Episode 263: Insurance gets smart and Google Home gets local

Kevin and I kick off the show with the news that Google is moving ahead on its local control for certain smart home devices, which will be helpful for people who want faster response times and a bit more privacy. We also discuss the FCC’s approval to make Wi-Fi 6 E spectrum available. From there we speculate about the Ring Doorbox and Apple Tags products before jumping into news from Ecobee on support for multi-factor authentication and a new subscription filter business. After that, we explore the idea of a mesh network in space, a smart toilet and discuss a peer-to-peer app for track and trace. After all of this, we answer a question from a listener about how to handle smart devices during power outages.

Image courtesy of Google.

This week’s guest is Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory, a startup that began life as an IoT weather sensor company and is now an insurance provider. Kubicek talks about why the company had to build its own gear and bypass the insurance market in order to succeed. He also anticipates where we’re going to see data-driven insurance go next. As a bonus, he offers a detailed account of how hail insurance works in my former home state of Texas. Exciting!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Why Google’s local SDK is so good for the smart home
  • What the heck is the new Ring Doorbox?
  • Yes, we did discuss the smart toilet seats that take a fingerprint of your backside
  • The connection between Texas, hail and some impressive insurance fraud
  • Data could drive the spread of parametric insurance

Episode 261: Set up a secure IoT network and Wyze has new gear

With the spread of COVID-19 and people staying home, robots are gaining ground in jobs, so Kevin and I discuss what jobs are at risk and what happened with automation during the last three recessions. We also talk about the rules that need to be in place if we want to track people during the pandemic in the U.S. and in other Western democracies. Then we cover a Russian botnet, racist digital assistants, confidentiality with Alexa, a new Arduino module, and the new scale and activity tracker from Wyze. Kevin and I take some time from the current worries about the coronavirus to envision the world we want when all this is over and discuss medical device privacy.  We end with a listener question about the new Nest subscription plans expected sometime soon.

Ready for a new IoT prototyping device? Check out this Kickstarter project. Image courtesy of Frame.IoT.

Our guest this week is Josh Datko, founder and chief engineer at embedded security firm Cryptotronix who is here to school us all in IoT security. We start with his advice for consumers, including advice on splitting off a separate IoT network in your home. We then discuss the difference between embedded security and IT security and discuss the importance of security engineers in product design. We end with Datko explaining the difference between secure enclaves, trusted execution environments and other security terms that may mystify you. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Josh Datko, Cryptotronix
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Automation and robots get a boost from the coronavirus
  • How to handle sensor data during a pandemic
  • Yes, I bought the Wyze scale for some reason
  • Here’s how to secure your smart home
  • Why the embedded world needs security engineers

Episode 260: How to make telemedicine work in a crisis

Kevin and I kick off this week’s show discussing COVID-19 again. We start with a virus tracker for Home Assistant, a handwashing sensor, relaxed healthcare rules, disaster relief networks, Israeli tracking software, and Kevin’s tips for connected workout gear and online resources to keep you fit while quarantined. We then talk about a partnership for smarter SIMs with Thales Telstra, Microsoft, and Arduino before talking about some scary security research. Smart speakers, Sonos’ new OS, Amazon open-sourcing its checkout-free shopping system, and a smart ring that doubles as an activity tracker, round out the news. Finally, we answer a question about whole-home smart lighting.

Only 13% of connected device makers have any sort of bug reporting program according to a new survey.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, who has had several roles at the intersection of medicine and design at places such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Kaiser Permanente. We talk about the state of telemedicine today and where it may go after COVID-19 forces changes in the current medical system. We also talk about the role of connected health gadgets in these times, and advice for individuals who want to help solve some of the medical challenges facing us today. I learned a lot about why it’s 2020 and we still don’t have widespread telehealth.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, designer
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Smart things for a viral pandemic
  • Make ways for DuckLinks
  • Smarter SIM cards are coming to the IoT
  • What’s holding back telemedicine today
  • Go ahead and buy an oximeter if you’re worried

Episode 258: Coronavirus help from the IoT

This week we continue our discussion of the coronavirus, because a week later, things are still getting canceled. Plus, Kevin shares some tips for having your smart home help you avoid infection. We then continue our case against Telnet with a report from F-secure and say goodbye to Cortana’s consumer-oriented skills. We also check in on the dystopian future of robots monitoring human workers before pivoting to cheerier news of Alphabet trying to use computer vision to help fish. In smaller news, we talk about a new tire from Goodyear, Somfy teaming up with OSRAM, a new heavy-duty computer for less, Allegion’s investment in Openpath and a new video doorbell at Vivint. On this week’s IoT hotline we answer a question about a smart lock that doesn’t actually lock or unlock.

Alphabet’s X group has created Tidal, a project to help understand what’s happening underwater so we can protect fish. Image courtesy of Alphabet.

Our guest this week is Johanna Huggare, manager, Intelligent Machine Platform at Volvo Construction Equipment. We talk about Volvo’s new business unit devoted to autonomous systems, and why it’s not devoted to autonomous vehicles. She also shares her take on the value of 5G, 4G and even 3G, and explains how Volvo CE is trying to change how it does business now that it sells services and not just heavy trucks. It’s a fun show featuring haulers, pavers and remote mining. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Johanna Huggare, Volvo Construction Equipment
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Alexa and Google can help keep your family healthy
  • Please, just stop using Telnet
  • Robot bosses could be a nightmare
  • Volvo CE is selling autonomous systems, not just massive machines
  • Why 5G matters for teleoperations

Episode 257: Microsoft’s IoT security play is finally here

We start this week’s show talking about the hit the tech conference circuit has taken because of the new coronavirus before segueing into some good news on the security front with the move of Microsoft’s Azure Sphere product to general availability. Then we move back into somewhat grim news discussing the trend toward the usage of facial recognition in schools. We can offer a bit of hope in a new mobile app created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that scans for data-snarfing devices nearby. Then we discuss new products from Wyze, Lutron, Semtech, and Amazon. We also discuss an industrial IoT deal in the chip space and let Kevin rant about the Nest outage. Finally, we publish a listener request for more multi-factor security options on Moen devices.

The Wyze band, according to the Wyze APK art. Founded by Dave Zatz.

Our guest this week is Om Malik, a venture partner at True Ventures and my former boss. He came on the show to discuss his recent diatribe against the tech media, which he accuses of flipping from fawning over the industry to hating it without much thought. We talk about the lack of nuance in coverage, our more nuanced relationship with technology and what regulation is the only real solution to the problem of tech companies’ overreach. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Om Malik, True Ventures
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Why we’re so excited about Microsoft Azure Sphere
  • LoRa gets a cloud-based location-tracking capability
  • Kevin’s pining for local failover options for cloud cameras
  • Tech isn’t all bad or all good, and we need to cover it that way
  • Regulations will be essential for ethical technology

Episode 255: A deep dive into NIST’s new privacy framework

This week’s show features Chris Albrecht, editor in chief of The Spoon, as a guest host, which means there will be a review of a connected kitchen gadget — in this case, a connected smoker from Traeger. We kick off the show discussing the FTC’s surprising antitrust review and discuss IoT acquisitions that might get scrutinized. We also mention the Sprint and T-Mo merger and what that might mean for IoT. From there we dive into Nest’s plans to require two-factor authentication, ARM’s new AI edge chip designs, a new product from LIFX, and an NB-IoT module from Tuya. Chris then discusses the sale of a connected brewing appliance called PicoBrew before reviewing the Traeger smoker. We also answer a listener question about which connected doorbell to buy.

The new LIFX switch is pricey but beautiful. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework in the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She comes on the show to explain what the many, many pages actually mean and how companies should think about and adopt the framework. She also shares why she avoids connected devices in her own life. Unsurprisingly, the complex user agreements aren’t inspiring a lot of trust.  You’ll want to hear this show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht of The Spoon
Guest: Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework at NIST
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Apple and Google could see some smart home deals come under review
  • Nest’s two-factor decision could lead to better two-factor authentication methods
  • Should I spend $800 on a smart grill?
  • Breaking down the NIST privacy framework with a connected fridge
  • The new framework won’t make you legally compliant, but it can build user trust

Episode 254: Google goes enterprise with Glass

This week Kevin and I start the show with a focus on Google’s new Glass product for the enterprise, and a newly discovered smart hub from the Craftsman brand (h/t Jimmy Hawkins). We also cover the Starling smart hub that can link your Nest gear to your HomeKit account, and discuss Kevin’s reaction to Ring partnering with his local police force. In smaller news, there’s a new industrial hardware board for IoT, Google can help find your Tile, MIT has doubled wireless carrying capacity with a smart surface, and Philips Hue fixes a security flaw. We also muse on Google’s hardware numbers  — or lack thereof — and close with a question about Zigbee devices falling off a SmartThings’ network.

The Paranoid device turns off the mic on your smart speaker or spouts white noise that interferes with the speaker until you want to ask Alexa or Google for something.

My guest this week is one of the creators of a new device designed to stop your smart speaker from listening to your conversation. Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions. The Candian software development firm has launched a device called Paranoid that sits on top of your smart speaker and either physically turns off the microphone or uses white noise to block the mic from listening in. When the user activates the Paranoid device using their voice the Paranoid either physically unmutes the smart speaker or stops generating white noise so Google or Alexa can hear the request. Pimentel explains why Pleasant built this and how it works for our listeners. It feels like a security blanket for people who are worried enough about their smart speaker to spend $49 for a Paranoid device but are still enamored by the convenience of their smart speaker.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions
Sponsors: Digicert and Very

  • Can Google’s new Glass cut it in the enterprise?
  • Kevin discovers that Ring doorbells in his neighborhood may share with police
  • This industrial IoT board may double as a space heater
  • What is Paranoid, and will it protect my privacy?
  • Is this a necessary device or a patent grab?

Episode 253: Smart cities, Ring, and the new surveillance state

On this week’s show, privacy was a big theme beginning with our conversation about Ring’s sharing of certain user data with third-party tracking sites, a plea from 40 organizations for the U.S. to stop using facial recognition technology, and a new way to think about smart cities. Kevin and I also discussed proposed device security rules for the U.K. and security challenges associated with LoRaWAN networks. We touched upon new water sensors for HomeKit homes, Ciscos’s new security service for industrial IoT, another satellite network for IoT, and Verizon’s deal to put 4G modems on Honeywell’s smart meters. Kevin also found a ring that doubles as an activity tracker. In this week’s IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about how to build a smart home that works for visitors.

A rendering of a home in a KB Home planned community near Seattle. Image courtesy of KB Home.

My guest this week is Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home. As a home builder, KB Home has started to integrate some smart devices into their portfolio. Bridleman explains what those options are and how KB plans to support (or offload the support) of a smart home. He also shares what he’s excited about in the home sector and why newer technologies could do away with expensive home infrastructure like copper wiring to switches.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • Ring is bad, but it’s hardly the only offender
  • Smart cities are the opposite of a smart home
  • The U.K. may mandate a device expiration date!
  • No one comes in wanting a smart home
  • New tech could replace a lot of expensive home wiring

Episode 252: Bricks, CHIP and Wi-Fi 6

Kevin and start the show with our takes on Sonos deciding to stop updating older speakers and stereo components. We broaden the conversation to include Under Armor killing its UA gear and Charter/Spectrum’s decision to stop supporting smart home and security products in its footprint, leaving some customers out equipment costs. We even delve into the challenges of wealth creation in a society where physical goods are increasingly delivered as a service instead of owned.  From there we discuss Teserakt, an open-source encryption effort for IoT, NIST’s new privacy framework, Clearview AI, the fate of Noon lighting, and other bits of news. Kevin tells us what he thinks about the home automation experience with Samsung’s SmartThings Wi-Fi gear, and we end with a question about connecting a personal fan.

The Noon light switches now belong to the parent company that owns the Savant brand.

Our guest this week is Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks. Correll also acts as the liaison between Extreme Networks and the Wi-Fi Alliance and the IEEE’s 802.11 standards committee. We discuss why Wi-Fi 6 is such a sea change for networks, and also why you shouldn’t rush out and change your router. He also explains why Wi-Fi 6e is a big deal and updates us on the FCC’s progress in allocating spectrum. His comments will help both consumers and enterprise customers get a sense of the future of Wi-Fi.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • We should mandate expiration dates for smart devices
  • Privacy isn’t dead … yet
  • SmartThings has really improved as a mainstream smart home hub
  • How Wi-Fi 6 revolutionizes Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi 6E sounds strange, but enterprises and public spaces will love it

Episode 251: Here’s what people at CES said about CHIP

This week’s show was dedicated to a wrap up of CES 2020. Kevin and I shared how the show has changed in the last 15 years, talked about technology for Boomers, the Withings ScanWatch and ran through several new maker boards. We covered the $2 Wemos W600-PICO board, a new Arduino board for industrial use and a RISC-V development board. From there we moved on to pretty light switches from Iotty and Legrand as well as Mixtile’s local AI as part of a smart home hub. I also saw a connected chai-maker at a friend’s house that handled personalization well using Bluetooth and we talked through the SmartThings app migration that started this week. We also covered an industrial IoT acquisition and a plant-powered sensor that sent data to space. Our question this week was about light switches, and we need your help.

The Withings ScanWatch offers medical-grade heart monitoring and sleep apnea detection. Image courtesy of Withings.

Our guest segment this week is comprised of five different guests who I cornered at CES to talk about the new Connected Home over IP standard.  First up was Lee Ratliff, senior analyst with IHS Markit, who explains why he thinks CHIP is a positive development, what each player is likely to bring the standard and why the IP aspect of the standard matters so much. Then I spoke with Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance and Chris LaPrè, a solutions architect at the Zigbee Alliance, about the need for schemes and a name change for the Alliance. Matt Johnson, SVP and general manager of IoT at Silicon Labs, shares his take on CHIP and as the company behind the Z-Wave standard, talks about what happens to Z-Wave as CHIP gains ground. Scott Harkins, Vice President Connected Home Resideo, explains why Resideo is backing CHIP and why he’s not giving up on the Open Connectivity Foundation, or any of the other standards efforts Resideo is involved in. And finally, Brian Van Harlingen CTO of Belkin International talked about how CHIP could help his company and whether or not he thinks it’s going to happen. There’s a lot here, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Lee Ratliff, senior analyst with IHS Markit; Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance and Chris LaPrè a solutions architect at the Zigbee Alliance; Matt Johnson, SVP and general manager of IoT at Silicon Labs; Scott Harkins, Vice President Connected Home Resideo; and Brian Van Harlingen CTO of Belkin International.
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • Say goodbye to the old guard at CES
  • Healthcare startups and maker boards catch our eye
  • Get ready for the SmartThings app migration
  • Why the Zigbee Alliance is contemplating a name change
  • What’s so special about IP anyway?