Episode 290: Apple’s smart speaker and cheap thermostats

This week’s IoT podcast kicks off with a focus on Apple’s new HomePod mini and the inclusion of the Thread protocol on the device. We then discuss how it fits into the world of smart speakers and my own recent purchases, such as my feelings about the Echo Studio and the Nest Audio. We then talk about the $129 Nest Thermostat and what cheap thermostats mean for the smart home. From there we share news about e-waste, AR goggles for dogs, smart benches in Auckland, Alphabet’s smart farming device, and Cisco’s easy IoT sensors. We then answer a listener question about the purpose of hubs.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

This week’s guest is a blast from the past. I am running my chat with Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell, who spoke at my event in July focused on machine learning at the edge. I am running his interview because ML at the edge is getting a lot more attention and Jeavons did a good job explaining what it can and can’t do yet, and how hard it is to use machine learning in edge use cases. We also talked a bit about synthetic data, another hot topic. So if you attended the event, this guest will sound familiar, but many of y’all will likely hear it for the first time.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Why does Apple’s Homepod mini have a Thread radio?
  • Which $99 smart speaker is right for you?
  • What inexpensive thermostats say about the smart home
  • How Shell is using machine learning at the edge
  • Why doesn’t machine learning scale at the edge?

 

 

Episode 289: Nest Audio and IoT trends in the enterprise

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of data from Microsoft’s latest IoT Signals report which shows that, for a third of companies, COVID-19 is speeding up their IoT deployments. We discuss the data and then talk about updates on the Nvidia deal for ARM from ARM’s developer conference, a cheaper Jetson AI module, and another Telnet weakness. Yes, we also discuss the hacked sex toy, the $50 Wyze thermostat, my experience with the brighter Philips Hue bulbs, and my thoughts on the new Nest Audio speaker. We round out the show with a cheaper Jacquard backpack and Google’s latest accessibility efforts. We end by answering a question about using a Wyze sensor to alert a grandparent to a toddler near the stairs.

Even in my cluttered office, the $99 Nest Audio fits right in and sounds pretty good. Image courtesy of me.

Our guest this week is Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab, discussing how Ecolab is using Hololens and IoT to save time and keep workers away from manufacturing plants. Ecolab provides sensors and services to ensure water quality for industrial clients. Cerilli explains how different industries use water and what the company has learned after 25 years of offering a custom-designed connected sensor. He also shares tips on augmented reality and how it’s helping Ecolab keep workers remote.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab
Sponsors: Perceive and Very

  • The average IoT project deployment takes 12 months
  • ARM and Nvidia’s CEOs think the deal will go through (but it will be slow)
  • Nest Audio fits on your shelf and sounds great for $99
  • Can augmented reality help cram a week’s worth of training in a few hours?
  • IoT is going to help companies with water use and conservation

Episode 288: New devices and new threats

This week’s show covers device launches from Amazon last week and Google this week. We also talk about connected coffee machines getting hacked, Amazon letting people pay with their palm, and Apple’s smart home patents. After that, we switch to developer news with Twilio’s new IoT platform and ARM’s chip designs for autonomous robots and cars. Vodafone added a new feature to its IoT modules, Yale has a smart package box for your business or home, and Swarm’s IoT module is out and somewhat pricey. In this week’s IoT Podcast hotline segment, we take a tip from a listener about pausing your 5GHz Wi-Fi when adding certain types of connected devices.

Amazon wants to let people pay with their palms.

Our guest this week is Emily Anthes, a science journalist, and the author of The Great Indoors, a book that covers how we live now. Anthes talks about how the smart home is turning into a medical device to meet the needs of the elderly and how important people still are in figuring out what to do with connected device data. She then talks about how employers are using sensors in the workplace to help boost health and productivity. However, boosting productivity can be benign or almost totalitarian depending on the employer so we discuss surveillance and how to ensure people’s rights aren’t trampled in the process of making workplaces smarter. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Emily Anthes, author The Great Indoors
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

 

Episode 287: Amazon’s new network and cleaner air from 3M

This week’s podcast covers our thinking on Amazon’s new Sidewalk network, but not the devices the retailer launched on Thursday. As part of the network conversation, we also discussed LoRaWAN network operator Senet’s new $16 million in funding before detailing three upcoming products from Wyze. We then talked about sharing Alexa routines, Google’s new mystery product, Intel’s new edge chips, a new automation hub that controls IR-based devices, Microsoft’s foray into satellite networks, and Mozilla spinning out WebThings. Kevin now has the new contact tracing app in his state and he also reviews the Nuheara IQ Buds2 Max hearables. We conclude by revisiting a question from two weeks back when we gave the wrong answer. We got it right this time.

The Wyze video doorbell will cost $29.99 and offers two-way audio and 1080p video. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Andy Boyd, a product manager who handles the business side of 3M’s Filtrete brand. He came on the show to talk about wildfires, a little COVID, and mostly about 3M’s plans to make indoor air quality better using the IoT, by combining its materials expertise with connected devices and other platforms. Boyd talks about the lessons learned building a Bluetooth-based connected air filter, an upcoming Filtrete air purifier, and plans for a smart plug that will let customers link their older air purifiers to the Filtrete ecosystem. I really love Boyd’s approach to the smart home. 3M clearly knows what it has to offer and is willing to work with others or take on all the elements needed to deliver good indoor air quality.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Boyd, 3M
SponsorsPerceive and Ayla Networks

  • Why Amazon decided it needed to build an IoT network
  • Intel’s edge chips are really designed for industrial use cases
  • Alternatives to WebThings now that Mozilla is spinning it out
  • How to clean indoor air, even during wildfire season
  • Why 3M wants to work with everyone when it comes to better air quality

 

Episode 286: Apple, ARM and more IoT security challenges

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing Nvidia’s $40 billion plan to buy ARM. After that, we talk about Google’s upcoming event, a gesture interface for Nest thermostats, and the news from the Apple event. From there we talk about alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay for a Pro plan, and then dive into news on IoT security from down under, an updated Arlo doorbell, and Wink’s outage. Next up, I share some news about Stack Lighting, a birthday for the group that standardized Wi-Fi, and Kevin’s review of the Firewalla Gold. We conclude the first segment by answering a question about using IoT to improve in-home air quality.

The latest Arlo doorbell can run off a battery or wires. Image courtesy of Arlo.

Our guest this week is May Wang, a senior distinguished engineer at Palo Alto Networks. She’s on the show to talk about challenges associated with securing IoT devices and how to use machine learning to improve IT security. We also talk about various degrees of network segmentation, zero-trust security, and how to bring the OT and the IT worlds together to ensure that devices stay secure. For fun, we also talk about the strangest devices seen on corporate networks. See if you have something wackier to add.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: May Wang, Palo Alto Networks
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

  • ARM’s sale is about the data center, not IoT
  • Three alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay
  • Firewalla Gold is pricey but good for IoT aficionados
  • There are some wacky things on corporate networks
  • How to get OT people to care about IT security

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 281: Manufacturing trends during the pandemic

This week on the IoT podcast we begin by talking about what the widespread adoption of ultrawideband chips in phones could mean for the IoT. From there, it’s on to Google’s always-listening software update, humans coming back into the QA loop, and earthquake detection on Android phones (there’s another earthquake project too!). Kevin also asks how much control you have over your smart home. We covered security news from DEFCON starting with traffic light hacks and ending with some scary security holes in the satellite network infrastructure. We also touched on news from SmartThings, Wyze, the UK, a new fitness device, and Apple. Finally, we answer a question about the security associated with having multiple device accounts.

The new Carbon Mirror is yet another fitness service disguised as a device. Image courtesy of Carbon.

Our guest this week is Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics, which grabs data from factory machines. He discusses the impact that COVID-19 has had on manufacturing based on aggregated client data, and best practices for dealing with the pandemic. He also dug deep on the concept of a digital thread. The digital thread is the idea that manufacturers can gather enough data to follow the life of a product from material to finished good in the field, and use data from the manufacturing process to understand how to improve quality. We also talked about sharing data across supply chains, and why that isn’t yet happening. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • NXP is all in on ultrawideband for the IoT
  • Gosh, darn it, Google!
  • DEFCON hacks the IoT yet again
  • What is a digital thread and why does it matter?
  • How COVID-19 is affecting manufacturing

 

 

Episode 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

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 276: Google inches toward a smarter home

This week Kevin and I discuss the news from Google’s smart home event, and what it means for the big players in the game, standards efforts, your television, and whether Amazon can compete without a smartphone when it comes to the smart home. From there we talk about Arm’s decision to spin out its IoT services businesses and Synaptics buying Broadcom’s wireless IoT business. An update for Alexa, insecure smart cameras, and a skinny new codec round out the news segment this week. For the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about creating routines based on sunrise and sunset.

Augury’s sensor forms the basis of the Halo system. Image courtesy of Augury.

My guest this week takes us to the manufacturing floor where his company is enabling insurance providers to better assess risk and price policies accordingly. Saar Yoskovitz, co-founder and CEO at Augury, joins me to talk about the company’s new guarantee that is backed by Hartford Steam Boiler, a division of Munich Re, that pays customers IF Augury fails to anticipate a machine breakdown. We also discuss the role the pandemic has played for Augury’s business and how the company ended up launching a new product for its customers to help them keep production employees working remotely. Instead of just helping manufacturers keep an eye on the health of their machines, Augury has a web-based communication tool that lets production managers keep an eye on their plant and schedule workers. It’s a cool story.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Saar Yoskovitz, co-founder and CEO at Augury
Sponsor: Very

  • Google’s integration with Android reminds me of Apple
  • Arm’s decision to spin out its IoT services makes sense
  • A new codec could help cut down on smart camera data demand
  • When IoT meets an insurer’s moral obligation
  • Why Augury found itself building a Slack for manufacturing