Episode 220: The future of surveillance includes hacked data and biased AI

This week Kevin and I offer a take on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency hack and what it means in terms of biometric data, broader security trends and how it relates to policing that can rely on connected AR glasses. Basically, it’s going to be a dystopian hellscape. Especially when you consider Spotify selling data about your emotional state, Amazon’s work on a wearable that detects your emotions, and Facebook trying hard to make a version of the Portal system that could sell. In other news, we discuss whether Uber’s air taxis need 5G, Amazon halting sales of its new Blink XT2 video camera and a new environmental sensing board from Google. And, in our IoT Podcast listener hotline, we answer a question about underrated smart home features. By definition, our answers should surprise you.

Google’s IoT sensor board plugs into a Raspberry Pi and talks to Google’s Cloud IoT Core service.

This week’s guest is Dominique Guinard, the CTO of Evrythng, a platform that connects unique tags to the internet. Brands ranging from Coke to liquor giant Diageo use the Evrythng platform to track individual items and connect brands to customers. Guinard discussed how Evrythng has changed with the times in the internet of things, how a new standard could let consumer packaged good companies track individual items, and how the economics are finally in favor of connected tags.  We also discuss the tech needed to track a trillion connected objects,  salmon and why companies always turn to marketing first when it comes to IoT. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dominique Guinard, the CTO of Evrythng
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • The surveillance state isn’t very secure
  • This isn’t the data I really want to share with companies
  • How many sensors did Google cram onto this board?
  • Sensor tags are finally cheap enough for packaged good
  • Yes, it’s the internet of salmon

Episode 216: Your smart home data will lead to cheaper insurance

This week Kevin and I continue discussing the fall out from Google killing the Works with Nest program. We discuss alternative devices for those who want to replace their Nest devices. Next, we go into the Amazon Alexa updates that add the Guard security features and sunrise and sunset schedule. Then we look at the new NB-IoT networks from Verizon and AT&T before talking about the facial recognition ban in San Francisco. We mention Lenovo’s new IoT Edge gateway and cover the new Wi-Fi Home Certification for single-family homes and apartments. Finally, we answer a listener question about outdoor mesh Wi-Fi.

The Sonos One got Google Assistant and there’s one drawback. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

This week’s guest is Mariel Devesa, global head of business at Phyn who discusses why insurance firms have been slow to underwrite more smart home devices and what we can expect going forward. One potential future involves companies bidding for our business based on feeds of smart home data showing how low our risk profiles are. Because Phyn is a leak prevention sensor, she also spends a chunk of time talking about water damage and how to find algorithms to build a compelling product. Enjoy the glimpse into our future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mariel Devesa, global head of business at Phyn
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • How should IoT devices remove features or privacy?
  • Sonos One adds Google Assistant but there’s a drawback
  • Verizon’s NB-IoT network seems pricey
  • Why insurance firms still won’t underwrite your smart home
  • One day your insurer might bid for your business

Episode 210: Hannover Messe and haptic IoT

This week’s show focuses on the tremendous amount of industrial IoT news coming out of the Hannover Messe event held in Germany. We cover Microsoft and BMW’s Open Manufacturing Platform and the similarly named Open Industry 4.0 Alliance as well as the prevalence of 5G news at the show. After explaining what is going on in the industrial world, Kevin and I discuss a patent for silencing drones from Amazon, news on Google’s shopping partnership extension with Wal-Mart, and a new Google Hub. Kevin also shares his scoop on Google’s new Mistral board. We then discuss surveillance in smart cities before revisiting our answer from last week’s voicemail to add more ways to connect your smart blinds to Alexa.

A figure from Amazon’s hot air balloon patent issued this week.

This week our guest is Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks, which makes a product called the Wayband. The Wayband uses haptic feedback to guide visually-impaired people using haptic feedback. Kirkland explains what his team learned about building a product, the opportunities offered by haptic feedback and how other designers should think about adding haptic feedback to their devices. And all of this started because he just wanted to build a connected suit that would help him learn Kung Fu. It’s a fun interview!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • The IT industry digs into industrial IoT at Hannover Messe
  • Why wireless matters for industrial IoT
  • Kevin’s got a scoop on a possible Google device
  • Waterproofing is somewhat important
  • Touch isn’t the same everywhere on the body

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

Episode 194: Is it time to address privacy in the Constitution?

This week I’m joined by Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and my former boss. We kick off the show with a discussion of the New York Times’ investigation into app location sharing and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before Congress. Both topics led to a debate about device privacy and what we should do about the lack of privacy and security in IoT.  We also talked about the need for two-factor authentication on certain connected devices and covered new Z-wave chips, IoT backpacks for bees and the fact that Essential is still around. We also took on some edge computing with Pivotal launching serverless options for users. Finally, we answered a question about adding presence detection to your car. 

Look at this bee-autiful connected sensor backpack. Image courtesy of Vikram Iyer, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington.

We didn’t just cover privacy in the news segment. The guest this week also details what happens when data gets out of control. In this case, we’re talking about smart cities. I had Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation on to discuss why we need to hit pause before adding too much technology to cities. She suggests that we invite more people to participate in the process and tells us how to be better citizens as our governments try to bring in more technology. To be clear, she’s not against technology, but she is concerned that we don’t often have important conversations about how technology can lead to surveillance and how it can impact vulnerable citizens. 

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
Guest: Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Is changing the Constitution the key to privacy regulation?
  • Alexa needs two-factor authentication
  • Serverless and the edge are new computing paradigms
  • It’s time to hit pause on the connected city
  • Tech is not the answer to every government problem

Episode 193: Inside Calgary’s sensor network

This week we tackle a bunch of device news, the rebranding of TrackR, the end of ARM’s Cordio Bluetooth IP and Nokia’s latest data on IoT botnets. We also ask what y’all think about network security devices and services for the connected home. We don’t currently consider them a must-have device, but should we? In device news, we mention Arlo’s new 4K security camera, iHome’s new mirror and alarm clock, IKEA’s $10 smart plug, Bose’s connected sunglasses, and Free ISP’s new Freebox Delta. We also discuss Kevin’s purchase of the Google Home Hub and my review of the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector and smart speaker. Finally, we answer a question about what connected tech belongs in the bedroom.

A chart from Nokia’s Threat Intelligence report showing the increase in detection botnets using IoT devices.

Our guest this week is Heather Reed-Fenske, the chief information technology officer at the City of Calgary. She talks about how Calgary has built a sensor network on top of its existing city-wide fiber network. Calgary is using LoRa radios that cost about $45,000, and is layering all kinds of new services on top of the network. She talks about what that has meant for city workers, trees and even concert promoters. We also discuss privacy and how governments should think about deploying smart tech in municipal settings. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Heather Reed-Fenske, the CITO at the City of Calgary
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Bluetooth trackers are boring, so those companies are changing
  • Should a network defense product be part of your smart home?
  • First Alert’s smart smoke detector is pricey and smart
  • How Calgary uses its LoRa network to keep trees alive
  • Real time noise sensors keep outdoor concerts in line

Episode 172: The smart home goes public

This week’s show takes up last week’s news of Netgear’s Arlo division and Sonos filing for initial public offerings. Kevin and I share what we see in the filings and what it means for the smart home. We also discuss Amazon’s Prime Day deals and Google’s answering sale with Walmart,  before digging into this week’s other news.  There’s a bit about building IoT networks in space and LG CNS’ plans to launch a smart city platform. Kevin also found a fun project that tackles how to make your own indoor air quality monitor.  We close our segment by answering a listener question about garage door automation.

Me installing the Alexa-enabled faucet a few weeks ago.

This week’s guest helped build the new Alexa-enabled faucet from Delta Faucet and shares the process with us. Randy Schneider is a product electrical engineer at Delta Faucet, and discusses how the company decided on Alexa, why there’s no app and why the phrasing for asking Alexa to turn on a faucet is so awkward. You’ll learn a lot from this, and may even find yourself wanting to connect your own kitchen sink. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Randy Schneider is a product electrical engineer at Delta Faucet
Sponsors: Afero and Avnet

 

  • Amazon looms large in both planned smart home IPOs
  • Google and Walmart take on Prime Day with deals for Google gear
  • Want to make a DIY air quality monitor?
  • Why Delta decided voice would be good for the kitchen sink
  • What’s Crate and Barrel got to do with this?

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 150: Mozilla’s IoT Gateway and LoRa Roaming

There was a lot of smart home related news this week as Mozilla launched IoT gateway software, Apple’s HomePod reviews came out and Nest was folded into Google. Kevin and I discuss all of that, plus Netgear spinning out its Arlo home camera business and offering a 20 percent stake in an IPO, Amazon’s creepy wristband patent, Alexa at the Superbowl and some feature changes in popular devices. We also spend a lot of time talking about Apple’s health ambitions in light of a new study on detecting diabetes with the Apple Watch. We also answer a listener question about how to configure their Echo for Drop-In calls.

Screenshots from Mozilla’s new IoT Gateway web software. Clean design, but this is still very DIY. Image courtesy of Mozilla.

For the enterprise minded, we bring in Bruce Chatterley, the CEO of Senet, to talk about LoRa networks and offer some use cases in the smart city, enterprise and residential setting. I learned some new things, including efforts to allow roaming onto LoRa networks. Chatterley also brought up a new business model and said that new partners mean that Semtech no longer holds all the cards when it comes to LoRa networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Grab your Pi and order a Z-wave dongle for Mozilla’s new IoT software
  • What does Nest going into Google mean for consumer hardware?
  • Kevin bought a WeMo HomeKit Bridge
  • LoRa, what is it good for?
  • Could you IoT devices one day roam?

Episode 147: Okay Google, manage my home

At CES I made the decision to traumatize my family and swap out the Amazon Echo for the Google Home despite Wi-Fi challenges. We kick off this week’s show explaining why, and discussing some new tricks the Home has. From there, we hit the partnership between Maersk and IBM to create a digitized supply chain using the blockchain. Then we talk about a startup that might help with that effort. Add in news bits ranging from BMW acquiring ParkMobile to a new low power wide area network module that can last 15 years, and we round out the first half of the show. We also answer a listener question about radiation from IoT devices.

Port of Algeciras, Spain. Image courtesy of Maersk.

Our guest takes us back to the topic of IoT networks and the future 5G holds for the internet of things. Chetan Sharma is the founder of Chetan Sharma Consulting, and is a widely respected telecom analyst. He talks about what networks are likely to succeed and why, and then also digs into his thoughts on how we should rethink competition and M&A in the digital economy. He also asks if it’s too late to regulate anticompetitive data practices in the U.S. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting
Sponsors: PointCentral and CBT Nuggets

  • The Google Home has a secret API
  • IBM and Maersk ask what blockchain can do for shipping
  • What 5G means for IoT and which flavor arrives first
  • Things to know when picking a LPWAN
  • Our anticompetitive regime is built for the 20th century, not the 21st