Episode 309: Why your IoT device shipments are delayed

We’re really excited about radar in this week’s episode, so we discuss Ring’s new doorbell that added it for motion detection and Apple’s patent that plans to use radar for detecting vital signs. We also talk about radar being a feature that Plume plans to add to its Wi-Fi devices in the near future while discussing the company’s $270 million funding round. We then discuss Portland ditching smart city software, the Echo Show 10 reviews, HomeKit support for two sets of devices, and the coming ability to talk to Google’s Assistant even when the screen is locked. I then explain how you can stop some of the unwanted comments from Alexa if she’s telling you about low batteries in your smart home devices or asking you to rate a product you have purchased on Amazon. We end by answering a listener’s question about bringing Wi-Fi to his detached garage.

Ring’s new doorbell will cost $249.99 and ships on March 31. Image courtesy of Ring.

Our guest this week is Chris Carney, the co-founder and CEO of Abode. Carney explains why companies are experiencing so many delays in shipping products and why many of your favorite devices might be out of stock. The chip shortage plays a role, but so do delays at ports and challenges faced by last-mile delivery networks like the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. He explains how his company is trying to adapt, and when we can expect to see these shortages ease up. He also offers some advice to other companies affected by similar challenges. Enjoy the show while waiting for your latest gadget to arrive.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Carney, co-founder and CEO of Abode
Sponsor: Very

  • Ring’s new doorbell gets a fancy new feature
  • Plume’s funding could lead to small acquisitions
  • How to reduce Alexa’s spam
  • Chips, ships, and delayed trips
  • When will supply chains get back to normal?

Episode 308: Chipageddon and deets on the Pi Pico

Silicon is the theme of this week’s show, starting with a rundown on the chip shortage affecting the automotive and IoT world. Then we talk about the Los Angles Police Department requesting footage from connected doorbell cameras during the Black Lives Matter protests before moving on to Amazon’s new Kickstarter-like program for new Alexa products. In new product news, we cover Wyze’s color-changing light bulbs, Facebooks’ rumored smartwatch, and a peer-to-peer mesh network using the ClusterDuck protocol. We then share a new command for Google Assistant, discuss funding for an AI chip company, speculate on Verizon’s purchase of a robotics software startup, and dig into the many DIY options for building your own image recognition models. We end by answering a question about products that might help you save money on your electric bill.

If you want to see Amazon build a scale that works with Alexa for $34.99, you can pre-order it today. If enough people order it, Amazon will make it. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Allan explains why the Foundation decided to build its own chip for the first Pi Pico microcontroller and why the Pi Foundation even built a microcontroller in the first place. He also discusses how the Pi Pico differs from an Arduino, talks up some use cases, and dives into ways it might be used for machine learning at the edge. After declining to tell me what might be next for the Pi Foundation, he did point out that no one assembles a chip design team to build just one chip, so it sounds like there’s a lot to look forward to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Sponsor: Very

  • What’s behind the chip shortage and how long will it last?
  • We can’t expect Ring to police the police, so here’s what we should expect
  • Project OWL is a public safety or industrial mesh network
  • The custom-chip in the Pi Pico is designed for flexibility
  • Tiny ML means less internet in the IoT

 

Episode 306: Ring wins big with Lennar

This week’s show kicks off with news from Lennar about its new smart home offering with Ring, and a discussion on what it means that Ring now has more than 2,000 police and fire departments as partners. After that, we discuss what we learned from the Tesla recall about the business of connected products, and what options y’all have if you want to ditch your Wink hub. Then we talk about a Kickstarter for some smart infrastructure products, an update coming to Google Home, and wellness data coming to Google displays. In smaller news, we touch on Abode’s HomeKit widgets, Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 2.0 for IoT, and Kevin going all-in on HomeKit. We end by answering a listener question about the best HomeKit hub to use.

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

Our guest this week is Eric Feder, who is with LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar. He’s on the show to talk about Lennar’s new partnership with Ring, Flo by Moen, Resideo, Level Lock, and more. We also discuss how Lennar’s views of the smart home have changed since it first started trying to integrate connected devices into its houses. He then talks about what features might be missing and investments the company has in new building techniques, gray water reclamation, and more. It’s a sneak peek into the future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Feder, of LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar
Sponsor: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • Ring’s still using local police to sell its doorbells
  • Tesla’s right about computers in long-lived devices
  • After Wink, which hub is right for you?
  • Why Lennar dumped “movie night” routines and focused on plumbing
  • Building sustainable homes with smart tech

 

Episode 303: Everything from CES 2021 and a bit about LoRa

This week’s show is mostly about CES 2021, starting with an array of interesting devices that were launched. We covered a lot of them here, but we also mentioned a $3,000 pet door, an energy harvesting NB-IoT modem demonstration, and Kevin’s take on where we are with the smart home based on what he saw. We also discussed Ring’s encryption news explaining what it does and does not mean. And because I love semiconductors we gave a quick mention to Intel’s new CEO and Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia. The Qualcomm deal represents a huge shift for server and computing CPUs and is likely why Intel felt it needed the skills of Pat Gelsinger in the executive chair.  We end the show by answering a question about Lutron and Apple’s adaptive lighting.

The MyQ Pup portal is quite the pet door. Image courtesy of Chamberlain MyQ.

Our guest this week is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network. He is here to talk about how to build a business around LoRa networks and give his thoughts on why enterprises might need one. We also talk about consumer LoRa networks and Amazon’s Sidewalk network. Will that ever be an open option? Giezeman shares case studies and a discount code if anyone listening wants to learn more about LoRa at The Things Conference, a weeklong virtual event all about LoRa that starts Jan. 25. That discount code we mention is TTC21-I-KNOW-STACEY. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network
Sponsors: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • CES had half the vendors and some weird tech
  • Smart home tech is in a period of refinement right now
  • Big news in the chip world
  • How many low power WANs do we need?
  • Let’s check out of LoRa in action

Episode 302: CES and GE Lighting is betting on Cync

This week Kevin and I discuss Allegion’s acquisition of Yonomi, and what it means for those of you using the cloud service or consumers using the app. We then turn to a mention of the rebranding of GE Lighting after its acquisition by Savant last summer before talking about Singapore’s about-face on the use of contact-tracing app data by police. Also on the police front, the FBI is warning consumers and police departments that hackers are getting into poorly protected smart home security systems and using them to call police to homes. From there we cover new modems, new capabilities for a Google device, a leak about Tile trackers, and a potential sleep apnea-tracking device from Amazon. Then Kevin shares what we want to see at CES and I share my thoughts on the Ring Mailbox sensor. We end by answering a question about fall detection devices for the home.

The new Cync indoor camera will launch in May. Image courtesy of GE Lighting, a Savant company.

Our guest this week is Paul Williams, general manager of product management & growth at GE Lighting, a Savant company. He shares the rationale behind the new Cync brand, the decision to add a security camera to the lineup of GE Lighting devices, and the thinking behind a new app planned for March. Williams also talks about other devices and how the Cync devices will and won’t tie into the Savant professional brand of products. I’m excited about the details the future Cync app will borrow from Savant, and can’t wait to see it. We end with his insights on what Project CHIP will and won’t mean for device makers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Williams, GE Lighting, a Savant company
Sponsor: Calix

  • What changes after Allegion’s purchase of Yonomi
  • Please secure your IoT devices, y’all
  • Google, Apple, and Amazon all have new devices with new wireless sensing
  • Thanks to Savant C by GE is now Cync
  • What a GE Lighting exec thinks about Project CHIP

 

Episode 301: An update on Project CHIP and a secure 2021

This week’s podcast starts with an update on the Project Connected Home over IP standard promulgated by Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung. Then we talk about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking what privacy rules are in place for protecting consumers’ health data. Google killed Android Things and new legislation killed router fees by your ISP, so we talk about those. Then we discuss Amazon’s Echo frames and the future of smart glasses, Peloton’s planned acquisition of Precor, and Kevin’s experience with a Homebridge device. We close with a new HomeKit doorbell from Netatmo, a smart lock that isn’t connected, and LG’s wacky new kitchen tech. On the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener’s question about a smartwatch so he can call his kid.

Netatmo’s video doorbell now supports HomeKit and will go on sale Jan. 6 for $300. Image courtesy of Netatmo.

Our guest this week is Sharon Mirsky, COO and co-founder of Firedome, which provides security services for IoT device manufacturers. We talk about the role of consumers in IoT security and she offers several pieces of advice on how to secure your IoT devices, including a recommendation that you run them on a separate network, or at least your guest network. I don’t do this, but maybe I should start. She also explains what device makers should do and the role your ISP needs to play in securing the IoT. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sharon Mirsky, COO and co-founder of Firedome
Sponsors: Calix and Plume

  • There’s a draft spec for Project CHIP but you need to pay to play
  • Can Congress please get on some sort of privacy legislation?
  • Peloton’s buy is the smart overtaking the dumb
  • Who should ensure the IoT is secure?
  • The most important thing you can do to ensure your smart home’s security

Episode 300: Get excited for our annual Q&A episode

It’s time for the end-of-year question and answer episode where Kevin and I tinker, search Google, and ask companies for help answering your questions about the smart home. We start with a broad category of questions related to your needs outside that mostly require some kind of low power wide area network to work. Then we focus on Wi-Fi by answering a question about what to look for in a mesh Wi-Fi router and automating your home using your phone attaching to the in-home Wi-Fi as opposed to using GPS.

Arlo makes a high-end and high-quality outdoor camera that can go the distance. Image courtesy of Arlo.

For the second half of the show, we touch twice on my favorite topic — lighting! We answer a question for help finding a few smart bulb options that are super bright. Then we talk about smart bulbs that you could take on the road, because why not make your hotel room or Airbnb smart? We get tactical with specific sensors to address a request for a hidden open/close sensor for a door and steer y’all away from a product that seemed too good to be true. Finally, we talk about why you might see declining stocks of SmartThings hubs. It’s not because SmartThings is going away, it’s just that Samsung, which owns the company, isn’t focusing on building its own hardware anymore. Enjoy the show, and we’ll be back next week with our traditional format!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

  • I need a smart driveway, shed, or garden soil sensor outside of Wi-Fi range
  • Help me find a camera for the great outdoors
  • What features matter in a Wi-Fi router?
  • Can you find a smart bulb that’s more than 1,000 lumens?
  • I need a hidden door sensor
  • Why can’t I find SmartThings hubs in stock?

Episode 298: SmartThings works with Google Nest again!

This week’s podcast starts with good news. Samsung’s SmartThings platform will once again work with Google devices starting in January. We discuss SmartThings a bit more to cover how sensor company Aeotec is launching a new smart home hub that will work with SmartThings before we move on to Logitech’s new HomeKit-enabled video doorbell. Wyze has launched a home security monitoring service, and ISP equipment provider Calix has teamed up with Arlo. Google reminded us that its Fuschia OS exists, even if we still don’t know what it’s for, and software-based programmable logic controllers are about to hit the industrial IoT. In smaller news bits we cover Google’s Look to Speak, LoRa adding support for QR code provisioning, Apple Music landing on Nest speakers, and Amazon’s new ML service for business metrics. We conclude the show by answering a question about Nest doorbells and LIFX bulbs.

The Logitech Circle View Doorbell will cost $199.99. Image courtesy of Logitech.

Our guest this week is Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine. We start by talking about the ability to use data to help optimize for additional metrics such as sustainability. We then discuss how the ability to prioritize different metrics and more flexible production lines means that manufacturers are now able to create custom product runs designed for highly targeted audiences. We then discuss how such flexibility and customization will change the roles of manufacturing workers.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine
Sponsor: Calix

  • SmartThings works with Google’s Nest devices at long last
  • The first video doorbell with HomeKit Secure Video is from Logitech
  • The ACRN hypervisor makes its industrial debut
  • Manufacturers can use the IoT to optimize for more than yields or profitability
  • More data might mean factory operations staff can go remote

Episode 296: Gifts galore and a recipe for smarter food prep

This week’s podcast is full of gift suggestions from our annual gift guide, many of which are aimed at those people on your list who have a green thumb. We then discuss my disappointment with Wemo after almost a decade of using its devices, and Kevin shares his plans to eliminate data-mining services from his life. On a related note, we do a deep dive into Amazon’s Sidewalk network plans and talk about trust. From there, we discuss new features for Google Assistant, an adorable AI bird feeder on Kickstarter, and my thoughts on the Chef IQ smart cooker. We end by answering a listener’s question about wearables and their accuracy.

The BirdBuddy feeder won’t ship until Sept. 2021, but I can’t wait to review it for next year’s gift guide. Image courtesy of BirdBuddy.

In honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday, our guest this week is Nick Holzherr, head of product for Whisk at Samsung Next, who talks about the future of the smart kitchen and food preparation. We discuss the role recipes can play as a standard for smarter kitchens, how to solve the problem of pantry management, and why it’s so hard to build updated kitchen experiences when everyone has kitchens that are from different eras. We even discuss the challenges of personalization and how to get users to trust the services to which they’re asked to give up their personal information. It’s a good show to listen to while prepping a meal.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Holzherr, Head of Whisk at Samsung Next
SponsorsCalix and Teracode

  • Four gift ideas for people obsessed with their plants
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t as invasive as you might think
  • The ChefIQ smart cooker combines gadgets and makes cooking easier
  • The future of the connected kitchen is almost here
  • The big trend in kitchen gadgets is combo cookers

Episode 294: Let’s talk about Thread and digital twins

This week’s show starts off with a conversation about Thread because it’s clear that it’s going to become an important radio for the future of the smart home. We explain why before discussing an update to LoRaWAN and an alternative to the big voice-controlled smart speakers from Josh.ai. After that, we express frustration with exploding doorbells, discuss a fitness tracker that finally covers pregnancy, and get excited about a new robot vacuum. On the industrial side, I try to get excited about Hitachi Vantara’s deal with Amazon Web Services and explain why Honeywell is trying to become more than just a process manufacturing powerhouse. We conclude the show by answering a listener’s question about Wi-Fi.

The new Wyze vacuum has LIDAR and will cost $199 at first. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft. He explains what a digital twin is and isn’t and attempts to cut through some of the marketing hype about where we are in terms of building real-time updateable models of machines and manufacturing processes. If that gets too esoteric, he also tries to talk about what they mean for IoT business models and shares how digital twins might be helping us find a vaccine for COVID-19. It’s a good interview if you want to figure out what’s real and what is just marketing.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Why Apple cares about Thread and you should too
  • Why not put LIDAR on a vacuum cleaner?
  • What it means when Honeywell’s CEO says it’s a controls company now
  • What’s real and hype when it comes to digital twins
  • How digital twins can help us discover a COVID vaccine