Episode 274: Apple embraces IoT and SmartThings shakes things up

This week’s show is a whopper, starting with the news from Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference. We talk about how Apple is playing the long game by integrating sensors and machine learning across devices to give contextual experiences, Apple’s updates to HomeKit, and some details about Apple opening up its FindMy network. From there we talk about SmartThings’ evolution and eventual shut down of some beloved services and the new Wyze Cam Outdoor camera. On the enterprise side, Microsoft acquires CyberX, and Deutsche Telekom spins out its IoT business. We also cover news from Google related to Hue devices, Misty Robotics, Tuya, and Segway. Kevin gives a preview of Amazon’s Echo Frames and we answer a quick question about viewing your Ring doorbell on an Apple TV.

The new Wyze Cam Outdoor is battery-powered and cheap. Image courtesy of Wyze.

This week’s guest is Mark Benson, head of engineering at Samsung SmartThings, who joins us to discuss the changes coming to the platform later this year. He lays out why SmartThings is going to end support for some features as it tries to move toward delivering a more intuitive smart home. For example, on the hardware side, your hub will still exist but SmartThings will also put its software on hubs made by other vendors and we’ll see other manufacturers make SmartThings’ branded devices. On the software side, it’s moving from the current Groovy programming environment to an API, which is going to upset some developers and DIY folks. Benson explains why this change is needed and what developers will gain and lose. You’re going to want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Benson, head of engineering at SmartThings
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Apple’s using its chips and closed ecosystem to deliver context to devices
  • Why Microsoft purchased CyberX
  • How long will the Zigbee Alliance keep its name?
  • 2020 is the turning point for the smart home
  • Why SmartThings wants to trade Groovy for an API

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 271: Surveillance scares and a nutrition label for IoT security

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of what’s happening in the U.S. with protests, police brutality, and the role connected tech can play in smart cities, including the role image recognition can and does play. We then tackle the IoT news starting with Nest’s addition of Google’s advanced protection program and a GPS tracker that seems like a good buy. Then we discuss funding for a smart oven, a pool sensor, another HomeKit enabled security camera, a subscription service for monitoring the health of your HVAC system, cheap sensors, and a new doorbell from Wyze. We then move onto Amazon killing the Echo Look camera and its new intercom feature before breaking out the deep science for windows that can adjust to different light levels automatically. In our IoT Podcast Hotline segment, we answer a question about using a connected sprinkler to ward off animals.

The nutrition-style label that helps users figure out how secure a connected device is.

This week’s guest is Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is on the show discussing the newly created nutrition-style label researchers created for IoT devices. Researchers tried to convey about 47 relevant pieces of information that relate to a device’s security and privacy qualifications and crammed as many as they could onto an easy-to-read-label that’s designed to fit on a product’s packaging. The label doesn’t convey all 47 elements, but it does capture several key pieces of information about how long a device will get security updates, the types of sensors it has, and how the company treats its data. Other elements are relegated to a deeper privacy fact sheet that a consumer can access via a web site or QR code. Cranor explains the label, the methodology, and asks for help turning the research into something useful for the industry at large. Let’s make it happen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: Calix and Edge Impulse

  • We need to talk about how to enforce laws when IoT can see everything
  • This is a really nice GPS tracker for the masses
  • $10 Zigbee sensors? Yes, please!
  • What should a security label measure?
  • How can we get this label on our devices?

Episode 269: Wyze wants to bulk up and Microsoft Build news

This week’s show is all about Seattle-area companies. First up, Wyze wants to raise money, so it shared its sales from last year and plans for 30 more smart home products. Kevin and I talk about the company and its impact on the industry. Then we shift to Microsoft and its Build event, which took place this week. We discuss the IoT news including Azure RTOS, an update to Azure IoT Central (the SaaS IoT platform for Azure), and more.  We also took a side trip to explore a new consortium dedicated to digital twins. We then discuss what $4.99 a month buys you from Wink, a new wearable for contact tracing from Nodle and Avnet, the new Logitech Circle View camera, and Google Assistant getting new skills for appliances. We conclude by answering an email from Australia about door locks for rentals.

The new Logitech Circle View camera works with Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video service and sells for $159. Image courtesy of Logitech.

This week’s guest is Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive. I profiled the company a few years back when it had a different name but the same mission — building battery-free sensors that are powered via energy harvesting. The company has sold its steam trap sensor since 2018 and is now launching a vibration sensor. We talk about how to build a sensor that can harvest enough energy to monitor factory conditions, how COVID-19 is changing the demand for industrial IoT, and what changes once plant managers get a continuous stream of data about their operations. It’s a fun show, and you’ll learn all about steam traps!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive
SponsorsVery and Edge Impulse

  • Wyze sold $95 million in gear last year
  • Microsoft’s really building out an end-to-end IoT infrastructure
  • Wink is charging me $5 a month so my voice assistants integrate better
  • Why we need energy harvesting sensors
  • How to sell a big name on a startup’s tech

 

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

Episode 267: How to build your own IoT device

This week on the show, Kevin and I start with a potential privacy bill in the Senate related to COVID-19 track and trace and then discuss the challenges legislation and Bluetooth track-trace efforts will face. We then talk about a possible acquisition by Microsoft of an industrial IoT security company. Kevin shared his hope for a smart home with common sense based on advances in AI research before we dig into new IoT malware called Kaiji. In news, Nordic Semiconductor is touting new smart gear for hospitals, Nest is requiring all users to use multi-factor authentication, Ring has a new $99 doorbell, and Automatic joins other companies in shutting down because of the pandemic. This week on the IoT Podcast hotline, we answer a question about Z-Wave repeaters and buggy mesh networks.

Image of the MailPig mailbox sensor courtesy of Christine Sunu.

Our guest this week is Christine Sunu, who got a lot of attention a week or two ago with the creation of a sourdough fitness tracker called Sourd.io. She joined us to walk us through the creation of a sensor to detect if your mail has arrived (specifically if your mailbox has been opened). As an IoT developer community engagement manager with Twilio, and a former developer engagement manager with Particle, Sunu has been making connected devices for years, so she helps with the terms you might want to Google and how to get over common barriers standing in the way of a final project. It was so much fun to talk to her, and she has written a blog post to go with the interview in case you need more than the auditory guidance.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Christine Sunu
Sponsors: Very and Liveworx

  • The latest on COVID-19 track and trace news
  • Is Microsoft getting more serious about industrial IoT?
  • Ring’s got a new doorbell
  • How to build a connected mailbox sensor
  • Two common barriers to finishing your projects

 

Episode 265: How to make the electric grid more like the internet

This week Kevin and I dig into two sets of best practices for privacy and data collection relating to track-and-trace programs enacted on our devices. One is from Microsoft, and the other is from MIT. We also talk about Ring asking users if they want the ability to read license plates in their security cameras and offer some insights about the recently launched update to the Ring Alarm system. From there we discuss vulnerable smart hubs, vulnerable servers, and a power-efficient NB-IoT modem. Next up is a bit of news about Folding@Home using a Raspberry Pi, smart swim googles, using computer vision to save coral reefs, and a bit about blood pressure monitors. We end by answering a listener question about available Wi-Fi 6 routers.

The $199 swim goggles from Form include a heads up display, heart rate tracking, and more. Image courtesy of Form.

This week’s guest is Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission, who explains how we’re going to get to a dynamic energy grid that helps consumers and businesses react in real time to the price of energy. We have plenty of energy-saving devices and even the ability to turn off or lower the energy demands in our home, using smart tech, but there’s not much of an incentive. If states and utilities work to make real-time pricing changes available to the home (likely a governing device) then the home can react by reducing electrical demand. She talks about the tech and regulations that will make this possible and informs me that FM broadcasts might be the best way to disseminate the pricing information cheaply. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission
SponsorsCalix and Ayla Networks

  • How to think about data privacy during a pandemic
  • Ring’s interest in surveillance style tech continues
  • Smart googles and microamp modems are pretty cool
  • Why California wants an energy grid that looks like the internet
  • Maybe FM radio has a role to play in the IoT

Episode 264: Wyze gear and everything’s coming up COVID

This week’s Internet of Things Podcast kicks off with a discussion of all the ways that IoT companies are evolving their products and pitches for the pandemic. We cover handwashing sensors, door sensors, and Raspberry Pis before moving onto discuss the Apple and Google contact tracing efforts. Then it’s on to product news from Ecobee (the new security camera, sensors, and service); Apple (a new iPhone), the Wyze outdoor camera, and bandwidth reductions for your Nest cameras. After the product news, we cover Google’s explanation of when and how to use its TensorFlow Lite machine learning framework. I then talk about my initial thoughts on the Wyze Scale and Wyze Band (I’ll do a full review in the newsletter on Friday). We end by answering a question about setting up your own LoRaWAN network.

Ecobee launched a few new products and a new security service. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

My guest this week is Dave Crosby, co-founder and head of marketing at Wyze Labs. We kick off with an explanation of why Wyze has released a scale and the fitness band, which is a bit of a pivot for the smart home device maker. Crosby teases the timing for the outdoor camera and we talk about how low-cost devices could open up a lot of creativity for users. We then discuss how the coronavirus is affecting the business before ending the conversation with the Connected Home over IP standard. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dave Crosby, co-founder and head of marketing at Wyze Labs
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Everything in the IoT has been touched by the coronavirus
  • The pros and cons of Google and Apple’s contact tracing plans
  • Wyze scale is cool, but the band needs work
  • Low-cost devices could open up the DIY smart home of my dreams
  • Surgical masks? Thermometers? How Wyze is trying to help with the pandemic

 

Episode 263: Insurance gets smart and Google Home gets local

Kevin and I kick off the show with the news that Google is moving ahead on its local control for certain smart home devices, which will be helpful for people who want faster response times and a bit more privacy. We also discuss the FCC’s approval to make Wi-Fi 6 E spectrum available. From there we speculate about the Ring Doorbox and Apple Tags products before jumping into news from Ecobee on support for multi-factor authentication and a new subscription filter business. After that, we explore the idea of a mesh network in space, a smart toilet and discuss a peer-to-peer app for track and trace. After all of this, we answer a question from a listener about how to handle smart devices during power outages.

Image courtesy of Google.

This week’s guest is Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory, a startup that began life as an IoT weather sensor company and is now an insurance provider. Kubicek talks about why the company had to build its own gear and bypass the insurance market in order to succeed. He also anticipates where we’re going to see data-driven insurance go next. As a bonus, he offers a detailed account of how hail insurance works in my former home state of Texas. Exciting!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Why Google’s local SDK is so good for the smart home
  • What the heck is the new Ring Doorbox?
  • Yes, we did discuss the smart toilet seats that take a fingerprint of your backside
  • The connection between Texas, hail and some impressive insurance fraud
  • Data could drive the spread of parametric insurance

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