Episode 280: Meet the new security standard for the smart home

This week’s show kicks off with us talking about Johnson Controls buying the remaining stake it didn’t hold in security company Qolsys and parallels with Google’s big partnership and investment with ADT. From there Kevin and I share a bit about our own smart home experiences, starting with my Alexa-related temper tantrum. Kevin then shares how his outdoor Wyze Cam fared during Hurricane Isaias and a hack to alert him to people sneaking up behind him while at his desk. We also share news of a funding round for an AI chip company, a new talent for Google Assistant, Samsara’s partnership with Nationwide Insurance, and a startup that can use a camera image to detect your heart rate, preparation, and other health insights. We also answer a listener question about transitioning away from Hue bulbs and the hub model.

Brainworks has launched the Medio Smart Health web app that uses a camera image to track certain health metrics. Image courtesy of Brainworks.

Our guest this week is Brad Ree, the CTO of the ioXt Alliance. The Alliance is pushing a new security standard for connected devices and is backed by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Resideo, Le Grand, and more. Ree explains how the group got started, what the group is trying to do, and why it’s not endorsing “nutritional labels” for device security or different levels. Ree answers my questions about the two different methods one can use to get certified, which devices the certification works for today, and whether or not retailers or large partners might require the certification in order to sell or integrate with a device. It’s the same group of companies that are bringing you Project Connected Home over IP, so listen up and see what you think.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Brad Ree, the CTO of the ioXt Alliance
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • What’s behind Google’s deal with ADT?
  • Alexa, screw you!
  • Why on earth do we need another security standard for connected devices?
  • Why nutritional labels and levels of security are too much
  • Ree explains the concept of self-certification

 

Episode 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

Episode 277: Does your house need a mouse?

This week on the show Kevin and I start with a speculative Google project dubbed the “house mouse” by researchers at Google’s ATAP group. Then we cover a bit on Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit, Amazon’s new smart cart, Amazon’s developer event next week, and how Amazon can compete in the digital assistant game without a phone. We also talk about SiteWise, the AWS service for industrial IoT equipment monitoring, and Microsoft and Samsung partnering on real estate in the smart home and apartment world. From there, we discuss a proposed cybersecurity law for connected devices in the UK, Zoom’s fancy new hardware, Arm’s proposed sale or IPO,  and another device to prevent your smart speakers from eavesdropping. We also answer a listener question about smart outlets.

 

The Zoom hardware costs $599 and has three cameras, eight mics, and a 27-inch screen.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks, who explains how companies need to think about the connected tech they are adding to their offices to keep employees safe after the pandemic. We talk about what he’s doing at Ayla, what he recommends other leaders think about when trying to bring employees back, and why companies probably shouldn’t buy this stuff in haste. We also discuss security, privacy, and what you don’t want to know about your employees. It’s a helpful interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Google’s house mouse may give point and click new meaning
  • Amazon’s SiteWise for IIoT is designed to lock you in
  • Who would buy Arm and would it be a good investment?
  • Define your business problem and then buy IoT
  • What should a business consider before surveilling workers

Episode 276: Google inches toward a smarter home

This week Kevin and I discuss the news from Google’s smart home event, and what it means for the big players in the game, standards efforts, your television, and whether Amazon can compete without a smartphone when it comes to the smart home. From there we talk about Arm’s decision to spin out its IoT services businesses and Synaptics buying Broadcom’s wireless IoT business. An update for Alexa, insecure smart cameras, and a skinny new codec round out the news segment this week. For the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about creating routines based on sunrise and sunset.

Augury’s sensor forms the basis of the Halo system. Image courtesy of Augury.

My guest this week takes us to the manufacturing floor where his company is enabling insurance providers to better assess risk and price policies accordingly. Saar Yoskovitz, co-founder and CEO at Augury, joins me to talk about the company’s new guarantee that is backed by Hartford Steam Boiler, a division of Munich Re, that pays customers IF Augury fails to anticipate a machine breakdown. We also discuss the role the pandemic has played for Augury’s business and how the company ended up launching a new product for its customers to help them keep production employees working remotely. Instead of just helping manufacturers keep an eye on the health of their machines, Augury has a web-based communication tool that lets production managers keep an eye on their plant and schedule workers. It’s a cool story.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Saar Yoskovitz, co-founder and CEO at Augury
Sponsor: Very

  • Google’s integration with Android reminds me of Apple
  • Arm’s decision to spin out its IoT services makes sense
  • A new codec could help cut down on smart camera data demand
  • When IoT meets an insurer’s moral obligation
  • Why Augury found itself building a Slack for manufacturing

Episode 275: Does the smart home need glasses?

This week Kevin and I talk about my recent move and what I am looking for in a video doorbell before diving into our thoughts on Google’s planned smart home event for next week. Then we cover the big IoT acquisitions of the week from Google, lululemon(!), and Amazon. After that, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for wearables, Netgear’s mid-range Orbi router, Amazon’s new space services, Nest installations, and companies giving up on 360 video for VR. Kevin then shares his thoughts on the Echo Frames, which is Amazon’s attempt to put Alexa on your face. We conclude the news segment by answering a question about why we like color-changing light bulbs.

The North Focals glasses cost $999 and now belong to Google. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise, who came on the show to discuss the partnership Honeywell signed last month with SAP to combine operations data from buildings with business data. She explains that this deal is about bringing the analytics common in the IT world to the action-oriented information from the OT world, allowing companies to understand how their buildings affect their bottom line. She talks about the details of the partnership but also explains what’s behind the IT/OT convergence and shares her thoughts on how far companies can get with a horizontal solution for enterprise IoT. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise,
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • Which video doorbell did I buy?
  • Google buys North and gets another pair of glasses
  • Kevin tries on Amazon Echo Frames
  • What’s behind the new SAP and Honeywell partnership
  • How COVID-19 pushed Honeywell and SAP to focus on smart buildings

Episode 272: Let’s talk about anonymity by design

This week’s podcast starts off with IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software (we recorded before Amazon made a similar announcement) and then shifts to a discussion on neuromorphic computing. From there we discuss Lutron’s new wooden blinds, turning a Commodore 64 into a home automation system,  insights on water use during the pandemic,  more integrations from RoomMe, and funding for Drop’s kitchen operating system. We also touch on industrial news with a scaled-out Bluetooth deployment and PTC, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation offering Factory Insights as a service. Kevin then shares some thoughts on the next big things necessary for smart homes to advance. Finally, we hear from a listener who wants to find a way to make his smoke alarms smarter.

Lutron adds smart wooden blinds to its Serena line of smart window coverings. Image courtesy of Lutron.

Our guest this week is Andrew Farah, CEO of Density, a startup that provides sensors for people tracking. We last chatted more than five years ago and since then he’s built out the company, created a product for commercial real estate and found time to advocate for building IoT products that are anonymous by design. We talk about how companies are using his service and sensors to keep occupancy rates below the legal limits during the pandemic and why sensors are much better than cameras. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density
Sponsors: Calix and Very

  • IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software is a start
  • This enterprise hub can read 12,000 Bluetooth tags in a minute
  • Three things that will move the smart home forward
  • This sensor has 800 components and can tell how many people are in a room
  • Why we need to build things with anonymity at the forefront

Episode 271: Surveillance scares and a nutrition label for IoT security

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of what’s happening in the U.S. with protests, police brutality, and the role connected tech can play in smart cities, including the role image recognition can and does play. We then tackle the IoT news starting with Nest’s addition of Google’s advanced protection program and a GPS tracker that seems like a good buy. Then we discuss funding for a smart oven, a pool sensor, another HomeKit enabled security camera, a subscription service for monitoring the health of your HVAC system, cheap sensors, and a new doorbell from Wyze. We then move onto Amazon killing the Echo Look camera and its new intercom feature before breaking out the deep science for windows that can adjust to different light levels automatically. In our IoT Podcast Hotline segment, we answer a question about using a connected sprinkler to ward off animals.

The nutrition-style label that helps users figure out how secure a connected device is.

This week’s guest is Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is on the show discussing the newly created nutrition-style label researchers created for IoT devices. Researchers tried to convey about 47 relevant pieces of information that relate to a device’s security and privacy qualifications and crammed as many as they could onto an easy-to-read-label that’s designed to fit on a product’s packaging. The label doesn’t convey all 47 elements, but it does capture several key pieces of information about how long a device will get security updates, the types of sensors it has, and how the company treats its data. Other elements are relegated to a deeper privacy fact sheet that a consumer can access via a web site or QR code. Cranor explains the label, the methodology, and asks for help turning the research into something useful for the industry at large. Let’s make it happen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: Calix and Edge Impulse

  • We need to talk about how to enforce laws when IoT can see everything
  • This is a really nice GPS tracker for the masses
  • $10 Zigbee sensors? Yes, please!
  • What should a security label measure?
  • How can we get this label on our devices?

Episode 266: Startups get ARM IP for free

ARM is expanding access to its chip designs to startups that have raised less than $5 million through its Flexible Access program. Kevin and I explain why this is a big deal and then go on to discuss a new gesture-based interface that could be either a gimmick or a gamechanger. From there we talk about the pandemic delaying Ford’s self-driving car plans, the closure of PetNet, and the acquisition of a smart ring by a digital key card company. Plus, we cover a robot for kids, AR contact lenses, a Google AI muddle, Google Assistant getting router controls, and a new satellite network for the IoT. We also review the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Kevin talks about his experience with the Blink Mini camera. We end by answering a question about choosing smart home devices based on your digital assistant.

The Moxie robot from Embodied will start shipping in October. Image courtesy of Embodied.

Our guest this week is Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai, which makes a voice platform for the pro installer market. The company has just raised $11 million in funding, and Capecelatro tells us what he plans to do with that money as well as explains why Josh.ai shifted from making software to building hardware. He also offers perspective on the development of the voice market in the smart home. Josh.ai started in 2015, a few months after Amazon released the Echo speakers, and before Amazon had enabled the smart home features on the Alexa platform. The interview offers a history of voice, IoT hardware, and a hint of the future. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai
Sponsor: Very

  • Why silicon startups are on the rise
  • Companies blaming the pandemic
  • Should you buy the new Blink Mini camera?
  • Why Josh.ai pivoted from software to hardware
  • Can a dedicated voice platform for the smart home beat a digital assistant?

Episode 260: How to make telemedicine work in a crisis

Kevin and I kick off this week’s show discussing COVID-19 again. We start with a virus tracker for Home Assistant, a handwashing sensor, relaxed healthcare rules, disaster relief networks, Israeli tracking software, and Kevin’s tips for connected workout gear and online resources to keep you fit while quarantined. We then talk about a partnership for smarter SIMs with Thales Telstra, Microsoft, and Arduino before talking about some scary security research. Smart speakers, Sonos’ new OS, Amazon open-sourcing its checkout-free shopping system, and a smart ring that doubles as an activity tracker, round out the news. Finally, we answer a question about whole-home smart lighting.

Only 13% of connected device makers have any sort of bug reporting program according to a new survey.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, who has had several roles at the intersection of medicine and design at places such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Kaiser Permanente. We talk about the state of telemedicine today and where it may go after COVID-19 forces changes in the current medical system. We also talk about the role of connected health gadgets in these times, and advice for individuals who want to help solve some of the medical challenges facing us today. I learned a lot about why it’s 2020 and we still don’t have widespread telehealth.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, designer
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Smart things for a viral pandemic
  • Make ways for DuckLinks
  • Smarter SIM cards are coming to the IoT
  • What’s holding back telemedicine today
  • Go ahead and buy an oximeter if you’re worried

Episode 259: Lights out for first-gen Hue hubs and Lightify

This week’s show starts off with Kevin and I explaining exactly what’s happening with the death of the first-gen Philips Hue hubs (which we mentioned way back in November) and the death of the cloud servers powering OSRAM’s Lightify products. We then talk about Kevin’s experience installing Home Assistant and mine with the Helium hotspot. In news, we’re discussing Amazon putting its Amazon Go tech up for sale, Google’s Jacquard finding a new home in sneakers, an update for Apple Watch, Google Assistant getting support for sensors, Arlo updating security, and new Ring doorbells. We end by answering a question from a landlord about monitoring his rental properties.

Google’s Jacquard is now inside an insole designed for soccer fans. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared, a web site and newsletter dedicated to manufacturing (and other cool stuff). He’s sharing his and his community’s perspective on the COVID-19, what it means for Apple, big manufacturers and for companies starting on their product journey. It’s not all doom and gloom. He provides great reasons to get comfortable with making your product and suggests that like most crises, there could be opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Two smart lighting platforms are shutting off support
  • Kevin thinks Home Assistant needs some tweaks for normals
  • Google Jacquard’s price isn’t crazy high
  • COVID-19 could affect your holiday gift options and next year’s laptop
  • Why you should try to manufacturer your product if you can