Episode 178: Facebook’s smart speaker and a new security startup

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I trying to figure out Facebook’s voice ambitions. We then explain how Google is using IoT data and AI to shave 40% in energy use in its data centers. This is the future. From there we talk about that future’s dark side with a survey on consumer fears, a security exploit of Wemo devices and an attack that could waste a lot of water. We then discuss news bits such as C3 working with Google Cloud, using Wi-Fi for airport security, my thoughts on the new FitBit Charge 3, the acquisition of the maker of the Vera hub and the acquisition of CE Pro. We also answer a question about tracking when your kids come in and out of the home.

This is how I picture myself in the FitBit Charge 3. Not stuck behind my computer screen.

Our guest this week is Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io, a company created to provide continued security for connected devices. Baker explains why Foundries.io exists, how it works and the company’s attempts to become the Red Hat of IoT security software. Unlike some of the recent IoT security platform efforts out there, Foundries.io isn’t linked directly to hardware. You’ll learn more on the show. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Why Facebook needs your voice
  • A new type of IoT attack changes how I think about risks
  • 50 ways to track your children
  • Foundries.io is taking open source security and turning it into a service

Episode 177: Defcon hacks and blockchain facts

We kick off this week’s show with an overview of the stories coming out of the Defcon security conference held this week in Las Vegas. Keeping security in mind, we talk about Amazon Web Services’ new cloud IoT security product, and Google’s lack of transparency around location data tracking. From there we move to Wi-Fi stories, covering the new Arris Wi-Fi Easy Mesh router and Samsung’s new SmartThings gear that uses Plume’s software for better Wi-Fi. In a section on digital assistants we get Kevin’s options on the new Samsung Galaxy Home speaker and talk about Microsoft’s Cortana collaborating with Amazon Alexa. On a related note, Kevin completes his review of the Lenovo Smart Display and I talk about my test of the Joule sous vide cooker. To wrap it up we answer a listener question about installing a connected wall switch to control his ceiling fan.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker doesn’t look like the competition.

Our guest this week is Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament who came on the show to discuss what blockchain can do for the internet of things. One big area we discussed was micropayments. Another was how Clift-Jennings realized that to create the business she envisioned, she was going to have to build some hardware. We also spent a lot of time thinking about building decentralized trust and where information theory meets economic theory. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alison Clift-Jennings, CEO of Filament
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Hacked Alexas and voting machines
  • Google needs to be transparent about user data
  • An update for SmartThings featuring Plume
  • Why Filament had to build a special chip for the blockchain
  • The parallels between information theory and economic theory as it relates to data

Episode 176: Why did Apple join the Thread Group?

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with our thoughts on the future of hearables before explaining why we think Apple joined the Thread Group and what it means for future HomeKit products. From there we talked about a new report suggesting that IoT will be a $520 billion industry by 2021 and how enterprise and industrial IoT has stalled. A reader tip led us to valuable security actions you can take with your connected devices from Make magazine and Kevin shares his thoughts on the new Anki robot.  We hit news from ARM, the feds, Control4 and Smarter before answering a listener question about IR in the smart home.

The new June oven is $499 for a limited amount of time. It will eventually retail for $599.

Our guest this week is Matt Van Horn, who is the CEO of June. This week June launched a second generation oven that is roughly a third of the price of the original. Van Horn shares how June made that possible, how the company is using data to improve the user experience and why he’s not going into meal delivery kits anytime soon. He also shares a recipe for S’mores. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Van Horn of June
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • We’re going to ditch screens for voices in our ears
  • Security tips for your Pis and IoT devices
  • Check out Bond for IR control
  • No knobs and scaled back sensors lower June’s price tag
  • Why June has 64 ways to cook bacon

Episode 174: How Wyze makes such a crazy, good camera for cheap

This week I was at Google’s cloud event in San Francisco while Kevin swapped out his video doorbells. We discuss Google’s news related to edge computing and several pieces of doorbell news before talking about a few recent articles that show how far the smart home has to come. Kevin talks about the first NB-IoT tracker for the U.S., a new Bluetooth security flaw, and how Google’s cloud differs from AWS in his experience connecting our voicemail hotline to the cloud. We also cover a surprise contender for the worst connected device seen this week and answer a question on Alexa and hubs that is probably pretty common.

This is the $20 Wyze camera.

This week’s guest is Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs, who came on to explain how the company can make a high-quality HD camera for between $20 and $30. The combo of a low price and a good camera obviously works. Wyze has sold more than 500,000 cameras so far! She also answers questions about security, privacy and the company’s recent integration with Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs
Sponsors: Afero and Smart Kitchen Summit

  • How Google’s IoT cloud stuff compares with Amazon’s and Microsoft’s
  • Neurotic people might not want smart home gear
  • The dumbest IoT product of the week
  • How does Wyze make a camera that costs 10X less than Nest’s?
  • Wyze has sold half a million IoT devices. That’s insane!

Episode 170: Smart stents, surveillance tech and Alexa-powered faucets

This week’s episode begins on a grim note, as Kevin and I discuss the New York Times’ story about how smart home gadgets can become another point of control in abusive relationships. From there we touch on the new Wi-Fi WPA3 security standard and Tesla’s new plan to charge users for data and what it means for IoT. Kevin shares the new Alexa for iOS feature and explains why it’s useful, while I talk about a startup that wants to detect pollution at granular levels. We share news of a smart stent, smart park benches and my experience with an Alexa-enabled faucet. We then answer a question from a reader who wants to buy Abode’s security system but wonders what gadgets will work with it. The reader hopes that he can connect his home camera system to it, but has his doubts. If you are looking for your own home camera system, you may want to check out something like a home security camera, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to connect it to Adobe’s security system.

This smart stent is one long antenna with a pressure sensor. Image courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

For the guest segment, I visit with Cyrus Farivar, who is a reporter at Ars Technica and wrote a book on surveillance tech called “Habeas Data”. We discuss the current legal underpinnings of privacy law in the US and how it has evolved. Our conversation covers the recently decided Carpenter case, the 1967 case that established the concept of a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” and how the government could use our connected devices against us. You’ll learn a lot, but you may want to unplug your Echo.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Cyrus Farivar author of “Habeas Data
Sponsor: Control4

  • How to reset connected devices and be a decent human being
  • Y’all had some great ideas on connected cameras
  • Alexa, ask Delta to turn on faucet
  • Where the expectation of privacy came from
  • What to ask device makers about government snooping

Episode 169: Alexa gets a hotel gig

This week in IoT news, Kevin and I talk about AT&T’s plans to launch an NB-IoT network. Then we talk about the pros and cons of Marriott putting Alexa into hotel rooms. We also talk about a new voice assistant for the enterprise, HP Enterprises’ $4 billion investment in IoT, and digital rights management in smart fridges. We touch on a few more stories including an accelerator for the smart kitchen, leaked location data, a router that acts as a smart hub, and a clarification on the Thread news from last week. We then answer a question on how to view content from video doorbells and cameras on Alexa-enabled screens.

Amazon created a special version of Alexa for hotels. Image courtesy of Amazon.

This week’s guest is Gabriel Halimi, CEO and co-founder of Flo Technologies who discusses his leak detection technology as well as the insurance market. We talk about why consumers will end up sharing their data with an insurance firm, what you can learn from water flow data, and Halimi poses a somewhat scary future where your insurance firm will know if you actually set your alarm that they offer a discount for. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Gabriel Halimi, CEO and co-founder of Flo Technologies
Sponsors: Praetorian and Control4

  • AT&T joins Verizon and T-Mobile with anew NB-IoT network
  • Here’s why Alexa is everywhere
  • Wait, this fridge comes with DRM?
  • With insurance and IoT, if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.
  • You can learn a lot from water data

166: Alexa gets better at business and AI at the edge

The General Data Protection Regulation took effect last week so we kick off this episode by talking about what it means for IoT devices. We then hit the Z-Wave security news and explain why it isn’t so bad, after which we indulge in some speculation on Amazon’s need to buy a security company. We also discuss a partnership between Sigfox and HERE and a new cellular module for enterprises. Also on the enterprise IoT side, we review Amazon’s new Alexa meeting scheduler feature. Then we hit on news about Arlo cameras, Philips’ lights, new gear from D-Link and Elgato’s compelling new HomeKit accessories. We also have a surprisingly useful Alexa skill for enterprise service desks.

The new Elgato Aqua is a HomeKit water controller for your spigot. It will sell for $99.95. Image courtesy of Elgato.

Our guest this week is Jesse Clayton, a product manager for Nvidia’s Jetson board. I asked Clayton to come on the show because the 10-watt Jetson board is being used in a lot of industrial IoT applications and I want to understand why. He tells me, explains how AI at the edge works and shares some cool use cases. I think you’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jesse Clayton of Nvidia
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

  • Baby, don’t fear the GDPR
  • Here’s that list of Z-Wave certified devices
  • Amazon’s scheduling has a lot of hoops
  • A good explainer of machine learning
  • Why companies need computer vision at the edge

Episode 161: Amazon’s Alexa Blueprints, home robots and more

This week’s show finds me in Sweden pondering Alexa Blueprints, the Amazon Echo for kids and Amazon’s smart robot plans. Kevin and I talked about all of that, before showcasing new research for IoT out of Carnegie Mellon, the University of Washington, and Princeton. Two senators proposed a social media data sharing law that appears to ignore the IoT, Comcast reported growth in home automation subscribers, a few gadgets got new features and there’s a new version of a popular IoT chip that can handle mesh Wi-Fi. Kevin changes his smart home platform and we advise someone on a connected kitchen renovation.

The IKEA Tradfri lights have expanded to include colors and wall-mounted flat lights.

Our guests this week are from IKEA with Rebecca Töreman, who heads up the IKEA Tradfri products and Lena Pripp-Kovac, Sustainability Manager IKEA of Sweden. Töreman gives us a Tradfri update after a year on the market, while Pripp-Kovac offers valuable tips on how to design connected products with sustainability in mind. It left me questioning how I think about many connected devices. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Rebecca Töreman and Lena Pripp-Kovac of IKEA
Sponsors: Forgerock and Twilio

  • Alexa for kids and the home robot debate reignites
  • Smart walls, power-saving cameras and IoT security
  • Kevin is dumping SmartThings for Wink
  • IKEA’s next smart home area could be health
  • How to design a sustainable connected product

Episode 160: A deep dive into Microsoft’s IoT security platform

This week’s show is all about Microsoft’s new IoT security product, Azure Sphere. Kevin and I start with that, before talking about a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance explaining how to secure your enterprise IoT gear. We then discuss acquisitions such as Nice buying a 75% stake in home security startup abode, Lutron buying professional lighting company Ketra, and the possibility that Google might acquire Nokia’s health assets. In news bits, we talk about August’s new unlocking powers, Twilio’s new SIM offering, smart pet transport and VMware’s new lab setting for its IoT software. Kevin shares his thoughts on HomeKit sensors from Fibaro and we answer a question about doorbells.

The Art Institute of Chicago uses Ketra’s lighting. Ketra was recently acquired by Lutron. Image courtesy of Ketra.

Our guest this week is Galen Hunt from Microsoft, who has been working on the Azure Sphere product for the last four years. He shares why Microsoft attacked IoT security with a hardware, OS and cloud product and shared how far Redmond is willing to go on openness. He also talked about the revenue model, support life and other practical aspects. You’ll walk away from this one a lot smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Galen Hunt, partner managing director at Microsoft
Sponsors: Forgerock and Yonomi

Episode 159: The Nest doorbell is a great video doorbell

Microsoft plans to spend $5 billion on the internet of things, and it’s more than the usual shell game that big firms play with these sorts of announcements. We discuss its plans on this week’s podcast. We also talk about Qualcomm’s new vision chips for edge devices, what it means that apps are disappearing from the Apple Watch and Kevin’s thoughts on getting Alexa or Google to talk to you. Comcast shared its vision and new features for Stringify, August is working with SimpliSafe, there’s an old UPnP exploit hitting the IoT and I dumped a gadget for poor performance. I review the Nest doorbell before we answer a question on Z-wave and ZigBee for a listener.

My Nest Hello fresh out of the box.

This week’s guest is Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, who came on the show as part of an IEEE event at SXSW last month. We talk about where hearables are today, what’s changing and some of the cool things we can look forward to. I suggest a mute button for people you dislike, which Crum admits is possible. We also dig into the things that kill your hearing, and how we perceive sound. You may never take an aspirin again. Listen and learn, y’all.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories
Sponsors: Yonomi and Forgerock

  • Why every chip company has a chip for computer vision at the edge
  • This is a great podcast on Amazon Alexa
  • Goodbye Ikea lights and hello Nest video doorbell
  • Every ear is different and so is its perception of sound
  • You can jam a lot of sensors into a hearable