Episode 366: Meet a robot that weeds your garden

This week’s podcast starts with an update on the state of Bluetooth adoption courtesy of the Bluetooth SIG. We discuss adoption of Bluetooth in the smart home, adoption of Bluetooth mesh and why Kevin prefers NFC to Bluetooth for secure keys. From there we discuss a new effort by the U.S. Congress to make it easier for medical device companies to keep their devices secure and up-to-date. We then talk about a new chip that handles a lot of the complexities associated with energy harvesting chips, and a new partnership program from Wiliot to enable other companies to put their postage-stamp-sized computers on products. We also talk about how the chip shortage can have negative impacts on R&D, building off of conversations I have had recently, and this article. In product news we discuss using picture-in-picture for Apple’s HomeKit camera feeds, Eufy’s new battery-powered camera that has a cellular subscription, and whether we should be done with Wyze gear or not. Kevin also reviews the Wyze gun safe and finds that its connectivity doesn’t offer much value. We end the first half of the show by answering a listener question about creating a do-not-disturb option for connected devices.

The Bluetooth SIG estimates that Bluetooth will be in 552 million smart home devices shipped in 2022. Chart courtesy of the Bluetooth SIG.

Our guest this week is Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot and CEO of Tertill, a weeding robot. We discuss what she learned building a robot designed for the mass market, and how to think about introducing new capabilities over time. We also discuss how the Tertill works. It’s surprisingly low-tech for a robot, but that’s intentional to keep the price low enough to convince skeptical consumers to shell out $349 for a robot designed to keep gardens weed-free. We also talk about adding a subscription business model to the company’s mix and why that matters today. We end with Greiner’s vision for the smart garden of the future. It’s a fun interview just in time for spring.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Helen Greiner, CEO of Tertill
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • Whatever happened to Bluetooth mesh?
  • Congress wants to make medical devices more secure
  • The chip shortage may be hurting innovation
  • What the creator of a weeding robot learned from robotic vacuums
  • Tomorrow’s smart garden has plenty of sensors and solar-powered robots

Episode 362: IoT security after Russia invaded Ukraine

This week’s show spends a lot of time on security in everything from an Amazon Echo to an infusion pump. But before we get to security stats, we offer a quick overview of Apple’s latest announcements. Then we pivot to discuss the Critical Infrastructure Defense Project, a series of free services enterprises can use to help protect their operations from attack. We also outline some vulnerabilities found in PTC’s Axeda remote management software and research showing that many infusion pumps have existing vulnerabilities. Finally, we discuss research showing that some popular consumer devices might be using vulnerable OpenSSL encryption technology. Then we talk about the end of another French unlicensed low-power wide area network and Space Force adding wearables to ensure the members of Space Force are fit. We also talk about a new predictive maintenance service from Xerox PARC called Novity. We close the news section by answering a listener question about getting rid of your old IoT devices while respecting your friends and the environment.

Space Force Guardians will wear wearable devices to track their physical fitness. Photo taken by Airman 1st Class Samuel Becker and provided by the U.S. Space Force.

Our guest this week is Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe, a cybersecurity firm. Bort is a former U.S. Army officer and a co-founder of the non-profit

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • Three tech firms get together to offer free cybersecurity tools
  • What isn’t vulnerable nowadays?
  • Are employee-mandated wearables okay if being fit is your job?
  • How ransomware fits into the invasion of Ukraine
  • How to shore up your cyber defenses in times of war (and peace)

Episode 361: IoT builds a better mousetrap

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion about smarter robots and new funding for a Canadian general purpose robotics platform. Then we talk about Amazon’s further healthcare ambitions in a deal with Teledoc that lets you ask Alexa to call a doctor. We also give an update on the Sigfox receivership process since bids were due on Feb 25. We then hit some bad news from Wyze regarding its professional monitoring subscriptions and the recall of 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic watches. We also have a lot of new product news starting with Lutron’s new honeycomb smart shades, a smart mosquito-killing system, a new HomeKit and HomeKey-compatible lock and a review from Kevin on a connected mousetrap. We end the show by answering a listener question about reliable smart lighting options and the best HomeKit gadgets for those new to the ecosystem.

Thermacell’s new Liv mosquito-repelling system works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Image courtesy of Thermacell.

Our guest this week is Bob Marshall, the CEO of Whisker Labs. the company behind the Ting fire detection device. Marshall has been working with sensor data for more than a decade, so we talk about his earlier company and where the idea for Ting came from. We also discuss how to get in business with insurance companies and why Ting has elected to build a subscription business. We also discuss what types of service you need to provide if you do plan to charge a subscription. I like the Ting device, so was excited to chat with Marshall. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bob Marshall, CEO of Whisker Labs
SponsorsSomfy and Pantacor

  • Sanctuary feels like a moonshot, not a startup
  • Alexa can connect you to medical care
  • Murder mice humanely with a smarter mouse trap
  • How Ting built a business built on insurance companies
  • How Marshall pivoted from weather to fire prevention

Episode 360: Europe’s planned IoT data law

The European Union is proposing new data regulations aimed at making it hard for companies to collect and use data as a barrier to competition. We talk about what it might mean for the IoT and Kevin also proposes that we think about regulations for using data collected by robots. We then dig into research from the PSA Certified organization that lays out how executives are thinking about IoT device security. Then we tackle smart speaker research from Omdia.  In funding news, we discuss a $38 million raise for startup Phosphorus Cybersecurity and $58 million in growth capital for Federated Wireless and its peer-to-peer 5G network for IoT. In subscription news, we review some comments from Peloton’s new CEO Barry McCarthy who is rethinking the relationship between Peloton’s hardware and subscriptions. Peloton is also cutting off its Apple Watch integration for users participating in the new Lanebreak game. In smaller news, we talk about funding for a smart rower, we review the Eve Motion Blinds, and mention the new Eve Water Guard leak detection sensor. We also went back to last week’s IoT Podcast hotline to redo our answer to a question about connecting outdoor heaters to the internet.

Research from Omdia.

Our guest this week is Joe Britt, CEO of Afero who is on the show to talk about securing IoT devices and the work his company has done with Home Depot. The home improvement retailer chose Afero to build out its custom app to control HomeDepot-branded products such as light bulbs, fans, and more. Britt explains what Home Deport was looking for and what he’s learned from his experience in the last eight years of working with IoT products. Britt, who was a founder of Danger, lays out the ways IoT platforms differ from traditional computing platforms and explains what companies with unsecured devices should do with them. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Joe Britt, CEO of Afero
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • How the EU is tackling the competitive barriers caused by data concentration
  • Investing in security can improve the bottom line
  • How to rethink subscriptions for connected hardware
  • How Home Depot’s smart home strategy has changed
  • What should we do with older insecure devices?

Episode 358: Why Resideo’s First Alert buy makes sense

On this week’s show, we talk about the Resideo purchase of smoke detector company First Alert for $593 million and why it makes sense. Then we focus on connectivity with an update on the Sigfox receivership and a look at the annual report from the LoRa Alliance covering the adoption of LoRaWAN networks around the world. For Raspberry Pi owners we have good news on the OS front and for people who want to load the Pi OS from the network. Then we talk about two government efforts to track potholes and beach trash using AI and sensors. On the chip front, the big news is that Nvidia has formally stepped back from its plan to acquire ARM, leaving ARM with nothing to do but plan a public offering. Also, Simon Segers has stepped down as the CEO of ARM and was replaced by Rene Haas, the president of ARM’s IP business. Meanwhile, Intel is embracing RISC-V, and we talk about why that matters. In smaller news, Netgear’s latest routers make it much easier to create a separate IoT network, Apple’s VR/AR glasses are real, and Samsung’s big event this week didn’t offer up any IoT news, but we did see the end of Bixby. We end by answering a listener question about using Matter in industrial settings.

Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman of Swinburne University works with Dr. Felip Marti Carrillo and Dr. Yong-Bin Kang (left to right) to test cameras on garbage trucks in Brimbank, Australia. Image from Swinburne University.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful. She joins us to discuss the new analytics software Kraftful has launched and to broadly discuss best practices for connected device apps. Unsurprisingly, getting a device connected quickly and easily is the most important consideration for most connected device makers, and she’ll discuss how to make that easy. But she also talks about when apps make sense compared with voice interfaces or automated routines. We end our conversation with her take on what the upcoming Matter smart home interoperability protocol might mean for her business and for consumers at large. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Togel
Guest: Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful
SponsorsRightpoint and Hologram

  • Smoke detectors have a huge opportunity in the smart home
  • Using sensors and computer vision to make cities better and beaches cleaner
  • ARM’s next step should include a plan for RISC-V
  • If your users can’t connect their device in 10 minutes, they’re gone
  • Imagining a world where every product has an app is a nightmare

 

Episode 356: Smart home improvement is now a thing

This week’s show starts with a healthy portion of chips, with the main course being Nvidia’s reported acceptance that its deal to acquire ARM isn’t likely to happen. We then turn to the U.S. Commerce Department’s plans to combat the chip shortage crisis, new ML chips from Silicon Labs, Google’s first TinyML Coral microcontroller, and an Arduino-like RISC-V product. Feeling full from all of this chip ingestion we discuss how Peloton is trying to work out its excess inventory challenge. Two smart tracking companies raised some funding this week: Pebblebee on the consumer side and newly launched Tag-n-Trac for shipping and logistics. We then discuss how Thread turned the Wemo Stage controller from “meh” to “must-have” and share details of new Philips Hue fixtures. Rounding out the episode is a listener question from Michael asking if Alexa can control his Google Nest thermostat.

Peloton is changing its production plans, but we still think it has value. Image courtesy of Peloton.

Our guest this week is Oisin Hanrahan who is the CEO of Angi, the home services company formerly known as Angie’s List. He’s on the show to talk about startling data his company discovered late last year. According to Angi’s data, for the first time ever, smart home investments were in the top three home improvements made by homeowners. Hanrahan explains what homeowners are doing and why they are willing to invest in more technology. He also offers advice to device makers who want to attract the pro-installer business and makes recommendations on how pros think about the smart home. It’s a great interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Oisin Hanrahan, CEO of Angi
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Nvidia may be giving up on its ARM-acquisition
  • $52 billion for U.S. chip factories won’t fix the real problem
  • Peloton could learn a thing or two from Apple
  • Painting, bathroom remodels, and smart home drive home improvements
  • What a pro wants

Episode 353: Virtual CES extravaganza

It’s CES week, and neither Kevin nor I are physically there for the second year running. That makes it really tough to get a macro sense of cool tech and upcoming trends outside of press releases and product launches. Normally, we spend so much time trawling for the weird or futuristic in the demos and report on the stuff that isn’t pre-packaged in a release. Maybe we can return to that next year. In the meantime, there are a lot of stories, but the biggest trends in the smart home relate to the upcoming launch of the Matter interoperability standard for the smart home, a bunch of new products that will support HomeKit, and new products for Amazon Alexa and the Google ecosystems. We are also are excited about the newly launched Home Connectivity Alliance and what it might mean for future product features and energy consumption in the home.

Arlo’s new DIY security system includes an all-in-one sensor and keypad. Image courtesy of Arlo.

After a quick break, we share our non-amazement of John Deere’s automated tractor. It’s cool, but it has also been half a decade in the works, so it’s not like it comes as a huge shock. We then discuss new products from Samsung (an energy harvesting remote and a tablet for the smart home), Schneider Electric’s update to its energy management software, a new assistive robot, and Arlo’s smart home security system with an all-in-one sensor. Outside of product news, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released an update to the Wi-Fi 6 standard with more uplink capacity and better power management. This will ensure that Wi-Fi 6 is more relevant for IoT devices and perhaps ensure those chips get used in more end devices, especially in cameras and video doorbells. Masonite also showed off its smart door at CES so we share our impressions. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about power consumption in IoT devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Matter may be late, but it’s looking much better
  • All three digital assistants got a lot of love from new product launches
  • John Deere’s robot tractor shows how technical farming has gotten
  • Wi-Fi 6 gets an update custom-made for the IoT
  • How much energy does Alexa or Siri consume?

Episode 348: We’re thankful for smart cows

Heading into the holiday weekend, Kevin and I share what we’re thankful for (mostly y’all, our sponsors, each other, and Thread), while also talking about the sad sale of Tile to Life360. We also discuss ClevrQeexo, and efforts to make AI accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to code. After that, I discuss my desire for a new activity tracker and the rise of Wear OS. We also talk about a new HomeKit camera from Aqara that’s pretty fancy without having a high-end price tag before diving into some of the financials and data from Samsara’s IPO filing. This week on the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about the anti-drunk driving provision in the Build Back Better legislation.

Smaxtec can track the health of cows for better milk and fewer farts.

Our guest this week is Stefan Scherer, the CEO of Smaxtec, a company making health sensors for dairy cows. First, we learn a lot about cows and how to assess temperature, motion, and data on acidity from a cow’s stomach and translate that into health metrics. Then we talk about the challenges of building a sensor that’s rugged enough to last three to five years in a cow’s stomach as well as the challenges of keeping such a device connected. With this data, farmers are able to track disease spread in dairy cows and prevent costly illnesses that could mean their milk gets tossed, while also tracking data that can help prevent cow farts from causing as much damage to the environment through the release of methane. You’re going to learn a lot about cows and a lot about solving a connectivity problem I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stefan Scherer, CEO of Smaxtec
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Several things we’re thankful for
  • Why the Tile buy makes us a bit sad
  • How no-code AI will make information overload less of an issue
  • Rugged sensors can lead to smart cows, and smart milk prodiction
  • Smaxtec wants to optimize a cow to produce fewer carbon emissions

Episode 347: McKinsey reevaluates IoT’s impact

This week’s show has a lot of big numbers starting with $12.6 trillion, which is at the upper end of what McKinsey believes the economic impact from IoT will be by 2030. We cover the latest report, which is a reassessment of McKinsey’s famous 2015 report on the IoT that said it would be worth $11 trillion by 2015. That didn’t quite pan out. We also discuss Qualcomm’s plans for the IoT business to generate $9 billion in revenue by 2024. Still on the chip front, we cover additional delays in the ARM-Nvidia deal before discussing a weird Apple patent, and Apple losing its head of home services. Amazon also has news with brand new, cheap smart light switches for as low as $17.99 and an update for the latest Echo speakers and Echo Dots that lets them detect occupancy using ultrasound. We then talk about a dupe for the Nanoleaf lights available from Yeelight, a Xiaomi company, and Kevin shares his thoughts on a helpful app for HomeKit users that’s worth paying for. Finally, we end by answering a listener question about how to find a HomeKit-compatible method of connecting light strips to a sensor.

The Yeelight panels are dupes for the original Nanoleaf panels, but are half the cost at $97.99. Image courtesy of Yeelight.

Our guest this week is Jen Caltrider, lead on Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included list of creepy and not-so-creepy connected devices and apps. This year’s list was the largest ever with 147 services and devices, and I was actually surprised by how much improvement there has been in some of the security and data practices. Caltrider shares the methodology, particularly egregious devices, and where we seem to be heading on the security and privacy front. We also get advice for consumers that still want to buy these gadgets and recommendations for the companies making them. I was excited to see that list was compelled by a person who loves gadgets as much as I do, but who is still concerned about the impacts poorly secured products or lackluster data policies have on trust.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jen Caltrider, Mozilla
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Okay, so maybe the IoT won’t be worth $11 trillion by 2025
  • Qualcomm is going to invest big in IoT and the edge
  • If you want advanced HomeKit controls, Kevin’s got an app for you
  • The good news is security is getting better but privacy lags behind
  • Local processing is making smart home devices less invasive

Episode 345: Ecobee’s big deal and climate-friendly chips

The big news in IoT this week was the announced acquisition of Ecobee by Generac, so Kevin and I share our thoughts on the deal and what it means for the smart home. After that, we were excited to see Amazon launching a smart air quality monitoring device for $70 as well as publically state its support for Matter. We also cover Facebook’s decision to stop using facial recognition and believe that more companies will seek to prove they are trustworthy in hopes of getting even closer to us as consumers. Then we talk about the EU’s addition of new categories to its cybersecurity rules, the new Flic Twist campaign, Tempo’s smaller, cheaper home gym, ADT’s security service for DoorDashers, and a $500 kid’s toy that I really want. We also note that the Espresif ESP32s now formally support the Zephyr RTOS. We end by answering a question about whether or not you need the device app to update HomeKit-compatible products.

The Alexa air quality monitor will cost $70 and ship in December. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Sri Samavedam, who is the senior vice president of semiconductor technologies at imec, a semiconductor R&D consortium. We discuss imec’s new effort to research sustainability in chip manufacturing. You’ll learn how chips are made and why manufacturing ICs delivers such a blow to the environment. Samavedum explains why Apple has joined its efforts and how it plans to measure the carbon footprint of chipmaking. He also offers some advice for product manufacturers and consumers on how they can use chips more responsibly given how much they cost (in terms of environmental damage) to make. There’s no sugar-coating it, we need more data on this and we also need to think about using silicon for longer than we do today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sri Samavedam, imec
Sponsors: Very

  • What Generac’s Ecobee purchase means for the smart home
  • Amazon loves Matter
  • Would you buy your kid a $500 hoverboard?
  • Chip manufacturing is extremely bad for the environment
  • We should try to use our devices for as along as possible