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

 

Episode 293: Amazon’s Halo and the election and IoT

We kicked off the post-Election Day show with an update on ballot initiatives in Massachusetts, Maine, and California that have an impact on the internet of things. After that, we discussed Google’s ability to predict HVAC problems and the promise of smart thermostats. Then we focused on two devices worth covering, a smart lamp from Byte-Dance and a communications tool for outdoor adventures from Milo. Smarter AI in the form of voice detection and drones that can tell the number of people in a building rounded out the news. After that, I discussed my first impressions of the Amazon Halo fitness tracker and had a small break down over body fat percentages. We ended with a call from a football fan who wants to play AM radio over his smart speakers during the game.

The Amazon Halo is an activity tracker focused on wellness. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

Our guest this week is Nick Kucharewski, VP and GM of wired and wireless infrastructure and networking at Qualcomm. He’s on the show to explain where Wi-Fi is heading in the next few years and why you should upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 if you’re in the market for a new router. He also makes the case for a new router even if you don’t think you need one. And he explains what we can expect from home Wi-Fi in the future such as security services, monitoring of the elderly, and more. But the next generation of Wi-Fi isn’t something that will come in a box; it’s something you’ll pay subscription fees for. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Kucharewski of Qualcomm
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Teracode

  • Ballot initiatives that impact the IoT
  • An expensive gift idea for outdoor fans
  • The Amazon Halo makes me feel a lot of things
  • What’s up with the latest Wi-Fi routers?
  • Why do I need Wi-Fi 6?

 

Episode 292: We play with Whoop bands and Wyze cams

First up on this week’s show are Forrester’s predictions for the year ahead in IoT, followed by me talking about my latest tech gadget, the Whoop Strap. Whoop recently raised $100 million in funding for its subscription-based band designed for hardcore athletes. From there we talked about the new Arduino Oplà IoT Kit, the real steps we’d like to see companies take with their green gadget efforts, and the FCC’s decision to allocate spectrum for both unlicensed use and cellular connected-car technology. In our news bits, we talk about Amazon, Mercedes, Google Nest, and Starlink. From there, Kevin reviews the latest version of the Wyze Camera that launched this week. We close by answering a listener question about smart light sockets.

The Whoop strap is a fitness tracker/coach that requires a monthly subscription.

Our guest this week is Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected. Three years ago he launched the company with a Kickstarter project: A replacement for motherboards inside old alarm systems, turning the existing panel and sensors into a smart security system. DIYers love the ability to control their existing sensors and Clark explains where the product is going and how he handled SmartThing’s transition from its Groovy IDE to the cloud. He ends with advice for anyone who wants to build a business in the smart home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Forrester predicts COVID-19 making IoT pretty ubiquitous
  • Whoop is a different kind of fitness tracker
  • Wyze’s third-generation cam looks familiar
  • SmartThings’ platform shift explained by a developer
  • Advice for people building a niche connected product

Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

Episode 288: New devices and new threats

This week’s show covers device launches from Amazon last week and Google this week. We also talk about connected coffee machines getting hacked, Amazon letting people pay with their palm, and Apple’s smart home patents. After that, we switch to developer news with Twilio’s new IoT platform and ARM’s chip designs for autonomous robots and cars. Vodafone added a new feature to its IoT modules, Yale has a smart package box for your business or home, and Swarm’s IoT module is out and somewhat pricey. In this week’s IoT Podcast hotline segment, we take a tip from a listener about pausing your 5GHz Wi-Fi when adding certain types of connected devices.

Amazon wants to let people pay with their palms.

Our guest this week is Emily Anthes, a science journalist, and the author of The Great Indoors, a book that covers how we live now. Anthes talks about how the smart home is turning into a medical device to meet the needs of the elderly and how important people still are in figuring out what to do with connected device data. She then talks about how employers are using sensors in the workplace to help boost health and productivity. However, boosting productivity can be benign or almost totalitarian depending on the employer so we discuss surveillance and how to ensure people’s rights aren’t trampled in the process of making workplaces smarter. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Emily Anthes, author The Great Indoors
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

 

Episode 286: Apple, ARM and more IoT security challenges

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing Nvidia’s $40 billion plan to buy ARM. After that, we talk about Google’s upcoming event, a gesture interface for Nest thermostats, and the news from the Apple event. From there we talk about alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay for a Pro plan, and then dive into news on IoT security from down under, an updated Arlo doorbell, and Wink’s outage. Next up, I share some news about Stack Lighting, a birthday for the group that standardized Wi-Fi, and Kevin’s review of the Firewalla Gold. We conclude the first segment by answering a question about using IoT to improve in-home air quality.

The latest Arlo doorbell can run off a battery or wires. Image courtesy of Arlo.

Our guest this week is May Wang, a senior distinguished engineer at Palo Alto Networks. She’s on the show to talk about challenges associated with securing IoT devices and how to use machine learning to improve IT security. We also talk about various degrees of network segmentation, zero-trust security, and how to bring the OT and the IT worlds together to ensure that devices stay secure. For fun, we also talk about the strangest devices seen on corporate networks. See if you have something wackier to add.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: May Wang, Palo Alto Networks
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

  • ARM’s sale is about the data center, not IoT
  • Three alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay
  • Firewalla Gold is pricey but good for IoT aficionados
  • There are some wacky things on corporate networks
  • How to get OT people to care about IT security

Episode 285: All about IFTTT’s new paid plan

This week the show starts with an overview on IFTTT’s new paid plan and then dives into the recent update on Project Connected Home over IP. There’s not a lot of news, but the effort is still progressing, which is something. We also discuss the new long-range Z-Wave standard,  a new court ruling on geofencing data collection, and Apple’s upcoming event. We then discuss the challenges that Bluetooth-based contact tracing efforts face, a new smart home alarm system retrofit from Konnected, a new talent in an old air quality sensor, and some new Philips Hue products. From there we dig into some new Amazon Alexa skills for apartments and for voice calls before ending with Peloton’s new bike. We also answer a listener question about putting Alexa in different households under the same account.

An updated and more detailed diagram of what the CHIP application layer will handle.

Our guest this week is Linden Tibbets, the CEO of IFTTT. He’s on the show to explain the details behind IFTTT’s new Pro plan, which I’m guessing that most of the audience will want to investigate. The Pro plan offers users more complex applets, lower latency, and actual support, but it comes at a price. Tibbets explains why users can set their own price for the service for now, and how he hopes to get people to pay $9.99 a month eventually. Tibbets also explains what free users can expect and gives an update on the other side of IFTTT’s business — selling integration services to brands. If you’re an IFTTT user, you’ll want to listen to this show, and if you’re not an IFTTT user, maybe you’ll want to be after hearing the show.

  • Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT
    Sponsors: Very and Ayla Networks
  • Project CHIP’s latest news wasn’t big, but it was encouraging
  • Z-Wave isn’t dead yet
  • This air quality sensor will predict your home’s likelihood of mold
  • IFTTT boosts applet creation options and makes users pay
  • How IFTTT is trying to warm users up to a monthly subscription fee

Episode 284: Amazon Halo, the FBI and smart cars

This week’s show starts off with the FBI’s concerns about the Ring doorbell, then news about Apple and Google making their COVID-19 exposure notification framework easier for states to use. We discuss consolidation in the smart apartment market, vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and then dive into a heap of newly launched devices. First up is the Amazon Halo wearable launched last week, and then new Amazon Blink cameras. (In other Amazon news we talked about paying for gas with Alexa and Amazon getting FAA approval for drone deliveries.) Wyze is planning to build headphones, as is Sonos, and Lenovo has a new smart speaker alarm clock for $50. We end with a listener question about wireless sensor tags.

Blink Outdoor and Indoor Cameras will sell for $99.99 and $79 .99 respectively. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo, an Israeli automotive data company. He came on the show to discuss what we can do with car data. Cars can produce gigabytes of data and Otonomo can pull data in from more than 20 million vehicles, either in aggregate or individually, to provide different services. In smart cities, car data might provide detailed parking information or flag dangerous intersections. For companies, Otonomo can provide fleet management, but it also foresees a future where third-party businesses can build services such as a tire-pressure management service that ensures all the cars in a fleet have enough air in their tires. Broadly, Matan convinced me that connectivity and sensors in cars could become a platform as powerful as the mobile phone. See what you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Surveillance tech can go two ways
  • Get ready for consolidation in the connected MDU world
  • Amazon is launching several cool new products and functions
  • If you think of a car like a smartphone what could you do?
  • How cars can help cities flag dangerous intersections