This week’s guest is Ran Roth, CEO and co-founder of Sensibo, a maker of smart HVAC controllers. The add-on devices connect to window units, mini splits and other A/C and heating units that use IR controllers. We talk about smart energy and the road the company has taken since its founding in 2014. But most of our conversation focuses on how Sensibo is using ChatGPT to improve the user experience with its devices. Roth also hints at other potential use cases for ChatGPT that are less intuitive, and explains how he thinks the availability of large language models will help companies that have access to them use their data more easily. He likens it to the shift that Amazon’s cloud computing had on innovation after AWS launched cloud computing (EC2) in 2006. He then talks about what he’s learned so far and the concerns people have around AI and privacy. It’s a good show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Ran Roth, CEO and co-founder of Sensibo Sponsors: Blynk and Particle
As expected, Google’s Pixel tablet isn’t a major improvement for the smart home
Better energy harvesting from Dracula sucks more power from light
Broadcom’s chips could lead to smartphones with Zigbee or Thread
How Sensibo is using ChatGPT to parse a lot of data
What Sensibo has learned about using generative AI
This week’s show is full of both good news and bad news, starting with Google apparently dropping software update support for third-party smart displays. We question Google’s commitment to the smart home, even though the good news from Google is that it has released more capabilities to control new device types — a bit of good news. Then we review Nanoleaf’s Matter-enabled Essentials light bulbs and strips and are a bit worried about what it means for Matter. If you’re putting these bulbs in your smart home, you’ll need the Nanoleaf app and can only control them on one hub ecosystem based on our testing. That’s not what Matter was designed to do! In more bad news, Samsung SmartThings deleted a bunch of hubs on April 5, and we suggest some alternative options if you’d like to switch platforms. Digital privacy rules are getting more attention and I think smart medical device implants represent a tipping point. In generative AI news, Siemens and Microsoft are bringing AI to factories and we explain how they might work, while the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has a request for comment out on auditing AI. You have until June 10 to submit comments. The CSA has announced the launch of Zigbee Pro 2023 with better security features and a new transmission band. Finally, we answer a listener question about bringing smart charging his Tesla with his solar panels.
Our guest this week is Eben Upton, the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd. and co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Upton explains why Sony Semiconductor has made an undisclosed investment in the Pi Trading company. He also details the end of the supply chain challenges for the PI and says customers should see the shortage of Pis end in the second quarter (which is now). We also talk about why Raspberry Pi won’t get ML accelerators or smarter sensors on the board, what the industrial world is doing with Pis, and when we might see a Pi 5. We close with thoughts on RISC-V and future custom Pi designs. It’s a great interview.
Our guest this week is Svein-Egil Nielsen, the CTO of Nordic Semiconductor. We talk about the DECT-NR standard for massive IoT, defining both the standard and what we mean when we talk about massive IoT. We also cover use cases for energy harvesting technology and Nielsen gets cagey about Nordic’s plans for energy harvesting technology in Nordic chips. We end with a conversation about TinyML and how Nordic is planning to make its modules ML-ready for developers. It is a fun interview.
Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, founder of Home Assistant, the DIY, open source smart home platform. Schoutsen explains why this year is the “year of voice” for the platform and how to build an AI for users to speak in their own language for triggering automations (all without sharing data with third-party providers). He also shows off two new features; the first is using a HomePod to talk to Google Assistant over Home Assistant, and the second is using a generative language model like ChatGPT over a HomePod to create stories. We also talk about Matter and Home Assistant’s plans for a smart speaker or voice-capable device, as well as why you can’t easily buy Home Assistant Yellow, a pre-packaged box that already has the radios and software a beginner needs to run Home Assistant. It’s a good show.
Our guest this week is Matt Rogers, the co-founder and CEO of Mill, a startup using a connected kitchen bin to fight food waste. We talk about the problem of food waste and who will pay $33 a month for the bin and concurrent service. Rogers also explains the math behind the service, and talks about why he chose to use a subscription model to fund the business. He also tells me why this isn’t a composting device, since it’s designed to keep food in the food system, and explains why that is so important. Finally, he shares how challenging it was to build a hardware startup during the pandemic. It’s a fun chat.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Matt Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Mill Sponsor: Akenza
Researchers use Wi-Fi to track movement through walls
Half of us don’t connect our smart appliances
Maybe you don’t need hearing aids just yet?
Why Matt Rogers went from smart thermostats to fighting food waste
Rogers tried to keep manufacturing during the pandemic local
Our guest this week is Stefan Witkamp, the commercial director at Athom, the company behind the Homey smart home hub. Witkamp explains Honey’s privacy-focused smart home hub and the plan to launch the latest generation of the Homey Pro hub at CES. This will be the first time Homey is available in the U.S. after six and half years of availability for the original Homey hub in Europe. Homey Pro has all of the radios that a smart home needs, including Thread and IR. For listeners who care about privacy, Witkamp explains how Athom created a business model that allows the company to respect user privacy. This means the $399 pro version of the hub is more expensive than other options on the market, and the cheaper version comes with a monthly subscription. We talk about what it costs to keep a home hub running and how investors can push a company to choose alternative business models. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Stefan Witkamp, Commercial Director for Homey Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Wait a minute before updating to Matter
Will a Roomba story get everyone to care more about device privacy?
The smart home meets insurance in this acquisition
Our guest this week is Cathy Pearl, a conversation designer at Google and the author of the O’Reilly book Designing Voice User Interfaces. We discuss the history of voice interactions and what changed to make Amazon’s Alexa such an innovation. We also discuss how voice can help make technology less complicated, what type of conversations people want from a voice interface and how voice also drives accessibility. Then we discuss the ethics of creating voice companions for lonely people and a time that Pearl was stuck at an airport talking to a chatbot for 20 minutes. We then end after I ask if voice is going anywhere after the upheavals in Amazon’s Alexa business. Her answer will not surprise you. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Michele Pelino, a principal analyst at Forrester. She’s on the show to share four predictions about the IoT, edge computing, and connectivity in the coming year. We discuss the technologies that will entice city planners and lead to more municipal deployments in the hopes of bringing people back to cities. She also shares some bad news about future IoT device failures and the creation of millions of IoT bricks. We also hear predictions and advice on securing the internet of things with a focus on confidential computing and zero-trust security. Finally, she shares her thoughts on the connectivity company to watch in 2023 as satellite wins over companies looking for connectivity in rural and thinly populated areas. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Michele Pelino, a principal analyst at Forrester Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
The Bluetooth SIG eyes spectrum currently used for Wi-Fi 6E
Big moves in the world of energy harvesting devices
This week’s episode kicks off what I hope is a flurry of news from vendors about their Matter plans. We hear when and how vendors such as Amazon, Eve, Nanoleaf, and Schneider Electric plan to roll out Matter to new and old devices. We also call out companies that haven’t yet shared information and what you’re likely to see get support first. Then we go to other news such as leaked photos of Amazon’s Ring Car Alarm, a privacy lawsuit against Amazon going forward and new security and camera devices from Arlo. In less exciting news, we talk about a lock-picking lawyer’s discovery that the HomeKey version of the Level Home lock (the Level Lock+) can be easily picked with a simple lock pick or a bump key. Also in the bad news department, Orro Systems, the makers of a smart lighting switch and system, is looking for more investment and will stop distributing its gear so as to support existing customers. This looks like the beginning of the end. Kevin got his hands on Google’s Nest Wifi Pro, and decides that people on existing Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems probably won’t benefit much from this update, but those coming from older Wi-Fi 5 systems (like Google’s prior mesh Wi-Fi kit) will. Finally, we answer a listener question about Matter on smoke alarms.
Our guest this week is Peggy Carrieres, VP of Sales Enablement at Avnet, who is coming on the show to discuss what the changes in the chip sector mean for hardware designers. Carrieres spoke with me a year and half ago to talk about the chip shortage, and now has new data thanks to a survey of Avnet customers. The survey shows that 29% of respondents believe chip prices will continue to rise and that 26% expect to see more supply shortfalls. We talk about what’s driving challenges in sourcing chips and components for hardware as well as how engineers are starting to change how they design products amidst the shortage. We also point to some software developments that may help. It’s a nerdy interview, but worth the time if you’re building hardware.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Peggy Carrieres, VP of Sales Enablement at Avnet Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
Matter is coming to Amazon, Nanoleaf, Eve and more
Amazon’s next device may have a cellular data plan
I’m worried about Orro Systems and its future
Why chip shortages continue to cause problems for designers
Steps to help make hardware design easier in times of shortages
Our guest this week is Mike Nelson, VP of IoT security at DigiCert, who joins me to discuss what Matter will require from a security standpoint. We talked about it for a story two weeks back, but in the show we also discuss what the next iteration of Matter security might include as the specification matures with later versions. The current version of security with Matter is one of several progressive steps the industry has taken toward boosting security of connected devices, but regulators are also getting involved. So I ask Nelson his thoughts on the White House plans for a cybersecurity label for consumer IoT devices. He isn’t sure a detailed label makes much sense but talks about what he’d like to see for consumer IoT, and for other industries such as healthcare. It’s an important conversation.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Mike Nelson, VP IoT security at DigiCert Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs
What we think a cybersecurity label needs
Everyone is preparing for Matter
Why is Ecobee adding a video doorbell?
Here’s what we may see in future Matter security requirements
Why a nutrition-style cybersecurity label for IoT won’t work