Episode 242: Google explains itself and new Wyze gear!

Wyze makes some of the most reasonably-priced smart-home gear on the market and said earlier this month that it was planning a smorgasbord of new products, which Kevin and I detail in this episode. We then cover low-power wide-area networks with news that Twilio’s NB-IoT network and boards are now generally available and news that Amazon has joined the LoRa Alliance. From there we cover a security flaw, the longevity and reliability of connected home devices and a story about automation and jobs. We close with talk about a fitness company raising $55 million and another attempt at delivering wireless power at a distance. We then answer a question about who should swap out their Nest account for a Google Account.

The Whoop 3.0 fitness band is a compelling device with a pricey service.

Our guest this week is Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem, who explains why Google had to kill its Works with Nest program and what it means for users. You’ll also learn how Google thinks about privacy, that it doesn’t keep device state data and how it cordons off home data from its advertising network. We also talk about the local SDK and making it easier to add devices to the Google Home network. It’s an essential episode for Google fans.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem
SponsorsLegrand and Afero

  • Wyze has a lock, doorbell, scale and more on the way
  • Amazon gets deeper into LPWAN
  • Why Google had to kill Works with Nest
  • What’s inside Google’s Home graph
  • What to expect with Google’s local efforts

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 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 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

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 232: How secure is your favorite smart home device?

This week’s show has good news for smart device buyers concerned about security. We discuss a new research effort called Your Things that tracks the security of popular smart home devices. We also talk about a new Z-wave hub from Ezlo Innovations, a DIY voice assistant from Picovoice, and rumors about Apple’s new AR glasses and smart tracker. In bummer news, a popular maker board has a vulnerability that the manufacturer has patched. From there we move on to quick news from Amazon, August, and Android. Then we close by answering a question about how to track tools that you may want to lend out to friends.

Yale introduced new locks for the European market at IFA with August software inside.

Our guests this week are Gaye Soykök, who is head of emerging technologies at financial firm Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart, CEO at DevicePilot. The two have come up with this idea of creating a minimum viable ecosystem for testing connected services. The idea is that most companies can’t do everything needed to pull a good connected service together, so they must create an ecosystem. We talk about how to make that happen, what to look for in partners, and how it ultimately will affect the consumer. It’s a meaty topic.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Gaye Soykök, Legal & General, and Pilgrim Beart,  DevicePilot
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • A scorecard from Georgia Tech and UNC-Chapel Hill grades the security of your devices
  • Stacey is about to build her own voice assistant device
  • A few Apple rumors to tide us over until next week
  • Why firms in the IoT need to consider a minimum viable ecosystem
  • How will consumers fare if such collaborative approaches pan out?

 

Episode 231: What to do with Wi-Fi 6 and voice in the enterprise

What is Wi-Fi 6? Should you care? We tackle these questions first up in this week’s podcast. From there, Kevin and I discuss the Bluetooth KNOB vulnerability and our fears of how smart home data could affect a Chinese-style social credit score. To lighten things up I talk about my visit with Microsoft, and experience with the Hololens 2 as well as Microsoft’s digital twin strategy. In the news segments, we cover the new Eero security service, the Nest doorbell package detection, and Fitbit’s proposed health service. We then answer a listener question about smart spigots.

This Microsoft image shows one of the Guides Microsoft has created for industry partners using the Hololens 2.

Our guest this week is Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe. He discusses how enterprises should view voice interactions. He shares his thoughts on why voice should be separated from the digital assistants that have become popular in the home and explains why enterprise software will lead to different interactions and UX design. As part of the conversation, he also talks about where voice stops being useful and when companies should think about a multi-modal user interface that includes voice, screens and even gestures. If the future of work interests you, then this is a good episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe
Sponsors: Afero and SimpleCommands

  • Wait on Wi-Fi 6 routers until there are more devices
  • Explaining Microsoft’s digital twin plans and Hololens 2
  • Fitbit is planning a service to go with its devices
  • Voice UIs  should not be confused with digital assistants
  • When does voice stop being useful

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

Episode 225: How to fix smart speaker privacy issues

This week on the show Kevin and I share our misgivings about smart speakers and some ideas to help address the privacy issues for those who want to continue to embrace the convenience, but don’t want strangers hearing their fights, farts, and friends. We also talk about the acquisition of Centralite’s assets by Ezlo, which has acquired other struggling home automation startups in the last year. Then we tackle ARM’s new licensing plan, Intel’s neuromorphic chips, and an update on Wyze (plus its next device). News bits include a new drone platform, UbiquitiLink’s funding, Eve’s new Bluetooth extender, and hacked insulin pumps. In our voicemail this week we answer a reader question about an outdoor Amazon Echo speaker.

One of Intel’s Nahuku boards, each of which contains 8 to 32 Intel Loihi neuromorphic chips. Intel’s latest neuromorphic system, Poihoiki Beach is made up of multiple Nahuku boards and contains 64 Loihi chips.  Image courtesy of Tim Herman of Intel.

This week’s guest is Rags Srinivasan, who is a senior director of growth verticals at Seagate. He’s on the show to talk about Seagate’s efforts to make its wafer manufacturing process smarter. The company started with the idea of implementing a predictive maintenance program for manufacturing machinery but realized that if it could instead use AI earlier in the manufacturing process it would have a larger impact on the company’s bottom line. Srinivasan explains the tools the company used for Athena, how it hopes to achieve a 300% return on investment and why internal branding is essential. He also extols the virtues of cameras as the ultimate IoT sensor. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rags Srinivasan of Seagate
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • How companies should fix their smart speaker QA process
  • What happened to Centralite?
  • ARM’s new licensing model and Intel’s new chips have something in common.
  • Seagate tried edge processing solutions from HPE and Nvidia
  • How to get buy-in from your bosses for an IoT project