Episode 318: Lawsuits galore and Silicon Labs bets it all on the IoT

This week’s show starts off with two lawsuits: the first filed by ADT alleging trademark infringement against Ring, and the second a decision by the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals related to police accessing cell phone location data without a warrant. Wemo’s new scene controller, Everactive’s energy harvesting sensors, a discussion about Helium’s tokens, and a new network partner are next. We then cover some financial news with Life360 acquiring Jiobit for $37 million, Safehub getting $9 million in funding, and $55 million for OpenSpace, a startup that brings the IoT to construction. Then, Kevin shares his thoughts on Eve Aqua, a HomeKit and Thread compatible faucet controller. Finally, we close with a listener question about whether your smart home should have its own email address.

An image taken from ADT’s lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by Ring.

This week’s guest is Matt Johnson, the newly named president of Silicon Labs. He and I discussed Silicons Labs’ divestiture of its automotive and industrial lines of business to Skyworks for $2.75 billion. With this deal, Silicon Labs is going all-in on the IoT, and we talk about what that means for the company. He shares his thoughts on what the IoT requires from chipmakers in terms of hardware and software. We also explore how Silicon Labs plans to continue adding security for the IoT and the growth of machine learning on edge devices, and how that will affect chip design.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Johnson, president of Silicon Labs
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • ADT files another lawsuit against Ring
  • Will we try Wemo’s new HomeKit-enabled scene controller?
  • Helium expands its mining and network operations
  • Why Silicon Labs sold off a big chunk of its business
  • The two biggest trends in the IoT are security and AI

Episode 312: Cricut’s switch up, Google’s new hub, and the end of the HomePod

This week on the show we return to the classic story of a company trying to use a software update to limit the functionality of a connected product after someone has purchased it. The latest example is Cricut, which makes a connected craft cutting device. The company recently said users would have to start subscribing to its service if they wanted to continue uploading more than 20 patterns to its software each month. After an outcry, it shifted its stance. We also talk about Apple stopping sales of the original HomePod, and new products from Ring. We then cover updates to the Particle platform, a self-sanitizing door handle, and Apple’s potential plan for light switches. We also answer a listener question about HomeKit-compatible indoor cameras.

Deako plug-n-play light switches are contracted to be installed into 1 out of every 8 new single-family homes built in the U.S.

Our guest this week is Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako, a company that builds modular light switches for home builders. The company just raised a $12.5 million funding round, so Richardson and I discuss the plans for the money and the changes happening in the builder market when it comes to smart devices. We then talked about what it takes to build a long-lived device and why you may one day pack your light switches when you move. We closed with a bit on Thread and the potential that Project CHIP might have. It’s a fun interview and offers a very different perspective on smart lighting.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Cricut angers a lot of users with new subscription push
  • Do you want to let Google watch you sleep?
  • Particle entices developers with free connectivity for the first 100 devices
  • What has changed in the last five years of selling smart homes to builders
  • Will you one day bring your light switches when you move?

Episode 310: Thanks to the IoT, everything’s a subscription now

We kick off this week’s show with the news of SmartThings device depreciation and Amazon’s Alexa Conversations feature finally making it to general availability. After that, we talk about the rising revenue from subscriptions in the consumer IoT and in manufacturing based on a new survey from Zuora. Then we discuss how police departments feel about connected doorbells such as Ring and a new consumer privacy law in Virginia. Both NXP and Silicon Labs shared news at the embedded world event this week, while rumors about a new Nest display hit the press. We closed with conversations on Tuya filing to go public, Beam’s funding for connected dental insurance, and Kevin’s review of some Meross HomeKit outlets. On the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answered a listener’s question about a connected doorbell that doesn’t collect video data.

Zuora’s end of ownership report looks at the increasing consumer interest in subscription services.

Our guest this week is Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora. He’s on the show to explain why the ownership model is going away and how companies can make the shift to charging subscriptions for products ranging from cars to steam traps. We talk about how subscriptions and software updates change marketing, finance, and innovation inside companies with Tzuo offering some excellent examples. We then talk about how to set pricing, and what that might look like in the years ahead. Tzuo thinks the cell phone providers are a good model, but I hate my carrier’s opaque pricing. There’s a lot of food for thought here.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora
Sponsor: Very

  • SmartThings’ changes make now a good time to evaluate other hubs
  • Virginia’s new privacy law is a lighter version of California’s CCPA
  • NXP’s secure IoT chips are coming and gigahertz MCUs are here
  • How selling subscriptions changes the way a company thinks about innovations
  • Consumer trust and systemic thinking are essential to building a subscription service

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 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 287: Amazon’s new network and cleaner air from 3M

This week’s podcast covers our thinking on Amazon’s new Sidewalk network, but not the devices the retailer launched on Thursday. As part of the network conversation, we also discussed LoRaWAN network operator Senet’s new $16 million in funding before detailing three upcoming products from Wyze. We then talked about sharing Alexa routines, Google’s new mystery product, Intel’s new edge chips, a new automation hub that controls IR-based devices, Microsoft’s foray into satellite networks, and Mozilla spinning out WebThings. Kevin now has the new contact tracing app in his state and he also reviews the Nuheara IQ Buds2 Max hearables. We conclude by revisiting a question from two weeks back when we gave the wrong answer. We got it right this time.

The Wyze video doorbell will cost $29.99 and offers two-way audio and 1080p video. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Andy Boyd, a product manager who handles the business side of 3M’s Filtrete brand. He came on the show to talk about wildfires, a little COVID, and mostly about 3M’s plans to make indoor air quality better using the IoT, by combining its materials expertise with connected devices and other platforms. Boyd talks about the lessons learned building a Bluetooth-based connected air filter, an upcoming Filtrete air purifier, and plans for a smart plug that will let customers link their older air purifiers to the Filtrete ecosystem. I really love Boyd’s approach to the smart home. 3M clearly knows what it has to offer and is willing to work with others or take on all the elements needed to deliver good indoor air quality.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Boyd, 3M
SponsorsPerceive and Ayla Networks

  • Why Amazon decided it needed to build an IoT network
  • Intel’s edge chips are really designed for industrial use cases
  • Alternatives to WebThings now that Mozilla is spinning it out
  • How to clean indoor air, even during wildfire season
  • Why 3M wants to work with everyone when it comes to better air quality

 

Episode 279: GE Appliances goes for the Gold in security

This week Kevin and I start the show with our thoughts on CES going digital, and then turn to subscriptions for smart products, specifically tied to the news that the Mellow sous vide is now charging for functionality that had been free. We then move on to pandemic-era fundings for Density, Withings, and connected fitness company Tempo. Rite-Aid face recognition, a new Alexa app (yay!) challenges for Google/Nest, and HomeKit support for Arlo’s cameras round out our newsy segments. We then showcase a new product for securing the smart home called Hedgehog, and Kevin shares his review of the Wyze Outdoor Cam. We close by answering a listener question about Gosund products.

The Mellow sous vide has new owners and a new subscription plan. Image courtesy of Mellow.

This week’s guest is  John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances. He came on the show to discuss UL’s new IoT security framework and why GE Appliances chose to use it. We also talk about security challenges facing connected appliances, how to manage long-lived connected assets in the home, and why it will get more and more difficult to buy non-connected devices. I walked away more confident that major brands are really taking security seriously. Hopefully, you will too.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances
Sponsor: Very

  • Struggling hardware companies have three options to manage surprise IoT costs
  • These startups are raking in the cash during the pandemic
  • Kevin likes the new Wyze Outdoor Cam but had one tiny glitch
  • GE Appliances was serious about security but needed a way to tell consumers
  • How GE thinks about security by design and risk models for your fridge

 

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?