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 285: All about IFTTT’s new paid plan

This week the show starts with an overview on IFTTT’s new paid plan and then dives into the recent update on Project Connected Home over IP. There’s not a lot of news, but the effort is still progressing, which is something. We also discuss the new long-range Z-Wave standard,  a new court ruling on geofencing data collection, and Apple’s upcoming event. We then discuss the challenges that Bluetooth-based contact tracing efforts face, a new smart home alarm system retrofit from Konnected, a new talent in an old air quality sensor, and some new Philips Hue products. From there we dig into some new Amazon Alexa skills for apartments and for voice calls before ending with Peloton’s new bike. We also answer a listener question about putting Alexa in different households under the same account.

An updated and more detailed diagram of what the CHIP application layer will handle.

Our guest this week is Linden Tibbets, the CEO of IFTTT. He’s on the show to explain the details behind IFTTT’s new Pro plan, which I’m guessing that most of the audience will want to investigate. The Pro plan offers users more complex applets, lower latency, and actual support, but it comes at a price. Tibbets explains why users can set their own price for the service for now, and how he hopes to get people to pay $9.99 a month eventually. Tibbets also explains what free users can expect and gives an update on the other side of IFTTT’s business — selling integration services to brands. If you’re an IFTTT user, you’ll want to listen to this show, and if you’re not an IFTTT user, maybe you’ll want to be after hearing the show.

  • Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT
    Sponsors: Very and Ayla Networks
  • Project CHIP’s latest news wasn’t big, but it was encouraging
  • Z-Wave isn’t dead yet
  • This air quality sensor will predict your home’s likelihood of mold
  • IFTTT boosts applet creation options and makes users pay
  • How IFTTT is trying to warm users up to a monthly subscription fee

Episode 284: Amazon Halo, the FBI and smart cars

This week’s show starts off with the FBI’s concerns about the Ring doorbell, then news about Apple and Google making their COVID-19 exposure notification framework easier for states to use. We discuss consolidation in the smart apartment market, vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and then dive into a heap of newly launched devices. First up is the Amazon Halo wearable launched last week, and then new Amazon Blink cameras. (In other Amazon news we talked about paying for gas with Alexa and Amazon getting FAA approval for drone deliveries.) Wyze is planning to build headphones, as is Sonos, and Lenovo has a new smart speaker alarm clock for $50. We end with a listener question about wireless sensor tags.

Blink Outdoor and Indoor Cameras will sell for $99.99 and $79 .99 respectively. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo, an Israeli automotive data company. He came on the show to discuss what we can do with car data. Cars can produce gigabytes of data and Otonomo can pull data in from more than 20 million vehicles, either in aggregate or individually, to provide different services. In smart cities, car data might provide detailed parking information or flag dangerous intersections. For companies, Otonomo can provide fleet management, but it also foresees a future where third-party businesses can build services such as a tire-pressure management service that ensures all the cars in a fleet have enough air in their tires. Broadly, Matan convinced me that connectivity and sensors in cars could become a platform as powerful as the mobile phone. See what you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Surveillance tech can go two ways
  • Get ready for consolidation in the connected MDU world
  • Amazon is launching several cool new products and functions
  • If you think of a car like a smartphone what could you do?
  • How cars can help cities flag dangerous intersections

Episode 283: Cloudflare’s CEO on ethics and building out edge computing

ARM is back in our news lineup this week, as Kevin and I discuss who might be interested in buying the chip design company and why it decided not to spin out its IoT assets. We also talk about a new lock that opens with a touch, biometrics on other locks, and Fitbit’s new wearables. Some Roomba vacuums received a new update that makes them easier to control via voice and we talk about appliance companies’ approaches toward IoT security updates. Spoiler alert: they’re mostly not great. Then we cover a new product from Mueral, data on LPWAN adoption and satellite networks for IoT. We also answer a listener question about what the success of Project CHIP might mean for Zigbee and Z-wave.

The Level lock with touch or a keycard retails for $329 and doesn’t have the clunky hardware associated with most connected locks. Image courtesy of Level.

This week’s guest is Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare who starts off with a history of computing and an insight into his college dorm room decor. The history will be especially valuable for folks who are not in the IT world but who have to deal with it thanks to the IoT. Prince then discusses what comes after containers and talks about what drives usage on his company’s distributed edge compute service. Then, he explains why he views his engineering work through the lens of others, and how Cloudflare tries to make ethical decisions when building products and offering them. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why ARM isn’t spinning out its IoT assets
  • Fitbit has a new, wellness device
  • Let’s talk about security in appliances
  • How computing has moved from individual servers to containers
  • How to create a culture where engineers can discuss ethics

 

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 275: Does the smart home need glasses?

This week Kevin and I talk about my recent move and what I am looking for in a video doorbell before diving into our thoughts on Google’s planned smart home event for next week. Then we cover the big IoT acquisitions of the week from Google, lululemon(!), and Amazon. After that, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for wearables, Netgear’s mid-range Orbi router, Amazon’s new space services, Nest installations, and companies giving up on 360 video for VR. Kevin then shares his thoughts on the Echo Frames, which is Amazon’s attempt to put Alexa on your face. We conclude the news segment by answering a question about why we like color-changing light bulbs.

The North Focals glasses cost $999 and now belong to Google. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise, who came on the show to discuss the partnership Honeywell signed last month with SAP to combine operations data from buildings with business data. She explains that this deal is about bringing the analytics common in the IT world to the action-oriented information from the OT world, allowing companies to understand how their buildings affect their bottom line. She talks about the details of the partnership but also explains what’s behind the IT/OT convergence and shares her thoughts on how far companies can get with a horizontal solution for enterprise IoT. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise,
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • Which video doorbell did I buy?
  • Google buys North and gets another pair of glasses
  • Kevin tries on Amazon Echo Frames
  • What’s behind the new SAP and Honeywell partnership
  • How COVID-19 pushed Honeywell and SAP to focus on smart buildings

Episode 273: Ripple20 and Helium goes global

This week’s show features a guest co-host, Chris Albrecht, editor at The Spoon. We kick off the show discussing the latest IoT security vulnerability Ripple20 and why you need a software Bill of Materials for your connected products. We then focus on COVID-19 contract tracing, using wireless signals to monitor patients remotely, Intel’s updated robotic vision platform, and my personal robotic nightmare that’s now for sale. Then, we talk about the new Philips Hue gear that’s out and why Chris doesn’t want smart light bulbs. Are you ready for Apple’s WWDC or the launch of a new Wyze product? Plus, Google countersues Sonos, consumers like their storebought routers better, and National Instruments changes its name and a bit of its business strategy. Finally, we answer a user question about making cameras a bit more private.

Spot will cost as much as a luxury car at $74,500, but anyone can buy one. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

This week’s guest is Amir Haleem, the CEO and co-founder of Helium, which operates a network for the IoT.  Haleem explains why he’s chosen to build a network using a mixture of cryptocurrency, decentralized hotspots and LoRa devices. On the show, he announces Helium’s new tracker hardware and the launch of the Helium network in Europe. We talk about business models, Europe’s IoT efforts, and whether or not I will get any LoRa sensors that can deliver low-power connectivity at a greater distance from my house. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht
Guest: Amir Haleem, CEO and co-founder of Helium
SponsorsCalix and Very

  • The Ripple20 vulnerabilities are bad. Here’s how to make it easier to patch
  • Let’s talk about delivery robots
  • Philips Hue’s new gear is worth a look
  • Why low power IoT networks have a business model challenge
  • Helium didn’t want to get into hardware, but it ultimately caved

Episode 272: Let’s talk about anonymity by design

This week’s podcast starts off with IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software (we recorded before Amazon made a similar announcement) and then shifts to a discussion on neuromorphic computing. From there we discuss Lutron’s new wooden blinds, turning a Commodore 64 into a home automation system,  insights on water use during the pandemic,  more integrations from RoomMe, and funding for Drop’s kitchen operating system. We also touch on industrial news with a scaled-out Bluetooth deployment and PTC, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation offering Factory Insights as a service. Kevin then shares some thoughts on the next big things necessary for smart homes to advance. Finally, we hear from a listener who wants to find a way to make his smoke alarms smarter.

Lutron adds smart wooden blinds to its Serena line of smart window coverings. Image courtesy of Lutron.

Our guest this week is Andrew Farah, CEO of Density, a startup that provides sensors for people tracking. We last chatted more than five years ago and since then he’s built out the company, created a product for commercial real estate and found time to advocate for building IoT products that are anonymous by design. We talk about how companies are using his service and sensors to keep occupancy rates below the legal limits during the pandemic and why sensors are much better than cameras. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density
Sponsors: Calix and Very

  • IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software is a start
  • This enterprise hub can read 12,000 Bluetooth tags in a minute
  • Three things that will move the smart home forward
  • This sensor has 800 components and can tell how many people are in a room
  • Why we need to build things with anonymity at the forefront

Episode 270: Wink is a bad boyfriend and what about Wi-Fi HaLow?

This week’s show starts off with Wink’s new pricing plan (although it feels less like a plan and more like watching a toddler trying to chase a soccer ball.) After that, we talk about Wemo’s decision to address a known security issue by pushing users to create accounts, We also discuss the future of remote work and augmented reality as filtered through an industrial lens and as planned by Mark Zuckerberg. In other news, SoftBank is trying to sell industrial IoT software company OSISoft, while NXP has a new CEO. Professional smart home provider Savant says it will acquire GE’s Lighting biz, and we have thoughts. Plus, Kevin actually reviews a few GE smart bulbs. We close by answering a question about what to use instead of Wink.

Wemo is asking users to adopt accounts to improve security.

This week’s guest is Vahid Manian, the COO of Morse Micro, a company building a radio chip for Wi-Fi HaLow. If you are unfamiliar with the standard, that’s because after the Wi-Fi Alliance launched it in 2017, no one got excited about the so-called Wi-Fi for IoT. So far, I can’t think of a single company pushing forward with Wi-Fi HaLow devices or silicon, outside of Morse Micro. But Manian explains what Wi-Fi HaLow is good for, and why we might see it used for sending video over longer distances. I don’t know if I’m sold, but he says we can expect some devices using the tech in the middle of next year, so I’m willing to wait and see. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vahid Manian, the COO of Morse Micro
SponsorsCalix and Edge Impulse

  • My dysfunctional relationship with Wink
  • AR for work can be smart, but shouldn’t be surveillance
  • Why Savant is buying GE Lighting and GE is selling
  • What the heck is Wi-Fi HaLow?
  • How many versions of Wi-Fi do we need?

Episode 268: Subscription news from Wink and Nest

This week’s show is all about subscriptions! First Kevin and I share thoughts on Wink’s decision to charge a subscription fee after giving customers a week’s notice and threatening to shut down their devices if they don’t convert. We also detail Nest’s new subscription plan and keep on the Alphabet/Google topic by discussing the end of the Toronto smart city effort from Sidewalk Labs and a new Google Assistant skill.  After that, we cover a new Teensy board with Ethernet, an acquisition in the smart apartment world, and get details on how reopening is going in Texas from the B8ta point of view. I talk about my experience with the new, smaller Wi-Fi August lock, and then we answer a listener question about how to build a smart home from scratch.

The brains of Johnson’s smart home are packed away in custom-made benches. Image courtesy of Jason Johnson.

Our guest this week is Jason Johnson, the co-founder of August Home. He’s not on the show to discuss the new lock but to talk about his new home and the systems he uses for automation. Like many of us, Johnson went the DIY route and says he spends about five or more hours a week tweaking his set up. He explains why he chose the platforms he uses and how he has routines and automation set up. For those curious about what’s governing the 138 nodes in his home, I encourage you to listen and find out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jason Johnson, co-founder August Home
Sponsors: Very and Edge Impulse

  • Is Wink’s new subscription worth it? Nest’s?
  • Apparently, a few people still need their gadget fix in Texas
  • August’s new lock is great for renters, but may not work for everyone
  • Three organizing principles for a smart home
  • Device longevity is a problem for the smart home