Episode 315: A Mad Max mask and a power grid of your own

This week Kevin is back and we start the show talking about the Xupermask from Will.i.am and Honeywell. Ring is adding radar to a floodlight camera and we’re pumped for that, while MIT researchers are using RF to help give robots X-ray vision. Apple is formally launching a certification program for developers who want to build for its Find My service, Verizon is expanding its edge computing partnership with Amazon Web Services, and we also talk about the end of 3G. More water plant hacks, Amazon Alexa adding a skills platform for businesses, new Ikea speakers, and tweaks to Google’s Home app round out the news segment of the show. Kevin also shares his review of the Wyze Watch. Finally, we answer a listener question about if and how platforms such as Home Assistant or OpenHAB can handle deprecated APIs for smart home devices.

Eaton’s new Alexa Wi-Fi dimmer is part of a portfolio of products that fit into its Home as a Grid concept. Image courtesy of Eaton.

Our guest this week is Jennifer Ploskina, connected solutions segment manager with Eaton. Eaton makes electrical equipment for utilities, industry, and homes. We talk about how demand for electricity will force utilities, homeowners and building owners to invest in a smarter grid.  She argues that we will eventually have energy generation capabilities that will help offset demand from the grid, and may one day even provide additional revenue streams for homes or offices. And she explains how we’ll get to the place where homes have batteries, solar and other features that will turn them into little power stations. We also discuss standards, Alexa, and the potential for Project Connected Home over IP. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jennifer Ploskina with Eaton
Sponsors: Digicert and Qt

  • The Will.i.am mask is not totally ridiculous
  • Apple expands its proprietary ecosystem to asset finding
  • Some “hackers” are employees and companies need to deal with that
  • What happens when your home or office has a mini power grid?
  • Turn your EV battery into a revenue stream

Episode 314: A look at Arm’s new vision for computing

Om Malik takes Kevin’s place this week as my co-host and also doubles as my guest. Malik is my former boss at GigaOm, is currently a partner at True Ventures, and writes thoughtfully about technology on his own blog. We start the show focused on chips, specifically Arm’s brand new v9 architecture and the vision Arm has for secure, distributed computing. Both Om and I are big believers that chip architectures can help us predict the future, so we spend time discussing what the silicon tea leaves are telling us.

The Bluetooth SIG’s 2021 market update anticipates growth in Bluetooth chips for the smart home.

After touching a bit on the chip shortage, we dig into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s latest market update. Bluetooth growth was flat, but the smart home had a few bright spots. I review the second-generation Google Nest hub which reminded me how much Google knows about me. I also focus on Tesla’s in-cabin cameras. Malik uses my worries to explain why we need a regulatory framework for thinking about our rights in what will essentially become a surveillance state. We both are excited about the Biden administration’s plan to back broadband and I wonder what Tonal will do with $250 million in funding. We end the episode by answering a question from a listener about the best sprinkler systems or hose timers to buy ahead of summer. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Arm’s vision for computing makes the cloud and edge equal players
  • Bluetooth shipments were flat and LE audio is delayed
  • The new Nest hub is a decent hub and sleep tracker
  • We need a new framework for citizen’s rights when digital data is everywhere
  • Will the big ISPs crash Biden’s multi-billion-dollar broadband bonanza?

 

Episode 313: We are super pumped about Thread

In this week’s show, we focus on Thread because Kevin tried out the new Eve sensors that use the wireless protocol, and fell head over heels in love. “This is what the smart home should be, ” he says. After that, we talk about additional sensors on the HomePod Mini and wonder when and if Apple would make a smart home display. Then we discuss Masonite’s connected doors and why it’s such a disruptive move. Peloton made several acquisitions, so we cover those before discussing another radar product and funding for Flex Logic, an edge-based machine learning chip startup that raised $55 million in funding. We also answer a question about getting a list of your connected devices from your Wi-Fi router.

Vayyar’s new radar module can use one device to monitor all three rows of a large SUV. Image courtesy of Vayyar.

Our guest this week is Carla Diana, who is a product designer whose new book “My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can make New Products More Human” comes out next week. We start the conversation with her thoughts on whether we should anthropomorphize devices like Roombas or Alexa. We talk about the frameworks that designers should consider when designing connected products and some best practices to consider. If you’re interested in design, ethics, or how we could have a better-designed future, you’ll enjoy the interview, and likely, the book. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carla Diana
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Kevin says some tough things about Bluetooth
  • Peloton’s acquisition strategy is oriented around delivering smart services
  • Smart doors that come with power and connectivity
  • Can I call Alexa or Siri her?
  • How to incorporate calm design into the smart home

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 311: How P&G’s plans for smart products evolved

This week’s show has a security focus with us discussing the Verkada hack, a new security camera from Abode, which basically puts expensive IP cameras on notice, and recommendations from Consumer Reports on helping victims of domestic abuse lock down their devices and services. We then talk about a rumored Alexa robot, a new Raspberry Pi chip designed for TinyML, the new State of Edge report from LF Edge, and Honeywell’s latest smart building acquisition. On the new products and services front, we cover Best Buy’s plan to sell fall detection and emergency services using the Apple Watch, the Sonos Roam, and a new air sensor from Airthings that detects particular matter. Kevin shares his opinion about the Logitech Circle View Doorbell as he continues to deploy HomeKit in his home. We close by answering a listener question about sensors for small businesses.

Airthings View Plus will track particulate matter and will cost $299. Image courtesy of Airthings.

This week’s guest is Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures. She and I discuss how P&G Ventures operates and what sorts of products they are interested in bringing to market. We talk about how the phone can help create a new relationship with a consumer, even if the product isn’t connected. We also discuss what P&G has learned from its previous forays into connected devices and how that influences Procter & Gamble going forward. I like the holistic view they are taking around smarts, consumer products, and respecting the user’s time and experience. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures
Sponsor: Switch Always On

  • This camera hack is a good example of why MFA rocks
  • Companies will spend $800 billion on edge computing from 2019-2028
  • Are we going back to Sonos with the new Roam Bluetooth speaker?
  • How P&G Ventures works and what it’s looking for
  • P&G is using the smartphone to change its relationship with customers

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 309: Why your IoT device shipments are delayed

We’re really excited about radar in this week’s episode, so we discuss Ring’s new doorbell that added it for motion detection and Apple’s patent that plans to use radar for detecting vital signs. We also talk about radar being a feature that Plume plans to add to its Wi-Fi devices in the near future while discussing the company’s $270 million funding round. We then discuss Portland ditching smart city software, the Echo Show 10 reviews, HomeKit support for two sets of devices, and the coming ability to talk to Google’s Assistant even when the screen is locked. I then explain how you can stop some of the unwanted comments from Alexa if she’s telling you about low batteries in your smart home devices or asking you to rate a product you have purchased on Amazon. We end by answering a listener’s question about bringing Wi-Fi to his detached garage.

Ring’s new doorbell will cost $249.99 and ships on March 31. Image courtesy of Ring.

Our guest this week is Chris Carney, the co-founder and CEO of Abode. Carney explains why companies are experiencing so many delays in shipping products and why many of your favorite devices might be out of stock. The chip shortage plays a role, but so do delays at ports and challenges faced by last-mile delivery networks like the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. He explains how his company is trying to adapt, and when we can expect to see these shortages ease up. He also offers some advice to other companies affected by similar challenges. Enjoy the show while waiting for your latest gadget to arrive.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Carney, co-founder and CEO of Abode
Sponsor: Very

  • Ring’s new doorbell gets a fancy new feature
  • Plume’s funding could lead to small acquisitions
  • How to reduce Alexa’s spam
  • Chips, ships, and delayed trips
  • When will supply chains get back to normal?

Episode 308: Chipageddon and deets on the Pi Pico

Silicon is the theme of this week’s show, starting with a rundown on the chip shortage affecting the automotive and IoT world. Then we talk about the Los Angles Police Department requesting footage from connected doorbell cameras during the Black Lives Matter protests before moving on to Amazon’s new Kickstarter-like program for new Alexa products. In new product news, we cover Wyze’s color-changing light bulbs, Facebooks’ rumored smartwatch, and a peer-to-peer mesh network using the ClusterDuck protocol. We then share a new command for Google Assistant, discuss funding for an AI chip company, speculate on Verizon’s purchase of a robotics software startup, and dig into the many DIY options for building your own image recognition models. We end by answering a question about products that might help you save money on your electric bill.

If you want to see Amazon build a scale that works with Alexa for $34.99, you can pre-order it today. If enough people order it, Amazon will make it. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Allan explains why the Foundation decided to build its own chip for the first Pi Pico microcontroller and why the Pi Foundation even built a microcontroller in the first place. He also discusses how the Pi Pico differs from an Arduino, talks up some use cases, and dives into ways it might be used for machine learning at the edge. After declining to tell me what might be next for the Pi Foundation, he did point out that no one assembles a chip design team to build just one chip, so it sounds like there’s a lot to look forward to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Sponsor: Very

  • What’s behind the chip shortage and how long will it last?
  • We can’t expect Ring to police the police, so here’s what we should expect
  • Project OWL is a public safety or industrial mesh network
  • The custom-chip in the Pi Pico is designed for flexibility
  • Tiny ML means less internet in the IoT

 

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