Episode 315: A Mad Max mask and a power grid of your own

This week Kevin is back and we start the show talking about the Xupermask from Will.i.am and Honeywell. Ring is adding radar to a floodlight camera and we’re pumped for that, while MIT researchers are using RF to help give robots X-ray vision. Apple is formally launching a certification program for developers who want to build for its Find My service, Verizon is expanding its edge computing partnership with Amazon Web Services, and we also talk about the end of 3G. More water plant hacks, Amazon Alexa adding a skills platform for businesses, new Ikea speakers, and tweaks to Google’s Home app round out the news segment of the show. Kevin also shares his review of the Wyze Watch. Finally, we answer a listener question about if and how platforms such as Home Assistant or OpenHAB can handle deprecated APIs for smart home devices.

Eaton’s new Alexa Wi-Fi dimmer is part of a portfolio of products that fit into its Home as a Grid concept. Image courtesy of Eaton.

Our guest this week is Jennifer Ploskina, connected solutions segment manager with Eaton. Eaton makes electrical equipment for utilities, industry, and homes. We talk about how demand for electricity will force utilities, homeowners and building owners to invest in a smarter grid.  She argues that we will eventually have energy generation capabilities that will help offset demand from the grid, and may one day even provide additional revenue streams for homes or offices. And she explains how we’ll get to the place where homes have batteries, solar and other features that will turn them into little power stations. We also discuss standards, Alexa, and the potential for Project Connected Home over IP. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jennifer Ploskina with Eaton
Sponsors: Digicert and Qt

  • The Will.i.am mask is not totally ridiculous
  • Apple expands its proprietary ecosystem to asset finding
  • Some “hackers” are employees and companies need to deal with that
  • What happens when your home or office has a mini power grid?
  • Turn your EV battery into a revenue stream

Episode 313: We are super pumped about Thread

In this week’s show, we focus on Thread because Kevin tried out the new Eve sensors that use the wireless protocol, and fell head over heels in love. “This is what the smart home should be, ” he says. After that, we talk about additional sensors on the HomePod Mini and wonder when and if Apple would make a smart home display. Then we discuss Masonite’s connected doors and why it’s such a disruptive move. Peloton made several acquisitions, so we cover those before discussing another radar product and funding for Flex Logic, an edge-based machine learning chip startup that raised $55 million in funding. We also answer a question about getting a list of your connected devices from your Wi-Fi router.

Vayyar’s new radar module can use one device to monitor all three rows of a large SUV. Image courtesy of Vayyar.

Our guest this week is Carla Diana, who is a product designer whose new book “My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can make New Products More Human” comes out next week. We start the conversation with her thoughts on whether we should anthropomorphize devices like Roombas or Alexa. We talk about the frameworks that designers should consider when designing connected products and some best practices to consider. If you’re interested in design, ethics, or how we could have a better-designed future, you’ll enjoy the interview, and likely, the book. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Carla Diana
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Kevin says some tough things about Bluetooth
  • Peloton’s acquisition strategy is oriented around delivering smart services
  • Smart doors that come with power and connectivity
  • Can I call Alexa or Siri her?
  • How to incorporate calm design into the smart home

Episode 312: Cricut’s switch up, Google’s new hub, and the end of the HomePod

This week on the show we return to the classic story of a company trying to use a software update to limit the functionality of a connected product after someone has purchased it. The latest example is Cricut, which makes a connected craft cutting device. The company recently said users would have to start subscribing to its service if they wanted to continue uploading more than 20 patterns to its software each month. After an outcry, it shifted its stance. We also talk about Apple stopping sales of the original HomePod, and new products from Ring. We then cover updates to the Particle platform, a self-sanitizing door handle, and Apple’s potential plan for light switches. We also answer a listener question about HomeKit-compatible indoor cameras.

Deako plug-n-play light switches are contracted to be installed into 1 out of every 8 new single-family homes built in the U.S.

Our guest this week is Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako, a company that builds modular light switches for home builders. The company just raised a $12.5 million funding round, so Richardson and I discuss the plans for the money and the changes happening in the builder market when it comes to smart devices. We then talked about what it takes to build a long-lived device and why you may one day pack your light switches when you move. We closed with a bit on Thread and the potential that Project CHIP might have. It’s a fun interview and offers a very different perspective on smart lighting.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Cricut angers a lot of users with new subscription push
  • Do you want to let Google watch you sleep?
  • Particle entices developers with free connectivity for the first 100 devices
  • What has changed in the last five years of selling smart homes to builders
  • Will you one day bring your light switches when you move?

Episode 311: How P&G’s plans for smart products evolved

This week’s show has a security focus with us discussing the Verkada hack, a new security camera from Abode, which basically puts expensive IP cameras on notice, and recommendations from Consumer Reports on helping victims of domestic abuse lock down their devices and services. We then talk about a rumored Alexa robot, a new Raspberry Pi chip designed for TinyML, the new State of Edge report from LF Edge, and Honeywell’s latest smart building acquisition. On the new products and services front, we cover Best Buy’s plan to sell fall detection and emergency services using the Apple Watch, the Sonos Roam, and a new air sensor from Airthings that detects particular matter. Kevin shares his opinion about the Logitech Circle View Doorbell as he continues to deploy HomeKit in his home. We close by answering a listener question about sensors for small businesses.

Airthings View Plus will track particulate matter and will cost $299. Image courtesy of Airthings.

This week’s guest is Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures. She and I discuss how P&G Ventures operates and what sorts of products they are interested in bringing to market. We talk about how the phone can help create a new relationship with a consumer, even if the product isn’t connected. We also discuss what P&G has learned from its previous forays into connected devices and how that influences Procter & Gamble going forward. I like the holistic view they are taking around smarts, consumer products, and respecting the user’s time and experience. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Julie Setser, SVP of R&D at P&G Ventures
Sponsor: Switch Always On

  • This camera hack is a good example of why MFA rocks
  • Companies will spend $800 billion on edge computing from 2019-2028
  • Are we going back to Sonos with the new Roam Bluetooth speaker?
  • How P&G Ventures works and what it’s looking for
  • P&G is using the smartphone to change its relationship with customers

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 306: Ring wins big with Lennar

This week’s show kicks off with news from Lennar about its new smart home offering with Ring, and a discussion on what it means that Ring now has more than 2,000 police and fire departments as partners. After that, we discuss what we learned from the Tesla recall about the business of connected products, and what options y’all have if you want to ditch your Wink hub. Then we talk about a Kickstarter for some smart infrastructure products, an update coming to Google Home, and wellness data coming to Google displays. In smaller news, we touch on Abode’s HomeKit widgets, Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 2.0 for IoT, and Kevin going all-in on HomeKit. We end by answering a listener question about the best HomeKit hub to use.

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

Our guest this week is Eric Feder, who is with LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar. He’s on the show to talk about Lennar’s new partnership with Ring, Flo by Moen, Resideo, Level Lock, and more. We also discuss how Lennar’s views of the smart home have changed since it first started trying to integrate connected devices into its houses. He then talks about what features might be missing and investments the company has in new building techniques, gray water reclamation, and more. It’s a sneak peek into the future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Feder, of LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar
Sponsor: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • Ring’s still using local police to sell its doorbells
  • Tesla’s right about computers in long-lived devices
  • After Wink, which hub is right for you?
  • Why Lennar dumped “movie night” routines and focused on plumbing
  • Building sustainable homes with smart tech

 

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 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 298: SmartThings works with Google Nest again!

This week’s podcast starts with good news. Samsung’s SmartThings platform will once again work with Google devices starting in January. We discuss SmartThings a bit more to cover how sensor company Aeotec is launching a new smart home hub that will work with SmartThings before we move on to Logitech’s new HomeKit-enabled video doorbell. Wyze has launched a home security monitoring service, and ISP equipment provider Calix has teamed up with Arlo. Google reminded us that its Fuschia OS exists, even if we still don’t know what it’s for, and software-based programmable logic controllers are about to hit the industrial IoT. In smaller news bits we cover Google’s Look to Speak, LoRa adding support for QR code provisioning, Apple Music landing on Nest speakers, and Amazon’s new ML service for business metrics. We conclude the show by answering a question about Nest doorbells and LIFX bulbs.

The Logitech Circle View Doorbell will cost $199.99. Image courtesy of Logitech.

Our guest this week is Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine. We start by talking about the ability to use data to help optimize for additional metrics such as sustainability. We then discuss how the ability to prioritize different metrics and more flexible production lines means that manufacturers are now able to create custom product runs designed for highly targeted audiences. We then discuss how such flexibility and customization will change the roles of manufacturing workers.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sudhir Arni, senior vice president of business outcomes at Sight Machine
Sponsor: Calix

  • SmartThings works with Google’s Nest devices at long last
  • The first video doorbell with HomeKit Secure Video is from Logitech
  • The ACRN hypervisor makes its industrial debut
  • Manufacturers can use the IoT to optimize for more than yields or profitability
  • More data might mean factory operations staff can go remote

Episode 295: Project CHIP goes commercial and the Eero Pro review

This week’s podcast kicks off with the news that Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) will also have a commercial element focused on offices, apartments, and public buildings.  Then we focus on edge computing with a new way to bring machine learning to the edge and Arm expanding its free IP license program to some of its edge ML chips. We also talk about the new IoT Cybersecurity bill that passed the Senate, a virus prediction score on Airthings devices, and another new Wyze product. We round out the news with LoRaWAN, facial recognition laws, telemedicine, an upgrade to Google Fit, and a new name for Plume’s Wi-Fi service. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Eero Pro Wi-Fi system, and a quick impression of the new HomePod mini. We end this segment by answering a question about updating old Z-wave switches.

This sensor is part of a network that will detect and monitor wildfires. Image courtesy of Katia Obraczka.

Our guest this week is Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz. She’s designing a sensor network to detect and monitor wildfires. She explains how she’s handling a lack of connectivity, power constraints, and budget constraints, all while trying to build in resiliency. After all, elements of this network are in fire-prone areas, and it stands to reason some of it will burn. She discusses how she’s using simulations of the network to figure out power budgets and what types of sensors she needs. She also talks about using drones as flying access points to build in more resiliency in case other forms of connectivity burn. It’s a good way to think about building a sensor network for a harsh environment.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Katia Obraczka, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz
Sponsors: Calix and Teracode

  • Project CHIP has commercial ambitions but needs a better name
  • TinyML is a big deal and the tools are getting better
  • Eero Pro is expensive but does provide quite the speed boost
  • What matters most in building a sensor network for detecting wildfire
  • Repurpose drones as flying Wi-Fi access points to make your network resilient