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 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 304: Presidential Pelotons and data accountability

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing a smart camera vulnerability before digging into what it means when the White House becomes a smart home. We then discuss Wi-Fi 6E and what it means for IoT. Next up: new devices from Signify which makes Philips Hue-branded gear. Then we dig into Google Assistants’ new skills, the Nest/SmartThings integration, and what Google wanted from Fitbit. We discuss a DIY smartwatch, self-learning sensors from Bosch, and Samsung SmartTags, which don’t seem all that smart. We end by answering a listener question about swapping out Hue gear for the Nanoleaf Essentials bulb and also Firewalla devices for Eero services.

The new Philips Hue dimmer switch looks much better. Image courtesy of Signify.

Our guest this week is Ran Korber, CEO and co-founder of BreezoMeter, which uses math and public data to track air pollution. Korber joined me to talk about why air pollution matters so much, and how to combine many sources of data to produce real insights. He also talks about how to check his company’s algorithms, as well as how to build a business on shared data. After last summers’ wildfires, I am convinced of the value of good air pollution data, and it was neat to hear how companies are putting it to use. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ran Korber, CEO and co-founder of BreezoMeter
SponsorsTeraCode and Techmeme

  • President Biden’s Peloton could influence smart home security efforts
  • More Philips Hue gear heading our way
  • Google’s Fitbit deal is about data, not advertising
  • How to combine air quality sensors with traffic data
  • Building a business on data begins with transparency

Episode 303: Everything from CES 2021 and a bit about LoRa

This week’s show is mostly about CES 2021, starting with an array of interesting devices that were launched. We covered a lot of them here, but we also mentioned a $3,000 pet door, an energy harvesting NB-IoT modem demonstration, and Kevin’s take on where we are with the smart home based on what he saw. We also discussed Ring’s encryption news explaining what it does and does not mean. And because I love semiconductors we gave a quick mention to Intel’s new CEO and Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia. The Qualcomm deal represents a huge shift for server and computing CPUs and is likely why Intel felt it needed the skills of Pat Gelsinger in the executive chair.  We end the show by answering a question about Lutron and Apple’s adaptive lighting.

The MyQ Pup portal is quite the pet door. Image courtesy of Chamberlain MyQ.

Our guest this week is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network. He is here to talk about how to build a business around LoRa networks and give his thoughts on why enterprises might need one. We also talk about consumer LoRa networks and Amazon’s Sidewalk network. Will that ever be an open option? Giezeman shares case studies and a discount code if anyone listening wants to learn more about LoRa at The Things Conference, a weeklong virtual event all about LoRa that starts Jan. 25. That discount code we mention is TTC21-I-KNOW-STACEY. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network
Sponsors: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • CES had half the vendors and some weird tech
  • Smart home tech is in a period of refinement right now
  • Big news in the chip world
  • How many low power WANs do we need?
  • Let’s check out of LoRa in action

Episode 302: CES and GE Lighting is betting on Cync

This week Kevin and I discuss Allegion’s acquisition of Yonomi, and what it means for those of you using the cloud service or consumers using the app. We then turn to a mention of the rebranding of GE Lighting after its acquisition by Savant last summer before talking about Singapore’s about-face on the use of contact-tracing app data by police. Also on the police front, the FBI is warning consumers and police departments that hackers are getting into poorly protected smart home security systems and using them to call police to homes. From there we cover new modems, new capabilities for a Google device, a leak about Tile trackers, and a potential sleep apnea-tracking device from Amazon. Then Kevin shares what we want to see at CES and I share my thoughts on the Ring Mailbox sensor. We end by answering a question about fall detection devices for the home.

The new Cync indoor camera will launch in May. Image courtesy of GE Lighting, a Savant company.

Our guest this week is Paul Williams, general manager of product management & growth at GE Lighting, a Savant company. He shares the rationale behind the new Cync brand, the decision to add a security camera to the lineup of GE Lighting devices, and the thinking behind a new app planned for March. Williams also talks about other devices and how the Cync devices will and won’t tie into the Savant professional brand of products. I’m excited about the details the future Cync app will borrow from Savant, and can’t wait to see it. We end with his insights on what Project CHIP will and won’t mean for device makers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paul Williams, GE Lighting, a Savant company
Sponsor: Calix

  • What changes after Allegion’s purchase of Yonomi
  • Please secure your IoT devices, y’all
  • Google, Apple, and Amazon all have new devices with new wireless sensing
  • Thanks to Savant C by GE is now Cync
  • What a GE Lighting exec thinks about Project CHIP

 

Episode 300: Get excited for our annual Q&A episode

It’s time for the end-of-year question and answer episode where Kevin and I tinker, search Google, and ask companies for help answering your questions about the smart home. We start with a broad category of questions related to your needs outside that mostly require some kind of low power wide area network to work. Then we focus on Wi-Fi by answering a question about what to look for in a mesh Wi-Fi router and automating your home using your phone attaching to the in-home Wi-Fi as opposed to using GPS.

Arlo makes a high-end and high-quality outdoor camera that can go the distance. Image courtesy of Arlo.

For the second half of the show, we touch twice on my favorite topic — lighting! We answer a question for help finding a few smart bulb options that are super bright. Then we talk about smart bulbs that you could take on the road, because why not make your hotel room or Airbnb smart? We get tactical with specific sensors to address a request for a hidden open/close sensor for a door and steer y’all away from a product that seemed too good to be true. Finally, we talk about why you might see declining stocks of SmartThings hubs. It’s not because SmartThings is going away, it’s just that Samsung, which owns the company, isn’t focusing on building its own hardware anymore. Enjoy the show, and we’ll be back next week with our traditional format!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel

  • I need a smart driveway, shed, or garden soil sensor outside of Wi-Fi range
  • Help me find a camera for the great outdoors
  • What features matter in a Wi-Fi router?
  • Can you find a smart bulb that’s more than 1,000 lumens?
  • I need a hidden door sensor
  • Why can’t I find SmartThings hubs in stock?

Episode 299: LoRaWAN tries to co-opt Amazon Sidewalk

This week’s show kicks off with us discussing a fascinating interview with the head of the LoRa Alliance about its efforts to bring Amazon’s Sidewalk network into compliance with the LoRaWan standard. We then discuss Apple’s app privacy labels, a similar option for Google users, and the nutrition-style label for connected device security. Then it’s on to NIST’s cybersecurity standards, Aquanta’s smart water heaters, Amazon’s Energy Hub, and Amazon’s live translations. We then cover the new Wyze outdoor plug, the gen 2 Flic buttons, and easier Google Routines before diving into using IoT for vaccine tracking. A startup called Tive received funding and Forrester underlined the current best practices. Kevin then shares the latest news from Home Assistant’s conference this past weekend. We conclud the first half of the show by answering a listener question about how to use a light sensor to make bulbs turn on before sunset on cloudy days.

The Flic buttons are $29.99 for a single button or can be sold as a package with multiple buttons and a hub. Image courtesy of Flic.

Our guest this week is Geoff Wylde, lead, IoT and Urban Transformations at the World Economic Forum. We are discussing the latest WEF report, The State of the Connected World 2020, which was pretty much rewritten in the last few months to focus on how IoT can help us respond to the global pandemic. Wylde talks about the role collaboration plays in solving problems with IoT, the report’s findings around social equity, and the concept of compromised consent, as it relates to sharing data. There’s a lot of good info in the interview and much more in the report, which you can find here. Check both out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Geoff Wylde, the head of IoT and Urban Transformations at the World Economic Forum
Sponsors: Calix and Plume

  • Will Amazon’s Sidewalk ever be part of LoRaWAN?
  • Can nutrition labels help with privacy and IoT device security?
  • Let’s all read the NIST cybersecurity suggestions!
  • How IoT Can help us during the global pandemic
  • What is compromised consent and how can I avoid it?