Episode 272: Let’s talk about anonymity by design

This week’s podcast starts off with IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software (we recorded before Amazon made a similar announcement) and then shifts to a discussion on neuromorphic computing. From there we discuss Lutron’s new wooden blinds, turning a Commodore 64 into a home automation system,  insights on water use during the pandemic,  more integrations from RoomMe, and funding for Drop’s kitchen operating system. We also touch on industrial news with a scaled-out Bluetooth deployment and PTC, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation offering Factory Insights as a service. Kevin then shares some thoughts on the next big things necessary for smart homes to advance. Finally, we hear from a listener who wants to find a way to make his smoke alarms smarter.

Lutron adds smart wooden blinds to its Serena line of smart window coverings. Image courtesy of Lutron.

Our guest this week is Andrew Farah, CEO of Density, a startup that provides sensors for people tracking. We last chatted more than five years ago and since then he’s built out the company, created a product for commercial real estate and found time to advocate for building IoT products that are anonymous by design. We talk about how companies are using his service and sensors to keep occupancy rates below the legal limits during the pandemic and why sensors are much better than cameras. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density
Sponsors: Calix and Very

  • IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software is a start
  • This enterprise hub can read 12,000 Bluetooth tags in a minute
  • Three things that will move the smart home forward
  • This sensor has 800 components and can tell how many people are in a room
  • Why we need to build things with anonymity at the forefront

Episode 271: Surveillance scares and a nutrition label for IoT security

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of what’s happening in the U.S. with protests, police brutality, and the role connected tech can play in smart cities, including the role image recognition can and does play. We then tackle the IoT news starting with Nest’s addition of Google’s advanced protection program and a GPS tracker that seems like a good buy. Then we discuss funding for a smart oven, a pool sensor, another HomeKit enabled security camera, a subscription service for monitoring the health of your HVAC system, cheap sensors, and a new doorbell from Wyze. We then move onto Amazon killing the Echo Look camera and its new intercom feature before breaking out the deep science for windows that can adjust to different light levels automatically. In our IoT Podcast Hotline segment, we answer a question about using a connected sprinkler to ward off animals.

The nutrition-style label that helps users figure out how secure a connected device is.

This week’s guest is Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is on the show discussing the newly created nutrition-style label researchers created for IoT devices. Researchers tried to convey about 47 relevant pieces of information that relate to a device’s security and privacy qualifications and crammed as many as they could onto an easy-to-read-label that’s designed to fit on a product’s packaging. The label doesn’t convey all 47 elements, but it does capture several key pieces of information about how long a device will get security updates, the types of sensors it has, and how the company treats its data. Other elements are relegated to a deeper privacy fact sheet that a consumer can access via a web site or QR code. Cranor explains the label, the methodology, and asks for help turning the research into something useful for the industry at large. Let’s make it happen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: Calix and Edge Impulse

  • We need to talk about how to enforce laws when IoT can see everything
  • This is a really nice GPS tracker for the masses
  • $10 Zigbee sensors? Yes, please!
  • What should a security label measure?
  • How can we get this label on our devices?

Episode 266: Startups get ARM IP for free

ARM is expanding access to its chip designs to startups that have raised less than $5 million through its Flexible Access program. Kevin and I explain why this is a big deal and then go on to discuss a new gesture-based interface that could be either a gimmick or a gamechanger. From there we talk about the pandemic delaying Ford’s self-driving car plans, the closure of PetNet, and the acquisition of a smart ring by a digital key card company. Plus, we cover a robot for kids, AR contact lenses, a Google AI muddle, Google Assistant getting router controls, and a new satellite network for the IoT. We also review the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Kevin talks about his experience with the Blink Mini camera. We end by answering a question about choosing smart home devices based on your digital assistant.

The Moxie robot from Embodied will start shipping in October. Image courtesy of Embodied.

Our guest this week is Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai, which makes a voice platform for the pro installer market. The company has just raised $11 million in funding, and Capecelatro tells us what he plans to do with that money as well as explains why Josh.ai shifted from making software to building hardware. He also offers perspective on the development of the voice market in the smart home. Josh.ai started in 2015, a few months after Amazon released the Echo speakers, and before Amazon had enabled the smart home features on the Alexa platform. The interview offers a history of voice, IoT hardware, and a hint of the future. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai
Sponsor: Very

  • Why silicon startups are on the rise
  • Companies blaming the pandemic
  • Should you buy the new Blink Mini camera?
  • Why Josh.ai pivoted from software to hardware
  • Can a dedicated voice platform for the smart home beat a digital assistant?

Episode 265: How to make the electric grid more like the internet

This week Kevin and I dig into two sets of best practices for privacy and data collection relating to track-and-trace programs enacted on our devices. One is from Microsoft, and the other is from MIT. We also talk about Ring asking users if they want the ability to read license plates in their security cameras and offer some insights about the recently launched update to the Ring Alarm system. From there we discuss vulnerable smart hubs, vulnerable servers, and a power-efficient NB-IoT modem. Next up is a bit of news about Folding@Home using a Raspberry Pi, smart swim googles, using computer vision to save coral reefs, and a bit about blood pressure monitors. We end by answering a listener question about available Wi-Fi 6 routers.

The $199 swim goggles from Form include a heads up display, heart rate tracking, and more. Image courtesy of Form.

This week’s guest is Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission, who explains how we’re going to get to a dynamic energy grid that helps consumers and businesses react in real time to the price of energy. We have plenty of energy-saving devices and even the ability to turn off or lower the energy demands in our home, using smart tech, but there’s not much of an incentive. If states and utilities work to make real-time pricing changes available to the home (likely a governing device) then the home can react by reducing electrical demand. She talks about the tech and regulations that will make this possible and informs me that FM broadcasts might be the best way to disseminate the pricing information cheaply. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission
SponsorsCalix and Ayla Networks

  • How to think about data privacy during a pandemic
  • Ring’s interest in surveillance style tech continues
  • Smart googles and microamp modems are pretty cool
  • Why California wants an energy grid that looks like the internet
  • Maybe FM radio has a role to play in the IoT

Episode 257: Microsoft’s IoT security play is finally here

We start this week’s show talking about the hit the tech conference circuit has taken because of the new coronavirus before segueing into some good news on the security front with the move of Microsoft’s Azure Sphere product to general availability. Then we move back into somewhat grim news discussing the trend toward the usage of facial recognition in schools. We can offer a bit of hope in a new mobile app created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that scans for data-snarfing devices nearby. Then we discuss new products from Wyze, Lutron, Semtech, and Amazon. We also discuss an industrial IoT deal in the chip space and let Kevin rant about the Nest outage. Finally, we publish a listener request for more multi-factor security options on Moen devices.

The Wyze band, according to the Wyze APK art. Founded by Dave Zatz.

Our guest this week is Om Malik, a venture partner at True Ventures and my former boss. He came on the show to discuss his recent diatribe against the tech media, which he accuses of flipping from fawning over the industry to hating it without much thought. We talk about the lack of nuance in coverage, our more nuanced relationship with technology and what regulation is the only real solution to the problem of tech companies’ overreach. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Om Malik, True Ventures
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Why we’re so excited about Microsoft Azure Sphere
  • LoRa gets a cloud-based location-tracking capability
  • Kevin’s pining for local failover options for cloud cameras
  • Tech isn’t all bad or all good, and we need to cover it that way
  • Regulations will be essential for ethical technology

Episode 249: Welcome to the internet of senses

Happy New Year, y’all! This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a chat about the Wyze security breach. We talk about what it means for you and I offer an idea on how to stop some of these breaches. We also mention the lawsuit against Ring, discuss how the new IoT security and privacy laws in California might be enforced, and talk about our CES predictions. They include robots, digital snake oil, and new entrants into the IoT market. We end by answering a question about pro installations and what to do when Wi-Fi goes down.

Some of your Wyze camera data is probably out in the world, but not your videos.

This week’s guest helps kick off the new year with a discussion about the future, specifically the future of the internet in 2030. I talk to Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab, about the company’s recent consumer survey on the future of the internet. We talk about brain-to-computer interfaces, building digital taste buds and how to deliver touch and scents over the internet. We also talk about the business models necessary to make this future possible. Hint: It’s not advertising.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab
SponsorCirrent

  • What Wyze data was leaked? And what wasn’t?
  • Let’s start enforcing developer checklists to protect data
  • CES is going to be good for health tech and robots
  • The next decade is when wearables replace smartphones
  • How we’ll get touch, taste and smells delivered via the internet

 

 

Episode 240: Wave goodbye to Wink?

This week Kevin and I lamented about the future state of Wink. Its status is almost dead. We also discussed Apple’s renewed interest in the smart home, Google’s rumored interest in Fitbit and Microsoft’s certain interest in improving its credentials for edge IoT. We also talked about security vulnerabilities enabled by smart lights, why you shouldn’t connect a phone to your rental car, and Wi-Fi getting a long-distance boost for the IoT. Particle raised $40 million, Google Home gets a new interface, Alexa can now add dimming to routines, Tile talks to Google Assistant, and a new smart button from IKEA hit the FCC. We also answer a listener question about smart pools.

What the heck is up with Wink? We still don’t know.

This week’s guest is Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG, who came on the show to discuss why incumbent businesses have an advantage in the internet of things. We discuss how existing businesses can take advantage of their data and expertise to offer services that startups just can’t. We also talk about when to partner up with startups and tech firms, and how that can make your businesses even more successful. In the coming era of competing and cooperating, businesses will have to figure this out. Enjoy and Happy Halloween.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • What to buy if Wink dies
  • What Google should do with Fitbit
  • Microsoft adds  some excellent features to it’s IoT products
  • What big businesses have that startups don’t
  • How to make money on digital twins

 

Episode 238: Google’s smart home vision explained

This week Kevin and I discuss the aftermath of the big Google event, covering the new devices, the focus on ambient computing, and changes to the Nest subscription and Works with Assistant programs. From there we cover a new smart lock backed by Lennar Homes and Walmart, a new light bulb from LIFX and more security exploits. We hit on some industrial and enterprise news with an overview of Hitachi’s recent conference. Finally, we answer a listener question about what to include when selling a smart home.

The Level Home smart lock hides the electronics inside the door and deadbolt. Image courtesy of Level Home.

Our guest this week is Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa, a company that has created a tracking device for mail, a mobile network operator, and a way to plug sensor data easily into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. We spend most of the time talking about the creation of the ParceLive service which provides subscribers with a postcard-sized device that customers drop into packages before they mail them. The device tracks the package and has several sensors affixed to it that can track temperature, humidity and more.  We talk about creating a sustainable company, the future of Wi-Fi in a 5G world and the engineering challenges associated with building the ParceLive product.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa
SponsorsNutanix and HiveMQ

  • Google’s taking its digital assistant beyond the smartphone
  • There are a lot of failed smart locks
  • Let’s talk about data lakes!
  • Why 5G will make Wi-Fi obsolete
  • How to build a sustainable tracking device

Episode 233: How IoT will change your sales job

This week’s show kicks off with the whimper after Apple failed to give us any exciting IoT news. We discuss the scraps Apple gave us, but move to Google’s new Nest Hub Max and the future of local wake word recognition thanks to a new chip. We also talk about Samsara, the industrial IoT’s latest unicorn, an update on the founders of Centralite, and Best Buy’s decision to kill its Insignia app. We end on a down note with the details from Trend Micro’s terrifying report that details what hackers talk about on the dark web in regards to IoT devices. Lock down that camera, people. This week’s IoT Podcast Hotline question circles back to last week’s question with a listener providing yet another way to track tools. It would work for books as well!

The Google Nest Hub Max has a huge display, facial recognition and costs $229.

Our guest this week is Elisabeth Schloten, the CEO of ECBM, a German consultancy that helps companies implement IoT for digital transformations. She explains how the internet of things differs from Industry 4.0 and then explains how to talk to employees about changing job expectations after a digital transformation. She spends much of the last half of the interview explaining how sales jobs will shift when companies sell their products as services.  It’s really eye-opening.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elisabeth Schloten, the CEO of ECBM
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Where was Apple’s Bluetooth tracker or sleep tech?
  • Google Nest Hub Max recognizes your face
  • Russian hackers want smart meter secrets and Brazilians go for gas pumps
  • Where does IoT fit into Industry 4.0?
  • IoT will kill the traditional sales commission

Episode 226: Google’s Nest exec isn’t into smart homes

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing how Google’s head of IoT isn’t a believer in the smart home. Except he is. He just calls it something else, and we explain his rationale for doing so. We also explain why I am so excited about Microsoft’s new contracts for sharing data and why Tile just scored $45 million in funding. From there we wonder if Google’s machine learning-based approach to recognizing electricity use in appliances is cool, who would buy the OmniFob smart keychain, and why Wyze is building a scale. Then we move to news from Huawei, Abode going deeper with Google Assistant, Adobe’s voice study and LG adding HomeKit to new TVs. Kevin shares his impressions of the Firewalla device, and then we answer a listener question about bring smart bulbs outside and finding wireless switches that work. It must be summer, based on these outdoor inquiries.

The OmniFob can replace your car keys, your house keys and control your smart home.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful, a newly launched startup building apps for smart home devices. Kraftful is a company at YCombinator that is working with big brands to make the apps for connected devices work better. She explains what features mainstream consumers want, why big companies aren’t building these apps themselves and why her business isn’t a feature of a larger tech stack. It’s a good intro to a new company.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yana Welinder, co-founder and CEO of Kraftful
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Call it intuitive, smart or helpful, just make it happen
  • Microsoft’s contracts serve a burgeoning need for enterprises
  • Firewalla makes a big impression
  • Why do so many smart device apps suck?
  • Can Kraftful turn app development into a scalable business?