Episode 361: IoT builds a better mousetrap

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion about smarter robots and new funding for a Canadian general purpose robotics platform. Then we talk about Amazon’s further healthcare ambitions in a deal with Teledoc that lets you ask Alexa to call a doctor. We also give an update on the Sigfox receivership process since bids were due on Feb 25. We then hit some bad news from Wyze regarding its professional monitoring subscriptions and the recall of 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic watches. We also have a lot of new product news starting with Lutron’s new honeycomb smart shades, a smart mosquito-killing system, a new HomeKit and HomeKey-compatible lock and a review from Kevin on a connected mousetrap. We end the show by answering a listener question about reliable smart lighting options and the best HomeKit gadgets for those new to the ecosystem.

Thermacell’s new Liv mosquito-repelling system works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Image courtesy of Thermacell.

Our guest this week is Bob Marshall, the CEO of Whisker Labs. the company behind the Ting fire detection device. Marshall has been working with sensor data for more than a decade, so we talk about his earlier company and where the idea for Ting came from. We also discuss how to get in business with insurance companies and why Ting has elected to build a subscription business. We also discuss what types of service you need to provide if you do plan to charge a subscription. I like the Ting device, so was excited to chat with Marshall. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bob Marshall, CEO of Whisker Labs
SponsorsSomfy and Pantacor

  • Sanctuary feels like a moonshot, not a startup
  • Alexa can connect you to medical care
  • Murder mice humanely with a smarter mouse trap
  • How Ting built a business built on insurance companies
  • How Marshall pivoted from weather to fire prevention

Episode 359: Meet the man who “invented” the IoT back in 1985

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has finally released its plans for securing the IoT, so we discuss what the plans are for a consumer-oriented cybersecurity label. We then give a quick update on the Sigfox receivership and Intel’s plan to purchase Tower Semiconductor before spending a large chunk of time on Apple’s AirTags and how ubiquitous and cheap trackers change the game for privacy. We share new subscription plan revenue data for the manufacturing sector and for IoT devices, and unsurprisingly the folks at Zuora are optimistic. We then share some details on Anthony Levandowski’s plans to build a peer-to-peer cellular network for self-driving vehicles that looks a lot like Helium, and a sad story about bionic eyes made by a company that is going out of business. We end by answering a listener question about smart controls for 220-volt or 240-volt outdoor heaters.

Apple is trying to prevent folks from abusing AirTags to stalk people.

Our guest this week is Peter Lewis, who was a co-founder of Cellular One and the originator of the term “Internet of Things.” Lewis coined the term and described the connection between wireless sensors, cellular networks, and the internet, all the way back in 1985 during a speech he gave to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 15th Annual Legislative Weekend in Washington, D.C. This week, you can hear the relevant segment of the speech and he shares why he was so eager to get things connected to the Internet 37 years ago. He also talks about what surprised him as the IoT really gained ground and discusses what he’s doing today. This is a great history lesson that everyone should know.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Peter Lewis, originator of the term “Internet of Things”
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • What does NIST want for consumer IoT security? We tell you.
  • Who’s bidding for Sigfox?
  • Why Apple’s AirTags are such a problem
  • The IoT was created by a cellular executive to gain new subscribers
  • What the creator of the phrase “internet of things” didn’t see coming

Episode 357: Too many companies are paying ransomware

This week we kick off the show with an explainer on Sigfox’s receivership before delving into grim news from Claroty, a cybersecurity firm.  Claroty surveyed 1,100 IT and OT (operational technology) pros and discovered that three out of five of them worked at companies that paid up after a ransomware attack. I can’t believe it, but the research offers compelling reasons why. We then move over to some Matter news, starting with an update from Assa Abloy on backward compatibility for its Yale locks, and concluding with an update from Nanoleaf, which is delaying some of its products thanks to Matter being delayed. We then cover Walmart teaming up with Angi to install some smart home products for consumers as part of the rush to invest in smart devices that we discussed last week with Angi’s CEO. In quick news, we talk about a new IoT satellite service, an acquisition by connected health company Withings, and Peloton’s new $90 smart heart rate monitor. We conclude the show with a good idea from one of our listeners who set up a sort of call system using Wyze outlets and smart bulbs.

Withings purchased a subscription workout app to add to its wellness hardware. Image courtesy of Withings.

Our guest this week is Simon van der Jagt, CEO of Nowi. Nowi makes an energy harvesting chip that is easier to use in a variety of sensors. We talk about why, before moving to a discussion of plug and forget devices, and what those will entail. The idea is that companies can build energy-harvesting sensors that could last for the life of a road or container or other product, and thus we can forget about them. We also talk about trends in designing chips for the IoT such as sales challenges and the growing demand for highly specific chips that can consume the least amount of power while getting the work done. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Simon van der Jagt, CEO of Nowi
SponsorsRightpoint and Hologram

  • What led to Sigfox’s “bankruptcy”
  • You’ll never believe the size of these ransoms
  • Is Matter causing product delays?
  • What kind of chips does the IoT need?
  • Let’s design plug and forget devices

Episode 353: Virtual CES extravaganza

It’s CES week, and neither Kevin nor I are physically there for the second year running. That makes it really tough to get a macro sense of cool tech and upcoming trends outside of press releases and product launches. Normally, we spend so much time trawling for the weird or futuristic in the demos and report on the stuff that isn’t pre-packaged in a release. Maybe we can return to that next year. In the meantime, there are a lot of stories, but the biggest trends in the smart home relate to the upcoming launch of the Matter interoperability standard for the smart home, a bunch of new products that will support HomeKit, and new products for Amazon Alexa and the Google ecosystems. We are also are excited about the newly launched Home Connectivity Alliance and what it might mean for future product features and energy consumption in the home.

Arlo’s new DIY security system includes an all-in-one sensor and keypad. Image courtesy of Arlo.

After a quick break, we share our non-amazement of John Deere’s automated tractor. It’s cool, but it has also been half a decade in the works, so it’s not like it comes as a huge shock. We then discuss new products from Samsung (an energy harvesting remote and a tablet for the smart home), Schneider Electric’s update to its energy management software, a new assistive robot, and Arlo’s smart home security system with an all-in-one sensor. Outside of product news, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released an update to the Wi-Fi 6 standard with more uplink capacity and better power management. This will ensure that Wi-Fi 6 is more relevant for IoT devices and perhaps ensure those chips get used in more end devices, especially in cameras and video doorbells. Masonite also showed off its smart door at CES so we share our impressions. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about power consumption in IoT devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Matter may be late, but it’s looking much better
  • All three digital assistants got a lot of love from new product launches
  • John Deere’s robot tractor shows how technical farming has gotten
  • Wi-Fi 6 gets an update custom-made for the IoT
  • How much energy does Alexa or Siri consume?

Episode 345: Ecobee’s big deal and climate-friendly chips

The big news in IoT this week was the announced acquisition of Ecobee by Generac, so Kevin and I share our thoughts on the deal and what it means for the smart home. After that, we were excited to see Amazon launching a smart air quality monitoring device for $70 as well as publically state its support for Matter. We also cover Facebook’s decision to stop using facial recognition and believe that more companies will seek to prove they are trustworthy in hopes of getting even closer to us as consumers. Then we talk about the EU’s addition of new categories to its cybersecurity rules, the new Flic Twist campaign, Tempo’s smaller, cheaper home gym, ADT’s security service for DoorDashers, and a $500 kid’s toy that I really want. We also note that the Espresif ESP32s now formally support the Zephyr RTOS. We end by answering a question about whether or not you need the device app to update HomeKit-compatible products.

The Alexa air quality monitor will cost $70 and ship in December. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Sri Samavedam, who is the senior vice president of semiconductor technologies at imec, a semiconductor R&D consortium. We discuss imec’s new effort to research sustainability in chip manufacturing. You’ll learn how chips are made and why manufacturing ICs delivers such a blow to the environment. Samavedum explains why Apple has joined its efforts and how it plans to measure the carbon footprint of chipmaking. He also offers some advice for product manufacturers and consumers on how they can use chips more responsibly given how much they cost (in terms of environmental damage) to make. There’s no sugar-coating it, we need more data on this and we also need to think about using silicon for longer than we do today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sri Samavedam, imec
Sponsors: Very

  • What Generac’s Ecobee purchase means for the smart home
  • Amazon loves Matter
  • Would you buy your kid a $500 hoverboard?
  • Chip manufacturing is extremely bad for the environment
  • We should try to use our devices for as along as possible

 

 

Episode 343: Return of the connected bunny!

We kick off this week’s podcast with a focus on chips and hardware starting with an explainer on Arm’s new Total Solutions for IoT and why it will help developers and device makers speed up time-to-market for connected products. We then talk about plans to put Linux on Arduino devices that were outed in a release from Foundries.io and plans for scalable ways to provision and secure connected devices at the manufacturing stage from Infineon. We skipped over to Amazon’s new Alexa Connect Kit SDK and what it means before tackling the new colors for Apple’s HomePod mini and a hew Apple hire. In smaller news, we discuss Tesla’s insurance plans, Wyze’s new battery-enabled doorbell, and why I should have purchased a Pixel 6 Pro, despite its giant size. We then share a crowdfunding campaign designed to bring one of the original connected devices of yesteryear back to life. Click here to resurrect your Nabaztag connected bunny. Finally, we talk about your responses to our question from the IoT Podcast Hotline related to connected devices for workshops.

The Nabaztag bunny gets resurrected. Image courtesy of Olivier Mével.

Our guest this week is John Cowan, co-founder and CEO of EDJX, a company building out a distributed software platform for developers. We start off talking about a new project EDJX is implementing with the military at Camp Mabry in Austin. We talk about the necessary hardware for sensor deployments in cities and how those might become the new infrastructure for edge computing. Cowan then explains why containers aren’t the correct match for a highly distributed computing platform at scale, and how serverless solutions can help answer this need. We discuss compute, networking and databases, so prepare to get nerdy. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Cowan, co-founder and CEO of EDJX
Sponsors: Very

  • Details on Arm’s plans to help the IoT
  • Amazon’s new SDK takes Alexa to more hardware
  • Bring a vintage IoT bunny back from the dead
  • Why the military needs low-latency edge computing today
  • How EDJX thinks about data decay and assurance

Episode 341: Smart cities and smart fridges galore

Welcome to the weekly podcast! We’re moving Black Friday to October thanks to chip shortages and shipping delays. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a smart fridge, Google is trying to use a $10 monthly subscription and Nest thermostats to help people go green and also launching new cameras and ways to surf its displays. The Starling Home Hub gets a new feature that lets you watch your Nest cameras on HomeKit gear, and consumers interested in mining Helium Network Tokens or participating in building a LoRaWAN network for IoT have another option thanks to RAK Wireless. Kevin and I also discuss a really cute Kickstarter version of the Boston Robotics Spot robot. When it’s a small, open-source robot for kids, it doesn’t seem so scary. We also discuss some cybersecurity research on industrial controls from Nozomi. We end by answering a listener question about where to sell your old smart home gear and how to prep it for sale.

The Mini Pupper is a small and cute spin on a much larger and scarier robot. Image courtesy of Mini Pupper.

This week’s guest is Sanjeet Pandit, global head of smart cities and digital transformation at Qualcomm. He’s on the show a week after Qualcomm held a smart cities event where it added new SaaS-based smart city services. We talk about how the pandemic has changed what municipalities want from technology firms, and how they are redefining what it takes to make a city smart. Pandit didn’t answer a lot of my questions about how cities are paying for these services or which ones were deploying some of the more futuristic services such as predictive traffic management, telling me that the cities get to decide when they talk about their deployments. But he assures me that many cities are making investments that go well beyond smart lighting, and I suppose for now, I’ll have to believe him and hope to see what municipalities start making announcements.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sanjeet Pandit, global head of smart cities at Qualcomm
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Why you want to start your holiday shopping now
  • Does anyone think an Amazon fridge could be trusted?
  • Would you trust a tiny open-source version of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot?
  • What smart cities want after the pandemic
  • Several use cases for smart cities that don’t involve lighting!

 

Episode 337: Blast off with IoT in space

This week we kick off the show discussing several smart devices that might provide a modicum of security or comfort in case of weather disasters associated with climate change. After that, we start the long goodbye to 3G and discuss how companies are reacting. And for those who are keeping track of algorithmic accountability efforts, California has a new law that could be better in my humble opinion. We also talk about the security woes for the IoT as covered by a report out from Kaspersky, before talking about some new products including a new Z-wave home hub for HomeKit, a smart dog collar, Home Depot’s new smart home app, and a prospective gun safe from Wyze. And speaking of security, there is big news in the access control space with Chamberlain getting purchased by Blackstone for $5 billion and Assa Abloy buying the company behind Kwikset and Baldwin locks.

The Halo dog collar is pricey but pretty smart. Image courtesy of Halo.

Our guest this week takes us beyond the edge of the earth’s atmosphere with Charlie Kindel, a former executive at Microsoft, Amazon, and Control4, who is now advising companies who are working in space. We talk about how there’s a new economic flywheel driving investment in space communications and research and how that can be an advantage for the IoT. Those advantages aren’t simply related to communications and providing connectivity for sensors on Earth. Kindel gets excited about the ways researchers building networks for IoT can apply some of those learning to communications in space, where innovations are sorely needed. It’s a really fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Charlie Kindel
Sponsors:  Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Devices that might help you as climate change wracks havoc on the weather
  • How I think we should regulate algorithmic accountability
  • Consolidation hits the access control market
  • Space is the final frontier for IoT
  • Why investment in space is speeding up

Episode 335: Robots need a Myers-Briggs type

This week’s show starts off with old news that I forgot to tell y’all about last week: The Matter interoperability standard for the smart home is delayed until 2022. We talk about what that means and then turn to Google’s confusing fitness wearable strategy and the new Fitbit Charge 5 device. After that, we discuss human-computer interfaces and a new OT security report out from Honeywell. We also share an update on the Qi wireless power standard and I get angry about the Telsa robot marketing stunt designed to stop us from talking about the safety issues associated with the investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I end with a review of the Nest Cam and Nest Doorbell devices that are now each available for $179.99. We close the news segment with a question from a listener about buttons to turn off connected lights.

Surely, this understates the actual breaches, right? Image courtesy of Honeywell.

This week’s guest is Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan. He published a paper this month discussing how robots should best rebuild trust with humans after making a mistake. The paper is really interesting, and we spend a portion of this segment discussing why we need to trust robots and what is classified as a robot. From there we talk about the personality characteristics that Robert believes will work for different robots based on their form factors, their jobs, and the people they work with. We even talk about the ethics of making robots too trustworthy. It’s a lot of fun.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Google’s wellness and wearables strategy is super messed up
  • Kevin thinks your IoT products should offer real-time feedback
  • Google’s new Nest cameras are good for Google homes, but there are other options
  • Should this robot be an ESTJ  or an INTJ?
  • What even is a robot, anyway?

Episode 334: SmartThings’ new edge strategy

Welcome to this week’s episode! We kick it off with a discussion of SmartThing’s new focus on the edge with local control and user-derived device handlers. We then dive into four security stories starting with a flaw in the software development kit (SDK) for a Wi-Fi module, challenges with random number generation on IoT devices, and a flaw in an SDK by ThroughTek Kalay that affects smart cameras. We reserve most of our frustration, though, for BlackBerry, which had learned of a flaw in its QNX operating system and decided not to patch it. It was a pretty bad week for IoT security. But we did get some fun news. The Industrial IoT Consortium has changed its name and tweaked its focus to spend more time on business process and not just the IIoT tech, and Inmarsat plans to launch a new satellite network for IoT devices next year. We also discuss Google’s Fuschia OS appearing on more Nest devices. We end the segment by answering a listener question about the Span smart electrical panel.

The Otii Arc device measures power consumption. Image courtesy of Qoitech.

Our guest this week is part of a mini-theme focused on sustainability in the IoT. Last week, we heard about a new emphasis on price performance per watt from an Arm executive. This week, Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech, visits the show to discuss adding power consumption measurements throughout the product and software design process. Samuelsson discusses common energy-draining behaviors that they can address when measuring power consumption through their design process and talks about customers such as Deutsche Telekom, which encourages developers to perform power analysis to help prevent poorly behaving devices on its network. Given how much I hate changing my batteries in sensors or recharging my wearables, I hope everyone listens to what she has to say.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech
Sponsors: Very

  • SmartThings has a new strategy that DIY users should love
  • A bonanza of flaws in the IoT. Some won’t ever get fixed.
  • Why not launch another IoT satellite service?
  • How to avoid choosing the wrong battery for your device
  • Even wired devices should become more power-aware