Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

Episode 229: Check out this new location tech for IoT

This week Kevin and I continue to follow the never-ending saga of companies who sent people’s voice utterances to contractors without disclosure and pile on with more disconcerting news about Amazon’s facial recognition service getting the ability to detect fear. From there we discuss partnerships (LIFX and Brilliant, LG and Lumi); breakups (Microsoft and Johnson Controls, TP Link’s Kasa and HomeKit); and things that aren’t working (Google and Wink). We sprinkle in some Defcon news about acoustic attacks and hacked telephones before finishing with a study about power consumption on your voice-controlled TVs. We then answer a question about automating a bathroom exhaust fan.

Brilliant’s smart lights now work with LIFX.

Our guest this week is Adam Smith, director of marketing at LitePoint, a company that makes wireless test equipment. He came on the show to discuss the reasons LightPoint joined the FiRa Consortium, while also giving a primer on how the location-finding and the security features work. After that, we discuss how he decides which wireless tech to bet on and which ones he’s most excited about today. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Adam Smith, director of marketing at LitePoint
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • Overt surveillance and covert manipulation, coming to a phone near you
  • Take ups and breakups in the smart home
  • Huawei has a new OS to replace Android on its devices
  • What the heck is FiRa and how does it work?
  • Using time of flight to secure a wireless link

 

Episode 225: How to fix smart speaker privacy issues

This week on the show Kevin and I share our misgivings about smart speakers and some ideas to help address the privacy issues for those who want to continue to embrace the convenience, but don’t want strangers hearing their fights, farts, and friends. We also talk about the acquisition of Centralite’s assets by Ezlo, which has acquired other struggling home automation startups in the last year. Then we tackle ARM’s new licensing plan, Intel’s neuromorphic chips, and an update on Wyze (plus its next device). News bits include a new drone platform, UbiquitiLink’s funding, Eve’s new Bluetooth extender, and hacked insulin pumps. In our voicemail this week we answer a reader question about an outdoor Amazon Echo speaker.

One of Intel’s Nahuku boards, each of which contains 8 to 32 Intel Loihi neuromorphic chips. Intel’s latest neuromorphic system, Poihoiki Beach is made up of multiple Nahuku boards and contains 64 Loihi chips.  Image courtesy of Tim Herman of Intel.

This week’s guest is Rags Srinivasan, who is a senior director of growth verticals at Seagate. He’s on the show to talk about Seagate’s efforts to make its wafer manufacturing process smarter. The company started with the idea of implementing a predictive maintenance program for manufacturing machinery but realized that if it could instead use AI earlier in the manufacturing process it would have a larger impact on the company’s bottom line. Srinivasan explains the tools the company used for Athena, how it hopes to achieve a 300% return on investment and why internal branding is essential. He also extols the virtues of cameras as the ultimate IoT sensor. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rags Srinivasan of Seagate
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • How companies should fix their smart speaker QA process
  • What happened to Centralite?
  • ARM’s new licensing model and Intel’s new chips have something in common.
  • Seagate tried edge processing solutions from HPE and Nvidia
  • How to get buy-in from your bosses for an IoT project

Episode 223: How Amazon treats your Alexa data

This week Kevin and I read and discuss the letter from Amazon responding to inquiries about how it keeps and handles data. We go in-depth because it’s important to discuss the tradeoff between services and privacy. We also discuss a company leaking smart home data, the FTC settlement with D-Link and a smart home hub for apartments that can be hacked. After the bad news, we move to analyze HPE’s goal of selling everything as a service by 2022 and Kevin’s experience trying out Olisto, an IFTTT-like service. There are few news bits to cover, and then we answer a listener question about how to set up Amazon or Google accounts when two people with their own accounts move into the same house.

RealWear CEO Andy Lowery, wearing a RealWear head-mounted display. Image courtesy of RealWear.

Our guest this week is Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear, a company that makes a head-mounted display for industrial workers. The company raised $80 million this week, so I ask about Lowery’s plans for that kind of capital. I also want to know why people were using head-mounted displays, and how RealWear’s products are different from something like Google Glass or Microsoft’s HoloLens. We also talk about the shift in industrial work that will come about thanks to real-time collaboration in the field over remote connections, and what it means for workers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Privacy is nuanced, and that’s what makes it hard to talk about
  • HPE wants to make all of its products a service by 2022
  • Philips Hue’s Bluetooth bulbs make Kevin happy
  • $80 million can buy a lot of R&D
  • Are you ready for the centaur workforce?

Episode 221: Thread is now enterprise ready

This week Kevin and I talk about the updated Thread protocol and explain what Thread 1.2 has to offer. It’s quite a lot. We also talk about office-management firm JLL working with Google to launch a smart assistant for the office environment, Samsung’s smart TV flub and DISH launching a smart home device installation effort. From there we talk about device-based security at the chip level and several news items. These include turning an iPhone into a medical device test platform, a new launch date for IKEA’s smart blinds, a new HomeKit smart plug, an update on Samsung’s Galaxy Home fondue pot device and a lawsuit against Amazon. In this week’s Internet of Things Podcast Hotline, we answer a question from Jeff about how to keep smart speakers from cluttering up a room.

The JLL app lets office workers schedule conference rooms and more, using their voice.

This week’s guest is Elizabeth Hackenson, the CIO of Schneider Electric. In her role as CIO, she is helping make the 130,000-employee company undergo a digital transformation. It’s a big job and she shares her exact role, the challenges of bringing IT and OT together and does a deep dive on the type of security she’s trying to implement. She also provides helpful tips on how to get your team members on the same page and what to look out for when trying to build connected factories and operations. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO at Schneider Electric
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Three things that matter in the new version of Thread
  • JiLL wants to be your new office assistant with Google’s help
  • The most interesting element of the Alexa lawsuits is  consent
  • Communication is the most important factor in bridging IT and OT
  • You need a layered security approach for IoT

Episode 217: Lutron has saved the smart bulb!

This week, Lutron introduced the Aurora dimmer switch, which attaches to a traditional light switch to control your smart bulbs without any need of an electrician or tools. We love it! We also discuss the launch of Wyze’s light bulbs and newly added Google Assistant integration, Comcast’s proposed health sensors and Mediatek’s new chips for IoT.  From there we chat about GDPR, over-the-air updates for cars and Google’s new version of Glass. Our news bits feature Savant, Arduino Nano, Tado and Lenovo. This week’s hotline question concerns how to track when people are in a room for automation purposes, so we introduce RoomMe and a new security device called Minut as possible solutions.

The Lutron Aurora sells for $40 and is easy to install.

The guest this week is Zach Supalla, the CEO of Particle, who shares the results from a company-commissioned a survey of 800 IoT developers. We talk about the industries spending money on IoT and their use cases and then talk about the things that companies tend to struggle with once they scale up an IoT project. Surprisingly data isn’t the challenge you need to worry about. There are good learnings here.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Zach Supalla, the CEO of Particle
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Lutron Aurora is a must-have for renters
  • Do you want Comcast all up in your health?
  • Microsoft wants GDPR-style regulations in the US too
  • Here are the top five industries buying IoT
  • Here are the top three use cases so far for industrial IoT

 

 

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

Episode 204: Apple’s next big market and Silicon Labs’ CEO

This week Kevin and start the show with an educated guess about what comes next for Apple after the iPhone and then discuss the leadership transition at IFTTT. In the wake of Google saying that it didn’t disclose the microphone inside the Nest Guard box, Kevin and I reiterate our take from last week, which is that cameras and microphones should always be disclosed in the specs. We also talk about Osram being for sale, smart circuit breakers, Libellium’s embrace of NB-IoT and what Google needs to do to catch up to Amazon in the digital assistant race. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about creating panic buttons for the home.

The Nest Guard’s hidden mic became apparent after Google announced it offered Google Assistant.

This week’s guest is Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a semiconductor firm that is making a big bet on IoT. Tuttle talks about the role of various radios in the smart home and in industrial settings. He also explains why he’s not worried about the tech giants snapping up gadget-makers that are using his chips. We end with a discussion on how we need to rethink tech and innovation for the edge. It’s a good chat.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • Apple’s HomePod feels like a gimmick
  • Mics and cameras shouldn’t come as a surprise
  • Smart circuit breakers are still a hard sell
  • Are Z-wave and ZigBee doomed?
  • What happens when Amazon buys up your customer?

 

 

Episode 202: What happens when your smart home gets a subpoena

This week’s news was somewhat grim for the smart home with Lowe’s shutting down its Iris smart home hub program and a number of acquisitions in the space. Those include LIFX, Neeo, and WigWag. We are pumped about the rise in mainstream attention for consent around data use and privacy. Unfortunately, we also have a bunch of stories about leaking data, poor security practices and a slight bright point with a UK investment in device security. We end with some Google Assistant updates that are pretty compelling. Then we hit our IoT Podcast Hotline to answer a question about the best light switch to replace a Plum light switch, which has stopped working.

LIFX was purchased by an Australian company for $51 million.

Our guest this week is Denise Howell, a lawyer in California who shared some thoughts about how smart devices will change the legal landscape. We spent some time talking about what might happen in criminal and civil lawsuits when police or even other lawyers want access to device data. What rights do you have? We also talk about GDPR and the likelihood of new data protection laws getting passed at a federal level. She’s not as optimistic as I am. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Denise Howell, attorney
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

 

  • Lowe’s does a great job with a bad situation
  • The fallout in smart home devices keeps coming
  • Basic security starts with encryption
  • Tort law is the best we have for poor IoT products
  • It’s not jsut the police you have to worry about when it comes to device data

Episode 201: Bluetooth gets better and more smart lights

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released new standards that improve location tracking, so we talk about Kevin’s hopes for that and save the bigger details for our guest segment. We’ve got two new smart lighting products. The first is from Casper —yes the mattress company — and the second is from a startup called Orro. From there we focus on a creepy new lamp, tech giants getting into the utility business and a new energy harvesting method. Plus, Japan is hacking its citizens’ devices, Amazon offers hosting, and here’s a tip sheet on what to look for in smart apartments from an infosec writer whose apartment is about to be made smart. We also answer a question about which Z-wave hub he should buy.

The Casper Glow sells for $89 for one or $169 for two.

This week’s guest is Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup explains what the SIG’s new location services technology is all about and when we can expect it in industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Unsurprisingly, Bluetooth is prepping for a role in industrial and enterprise settings with this move. He also explains why Beacons are not the failure I think they are. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: FairCom and Western Digital

  • Two very different lights, both smarter than you think
  • Why home automation’s next frontier is in energy
  • An update from last week’s show on unwanted smart apartments
  • Get the scoop on Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature
  • Maybe beacons aren’t as doomed as I thought