Episode 262: Use your wearable data to detect COVID-19

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion of who should be tracking you during the pandemic and what rules companies and governments should use in order to protect user privacy. We also dig into the importance of APIs after Apple purchased the Dark Skye weather app. Then we explain the tightening relationship between carriers and the cloud with Microsoft’s preview launch of Azure Edge Zones. From there we dig into how social media can influence people during the pandemic, the best home Wi-Fi system, the new Fitbit, turning your Wyze Cam into a webcam, and a discussion of what we want broadband to be in the world we want to live in after the pandemic. We close on Kevin talking about Home Assistant integrations and his answer for a question on the IoT Podcast Hotline about how secure Home Assistant is.

The Fitbit Charge 4 will be out on April 13 and cost $149.95. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

This week’s guest is Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Scripps is trying to recruit people who have a Fitbit or other wearable to participate in a study to detect COVID-19 using variations in resting heart rate. We talk about the DETECT study (which you can sign up for from the link) as well as how to design a legitimate health study that includes consumer wearables. We also discuss the use of data and data privacy for those who want to understand those things before dedicating data to science. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Should Google and Apple implement contact tracing using our phones?
  • Azure Edge Zones are an example of the carriers and clouds getting closer
  • Home Assistant integrations are all over the map
  • What doctors look for when building studies around wearables
  • Why the DETECT study matters and how it’s data practices work

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 259: Lights out for first-gen Hue hubs and Lightify

This week’s show starts off with Kevin and I explaining exactly what’s happening with the death of the first-gen Philips Hue hubs (which we mentioned way back in November) and the death of the cloud servers powering OSRAM’s Lightify products. We then talk about Kevin’s experience installing Home Assistant and mine with the Helium hotspot. In news, we’re discussing Amazon putting its Amazon Go tech up for sale, Google’s Jacquard finding a new home in sneakers, an update for Apple Watch, Google Assistant getting support for sensors, Arlo updating security, and new Ring doorbells. We end by answering a question from a landlord about monitoring his rental properties.

Google’s Jacquard is now inside an insole designed for soccer fans. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared, a web site and newsletter dedicated to manufacturing (and other cool stuff). He’s sharing his and his community’s perspective on the COVID-19, what it means for Apple, big manufacturers and for companies starting on their product journey. It’s not all doom and gloom. He provides great reasons to get comfortable with making your product and suggests that like most crises, there could be opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Two smart lighting platforms are shutting off support
  • Kevin thinks Home Assistant needs some tweaks for normals
  • Google Jacquard’s price isn’t crazy high
  • COVID-19 could affect your holiday gift options and next year’s laptop
  • Why you should try to manufacturer your product if you can

 

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 242: Google explains itself and new Wyze gear!

Wyze makes some of the most reasonably-priced smart-home gear on the market and said earlier this month that it was planning a smorgasbord of new products, which Kevin and I detail in this episode. We then cover low-power wide-area networks with news that Twilio’s NB-IoT network and boards are now generally available and news that Amazon has joined the LoRa Alliance. From there we cover a security flaw, the longevity and reliability of connected home devices and a story about automation and jobs. We close with talk about a fitness company raising $55 million and another attempt at delivering wireless power at a distance. We then answer a question about who should swap out their Nest account for a Google Account.

The Whoop 3.0 fitness band is a compelling device with a pricey service.

Our guest this week is Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem, who explains why Google had to kill its Works with Nest program and what it means for users. You’ll also learn how Google thinks about privacy, that it doesn’t keep device state data and how it cordons off home data from its advertising network. We also talk about the local SDK and making it easier to add devices to the Google Home network. It’s an essential episode for Google fans.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem
SponsorsLegrand and Afero

  • Wyze has a lock, doorbell, scale and more on the way
  • Amazon gets deeper into LPWAN
  • Why Google had to kill Works with Nest
  • What’s inside Google’s Home graph
  • What to expect with Google’s local efforts

Episode 238: Google’s smart home vision explained

This week Kevin and I discuss the aftermath of the big Google event, covering the new devices, the focus on ambient computing, and changes to the Nest subscription and Works with Assistant programs. From there we cover a new smart lock backed by Lennar Homes and Walmart, a new light bulb from LIFX and more security exploits. We hit on some industrial and enterprise news with an overview of Hitachi’s recent conference. Finally, we answer a listener question about what to include when selling a smart home.

The Level Home smart lock hides the electronics inside the door and deadbolt. Image courtesy of Level Home.

Our guest this week is Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa, a company that has created a tracking device for mail, a mobile network operator, and a way to plug sensor data easily into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. We spend most of the time talking about the creation of the ParceLive service which provides subscribers with a postcard-sized device that customers drop into packages before they mail them. The device tracks the package and has several sensors affixed to it that can track temperature, humidity and more.  We talk about creating a sustainable company, the future of Wi-Fi in a 5G world and the engineering challenges associated with building the ParceLive product.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa
SponsorsNutanix and HiveMQ

  • Google’s taking its digital assistant beyond the smartphone
  • There are a lot of failed smart locks
  • Let’s talk about data lakes!
  • Why 5G will make Wi-Fi obsolete
  • How to build a sustainable tracking device

Episode 236: Yes, I want Amazon Alexa eyeglasses

This week we returned to the Amazon announcements from last week, so Kevin and I could share our thoughts in depth. We hit the popular gadgets, Sidewalk and even delved into the smart oven. We also covered funding news for two companies trying to build products for apartment buildings. IOTAS scored $8.5 million while SmartRent raised $32 million. We also discussed Microsoft’s powerful new earbuds, a new talent for Google Home products and industrial news from both Rockwell Automation and Emerson. We then answer a question about the best computing boards for teaching a teen to love STEM.

Microsoft’s earbuds are $249 and will have a few cool tricks.

Our guest this week is Simon Crosby, the CTO of Swim.ai, a company that provides machine learning at the edge for a variety of use cases. Crosby explains how Swim.ai works and then digs into the challenges the company has faced in trying to find a business model that works. His example of parsing through 60 terabytes of data a day from traffic lights only to sell the resulting insights for a quarter per intersection is pretty tough. He does offer hope in the form of new tech developments that we also talk about on the show. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Simon Crosby, the CTO of Swim.ai
Sponsors: Control4 and HiveMQ

  • Find out what disappointed Kevin most from the Amazon announcements
  • Yes, I am still geeking out about Sidewalk
  • Why Rockwell bought MESTECH
  • How to architect a product for machine learning at the edge
  • The cost of parsing edge data doesn’t always match the value of the insights

 

Episode 232: How secure is your favorite smart home device?

This week’s show has good news for smart device buyers concerned about security. We discuss a new research effort called Your Things that tracks the security of popular smart home devices. We also talk about a new Z-wave hub from Ezlo Innovations, a DIY voice assistant from Picovoice, and rumors about Apple’s new AR glasses and smart tracker. In bummer news, a popular maker board has a vulnerability that the manufacturer has patched. From there we move on to quick news from Amazon, August, and Android. Then we close by answering a question about how to track tools that you may want to lend out to friends.

Yale introduced new locks for the European market at IFA with August software inside.

Our guests this week are Gaye Soykök, who is head of emerging technologies at financial firm Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart, CEO at DevicePilot. The two have come up with this idea of creating a minimum viable ecosystem for testing connected services. The idea is that most companies can’t do everything needed to pull a good connected service together, so they must create an ecosystem. We talk about how to make that happen, what to look for in partners, and how it ultimately will affect the consumer. It’s a meaty topic.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Gaye Soykök, Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart,  DevicePilot
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • A scorecard from Georgia Tech and UNC-Chapel Hill grades the security of your devices
  • Stacey is about to build her own voice assistant device
  • A few Apple rumors to tide us over until next week
  • Why firms in the IoT need to consider a minimum viable ecosystem
  • How will consumers fare if such collaborative approaches pan out?

 

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 187: It’s time to take privacy seriously

We’re nearing the end of 2018, which is as good a time as any to relaunch the smart glasses concept. We discuss the new new Focals glasses, tie them in with Qualcomm’s new chips for Alexa-based ear buds and then tackle the Google Home Hub. From there we cover Amazon’s face recognition software, Tim Cook’s statements on privacy and use GM and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs as a case study to explain why privacy is so important. After that, we talk about a new device to detect falls, a resource article for those dealing with domestic violence in smart homes and a new chip company using a novel form of energy harvesting. We conclude the news segment by answering a listener question about issues with Apple’s iOS 12 update making it difficult for some IoT devices.

The new Focals glasses cost $999 and have limited functionality. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Hugo Fiennes, the CEO of Electric Imp, who shares how a connected product made by a company that no longer exists can still operate and get security updates. For fans of the Quirky egg minder this is great news. We also talk about the rush of new IoT platforms that have cellular connectivity and why they are so popular now. We end with a fun workplace IoT project involving Slack, some code and connected speakers. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Hugo Fiennes, CEO of Electric Imp
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • New AR smart glasses test the market for connected eyewear … again
  • Privacy will be the defining issue of the IoT
  • Walabot is designed to detect falls
  • How the Quirky Egg Minder works even after the company that made it failed
  • Can cellular take over the IoT?