Episode 307: Wi-Fi 6 for IoT and water plant security

This week’s podcast starts off with the launch of the Tuya Wi-Fi 6 modules, which will bring features of Wi-Fi 6 to IoT devices. Keeping on the Wi-Fi theme, we also discuss the new Shelly Wi-Fi motion sensor. We then talk about the new Raspberry Pi Pico, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s first custom chip before delving into Bosch’s win with AIoT. In consumer news, we cover rumors of an Amazon wall-mounted display and Fitbit’s addition of glucose monitoring. Then we explain why Renesas is buying Dialog Semiconductor, new funding for SecuriThings, and a big round for IoT security company Armis. We end by answering a listener question about Wi-Fi 6 for IoT devices, which brings the show full circle.

Tuya’s new Wi-Fi 6 modules will bring next-generation Wi-Fi to IoT devices. Image courtesy of Tuya.

This week, our guest is Beau Woods, a cybersecurity expert who came on the show to discuss this week’s hack of a water treatment plant in Florida. He lays out the hack and lets us know whether we should freak out or not. After discussing that particular hack, we dig into the nature of threats facing the IoT and how the landscape has changed in the last four years, touching on ransomware, the new IoT Cybersecurity Act, and more secure chips. We end with Woods promoting his upcoming book, Practical IoT Hacking, which will teach readers how to hack IoT devices and help the non-technical get a sense of the types of threats they need to consider as they design their products. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Woods, a cybersecurity expert
Sponsors: Very

  • What to expect from Wi-Fi 6 IoT devices
  • The smallest Pi has a custom-designed microcontroller and runs FreeRTOS
  • Why smart homes need a display or some useful ambient notifications
  • Should we freak out over Florida’s water treatment plan hack?
  • Organized crime and hackers are teaming up

Episode 306: Ring wins big with Lennar

This week’s show kicks off with news from Lennar about its new smart home offering with Ring, and a discussion on what it means that Ring now has more than 2,000 police and fire departments as partners. After that, we discuss what we learned from the Tesla recall about the business of connected products, and what options y’all have if you want to ditch your Wink hub. Then we talk about a Kickstarter for some smart infrastructure products, an update coming to Google Home, and wellness data coming to Google displays. In smaller news, we touch on Abode’s HomeKit widgets, Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 2.0 for IoT, and Kevin going all-in on HomeKit. We end by answering a listener question about the best HomeKit hub to use.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

Our guest this week is Eric Feder, who is with LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar. He’s on the show to talk about Lennar’s new partnership with Ring, Flo by Moen, Resideo, Level Lock, and more. We also discuss how Lennar’s views of the smart home have changed since it first started trying to integrate connected devices into its houses. He then talks about what features might be missing and investments the company has in new building techniques, gray water reclamation, and more. It’s a sneak peek into the future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Feder, of LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar
Sponsor: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • Ring’s still using local police to sell its doorbells
  • Tesla’s right about computers in long-lived devices
  • After Wink, which hub is right for you?
  • Why Lennar dumped “movie night” routines and focused on plumbing
  • Building sustainable homes with smart tech

 

Episode 305: Alexa Hunches, Tiny ML and a new wireless standard

This week’s podcast is full of nerdy wonder. We start off with news from Amazon regarding proactive Hunches and the new Guard Plus service before mentioning that the Echo Show 10 is now available for pre-order. Then, in honor of the Tiny ML movement, we highlight new deals from Edge Impulse to put its software on Silicon Labs’ chips and chips from Nordic Semiconductor. Meanwhile, Qualcomm has created a toolkit to shrink AI models for 8-bit inference! Then we introduce you to a scalable LPWAN based on Wirepas’ technology that is now an ETSI standard. After that, we discuss biodegradable displays and disable sensors for COVID-19 detection. Then we hit the news briefs with Wink going down, the new $60 Ring doorbell, roaming on LoRa networks, and Homepods getting a UWB handoff to iPhones. To close out the news, Kevin discusses what buyers should look for when it comes to securing home cameras from errant employees. We end by answering a listener question from a high school student who’s looking for resources to learn more about the IoT.

Span’s electrical panel combines computing and circuit breakers. Image courtesy of Span.

Our guest this week is Arch Rao, CEO and founder of Span, which raised $20 million in venture funds this week. Span’s product is a rethink on traditional electrical panels that adds computing and internet connectivity to the box. The idea is that people will put more electrical load on homes as homes and our transportation networks electrify. Adding a breaker box that understands what’s using power and providing computing to orchestrate the flow of power around the home helps reduce energy usage during peak times, but also can help a home avoid upgrading their electrical systems. Rao explains this and talks about building a connected device designed for a thirty-year life. It’s a glimpse into a future I’d like to live in.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Arch Rao, CEO and founder of Span
SponsorsTeraCode and Techmeme

  • How Amazon is taking the guesswork out of hunches
  • Why Tiny ML is such a big deal now
  • This is a LPWAN that really scales
  • The grid of the future needs a more proactive electrical panel
  • Why solar installs and batteries may be the key to Span’s growth

Episode 303: Everything from CES 2021 and a bit about LoRa

This week’s show is mostly about CES 2021, starting with an array of interesting devices that were launched. We covered a lot of them here, but we also mentioned a $3,000 pet door, an energy harvesting NB-IoT modem demonstration, and Kevin’s take on where we are with the smart home based on what he saw. We also discussed Ring’s encryption news explaining what it does and does not mean. And because I love semiconductors we gave a quick mention to Intel’s new CEO and Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia. The Qualcomm deal represents a huge shift for server and computing CPUs and is likely why Intel felt it needed the skills of Pat Gelsinger in the executive chair.  We end the show by answering a question about Lutron and Apple’s adaptive lighting.

The MyQ Pup portal is quite the pet door. Image courtesy of Chamberlain MyQ.

Our guest this week is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network. He is here to talk about how to build a business around LoRa networks and give his thoughts on why enterprises might need one. We also talk about consumer LoRa networks and Amazon’s Sidewalk network. Will that ever be an open option? Giezeman shares case studies and a discount code if anyone listening wants to learn more about LoRa at The Things Conference, a weeklong virtual event all about LoRa that starts Jan. 25. That discount code we mention is TTC21-I-KNOW-STACEY. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network
Sponsors: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • CES had half the vendors and some weird tech
  • Smart home tech is in a period of refinement right now
  • Big news in the chip world
  • How many low power WANs do we need?
  • Let’s check out of LoRa in action

Episode 302: CES and GE Lighting is betting on Cync

This week Kevin and I discuss Allegion’s acquisition of Yonomi, and what it means for those of you using the cloud service or consumers using the app. We then turn to a mention of the rebranding of GE Lighting after its acquisition by Savant last summer before talking about Singapore’s about-face on the use of contact-tracing app data by police. Also on the police front, the FBI is warning consumers and police departments that hackers are getting into poorly protected smart home security systems and using them to call police to homes. From there we cover new modems, new capabilities for a Google device, a leak about Tile trackers, and a potential sleep apnea-tracking device from Amazon. Then Kevin shares what we want to see at CES and I share my thoughts on the Ring Mailbox sensor. We end by answering a question about fall detection devices for the home.

The new Cync indoor camera will launch in May. Image courtesy of GE Lighting, a Savant company.

Our guest this week is Paul Williams, general manager of product management & growth at GE Lighting, a Savant company. He shares the rationale behind the new Cync brand, the decision to add a security camera to the lineup of GE Lighting devices, and the thinking behind a new app planned for March. Williams also talks about other devices and how the Cync devices will and won’t tie into the Savant professional brand of products. I’m excited about the details the future Cync app will borrow from Savant, and can’t wait to see it. We end with his insights on what Project CHIP will and won’t mean for device makers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Williams, GE Lighting, a Savant company
Sponsor: Calix

  • What changes after Allegion’s purchase of Yonomi
  • Please secure your IoT devices, y’all
  • Google, Apple, and Amazon all have new devices with new wireless sensing
  • Thanks to Savant C by GE is now Cync
  • What a GE Lighting exec thinks about Project CHIP

 

Episode 301: An update on Project CHIP and a secure 2021

This week’s podcast starts with an update on the Project Connected Home over IP standard promulgated by Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung. Then we talk about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking what privacy rules are in place for protecting consumers’ health data. Google killed Android Things and new legislation killed router fees by your ISP, so we talk about those. Then we discuss Amazon’s Echo frames and the future of smart glasses, Peloton’s planned acquisition of Precor, and Kevin’s experience with a Homebridge device. We close with a new HomeKit doorbell from Netatmo, a smart lock that isn’t connected, and LG’s wacky new kitchen tech. On the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener’s question about a smartwatch so he can call his kid.

Netatmo’s video doorbell now supports HomeKit and will go on sale Jan. 6 for $300. Image courtesy of Netatmo.

Our guest this week is Sharon Mirsky, COO and co-founder of Firedome, which provides security services for IoT device manufacturers. We talk about the role of consumers in IoT security and she offers several pieces of advice on how to secure your IoT devices, including a recommendation that you run them on a separate network, or at least your guest network. I don’t do this, but maybe I should start. She also explains what device makers should do and the role your ISP needs to play in securing the IoT. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sharon Mirsky, COO and co-founder of Firedome
Sponsors: Calix and Plume

  • There’s a draft spec for Project CHIP but you need to pay to play
  • Can Congress please get on some sort of privacy legislation?
  • Peloton’s buy is the smart overtaking the dumb
  • Who should ensure the IoT is secure?
  • The most important thing you can do to ensure your smart home’s security

Episode 300: Get excited for our annual Q&A episode

It’s time for the end-of-year question and answer episode where Kevin and I tinker, search Google, and ask companies for help answering your questions about the smart home. We start with a broad category of questions related to your needs outside that mostly require some kind of low power wide area network to work. Then we focus on Wi-Fi by answering a question about what to look for in a mesh Wi-Fi router and automating your home using your phone attaching to the in-home Wi-Fi as opposed to using GPS.

Arlo makes a high-end and high-quality outdoor camera that can go the distance. Image courtesy of Arlo.

For the second half of the show, we touch twice on my favorite topic — lighting! We answer a question for help finding a few smart bulb options that are super bright. Then we talk about smart bulbs that you could take on the road, because why not make your hotel room or Airbnb smart? We get tactical with specific sensors to address a request for a hidden open/close sensor for a door and steer y’all away from a product that seemed too good to be true. Finally, we talk about why you might see declining stocks of SmartThings hubs. It’s not because SmartThings is going away, it’s just that Samsung, which owns the company, isn’t focusing on building its own hardware anymore. Enjoy the show, and we’ll be back next week with our traditional format!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

  • I need a smart driveway, shed, or garden soil sensor outside of Wi-Fi range
  • Help me find a camera for the great outdoors
  • What features matter in a Wi-Fi router?
  • Can you find a smart bulb that’s more than 1,000 lumens?
  • I need a hidden door sensor
  • Why can’t I find SmartThings hubs in stock?

Episode 296: Gifts galore and a recipe for smarter food prep

This week’s podcast is full of gift suggestions from our annual gift guide, many of which are aimed at those people on your list who have a green thumb. We then discuss my disappointment with Wemo after almost a decade of using its devices, and Kevin shares his plans to eliminate data-mining services from his life. On a related note, we do a deep dive into Amazon’s Sidewalk network plans and talk about trust. From there, we discuss new features for Google Assistant, an adorable AI bird feeder on Kickstarter, and my thoughts on the Chef IQ smart cooker. We end by answering a listener’s question about wearables and their accuracy.

The BirdBuddy feeder won’t ship until Sept. 2021, but I can’t wait to review it for next year’s gift guide. Image courtesy of BirdBuddy.

In honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday, our guest this week is Nick Holzherr, head of product for Whisk at Samsung Next, who talks about the future of the smart kitchen and food preparation. We discuss the role recipes can play as a standard for smarter kitchens, how to solve the problem of pantry management, and why it’s so hard to build updated kitchen experiences when everyone has kitchens that are from different eras. We even discuss the challenges of personalization and how to get users to trust the services to which they’re asked to give up their personal information. It’s a good show to listen to while prepping a meal.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Holzherr, Head of Whisk at Samsung Next
SponsorsCalix and Teracode

  • Four gift ideas for people obsessed with their plants
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t as invasive as you might think
  • The ChefIQ smart cooker combines gadgets and makes cooking easier
  • The future of the connected kitchen is almost here
  • The big trend in kitchen gadgets is combo cookers

Episode 295: Project CHIP goes commercial and the Eero Pro review

This week’s podcast kicks off with the news that Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) will also have a commercial element focused on offices, apartments, and public buildings.  Then we focus on edge computing with a new way to bring machine learning to the edge and Arm expanding its free IP license program to some of its edge ML chips. We also talk about the new IoT Cybersecurity bill that passed the Senate, a virus prediction score on Airthings devices, and another new Wyze product. We round out the news with LoRaWAN, facial recognition laws, telemedicine, an upgrade to Google Fit, and a new name for Plume’s Wi-Fi service. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Eero Pro Wi-Fi system, and a quick impression of the new HomePod mini. We end this segment by answering a question about updating old Z-wave switches.

This sensor is part of a network that will detect and monitor wildfires. Image courtesy of Katia Obraczka.

Our guest this week is Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz. She’s designing a sensor network to detect and monitor wildfires. She explains how she’s handling a lack of connectivity, power constraints, and budget constraints, all while trying to build in resiliency. After all, elements of this network are in fire-prone areas, and it stands to reason some of it will burn. She discusses how she’s using simulations of the network to figure out power budgets and what types of sensors she needs. She also talks about using drones as flying access points to build in more resiliency in case other forms of connectivity burn. It’s a good way to think about building a sensor network for a harsh environment.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Project CHIP has commercial ambitions but needs a better name
  • TinyML is a big deal and the tools are getting better
  • Eero Pro is expensive but does provide quite the speed boost
  • What matters most in building a sensor network for detecting wildfire
  • Repurpose drones as flying Wi-Fi access points to make your network resilient

 

Episode 294: Let’s talk about Thread and digital twins

This week’s show starts off with a conversation about Thread because it’s clear that it’s going to become an important radio for the future of the smart home. We explain why before discussing an update to LoRaWAN and an alternative to the big voice-controlled smart speakers from Josh.ai. After that, we express frustration with exploding doorbells, discuss a fitness tracker that finally covers pregnancy, and get excited about a new robot vacuum. On the industrial side, I try to get excited about Hitachi Vantara’s deal with Amazon Web Services and explain why Honeywell is trying to become more than just a process manufacturing powerhouse. We conclude the show by answering a listener’s question about Wi-Fi.

The new Wyze vacuum has LIDAR and will cost $199 at first. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft. He explains what a digital twin is and isn’t and attempts to cut through some of the marketing hype about where we are in terms of building real-time updateable models of machines and manufacturing processes. If that gets too esoteric, he also tries to talk about what they mean for IoT business models and shares how digital twins might be helping us find a vaccine for COVID-19. It’s a good interview if you want to figure out what’s real and what is just marketing.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Nelson, VP of Software Development at OSIsoft
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Why Apple cares about Thread and you should too
  • Why not put LIDAR on a vacuum cleaner?
  • What it means when Honeywell’s CEO says it’s a controls company now
  • What’s real and hype when it comes to digital twins
  • How digital twins can help us discover a COVID vaccine