick update on the Sigfox receivership and Intel’s plan to purchase Tower Semiconductor before spending a large chunk of time on Apple’s AirTags and how ubiquitous and cheap trackers change the game for privacy. We share new subscription plan revenue data for the manufacturing sector and for IoT devices, and unsurprisingly the folks at Zuora are optimistic. We then share some details on Anthony Levandowski’s plans to build a peer-to-peer cellular network for self-driving vehicles that looks a lot like Helium, and a sad story about bionic eyes made by a company that is going out of business. We end by answering a listener question about smart controls for 220-volt or 240-volt outdoor heaters.

Apple is trying to prevent folks from abusing AirTags to stalk people.

Our guest this week is Peter Lewis, who was a co-founder of Cellular One and the originator of the term “Internet of Things.” Lewis coined the term and described the connection between wireless sensors, cellular networks, and the internet, all the way back in 1985 during a speech he gave to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 15th Annual Legislative Weekend in Washington, D.C. This week, you can hear the relevant segment of the speech and he shares why he was so eager to get things connected to the Internet 37 years ago. He also talks about what surprised him as the IoT really gained ground and discusses what he’s doing today. This is a great history lesson that everyone should know.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Peter Lewis, originator of the term “Internet of Things”
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • What does NIST want for consumer IoT security? We tell you.
  • Who’s bidding for Sigfox?
  • Why Apple’s AirTags are such a problem
  • The IoT was created by a cellular executive to gain new subscribers
  • What the creator of the phrase “internet of things” didn’t see coming

Episode 357: Too many companies are paying ransomware

This week we kick off the show with an explainer on Sigfox’s receivership before delving into grim news from Claroty, a cybersecurity firm.  Claroty surveyed 1,100 IT and OT (operational technology) pros and discovered that three out of five of them worked at companies that paid up after a ransomware attack. I can’t believe it, but the research offers compelling reasons why. We then move over to some Matter news, starting with an update from Assa Abloy on backward compatibility for its Yale locks, and concluding with an update from Nanoleaf, which is delaying some of its products thanks to Matter being delayed. We then cover Walmart teaming up with Angi to install some smart home products for consumers as part of the rush to invest in smart devices that we discussed last week with Angi’s CEO. In quick news, we talk about a new IoT satellite service, an acquisition by connected health company Withings, and Peloton’s new $90 smart heart rate monitor. We conclude the show with a good idea from one of our listeners who set up a sort of call system using Wyze outlets and smart bulbs.

Withings purchased a subscription workout app to add to its wellness hardware. Image courtesy of Withings.

Our guest this week is Simon van der Jagt, CEO of Nowi. Nowi makes an energy harvesting chip that is easier to use in a variety of sensors. We talk about why, before moving to a discussion of plug and forget devices, and what those will entail. The idea is that companies can build energy-harvesting sensors that could last for the life of a road or container or other product, and thus we can forget about them. We also talk about trends in designing chips for the IoT such as sales challenges and the growing demand for highly specific chips that can consume the least amount of power while getting the work done. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Simon van der Jagt, CEO of Nowi
SponsorsRightpoint and Hologram

  • What led to Sigfox’s “bankruptcy”
  • You’ll never believe the size of these ransoms
  • Is Matter causing product delays?
  • What kind of chips does the IoT need?
  • Let’s design plug and forget devices

Episode 355: Get ready for an active FTC and energy storing appliances

The big story this week in IoT was the joint venture between Ford and ADT to add smart home security to cars through an in-vehicle security system. Then we discuss the FTC and Department of Justice reconsidering how they evaluate mergers. We also explain variations on Wi-Fi, from the launch of new Wi-Fi 6E gear to the coming Wi-Fi 7 standard. We include a blast from the past with an update on Misty Robotics and, in other robot news, we cover research from the MIT Media Lab on giving robotics a personality. We’re also sharing news about energy harvesting Bluetooth company Atmosic, which has a new product and $72 million in funding. In smaller news, we are excited about smart home company Tado going public, and a new way of handling IR sensing that could figure out the nutritional value of food. We stick with the food topic by discussing my latest purchase, a smart induction range from GE Appliances. Finally, we listen to a question from Kevin in St. Louis about using Amazon Sidewalk or LoRaWAN in wearables.

Furhat Robotics has acquired Misty Robotics for better social robotics. Image courtesy of Furhat. 

Our guest this week is Kailas Nair, a co-founder and director at Plentify. The South African startup is trying to help power companies store energy generated by renewable sources for later use by home appliances. Nair discusses how his startup is trying to use sensors and data analysis to make it possible to power a fridge, a heat pump, or a water heater when power is cheap and clean, for use when renewable energy isn’t available. He also explains how important it is to manage energy across many homes, not just on an individual basis. For the last five years, Plentify has sold its electronics and algorithms for water heaters in South Africa, and now he’s bringing the tech to the U.S. and hoping to convince appliance manufacturers to put the Plentify tech into their own products.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kalais Nair, co-founder and director at Plentify
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Canopy will bring smart home security to cars
  • U.S. merger guidelines are set to change
  • Let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7
  • Smart appliances will become a source of stored energy
  • How Plentify will use insurers and utilities to bring energy storage to homes

Episode 354: Google’s Soli pivot and Amazon’s Sidewalk news

This week Google reminded us that we don’t actually own our connected products when it removed functionality from grouped Nest speakers after losing a patent case filed by Sonos. Amazon’s Sidewalk network is getting a boost and this should spark a really interesting fight between LoRaWAN and Sidewalk in the coming years. We then talk about why sensors should have standards or maybe just a certification body for calibration, pay-what-you-want plans for IoT services, and Google’s surprise pivot around its Soli radar technology. The chip shortage has made it tough for Canon to find the silicon used to enforce its digital rights management that locks people into buying Canon toner cartridges, and we love to see it. In other news, researchers can detect malware using a Raspberry Pi and electromagnetic frequencies, Abbott Labs is getting into consumer wearables that track glucose and ketones, Netatmo launches its first Thread sensor, and Wind River will be acquired for $4.3 billion. Finally, we take listener feedback on accessibility and update an answer about Wi-Fi sensors.

Abbott Labs is launching a new line of wearables for measuring glucose, ketones, and more. Image courtesy of Abbott Labs.

Our guest this week is Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance, which launched last week at CES. Choi joins me to discuss the reason the HCA exists, how it’s recruiting new members and why we want our appliances to interoperate. He addresses questions about security, why the HCA is promoting cloud-to-cloud integrations instead of local ones, and if the HCA wants to work with the Matter protocol. It’s still unclear what the HCA wants to produce in terms of APIs or certifications, but it’s clear that the companies involved recognize that collaboration will be essential for building worthwhile intelligence into washers, dryers, HVAC systems, TVs, and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Google loses Sonos patent spat, but so do consumers
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk plans set up a low-power wide-area network fight
  • Has Google given up on Soli?
  • What exactly is the HCA trying to create?
  • Why the HCA is embracing a cloud-to-cloud strategy