Episode 290: Apple’s smart speaker and cheap thermostats

This week’s IoT podcast kicks off with a focus on Apple’s new HomePod mini and the inclusion of the Thread protocol on the device. We then discuss how it fits into the world of smart speakers and my own recent purchases, such as my feelings about the Echo Studio and the Nest Audio. We then talk about the $129 Nest Thermostat and what cheap thermostats mean for the smart home. From there we share news about e-waste, AR goggles for dogs, smart benches in Auckland, Alphabet’s smart farming device, and Cisco’s easy IoT sensors. We then answer a listener question about the purpose of hubs.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

This week’s guest is a blast from the past. I am running my chat with Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell, who spoke at my event in July focused on machine learning at the edge. I am running his interview because ML at the edge is getting a lot more attention and Jeavons did a good job explaining what it can and can’t do yet, and how hard it is to use machine learning in edge use cases. We also talked a bit about synthetic data, another hot topic. So if you attended the event, this guest will sound familiar, but many of y’all will likely hear it for the first time.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Jeavons, general manager – Data Science at Shell
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Why does Apple’s Homepod mini have a Thread radio?
  • Which $99 smart speaker is right for you?
  • What inexpensive thermostats say about the smart home
  • How Shell is using machine learning at the edge
  • Why doesn’t machine learning scale at the edge?

 

 

Episode 288: New devices and new threats

This week’s show covers device launches from Amazon last week and Google this week. We also talk about connected coffee machines getting hacked, Amazon letting people pay with their palm, and Apple’s smart home patents. After that, we switch to developer news with Twilio’s new IoT platform and ARM’s chip designs for autonomous robots and cars. Vodafone added a new feature to its IoT modules, Yale has a smart package box for your business or home, and Swarm’s IoT module is out and somewhat pricey. In this week’s IoT Podcast hotline segment, we take a tip from a listener about pausing your 5GHz Wi-Fi when adding certain types of connected devices.

Amazon wants to let people pay with their palms.

Our guest this week is Emily Anthes, a science journalist, and the author of The Great Indoors, a book that covers how we live now. Anthes talks about how the smart home is turning into a medical device to meet the needs of the elderly and how important people still are in figuring out what to do with connected device data. She then talks about how employers are using sensors in the workplace to help boost health and productivity. However, boosting productivity can be benign or almost totalitarian depending on the employer so we discuss surveillance and how to ensure people’s rights aren’t trampled in the process of making workplaces smarter. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Emily Anthes, author The Great Indoors
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

 

Episode 286: Apple, ARM and more IoT security challenges

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing Nvidia’s $40 billion plan to buy ARM. After that, we talk about Google’s upcoming event, a gesture interface for Nest thermostats, and the news from the Apple event. From there we talk about alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay for a Pro plan, and then dive into news on IoT security from down under, an updated Arlo doorbell, and Wink’s outage. Next up, I share some news about Stack Lighting, a birthday for the group that standardized Wi-Fi, and Kevin’s review of the Firewalla Gold. We conclude the first segment by answering a question about using IoT to improve in-home air quality.

The latest Arlo doorbell can run off a battery or wires. Image courtesy of Arlo.

Our guest this week is May Wang, a senior distinguished engineer at Palo Alto Networks. She’s on the show to talk about challenges associated with securing IoT devices and how to use machine learning to improve IT security. We also talk about various degrees of network segmentation, zero-trust security, and how to bring the OT and the IT worlds together to ensure that devices stay secure. For fun, we also talk about the strangest devices seen on corporate networks. See if you have something wackier to add.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: May Wang, Palo Alto Networks
Sponsors: Perceive and Ayla Networks

  • ARM’s sale is about the data center, not IoT
  • Three alternatives to IFTTT in case you don’t want to pay
  • Firewalla Gold is pricey but good for IoT aficionados
  • There are some wacky things on corporate networks
  • How to get OT people to care about IT security

Episode 285: All about IFTTT’s new paid plan

This week the show starts with an overview on IFTTT’s new paid plan and then dives into the recent update on Project Connected Home over IP. There’s not a lot of news, but the effort is still progressing, which is something. We also discuss the new long-range Z-Wave standard,  a new court ruling on geofencing data collection, and Apple’s upcoming event. We then discuss the challenges that Bluetooth-based contact tracing efforts face, a new smart home alarm system retrofit from Konnected, a new talent in an old air quality sensor, and some new Philips Hue products. From there we dig into some new Amazon Alexa skills for apartments and for voice calls before ending with Peloton’s new bike. We also answer a listener question about putting Alexa in different households under the same account.

An updated and more detailed diagram of what the CHIP application layer will handle.

Our guest this week is Linden Tibbets, the CEO of IFTTT. He’s on the show to explain the details behind IFTTT’s new Pro plan, which I’m guessing that most of the audience will want to investigate. The Pro plan offers users more complex applets, lower latency, and actual support, but it comes at a price. Tibbets explains why users can set their own price for the service for now, and how he hopes to get people to pay $9.99 a month eventually. Tibbets also explains what free users can expect and gives an update on the other side of IFTTT’s business — selling integration services to brands. If you’re an IFTTT user, you’ll want to listen to this show, and if you’re not an IFTTT user, maybe you’ll want to be after hearing the show.

  • Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT
    Sponsors: Very and Ayla Networks
  • Project CHIP’s latest news wasn’t big, but it was encouraging
  • Z-Wave isn’t dead yet
  • This air quality sensor will predict your home’s likelihood of mold
  • IFTTT boosts applet creation options and makes users pay
  • How IFTTT is trying to warm users up to a monthly subscription fee

Episode 284: Amazon Halo, the FBI and smart cars

This week’s show starts off with the FBI’s concerns about the Ring doorbell, then news about Apple and Google making their COVID-19 exposure notification framework easier for states to use. We discuss consolidation in the smart apartment market, vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and then dive into a heap of newly launched devices. First up is the Amazon Halo wearable launched last week, and then new Amazon Blink cameras. (In other Amazon news we talked about paying for gas with Alexa and Amazon getting FAA approval for drone deliveries.) Wyze is planning to build headphones, as is Sonos, and Lenovo has a new smart speaker alarm clock for $50. We end with a listener question about wireless sensor tags.

Blink Outdoor and Indoor Cameras will sell for $99.99 and $79 .99 respectively. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo, an Israeli automotive data company. He came on the show to discuss what we can do with car data. Cars can produce gigabytes of data and Otonomo can pull data in from more than 20 million vehicles, either in aggregate or individually, to provide different services. In smart cities, car data might provide detailed parking information or flag dangerous intersections. For companies, Otonomo can provide fleet management, but it also foresees a future where third-party businesses can build services such as a tire-pressure management service that ensures all the cars in a fleet have enough air in their tires. Broadly, Matan convinced me that connectivity and sensors in cars could become a platform as powerful as the mobile phone. See what you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Surveillance tech can go two ways
  • Get ready for consolidation in the connected MDU world
  • Amazon is launching several cool new products and functions
  • If you think of a car like a smartphone what could you do?
  • How cars can help cities flag dangerous intersections

Episode 281: Manufacturing trends during the pandemic

This week on the IoT podcast we begin by talking about what the widespread adoption of ultrawideband chips in phones could mean for the IoT. From there, it’s on to Google’s always-listening software update, humans coming back into the QA loop, and earthquake detection on Android phones (there’s another earthquake project too!). Kevin also asks how much control you have over your smart home. We covered security news from DEFCON starting with traffic light hacks and ending with some scary security holes in the satellite network infrastructure. We also touched on news from SmartThings, Wyze, the UK, a new fitness device, and Apple. Finally, we answer a question about the security associated with having multiple device accounts.

The new Carbon Mirror is yet another fitness service disguised as a device. Image courtesy of Carbon.

Our guest this week is Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics, which grabs data from factory machines. He discusses the impact that COVID-19 has had on manufacturing based on aggregated client data, and best practices for dealing with the pandemic. He also dug deep on the concept of a digital thread. The digital thread is the idea that manufacturers can gather enough data to follow the life of a product from material to finished good in the field, and use data from the manufacturing process to understand how to improve quality. We also talked about sharing data across supply chains, and why that isn’t yet happening. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • NXP is all in on ultrawideband for the IoT
  • Gosh, darn it, Google!
  • DEFCON hacks the IoT yet again
  • What is a digital thread and why does it matter?
  • How COVID-19 is affecting manufacturing

 

 

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 274: Apple embraces IoT and SmartThings shakes things up

This week’s show is a whopper, starting with the news from Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference. We talk about how Apple is playing the long game by integrating sensors and machine learning across devices to give contextual experiences, Apple’s updates to HomeKit, and some details about Apple opening up its FindMy network. From there we talk about SmartThings’ evolution and eventual shut down of some beloved services and the new Wyze Cam Outdoor camera. On the enterprise side, Microsoft acquires CyberX, and Deutsche Telekom spins out its IoT business. We also cover news from Google related to Hue devices, Misty Robotics, Tuya, and Segway. Kevin gives a preview of Amazon’s Echo Frames and we answer a quick question about viewing your Ring doorbell on an Apple TV.

The new Wyze Cam Outdoor is battery-powered and cheap. Image courtesy of Wyze.

This week’s guest is Mark Benson, head of engineering at Samsung SmartThings, who joins us to discuss the changes coming to the platform later this year. He lays out why SmartThings is going to end support for some features as it tries to move toward delivering a more intuitive smart home. For example, on the hardware side, your hub will still exist but SmartThings will also put its software on hubs made by other vendors and we’ll see other manufacturers make SmartThings’ branded devices. On the software side, it’s moving from the current Groovy programming environment to an API, which is going to upset some developers and DIY folks. Benson explains why this change is needed and what developers will gain and lose. You’re going to want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Benson, head of engineering at SmartThings
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Apple’s using its chips and closed ecosystem to deliver context to devices
  • Why Microsoft purchased CyberX
  • How long will the Zigbee Alliance keep its name?
  • 2020 is the turning point for the smart home
  • Why SmartThings wants to trade Groovy for an API

Episode 273: Ripple20 and Helium goes global

This week’s show features a guest co-host, Chris Albrecht, editor at The Spoon. We kick off the show discussing the latest IoT security vulnerability Ripple20 and why you need a software Bill of Materials for your connected products. We then focus on COVID-19 contract tracing, using wireless signals to monitor patients remotely, Intel’s updated robotic vision platform, and my personal robotic nightmare that’s now for sale. Then, we talk about the new Philips Hue gear that’s out and why Chris doesn’t want smart light bulbs. Are you ready for Apple’s WWDC or the launch of a new Wyze product? Plus, Google countersues Sonos, consumers like their storebought routers better, and National Instruments changes its name and a bit of its business strategy. Finally, we answer a user question about making cameras a bit more private.

Spot will cost as much as a luxury car at $74,500, but anyone can buy one. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

This week’s guest is Amir Haleem, the CEO and co-founder of Helium, which operates a network for the IoT.  Haleem explains why he’s chosen to build a network using a mixture of cryptocurrency, decentralized hotspots and LoRa devices. On the show, he announces Helium’s new tracker hardware and the launch of the Helium network in Europe. We talk about business models, Europe’s IoT efforts, and whether or not I will get any LoRa sensors that can deliver low-power connectivity at a greater distance from my house. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht
Guest: Amir Haleem, CEO and co-founder of Helium
SponsorsCalix and Very

  • The Ripple20 vulnerabilities are bad. Here’s how to make it easier to patch
  • Let’s talk about delivery robots
  • Philips Hue’s new gear is worth a look
  • Why low power IoT networks have a business model challenge
  • Helium didn’t want to get into hardware, but it ultimately caved

Episode 269: Wyze wants to bulk up and Microsoft Build news

This week’s show is all about Seattle-area companies. First up, Wyze wants to raise money, so it shared its sales from last year and plans for 30 more smart home products. Kevin and I talk about the company and its impact on the industry. Then we shift to Microsoft and its Build event, which took place this week. We discuss the IoT news including Azure RTOS, an update to Azure IoT Central (the SaaS IoT platform for Azure), and more.  We also took a side trip to explore a new consortium dedicated to digital twins. We then discuss what $4.99 a month buys you from Wink, a new wearable for contact tracing from Nodle and Avnet, the new Logitech Circle View camera, and Google Assistant getting new skills for appliances. We conclude by answering an email from Australia about door locks for rentals.

The new Logitech Circle View camera works with Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video service and sells for $159. Image courtesy of Logitech.

This week’s guest is Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive. I profiled the company a few years back when it had a different name but the same mission — building battery-free sensors that are powered via energy harvesting. The company has sold its steam trap sensor since 2018 and is now launching a vibration sensor. We talk about how to build a sensor that can harvest enough energy to monitor factory conditions, how COVID-19 is changing the demand for industrial IoT, and what changes once plant managers get a continuous stream of data about their operations. It’s a fun show, and you’ll learn all about steam traps!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive
SponsorsVery and Edge Impulse

  • Wyze sold $95 million in gear last year
  • Microsoft’s really building out an end-to-end IoT infrastructure
  • Wink is charging me $5 a month so my voice assistants integrate better
  • Why we need energy harvesting sensors
  • How to sell a big name on a startup’s tech