Episode 410: Inside the CSA’s plan for health device interoperability

This week’s show starts off with news from the Connectivity Standards Alliance as Kevin and I talk about the new Health and Wellness Working Group. Then we discuss some of the challenges that people face trying to use Matter devices across multiple platforms. It’s not seamless or easy yet. Also on difficult things, we discuss the challenges of securing the industrial IoT thanks to a new report from Dragos. Then we offer a preview of a new wireless technology for so-called massive IoT that will be on display from Wirepas at Mobile World Congress later this month. For those who were hoping for an open source voice assistant, I have bad news. Mycroft.ai is ceasing development of its open-source voice platform, and in addition, will not be shipping voice assistants to Kickstarter backers. There’s good news, however, for Arlo customers who were set to see the end of life for some of their cameras in 2024. Arlo has extended that date, and will continue to offer free 7-day cloud storage to existing customers. For listeners who are interested in energy-harvesting sensors, there’s an upcoming campaign for an open source board from Riotee that will provide solar-power sensing and Bluetooth. And if you’re more into working out and connected fitness, Tonal is looking for cash. Finally, we answer a listener question about upgrading his router and cleaning up his smart home.

Mycroft’s Mark II next-generation open-source smart speaker won’t ship to Kickstarter backers. Image courtesy of Mycroft.

Our guest this week is Michelle Mindala-Freeman, who is the head of marketing and member services at the Connectivity Standards Alliance. She’s here to explain why the CSA is launching a new standards working group for health and wellness. We talk about what types of companies should be involved, what sorts of use cases the CSA hopes to deliver and why now is the right time to make such a standardization effort happen. Given that helping people age in place is one of the more compelling reasons to install smart home devices, the CSA is likely to find members willing to work on the problem. I also ask what other problems the CSA might try to solve. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michelle Mindala-Freeman at the Connectivity Standards Alliance
Sponsors: InfluxData and Silicon Labs

  • Matter is having a rough start
  • Say goodbye to Mycroft’s open-source voice platform
  • We expect a new open-source board for energy harvesting sensors
  • Why the time is right for the CSA to tackle health and wellness
  • How will the smart home share wellness data?

 

Episode 409: ChatGPT takes on the smart home

This week’s show kicks off with our hopes for privacy in the wake of President Biden calling out tech firms during his State of The Union address. Biden was focused more on targeted ads and protecting children, but children’s’ data gets swept up in smart home devices as well, so there’s a chance. We then explore why Josh.ai is combining its voice assistant with ChatGPT and note that smart home forums are banning ChatGPT. Then we talk about a win for Amazon’s Sidewalk Network and how insurers might use it and a new Electronic Shelf Label standard from the Bluetooth SIG. In more wireless news, we discuss a new modem from Qualcomm that will benefit both the industrial IoT and wearables, such as AR glasses. Y’all may recall that I’ve been pleased that the U.S. has started regulating security for IoT devices, and it looks like some of its efforts are working. In smaller news, we cover a review of the Samsung SmartThings Station, an update on Apple’s HomeKit architecture change, and funding for InfluxData. Finally, we answer a listener question about options for open source tools to manage home energy consumption.

An example of an electronic shelf label. The Bluetooth SIG has created a wireless standard to connect these labels to data and power. Image courtesy of Bluetooth SIG.

Our guest this week is Jaser Faruq, Senior Vice President, Innovation at Schneider Electric, who is on the show to discuss why his company is betting big on smart home technology to manage energy consumption, storage and generation. We talk about the three reasons energy management is such an important feature for smart homes, and what it will take to get consumers to adopt it. We also talk about what role utilities will play in the development of a smarter grid and how long it will take before this becomes more mainstream. It’s an important topic, especially for those of y’all considering the purchase of an electric vehicle. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jaser Faruq, Senior Vice President, Innovation at Schneider Electric
Sponsors: InfluxData and Silicon Labs

  • Is the US government ready to regulate privacy? For real?
  • How might ChatGPT help solve problems in the smart home?
  • Qualcomm’s new modem is good for the industrial IoT
  • Is this a new era when electricity is a scare resource?
  • We’ll see a smarter electrical grid within the next five years

Episode 408: Hacking sensors and securing medical devices

This week’s show starts with an overview of the reviews for the new second generation HomePod and a deep dive into the security mess that Anker has made with its Eufy smart home cameras. We then dig into some earnings from IoT chip providers NXP and Silicon Labs, before discussing some new ideas to use RFID to prevent retail theft. We then talk about how the demand for retail tech could be generating demand for better broadband in places where broadband isn’t really all that robust. Then we cover news of a $100 million fund for Industry 5.0 companies (and explain what Industry 5.0 is) and share news of a new smart lock and a new integration for Ecobee. We talk about plans for noise sensors in NYC and Kevin’s review of a $20 Matter-capable smart plug. Finally, we answer a listener question about which video doorbell option makes the most sense, given their particular needs.

Lowe’s innovation group is testing a connected anti-theft program. Image courtesy of Lowes.

Our guest this week is Kevin Fu, who is a professor of electrical and computer science at Northeastern University, and the former acting director of medical device cybersecurity for the Food and Drug Administration. I’ve followed his efforts to hack physical sensors for years, and was excited when he started focusing on medical device security for the FDA. On the show, he discusses new federal legislation that will require companies to get an FDA review of their medical device’s cybersecurity before it goes on the market. This is a first for the U.S. in terms of requiring some sort of cybersecurity review before a product is released, and it might become an inspiration for legislation in other industries going forward. We also talk about how to regulate AI in healthcare and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Fu, professor of electrical and computer science at Northeastern University
Sponsor: Akenza

  • Transparency is helpful, but not a panacea for privacy
  • The chips are down, but not in the IoT
  • What is Industry 5.0 and why does it matter?
  • The Patch Act didn’t pass, but some elements of it did
  • What kind of regulations make sense for AI in medicine?

Episode 407: Does the IoT mean the end of privacy?

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion about Carnegie Mellon’s research into detecting people’s movements through walls using Wi-Fi. As part of the discussion we also talk about the use of stick figures to protect privacy and how little trust consumers have in companies when it comes to the use of their data. That lack of trust might explain why so few consumers connect their smart appliances, or perhaps it’s simply because appliance makers don’t offer consumers a good reason. We then share the results of our audience survey about how y’all create routines. Most of y’all (86%) use a hub rather than the device application. Reliability and funding for Memfault, a startup helping companies build more reliable connected devices, is the next topic of conversation, which also features a funny smart lock failure from a fellow smart home reporter. In smaller news, we talk about a security camera which will use the new Wi-Fi HaLOW standard, Google asking for opinions on Google Home, and new security settings to view Nest camera feeds. We also discuss Apple’s revamp of its botched HomeKit architecture update, and Kevin’s experience using the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd gen earbuds as a hearable device. Finally, we answer a listener question about how to set up a light or smart speaker notification to attract attention when an important person calls.

We asked, and 79 of y’all answered what hub system you use for creating smart home routines. Apparently, a lot of y’all use Hubitat.

Our guest this week is Matt Rogers, the co-founder and CEO of Mill, a startup using a connected kitchen bin to fight food waste. We talk about the problem of food waste and who will pay $33 a month for the bin and concurrent service. Rogers also explains the math behind the service, and talks about why he chose to use a subscription model to fund the business. He also tells me why this isn’t a composting device, since it’s designed to keep food in the food system, and explains why that is so important. Finally, he shares how challenging it was to build a hardware startup during the pandemic. It’s a fun chat.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Mill
Sponsor: Akenza

  • Researchers use Wi-Fi to track movement through walls
  • Half of us don’t connect our smart appliances
  • Maybe you don’t need hearing aids just yet?
  • Why Matt Rogers went from smart thermostats to fighting food waste
  • Rogers tried to keep manufacturing during the pandemic local