Episode 189: Meet the Digital Standard for IoT security and privacy

The battle for more secure IoT products will get its day in court now that a judge has rejected requests for summary judgment in a case pitting the FTC against D-Link. The agency called out D-Link for making insecure routers and cameras. Now, the courts will decide. A smart glass maker gets a whopper of an investment, we discuss two new cellular modules from Sierra Wireless and Gemalto and there’s a creepy new twist on insecure IP cameras. Microsoft is switching things up for Cortana, and there’s a good idea for getting 9-1-1 calls on your Echo or Google Home. Finally, Kevin shares a tip on getting Alexa to notify you of events in the home using a new skill and IFTTT.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport uses smart glass from View to reduce heat and glare from the sun.

Our guest this week, Andi Wilson Thompson, a policy analyst at New America’s Open Technology Institute, also hits on privacy and security of connected devices, discussing a new effort called The Digital Standard. The goal of this year-old effort is to offer specific criteria and tests that connected devices should follow in order to be considered secure. Consumer Reports is using it to evaluate products and I think we’ll start formally assessing products against it in our reviews. Learn more in this week’s show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andi Wilson Thompson from New America’s Open Technology Institute
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Is this case the key to better IoT security?
  • Want a private LTE network? It might be yours.
  • Here’s how to solve e911 for Amazon Echo devices or Google Homes
  • The Digital Standard is a real stab at a safer IoT
  • A solution for extending the life of unsupported devices

Episode 186: ARM’s new architecture and Anki’s adorable robot

This week’s podcast kicks off with a deep dive into the news shared at ARM’s TechCon event happening in Santa Clara, Calif. We talk about ARM’s new architecture, move on to Facebook’s privacy fudge and then spend a lot of time discussing the UK’s new standards for IoT device security. We then take a look at Github’s new Actions and speculate on what it could mean for IoT, and discuss Simplisafe’s new video doorbell, the Pixel Stand and Nest integration. We also share a website that’s great for finding frameworks for industrial IoT projects. We then discuss the death of the Myo armband and the launch of Anki’s new Vector robot. Finally, we close by answering a question about smart locks for a listener.

The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is will cost $169 and will be sold on the SimpliSafe site and at Best Buy. Image courtesy of SimpliSafe.

Our guest this week is Teo Swee Ann, founder and CEO of Espressif Systems. Espressif makes the ESP8266 and the ESP32 chips used by thousands of people and customers making IoT devices. We learn about the history of the ten-year-old company, discuss building IoT devices that can last 20 years and what Teo thinks about IoT in China. We also get the lowdown on the new architecture that Espressif plans to launch for IoT devices next year. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Teo Swee Ann, founder and CEO of Espressif Systems
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Explaining ARM’s big bets on IoT
  • The UK publishes great IoT security advice for business and consumers
  • Sometimes it’s hard to imagine your industrial or enterprise IoT project. This site can help.
  • What the heck is an ESP32 or an ESP8266?
  • What type of chip will the IoT need next?

Episode 185: Google’s news and smart kitchens

This week Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts from the Google event, including a lot of information on the new Google Home Hub. Kevin talks about what it means for Google and the smart home race between Amazon, Apple and now Facebook. Yes, we discuss the Facebook Portal as well. Also the latest software updates from both Amazon and Google on the respective digital assistant apps. We finish the first segment of the show with GE’s new connected light bulbs designed for the Google ecosystem.

The Google Home Hub comes out just in time to show off Google’s new Home app.

We had too much news to have a guest this week, so we continue the show with my tips from the Smart Kitchen Summit this week. I checked out an update from the June oven as well as a bunch of new screens on cooktops, range hoods and refrigerators. Plus, I tried out the Rotimatic flatbread-making robot and it’s expensive but good. We talk about cybersecurity, privacy and whether or not we are ready for the responsibilities associated with the internet of things. We close with an answer to a listener question about wireless doorbells and security cameras.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Cognizant and Auklet

  • Which Google hub is right for you?
  • This is the year of getting the smart home ready for normals
  • Facebook gets in your face
  • How many screens does a kitchen need?
  • What about a roti-making robot?

 

Episode 184: How to remake the Internet for IoT

This week Kevin and I start out discussing The Wi-Fi Alliance’s new branding for the wireless standard and why you don’t need to rush in to buy Wi-Fi 6 gear. We then turn to space, specifically, Iridium and Amazon’s decision to create an IoT network that uses satellites to deliver signals around the world where cellular doesn’t reach. California passed an IoT security law and Kevin talks about his high hopes for bringing IBM’s Watson into his smart home setup. We then ask why we’re not using NFC on door locks, talk about a thermostat acquisition, GE’s woes and Kevin shares his ideas for what else you can do with motion sensors. This week’s listener question involves a keg, a freezer and a request for electricity monitoring.

Lux Products makes the Kono thermostat. It was just purchased by Johnson Controls.

We continue with the space theme with this week’s guest Matthew Prince, who is the cofounder and CEO of Cloudflare, discussing a future version of the internet that would even handle the rigors of space travel. We talk about building an internet that is cheaper, distributed and not beholden to Google, Amazon and Facebook. We also talk about Cloudflare’s Workers edge computing platform, cheaper bandwidth and more. It’s a show that will make you feel smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, who is the co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsor: Cognizant and Auklet

  • What’s up with Wi-Fi’s new branding?
  • The internet is going to space thanks to Amazon and Iridium
  • Four ways to use your open/close sensors
  • How the Bandwidth Alliance could save you money
  • Cloudflare updated its faster edge computing platform hosted around the globe

Episode 183: Amazon’s news bonanza explained

Last week Amazon released a ridiculous amount of news that we’ve covered in detail, but Kevin and I talk it out and draw attention to some of the things we thought were relevant. We stay in the Seattle area to cover the Microsoft news out this week on new Azure products and Cortana’s new enterprise skills. We also talk about the new Withings watch, August’s module for Yale locks, and HomeKit support for Rachio sprinklers. Our hotline question this week is a listener’s challenge with kids and his freezer.

Amazon launched a $60 Microwave with Alexa inside as well as a $25 smart plug.

This week’s guest is Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy to discuss his company’s digital transformation. He walks listeners through the process of creating a group to handle the technical demands of building products around data and analytics, and then talks about how to communicate with vendors and business units. It’s a detailed look at this utility’s two-year process to get a grip on the potential inherent in the internet of things. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Alexa listens for broken glass and whispers
  • Microsoft embraces digital twins
  • So many ways to track a freezer’s status
  • Workshopping your way to an IoT future
  • How Entergy has seen a 12x ROI with IoT

Episode 182: Trump’s tariffs are bad for IoT

We’re as excited as you guys to hear about Amazon’s upcoming devices, but we don’t devote too much time to them this week. Instead, we focus on the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit that Amazon unveiled and the alleged new Google Home hub. I also share my experience with the Amazon version of the Geek Squad before we move to IoT for utilities and a new insurance package that comes equipped with some connected sensors. We round it out with new platforms! Yay platforms. First up is Sprint’s new Curiosity Platform that offers a few things enterprises will care about. Blackberry launched Spark, a security service for connected devices. After that, we answer a question from a listener about connecting their apartment building’s door buzzer to the internet. We found something, but it is not cheap.

The Array Smart lock uses Wi-Fi and has solar panels.

Our guest this week is Kim Kelley, CEO of Hampton Products, which makes the new Array-branded smart lock. We discuss the lock but spend most of our time on the topic of tariffs. Kelley explains his company’s history of manufacturing in China, and what Trump’s new tariffs will mean for his business. He also shares some considerations for any company trying to create a physical product that connects to the internet. It’s not easy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kim Kelley, CEO of Hampton Products
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Your kids’ toys will soon have a new relationship with Alexa
  • Google’s planned home hub is pretty limited
  • Want some insurance with your IoT?
  • What happens to consumer devices under new tariffs
  • Connected products can take a long time to build

Episode 180: Alexa and Google are the real smart home standards

This week we learn more details about Lenovo’s smart home line and talk about Amazon’s new Alexa API for sensors and motion detectors. We touch on a combined router/smart speaker that has Kevin feeling vindicated and talk about the challenges new business models such as Target’s Fetch program face. The Open Connectivity Foundation’s latest version of the IoTivity standard also gets a mention. Security woes are back on the show this week with hacked enterprise door locks and another IoT botnet. We also discuss Relayr’s acquisition by Munich Re and a partnership between Jabil and Tibco to offer a complete electronics board for embedded devices. We then take a call about a builder who wants to place an Interlogix alarm system in a new home, and how the DIY buyer may want to proceed on the IoT Podcast Listener Hotline.

We love Lenovo’s Smart Display, but how will we feel about its new smart bulb, plug and camera?

Our guest this week tackles the challenges of indoor location, explaining why it matters and why it’s so hard. Vikram Pavate is CEO of Locix, a newly launched startup that has been working on this problem for the last four years. Pavate talks about using indoor location in typical use cases such as inventory management, but also to take away some of the manual labor associated with the smart home. I can’t be the only one who hates hand labeling the rooms for every light bulb in the house.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vikram Pavate is CEO of Locix
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Amazon’s Alexa gets new skills and a bunch of devices
  • What makes an IoT standard?
  • Why Munich Re needs an IoT platform
  • Indoor location is hard but the context it provides is key

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 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