Episode 325: The IoT goes to Congress

Hello! This week we start with Congress, where the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings related to interoperability and lock-in tied to smart home devices. We drew special attention to testimony by Jonathan Zittrain, who wrote a long, but insightful statement about the development of the web, the benefits gained when using interoperable protocols, and what the government should do to ensure the openness of the IoT. After that, we discuss Amazon’s use of person detection on its new Echo Show devices to use motion-sensing as a trigger for routines and Apple’s planned features for its next smartwatch. We then talk about the new Level lock and why you may want to wait before buying a smart lock. In our news roundup, we track the rise of smart home devices, IKEA’s new $199 picture frame speaker, a new cellular module, and Accenture’s acquisition of umlaut, an industrial IoT engineering firm. We close on a question from a listener about which devices will support Matter going forward.

IKEA’s new speaker hides within a picture frame, but IKEA has limited art available. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos. Carhart’s specialty is industrial IoT incident response which means she’s been busy, given how often ransomware attacks have taken out critical infrastructure in the past few months. She explains how she got into doing industrial security and how it differs from IT security (which she also did). She shares what industrial clients want IT security professionals to understand, and shares how people can get into the field of providing industrial IoT security. In my favorite moment, she explains the Purdue Model of security used by manufacturing and industrial clients. Understanding these things will only become more important as we place more assets online. Please listen.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos SponsorsBsquare and Edge Impulse

  • A few remedies to prevent lock-in by the tech giants
  • Wellness is gaining ground in the smartwatch world
  • Maybe wait on that smart lock purchase
  • Hardhats may be necessary for industrial IoT security response
  • What the OT world wants the IT world to know about security

Episode 324: HomeKit and Home Assistant embrace Matter

We start this week’s show with a quick update on Amazon’s Sidewalk and then focused on the smart home news from Apple’s WWDC event earlier this week. We’re excited about third-party devices getting Siri support. We then cover the EU’s thoughts on anticompetitive behavior by IoT device companies, as well as the launch of a new standard that allows for low-power, highly-dense, mesh networks for 5G and Bluetooth. While on the topic of networking, we explain why Qualcomm’s new cluster of IoT chips is pretty cool. Then we talk about Google backing off AR Measure and Helium getting a new customer. I also review the new Nanoleaf Elements light panels and explain why you might want them, despite their cost. We close by highlighting a caller’s demand for two-factor authentication on smart home devices, specifically the Moen Flo products.

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat will be one of the first third-party devices to support Siri. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant, a smart home platform for DIYers. He talks about why he built the service as well as plans for new hardware later this year. We also discuss his plans for the Matter protocol and difficulty implementing the available Matter code on Github. Schoutsen also shares his recommendations on what buyers should look for in a connected product, especially one that connects back to the cloud. We end with a bit about Home Assistant’s business model, and with me asking for his help on a common listener question. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Apple’s bringing Siri to more devices and opens up on Matter
  • The EU isn’t keen on walled gardens in the smart home
  • This new low-power, highly-dense wireless network is worth a look
  • The folks at Home Assistant are working on new hardware
  • Will Home Assistant support Matter? You betcha!

 

Episode 323: Stick with Sidewalk, y’all

This week’s show is going to get controversial with a discussion of Amazon’s Sidewalk. Kevin is out on vacation this week, so my friend Chris Albrect of The Spoon is here to co-host.   We start with a rundown on why I think you should participate in Amazon’s Sidewalk network but also explain how to opt out. We then talk about how tech-savvy lawyers helped push Amazon to drop arbitration clauses, the meatpacking hack, and new rules from the Army’s CIO on IoT devices in the home. Then we focus on fitness, discussing the potential for connected rower Hydrow to go public, Google’s plans for Fitbit, and the speculation around Apple’s upcoming Airpods. We end by answering a question from an electrician about what we’d like to see in a newly built smart home.

The Level Lock. Image courtesy of Level.

Our guest this week is Ken Goto, the co-founder and CTO of Level Lock. I invited him on the show because I am fascinated by how well the company has adapted to changing software requirements for the smart home. So I asked him what sort of planning that took and how the company approaches things like Homekit, Alexa, Matter, and even Amazon’s Sidewalk. Goto is actually a big fan of Sidewalk, and talks about what it can offer customers of the lock and what it does for him as a developer. We close with a look ahead at the technology he’s really excited about seeing in the smart home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Christ Albrecht
Guest: Ken Goto, CTO of Level Lock
Sponsors: Bsquare and Very

  • If you opt-out of Amazon’s Sidewalk, do it for the right reasons
  • The Army is alerting teleworkers to smart home security flaws
  • Why not take a smart rower public
  • How Level tried to future proof its devices
  • Level’s CTO explains why he’s excited about Amazon’s Sidewalk

 

 

Episode 321: Google decides Matter matters

This week’s show focuses on news from Google I/O 2021 where it’s clear the search giant is trying to build out a fairly open ecosystem based on the Matter protocol and WebRTC for audio and video streaming. Google also said it would use Wear OS for Fitbit and combine Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS. Google also announced a CarKey deal with BMW. There’s bad news on the data-sharing front from Imperial College London and Northeastern University, where researchers tracked how many connections popular smart home devices opened, and what it means for privacy. In security news, Consumer Reports found flaws in four security cameras and video doorbells, and we discuss the Eufy video camera bug. Additionally, cyber risks are so high that the CEO of Swiss Re, a reinsurer, said insurance for cyberattacks was becoming impossible. Finally, we mention the new Echo Frame options, although Kevin is still not a fan. In our hotline, we answer a question about Matter and keeping a SmartThings hub.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at Google I/O 2021. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America. We talk about embedded computer vision and what it means to have machine learning taken care of on the image sensor itself. It enables lip-reading applications, occupancy sensing, and new ways to track inventory in stores. (He’s very excited about  inventory sensing cameras.) Hanson also says the sensor and its DSP can provide training at the edge, allowing a user to show the sensor images and then have the sensor later recognize those images. We also talk about how product designers can figure out if they need a camera for a particular use case.  Hanson really wants to get new ideas from everyone listening about use cases for embedded computer vision, so see if any of the interview sparks your creativity.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America
SponsorVery

  • Google will embrace Matter in most displays, smart speakers and on Android
  • Do you know who your smart devices talk to?
  • Cyberattacks are becoming too big for insurance to cover
  • Why adding ML to an image sensor makes sense
  • How to use a “dumb” sensor to offload some computing tasks

 

Episode 320: Project CHIP becomes Matter and hacked pipelines

This week’s show hits on two of the biggest stories of the year for the smart home: Project Connected Home over IP is now called Matter and Amazon’s Sidewalk Network adds Tile as a participant. We also discuss what it means for Zigbee after the Zigbee Alliance changed its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance.  The Colonial Pipeline ransomware also merits some attention. We then spend time on some news bits such as Amazon updating its Echo Show devices for the video calling era we seem to be in, Wyze’s new earbuds with noise-canceling technology, and the new Phyn leak detection sensors. We also discuss the FragAttack vulnerabilities and try to explain them. We conclude by answering a listener question about whether we’ll see Thread on phones anytime soon.

The Phyn puck, cable, and extension node combine to create a compelling option for sensing leaks. Image courtesy of Phyn.

Our guest this week delves even deeper into the Matter protocol. Kevin Po, a senior product manager at Google, is involved in the Matter working group. Po explains the multi-admin feature that will let consumers swap ecosystems with ease if they have Matter-certified devices, and lets me pester him with specific questions for those who might have multiple ecosystems in one home, or those that might want to use different smartphones.  He also lays out some of the security features and explains where he thinks device makers should try to differentiate themselves as the Matter standard develops. He also foreshadows some Google-related Matter news at Google I/O next week, so we should probably pay attention.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Po, a senior product manager at Google
Sponsor: Very

  • Project CHIP becomes Matter and the Zigbee Alliance becomes the Connectivity Standards Alliance
  • Why the Colonial Pipeline really shut down
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk network is better than Apple’s Airtags at one thing
  • Will Matter let me have Alexa and Google in my home?
  • Is Matter an attempt for the big three tech firms to dominate the smart home?

Episode 319: How ML at the edge will make products truly smart

This week’s show was a lot of fun to record with Kevin and me discussing Google’s upcoming I/O event and updates on the chip shortage from STMicro, TSMC, and someone who makes electronics. We also talk about Kroger’s drone delivery plans, cameras in cars, funding for robotic computer vision, and funding for robotic welding driven by AI. After that, we hit some smaller news items such as Amazon adding greetings to the Ring doorbell, Oura raising $100 million, and an update to Withings’ scale that provides a new biomarker. We then cover my review of the Lutron outdoor outlet and Kevin reviews Apple’s new AirTags. We conclude by answering a listener question about Bluetooth mesh.

Kroger will introduce a drone delivery pilot this spring in the Midwest in partnership with Drone Express. Image courtesy of Kroger.

This week, our guest is David McIntyre, the VP of marketing at Perceive, a startup building edge-based machine learning chips. He shares several ways that local machine learning will enable new features in products and explains how to add machine learning to consumer devices. He also explains how adding smarts to products changes their design and offers advice for those trying to rethink their own product strategies. We spent a lot of time trying to dissect what makes something smart as opposed to connected, and I think y’all will enjoy that discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David McIntyre of Perceive
Sponsor: Very

  • The chip shortage will make a lot of gadgets more expensive
  • How should we handle camera data from inside our cars?
  • Lutron’s outdoor outlet is pricey, but high quality
  • Local ML will enable better Zoom calls and smart appliances
  • Forget the ecosystem, and think about differentiation when building smart devices

Episode 316: Everything you need to know about Project CHIP

This week’s show launches with a deep dive on Project Connected Home over IP after the Zigbee Alliance released many new details about the specification. We discuss when you can expect it, the devices you’ll see, and the security model. Then we cover the new Wyze lamp, smart auto-dimming windows, Logitech killing the Harmony remote, and Spotify’s new Car Thing. On the enterprise side, we cover a new IoT device vulnerability, funding for Density, a people counting company, and Edge Impulse making it easier to build edge-based ML models on the Raspberry Pi 4. Kevin then shares his thoughts on Logitech’s CircleView camera. We end with a question on what will happen to Z-wave and Zigbee if CHIP succeeds.

The Swarm Tile gets integrated into a sensor or device and costs $119. Image courtesy of Swarm.

Our guest this week is Sara Spangelo, the CEO of Swarm. She talks about Swarm’s monthly $5 per device pricing model and how Swarm can offer satellite connectivity for that price. We also talk about which customers are using Swarm today and why the company decided to focus on one-to-one connectivity as opposed to building a gateway. We conclude with a conversation on how to evaluate a satellite provider since there are so many options available for customers. I have to admit, I’m coming around to the idea of IoT coverage delivered via satellite as a legitimate business proposition.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sara Spangelo CEO of Swarm
Sponsors: DigiCert and Qt

  • CHIP won’t support wearables, appliances, or cameras at launch
  • Why Project CHIP is embracing the blockchain for security
  • Should your service really have a hardware product?
  • Why the satellite era is upon us
  • How to figure out what satellite networks can and can’t do

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 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