Episode 244: How AWS plans to take on the IoT

This week Amazon announced several new services ahead of its re:Invent event next week including news about Alexa Voice Services and the IoT elements of the cloud. We also touch base about Wink’s latest problem and try to explain the kerfuffle on lightweight IoT encryption. In smaller news bits, we talk about Wyze killing its person-detection feature unexpectedly, NB-IoT trackers from See.Sense and Flok, Google’s Ambient Mode coming to phones and Black Friday deals. We then review the Philips Hue Smart Button and the RoomMe presence detection devices from Intellithings. We end by answering a listener question about ways to remotely track his parents’ medicine adherence.

The Flok is one of several upcoming trackers that will rely on NB-IoT. Image courtesy of Flok.

Our guest this week brings us back to where we started, with Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at Amazon Web Services, coming on the show to talk about how Amazon plans to compete in the industrial and enterprise IoT with cloud and on-premise services. She talks about the latest news, the architecture required for the IoT, and the three laws of building a connected service. Plus, she explains why containers and serverless computing matter so much for the internet of things. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at AWS
Sponsors: Legrand and Schlage

  • Amazon doubles down on the cloud for Alexa
  • What’s up with the lightweight-encryption debate
  • I loved the Hue Smart Button but Kevin didn’t go for the RoomMe sensors
  • How Amazon plans to compete for enterprise and industrial cloud services
  • Amazon’s three laws for architecting services

Episode 241: How a smarter edge can make schools safer

This week on the show, Kevin and I started with a discussion of reports of how smart speakers can receive remote commands from a hacker with a laser. We then shifted gears to talk about company research showing how much data your smart homes are sending and a brand new network product from Firewalla. Cortana’s pivot to productivity gets a mention, as does Kevin’s take on Google buying Fitbit. From there we reviewed the Twinklys smart lights, talked about new Ecobee features, smart apartment deals and the open-sourcing of Google’s Titan chip. We then answer a listener question about smart garage door opener alternatives for Chamberlain’s MyQ product.

The new Firewalla security device is now also a router. Image courtesy of Firewalla.

Our guest this week is Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion. We start off talking about smart edge capabilities that could be used to make schools, offices and other spaces safer. Then we discuss how smart home device manufacturers have changed their goals when trying to create partnerships. Before, the focus might be on marketing on one-off features, but manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated. Find out what’s new, and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion.
Sponsors: Legrand and Afero

  • Using frickin’ lasers to hack Alexa
  • What do your devices do while you are sleeping?
  • Why Amazon should have purchased Fitbit
  • Stopping tailgaters at college requires smarts at the edge
  • Privacy is becoming a point of negotiation in the gadget world

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 237: ARM’s big move and the future of food

In this week’s episode, we start off with speculation about wearables and why we might put the internet of things into clothing. From there we speculate on whether IoT is the new asbestos.  I did this show from ARM’s annual tech conference, where I tried to explain some of the big news from the show, such as ARM opening up its instruction set and the creation of a new automotive consortium. From there we cover the new Tile sticker format, the new Linksys security feature that uses wireless signals instead of a camera, and more fallout from Ring’s marketing agreements with municipal police departments. We also talk about Google’s new streaming music feature, a semiconductor deal in the industrial IoT and a bad security flaw in older D-Link routers. We then answer a listener’s question about what tech features she should include while building a new home.

Innit provides the backend tech and data for Mars brands on Google Lens. Image courtesy of Innit.

Our guest this week is Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit, a company trying to build a back end operating system for food. The company has products that serve consumer packaged good brands, it’s embedded in appliances and also offers apps for consumers.  Brown and I spend most of our time talking about how the rise of Amazon, and technology more broadly, will affect the way consumers choose what to eat and where they buy their food. We also talk about how to make the idea of food as medicine more palatable for people. It’s a quick segment, but it may make you excited about the future of food.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Brown, CEO of Innit
Sponsors: Nutanix and HiveMQ

  • Could healthcare drive the adoption of smart clothing?
  • We need a building safety code for connected devices
  • ARM’s instruction set news could drive a lot more innovation
  • Alexa, let’s make a lasagna
  • Will you keep buying name brand foods in a decade?

Episode 236: Yes, I want Amazon Alexa eyeglasses

This week we returned to the Amazon announcements from last week, so Kevin and I could share our thoughts in depth. We hit the popular gadgets, Sidewalk and even delved into the smart oven. We also covered funding news for two companies trying to build products for apartment buildings. IOTAS scored $8.5 million while SmartRent raised $32 million. We also discussed Microsoft’s powerful new earbuds, a new talent for Google Home products and industrial news from both Rockwell Automation and Emerson. We then answer a question about the best computing boards for teaching a teen to love STEM.

Microsoft’s earbuds are $249 and will have a few cool tricks.

Our guest this week is Simon Crosby, the CTO of Swim.ai, a company that provides machine learning at the edge for a variety of use cases. Crosby explains how Swim.ai works and then digs into the challenges the company has faced in trying to find a business model that works. His example of parsing through 60 terabytes of data a day from traffic lights only to sell the resulting insights for a quarter per intersection is pretty tough. He does offer hope in the form of new tech developments that we also talk about on the show. Enjoy!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Simon Crosby, the CTO of Swim.ai
Sponsors: Control4 and HiveMQ

  • Find out what disappointed Kevin most from the Amazon announcements
  • Yes, I am still geeking out about Sidewalk
  • Why Rockwell bought MESTECH
  • How to architect a product for machine learning at the edge
  • The cost of parsing edge data doesn’t always match the value of the insights

 

Episode 235: How Amazon is defining the smart home

This week’s show covers the big Amazon announcements in the guest segment, but first Kevin and I focus on the retailer’s smaller announcements around its new show and tell feature and voice interoperability efforts.  Kevin has thoughts about cameras in the home. We also talk about Google changing how it handles voice recordings to help address user outrage while covering a study about the privacy challenges of other IoT devices. Then we dive into the geeky idea of merging Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN into a super IoT protocol, cover Zira’s industrial IoT software and figure out who might buy FitBit. We end by answering a question about smart bedside table lamps.

For 99 cents you can get an explicit or clean version of Samuel L. Jackson to replace Alexas voice for some features of the Echo.

Our guest this week is Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon who runs through some of the bigger announcements from the Amazon Alexa and services event on Wednesday. We cover why Alexa has moved beyond a physical device to become a digital assistant and platform. We talk about how Amazon wants to make money on that platform as well as some of the new devices that will showcase Alexa. These include Frames and the Loop ring. Plus, we do a deeper dive into Sidewalk, Amazon’s new wireless protocol for the front yard (and maybe more). Rausch ends by telling us how long we’ll take to see Amazon deliver a truly smart, proactive home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home, Amazon
Sponsors: Control4 and HiveMQ

  • Are cameras the secret to smart home dominance?
  • The pros and cons of voice interoperability
  • This Wi-Fi plus LoRaWAN plan isn’t too crazy
  • The digital assistant is the new tech platform and Alexa is queen
  • More on Amazon’s new Sidewalk wireless protocol

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 230: Which IoT satellite efforts will fail?

This week I get excited about a new home water monitoring product from Phyn while Kevin migrated his Nest account over to a Google account. We also discussed the creation of IKEA’s new Home Smart business unit and Amazon’s dream of putting Alexa in every car. SimpliSafe adds a door lock, MIT researchers build an energy-harvesting underwater sensor and a Chinese IP camera company is taking worries about security and U.S. fears of Chinese brands seriously. We also answer a question about Walmart’s Merkury Innovation brand of connected products.

The Phyn Smart Water Assistant will cost $299 and tracks leaks.

Our guest this week is Tim Farrar, of TMF Associates, who is a consultant in the satellite industry. I’ve turned to Tim to answer questions about the rush of companies trying to offer connectivity to the IoT using satellites. Do the economics make sense? How many of these businesses can the industry support and what the heck happens if these companies fail? Plus, we address the issue of space trash. You’ll want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tim Farrar of TMF Associates
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • This water monitoring device is worth a look
  • How Google’s Nest migration works
  • Will Chinese companies start locating IoT cloud services in the U.S.
  • The economics of satellite make broad IoT use cases tough
  • Why broadband satellite efforts may doom smaller IoT plans

 

Episode 228: Ring uses police as a sales channel

We should name our show the Internet of Privacy Violations Podcast. This week Kevin and I talk about Apple and Microsoft sending voice utterances to contractors and what the industry overall has done to clarify this fact to consumers and also let folks opt-out. We also talk about Microsoft’s discovery that IoT devices are an entry point for hackers and ask for feedback on whether a printer is an IoT device. Then we follow up on Ring’s work with police departments, which doesn’t make me feel good at all. In more fun news we finally discover what Google’s Mistral is, we find a new device from Walmart and discuss a new tech alliance. From there we talk about a new hub for your cameras, Arlo Pro getting HomeKit support and a new roving digital assistant from Asus. We close by answering a question about connected weather stations.

Our guest this week is Meirav Oren, CEO and co-founder of Versatile Natures. She explains how to get non-tech firms to adopt AI and IoT and why she thinks cameras are not the best IoT sensor to use. She also tells me how she thinks the construction industry will evolve over the next decade as it adopts new technology. You’ll gain a lot from this interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Meirav Oren, CEO and co-founder of Versatile Natures
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • Is a printer an IoT device? We want to know.
  • Ring has turned police officers into its sales channel and that isn’t okay
  • What’s Walmart’s Project Franklin?
  • To get non-tech people to adopt AI, you need trust
  • The future of construction can be found in chip manufacturing