Episode 354: Google’s Soli pivot and Amazon’s Sidewalk news

This week Google reminded us that we don’t actually own our connected products when it removed functionality from grouped Nest speakers after losing a patent case filed by Sonos. Amazon’s Sidewalk network is getting a boost and this should spark a really interesting fight between LoRaWAN and Sidewalk in the coming years. We then talk about why sensors should have standards or maybe just a certification body for calibration, pay-what-you-want plans for IoT services, and Google’s surprise pivot around its Soli radar technology. The chip shortage has made it tough for Canon to find the silicon used to enforce its digital rights management that locks people into buying Canon toner cartridges, and we love to see it. In other news, researchers can detect malware using a Raspberry Pi and electromagnetic frequencies, Abbott Labs is getting into consumer wearables that track glucose and ketones, Netatmo launches its first Thread sensor, and Wind River will be acquired for $4.3 billion. Finally, we take listener feedback on accessibility and update an answer about Wi-Fi sensors.

Abbott Labs is launching a new line of wearables for measuring glucose, ketones, and more. Image courtesy of Abbott Labs.

Our guest this week is Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance, which launched last week at CES. Choi joins me to discuss the reason the HCA exists, how it’s recruiting new members and why we want our appliances to interoperate. He addresses questions about security, why the HCA is promoting cloud-to-cloud integrations instead of local ones, and if the HCA wants to work with the Matter protocol. It’s still unclear what the HCA wants to produce in terms of APIs or certifications, but it’s clear that the companies involved recognize that collaboration will be essential for building worthwhile intelligence into washers, dryers, HVAC systems, TVs, and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Google loses Sonos patent spat, but so do consumers
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk plans set up a low-power wide-area network fight
  • Has Google given up on Soli?
  • What exactly is the HCA trying to create?
  • Why the HCA is embracing a cloud-to-cloud strategy

Episode 351: Smart homes in the metaverse

What happens when the smart home meets the metaverse? We talk about the potential for better user interfaces and home mapping if we build digital twins of the home in a metaverse, while also discussing the potential of UWB to expand the amount of information contained in that digital twin. Then we discuss an excellent article on the Matter protocol and a new chip for Matter devices before noting Samsara’s successful public offering. In some anti-consumer news, Toyota is disabling features in its radio-controlled keyfobs unless people pay a subscription, leading us to wonder how we assess value in software as compared to hardware. We then look at LoRaWAN coverage maps for the combined Helium and Senet network, a new deal in the satellite IoT sector. Finally, we answer a listener question about Shelly RGBW modules for lighting and Home Assistant.

The Fi collar costs $149 and requires a subscription for its location-tracking feature. Image courtesy of Fi.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi, a maker of a connected dog collar. We discuss the product and why people buy a connected collar. Then we cover the connectivity options and why the Fi collar uses cellular as opposed to some of the other low-power wide-area networks such as Amazon’s Sidewalk. Lastly, we talk about subscription options and how to build a plan that works for your audience. Whatever Bensamoun is doing works, because 93% of people who buy the collar subscribe to the service. That’s amazing! Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Does the metaverse have a role in the smart home?
  • How UWB can help make the smart home better
  • Where there’s LoRaWAN coverage, and where there isn’t
  • Why cellular still beats Amazon Sidewalk and LoRaWAN
  • How to price a subscription for an IoT device

Episode 350: Lexmark shares how to manage millions of connected devices

Today’s show is our 350th episode, so we start off with a little bit of celebration before hitting half a dozen pieces of Amazon-related news, including the AWS outage that took out many smart home services, and a newly submitted FCC listing that could be a big deal for those needing a low-power wide-area network. Then we mention Amazon’s latest Halo device and the new Amazon Alexa Together service, which launched this week (it works with a radar sensor from Vayyar to monitor for falls). Then we talk about long-term support for FreeRTOS and an update bringing Alexa smart home capabilities to the FireTV platform. After all that time on Amazon, we then turn to some LiFi news and a bit on how LiFi could be adapted to become relevant for the IoT. Then, we celebrate again over Sonos’ plan to design its devices to last longer and be easily recycled when they reach the end of life.  We also cover some slimy data practices by Life360, a big round of funding for IoT platform Afero, and a new Thread-capable device from Eve. Finally, we end by answering a listener question about smart smoke detectors.

The sensor from Vayyar costs $250 and can work with Amazon’s Amazon’s Alexa Together service to track falls. Image courtesy of Amazon.

This week’s guest is Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark, the printer giant. He’s on the show to share what Lexmark has learned through more than a decade of managing millions of connected printers around the world. He shares how the company built a predictive maintenance program, uses sensor data from printers to redesign new printers to handle common problems, and even discusses how connected devices help with Lexmark’s sustainability goals. Lexmark has taken its expertise and created its own IoT platform called Optra. Lexmark launched the first Optra service this year, and Carter talks about why Lexmark launched the platform and why it felt that a consulting element was essential for the platform. It’s a very practical interview for those trying to build and manage a bunch of connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • So much Amazon news from data center outages to new devices
  • We’re really excited about how Sonos is designing gadgets for sustainability
  • Boo. Life360 forces people to opt-out of allowing it to share location data
  • Why Lexmark decided to launch an IoT platform of its own
  • How connected printers can help reduce Lexmark’s environmental impact

 

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 340: Amazon wants you to trust its devices

This week’s podcast is all about Amazon (with a few other stories for variety). We start the show with a rundown of the devices and services Amazon launched at its device drop on Tuesday. We then explain what it means for the smart home and ask if this is what we want. We also question if the Astro robot is really all it seems before offering a public service announcement about updating to iOS 15 beta software. After that, we cover a new Helium miner called Finestra, designed for the mainstream consumer. As an added bonus, the company behind the new miner, Mimiq, is also building LoRaWAN devices, which is desperately needed if we want these networks to actually provide real value. After that, we talk about a smaller satellite signal module that works indoors and an incredibly irritating marketing campaign for the new Flic Twist device that puts me off from what is actually a good idea. Then, Kevin talks about his experience with the new Wyze Cam Pan 2. We close the news segment by answering a listener request for a Spanish-speaking smart home.

Amazon launched a $1,000 robot. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week continues the Amazon theme. We have Anne Toth, head of Alexa Trust to discuss how Amazon is trying to introduce friction into the Alexa experience as a way to promote privacy and help consumers open up to Alexa at their own pace. She didn’t answer my question about the number of false positives or give me a convincing reason why Alexa keeps interrupting me with suggestions about other things I can do with the device, but she does a good job talking about the challenges of explaining what Alexa does and doesn’t know about people and why people may want Alexa to know more. It’s a good interview, even if I didn’t get all the information I’d like.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anne Toth, Head of Alexa Trust at Amazon
SponsorsTrek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Ambient intelligence is code for stop looking at your smartphone
  • There’s a looming wave of new Helium miners
  • Flic has a cool new device coming, but finding out about it is annoying
  • Amazon does care what you think about privacy
  • Alexa talks back so you know all of the cool things it can do

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 336: Australia’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad surveillance law

We start this week’s show with a look at a new surveillance law in Australia that seemingly obliterates a lot of protections around how law enforcement officials can access data and what they can do with it. We also talk about a survey conducted in the U.S. that shows how willing many Americans are to share their data in exchange for cheaper insurance. From there we cover new fundings for Brilliant, Wirepas, and Carbon Robotics. For those eager for an update on Helium’s 5G plans, the Freedom Fi hotspots will hit the market on Sept. 28. We also have updates on new products and features from the maker of Philips Hue devices, Spotify, Google, and Amazon Alexa. We end with a question from David about how to avoid the problems associated with adding new devices or hubs to his smart home network.

Brilliant, the maker of smart home light switches, has raised $40 million. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes, a company that leases single-family homes. He’s on the show to discuss how Invitation Homes plans to add smart devices to its portfolio of 80,000 homes and to talk about the challenges of managing that many devices. We discuss the future of predictive maintenance across the portfolio, the savings the company has already achieved, and plans for new features such as video doorbells. We also talk about the perceived longevity for different device types in the smart home. And of course, we talk about how the company handles privacy.  It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes
Sponsors:  Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • In Australia, your data can be modified and searched by law enforcement
  • Alternative 5G networks and smart home devices raise VC funds
  • Alexa and Google both get new features
  • Why Invitation Homes thinks the smart home could help it be more efficient
  • It’s pretty difficult to manage 80,000 smart homes

 

 

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 332: The IoT gets a good idea and a bad idea

This week, news slowed down a bit so Kevin and I kick off the show talking about a connected manual device to physically press buttons or twist dials as needed to turn older appliances “smart.” After praising that idea we panned Amazon’s new soap dispenser for having a Wi-Fi chip that’s really underused. In other Seattle news, Wyze, the makers of so many connected devices, has raised $110 million from a venture firm associated with Jay-Z and IKEA launches an air-purifying side table. Sure. Philips Hue plans to launch a slightly brighter color-changing (and tunable white) bulb while Home Assistant has added energy-monitoring features as part of its latest update. We also talk about the creation of Alphabet’s industrial robot software startup Intrinsic and what innovation in robotics software could enable and end with Kevin’s take on the U.S. being behind in smart cities.

IKEA’s new air purifier is built into the side table. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped, who is on the show explaining why smart buildings are getting more attention lately.  We talk about what matters for real estate with the ongoing pandemic (I can no longer bring myself to say Post-COVID, y’all) and a renewed focus on energy savings. For the nerds, we cover technologies and data layers such as Haystack, Brick, and Microsoft’s Real Estate Core for building digital twins. He also shares his thoughts on how buyers are maturing when it comes to evaluating the security of their tech purchases. It seems buyers are asking more questions and better questions, which can only be a good thing. I agree.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Shaun Cooley, CEO of Mapped
Sponsors: Very

  • We have a good idea/bad idea segment this week
  • Wyze has $110 million in new funding for AI
  • Home Assistant gets energy monitoring as a feature
  • Why smart buildings are having a moment
  • Which standards matter for smart buildings