Episode 337: Blast off with IoT in space

This week we kick off the show discussing several smart devices that might provide a modicum of security or comfort in case of weather disasters associated with climate change. After that, we start the long goodbye to 3G and discuss how companies are reacting. And for those who are keeping track of algorithmic accountability efforts, California has a new law that could be better in my humble opinion. We also talk about the security woes for the IoT as covered by a report out from Kaspersky, before talking about some new products including a new Z-wave home hub for HomeKit, a smart dog collar, Home Depot’s new smart home app, and a prospective gun safe from Wyze. And speaking of security, there is big news in the access control space with Chamberlain getting purchased by Blackstone for $5 billion and Assa Abloy buying the company behind Kwikset and Baldwin locks.

The Halo dog collar is pricey but pretty smart. Image courtesy of Halo.

Our guest this week takes us beyond the edge of the earth’s atmosphere with Charlie Kindel, a former executive at Microsoft, Amazon, and Control4, who is now advising companies who are working in space. We talk about how there’s a new economic flywheel driving investment in space communications and research and how that can be an advantage for the IoT. Those advantages aren’t simply related to communications and providing connectivity for sensors on Earth. Kindel gets excited about the ways researchers building networks for IoT can apply some of those learning to communications in space, where innovations are sorely needed. It’s a really fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Charlie Kindel
Sponsors:  Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Devices that might help you as climate change wracks havoc on the weather
  • How I think we should regulate algorithmic accountability
  • Consolidation hits the access control market
  • Space is the final frontier for IoT
  • Why investment in space is speeding up

Episode 336: Australia’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad surveillance law

We start this week’s show with a look at a new surveillance law in Australia that seemingly obliterates a lot of protections around how law enforcement officials can access data and what they can do with it. We also talk about a survey conducted in the U.S. that shows how willing many Americans are to share their data in exchange for cheaper insurance. From there we cover new fundings for Brilliant, Wirepas, and Carbon Robotics. For those eager for an update on Helium’s 5G plans, the Freedom Fi hotspots will hit the market on Sept. 28. We also have updates on new products and features from the maker of Philips Hue devices, Spotify, Google, and Amazon Alexa. We end with a question from David about how to avoid the problems associated with adding new devices or hubs to his smart home network.

Brilliant, the maker of smart home light switches, has raised $40 million. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes, a company that leases single-family homes. He’s on the show to discuss how Invitation Homes plans to add smart devices to its portfolio of 80,000 homes and to talk about the challenges of managing that many devices. We discuss the future of predictive maintenance across the portfolio, the savings the company has already achieved, and plans for new features such as video doorbells. We also talk about the perceived longevity for different device types in the smart home. And of course, we talk about how the company handles privacy.  It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes
Sponsors:  Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • In Australia, your data can be modified and searched by law enforcement
  • Alternative 5G networks and smart home devices raise VC funds
  • Alexa and Google both get new features
  • Why Invitation Homes thinks the smart home could help it be more efficient
  • It’s pretty difficult to manage 80,000 smart homes

 

 

Episode 335: Robots need a Myers-Briggs type

This week’s show starts off with old news that I forgot to tell y’all about last week: The Matter interoperability standard for the smart home is delayed until 2022. We talk about what that means and then turn to Google’s confusing fitness wearable strategy and the new Fitbit Charge 5 device. After that, we discuss human-computer interfaces and a new OT security report out from Honeywell. We also share an update on the Qi wireless power standard and I get angry about the Telsa robot marketing stunt designed to stop us from talking about the safety issues associated with the investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I end with a review of the Nest Cam and Nest Doorbell devices that are now each available for $179.99. We close the news segment with a question from a listener about buttons to turn off connected lights.

Surely, this understates the actual breaches, right? Image courtesy of Honeywell.

This week’s guest is Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan. He published a paper this month discussing how robots should best rebuild trust with humans after making a mistake. The paper is really interesting, and we spend a portion of this segment discussing why we need to trust robots and what is classified as a robot. From there we talk about the personality characteristics that Robert believes will work for different robots based on their form factors, their jobs, and the people they work with. We even talk about the ethics of making robots too trustworthy. It’s a lot of fun.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Google’s wellness and wearables strategy is super messed up
  • Kevin thinks your IoT products should offer real-time feedback
  • Google’s new Nest cameras are good for Google homes, but there are other options
  • Should this robot be an ESTJ  or an INTJ?
  • What even is a robot, anyway?

Episode 334: SmartThings’ new edge strategy

Welcome to this week’s episode! We kick it off with a discussion of SmartThing’s new focus on the edge with local control and user-derived device handlers. We then dive into four security stories starting with a flaw in the software development kit (SDK) for a Wi-Fi module, challenges with random number generation on IoT devices, and a flaw in an SDK by ThroughTek Kalay that affects smart cameras. We reserve most of our frustration, though, for BlackBerry, which had learned of a flaw in its QNX operating system and decided not to patch it. It was a pretty bad week for IoT security. But we did get some fun news. The Industrial IoT Consortium has changed its name and tweaked its focus to spend more time on business process and not just the IIoT tech, and Inmarsat plans to launch a new satellite network for IoT devices next year. We also discuss Google’s Fuschia OS appearing on more Nest devices. We end the segment by answering a listener question about the Span smart electrical panel.

The Otii Arc device measures power consumption. Image courtesy of Qoitech.

Our guest this week is part of a mini-theme focused on sustainability in the IoT. Last week, we heard about a new emphasis on price performance per watt from an Arm executive. This week, Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech, visits the show to discuss adding power consumption measurements throughout the product and software design process. Samuelsson discusses common energy-draining behaviors that they can address when measuring power consumption through their design process and talks about customers such as Deutsche Telekom, which encourages developers to perform power analysis to help prevent poorly behaving devices on its network. Given how much I hate changing my batteries in sensors or recharging my wearables, I hope everyone listens to what she has to say.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech
Sponsors: Very

  • SmartThings has a new strategy that DIY users should love
  • A bonanza of flaws in the IoT. Some won’t ever get fixed.
  • Why not launch another IoT satellite service?
  • How to avoid choosing the wrong battery for your device
  • Even wired devices should become more power-aware

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 332: The IoT gets a good idea and a bad idea

This week, news slowed down a bit so Kevin and I kick off the show talking about a connected manual device to physically press buttons or twist dials as needed to turn older appliances “smart.” After praising that idea we panned Amazon’s new soap dispenser for having a Wi-Fi chip that’s really underused. In other Seattle news, Wyze, the makers of so many connected devices, has raised $110 million from a venture firm associated with Jay-Z and IKEA launches an air-purifying side table. Sure. Philips Hue plans to launch a slightly brighter color-changing (and tunable white) bulb while Home Assistant has added energy-monitoring features as part of its latest update. We also talk about the creation of Alphabet’s industrial robot software startup Intrinsic and what innovation in robotics software could enable and end with Kevin’s take on the U.S. being behind in smart cities.

IKEA’s new air purifier is built into the side table. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped, who is on the show explaining why smart buildings are getting more attention lately.  We talk about what matters for real estate with the ongoing pandemic (I can no longer bring myself to say Post-COVID, y’all) and a renewed focus on energy savings. For the nerds, we cover technologies and data layers such as Haystack, Brick, and Microsoft’s Real Estate Core for building digital twins. He also shares his thoughts on how buyers are maturing when it comes to evaluating the security of their tech purchases. It seems buyers are asking more questions and better questions, which can only be a good thing. I agree.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped
Sponsors: Very

  • We have a good idea/bad idea segment this week
  • Wyze has $110 million in new funding for AI
  • Home Assistant gets energy monitoring as a feature
  • Why smart buildings are having a moment
  • Which standards matter for smart buildings

 

Episode 328: The IoT is a privacy nightmare and more 5G

Imagine all of the potential problems associated with the internet of things, and then settle in, because I think we talk about all of them in this episode. We start by detailing research out of Northeastern University that shows old data isn’t deleted from hardware-reset Amazon Echo devices and then discuss a class action lawsuit going ahead against Google’s digital assistant. We toss in a disturbing stat from Microsoft and a school that’s deploying facial recognition to round it out. We also devote time to Facebook’s synthetic training environment for home robots, ADT suing Vivint, and  Brilliant’s connected light switches getting HomeKit support. Kevin also reviews the Wyze lock. We end by answering a listener question about developer access on Amazon’s Sidewalk network.

Brilliant’s smart lights. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Teppo Hemiä, the CEO of Wirepas. Hemiä explains what massive IoT is and where Wirepas’ network fits in with other IoT networks such as those from Amazon, Apple, or even proprietary industrial options. Instead of the physical radios, Wirepas makes a distributed, mesh network software that can run on other company’s radios. Hemiä shares some customer stories from a hospital and from a ball-bearing manufacturer to show the benefits of having access to a cheap, scalable connectivity layer. He then tries to explain how Wirepas technology is part of a new DECT-2020 new radio standard that was adopted by the ITU for 5G deployments. It’s a bit confusing but could lead to a non-cellular technology used as part of 5G networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Teppo Hemiä, the CEO of Wirepas
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Researchers discover a privacy flaw in Echo devices
  • Wait, how many requests for user data does Microsoft get each day?
  • Can we train robots to handle the real world in virtual spaces?
  • What the heck is massive IoT?
  • How a non-3GPP standard is breaking into 5G

Episode 326: It’s about ethics in smart devices

Kevin and I start this week’s show with a discussion of his Amazon Prime Day purchases and then talk about the kerfuffle over smart thermostats and demand-response energy programs in Texas. I happened to be there at the time, and there is a definite right and wrong way to enroll people in the program. We also mentioned a more egregious example of digital overreach with Massachusettes pushing COVID-tracking apps to Android devices. After that, we explain Senator Amy Klobuchar’s interest in the Matter smart home protocol,  Arm’s confidential compute plans and share plans for a new LoRaWAN network. We round out the rest of the show with an update on Ecobee thermostat’s smarts and new devices from Wyze. We close by answering a listener question about the Ting fire safety device.

Ecobee participates in demand response programs such as those that caused frustration in Texas. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Mary Beth Hall, director of wireless strategy and marketing with Panasonic. We dig into the reality of 5G deployments inside manufacturing plants and what it will take to actually see real deployments instead of mere pilots. She’s responsible for putting 5G inside Panasonic’s line of Toughbook handheld computers used in industrial settings, so she has good insights into what’s real and what’s hype. She also shares her thoughts about what 5G will offer manufacturing customers when they finally adopt it. But she can’t actually tell us when that moment will come. I enjoyed her honesty.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mary Beth Hall from Panasonic
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Smart thermostats aren’t the problem in Texas, communication is
  • The Senate wants more information on smart home interoperability. Us too.
  • Why I’m excited for Arm’s confidential compute plans
  • Why most factories are fine with 4G wireless
  • Why 5G will help carriers deliver five nines

Episode 325: The IoT goes to Congress

Hello! This week we start with Congress, where the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings related to interoperability and lock-in tied to smart home devices. We drew special attention to testimony by Jonathan Zittrain, who wrote a long, but insightful statement about the development of the web, the benefits gained when using interoperable protocols, and what the government should do to ensure the openness of the IoT. After that, we discuss Amazon’s use of person detection on its new Echo Show devices to use motion-sensing as a trigger for routines and Apple’s planned features for its next smartwatch. We then talk about the new Level lock and why you may want to wait before buying a smart lock. In our news roundup, we track the rise of smart home devices, IKEA’s new $199 picture frame speaker, a new cellular module, and Accenture’s acquisition of umlaut, an industrial IoT engineering firm. We close on a question from a listener about which devices will support Matter going forward.

IKEA’s new speaker hides within a picture frame, but IKEA has limited art available. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos. Carhart’s specialty is industrial IoT incident response which means she’s been busy, given how often ransomware attacks have taken out critical infrastructure in the past few months. She explains how she got into doing industrial security and how it differs from IT security (which she also did). She shares what industrial clients want IT security professionals to understand, and shares how people can get into the field of providing industrial IoT security. In my favorite moment, she explains the Purdue Model of security used by manufacturing and industrial clients. Understanding these things will only become more important as we place more assets online. Please listen.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos SponsorsBsquare and Edge Impulse

  • A few remedies to prevent lock-in by the tech giants
  • Wellness is gaining ground in the smartwatch world
  • Maybe wait on that smart lock purchase
  • Hardhats may be necessary for industrial IoT security response
  • What the OT world wants the IT world to know about security

Episode 324: HomeKit and Home Assistant embrace Matter

We start this week’s show with a quick update on Amazon’s Sidewalk and then focused on the smart home news from Apple’s WWDC event earlier this week. We’re excited about third-party devices getting Siri support. We then cover the EU’s thoughts on anticompetitive behavior by IoT device companies, as well as the launch of a new standard that allows for low-power, highly-dense, mesh networks for 5G and Bluetooth. While on the topic of networking, we explain why Qualcomm’s new cluster of IoT chips is pretty cool. Then we talk about Google backing off AR Measure and Helium getting a new customer. I also review the new Nanoleaf Elements light panels and explain why you might want them, despite their cost. We close by highlighting a caller’s demand for two-factor authentication on smart home devices, specifically the Moen Flo products.

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat will be one of the first third-party devices to support Siri. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant, a smart home platform for DIYers. He talks about why he built the service as well as plans for new hardware later this year. We also discuss his plans for the Matter protocol and difficulty implementing the available Matter code on Github. Schoutsen also shares his recommendations on what buyers should look for in a connected product, especially one that connects back to the cloud. We end with a bit about Home Assistant’s business model, and with me asking for his help on a common listener question. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Apple’s bringing Siri to more devices and opens up on Matter
  • The EU isn’t keen on walled gardens in the smart home
  • This new low-power, highly-dense wireless network is worth a look
  • The folks at Home Assistant are working on new hardware
  • Will Home Assistant support Matter? You betcha!