Episode 330: Amazon’s Matter plans and how IoT helps first responders

This week we got great news on the Matter front, as Amazon announced its plans for supporting the smart home interoperability protocol on most of its Echo devices. We talk about new features for Alexa developers before talking about new research from ARM showing a 32-bit ARM-based chip printed on flexible plastic. We then turned to a discussion of Qualcomm’s attempts to build something for wearables and plans for a new smart lighting platform from Nokia. (Actually, the platform is from Smartlabs Inc. which makes the Insteon brand and has now launched Nokia-branded smart lighting products.) We also focused a bit on industrial IoT security with the results from MITRE’s testing of several industrial IoT security platforms including Armis, Dragos, and Microsoft. We also mentioned Samsung’s upcoming Unpacked event that you can watch on August 11. Then we ended by answering a listener question about creating a sunrise/sunset-based schedule for Wyze lighting outside the native app.

The Nokia smart lighting keypad switch will sell for $59.99. Image courtesy of Smartlabs Inc.

Our guest this week is Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS, a company that provides software to 9-1-1 providers that lets phones, cars, and IoT devices send sensor data to 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 infrastructure has been having trouble adapting to the end of stable location data provided by landlines and the adoption of cell phones, so when people call for help on a cell phone, 9-1-1 agents can have trouble getting their location. RapidSOS has deals with Apple and Google to use a phone’s GPS to share location and is also working with clients in the vehicle space and now in the smart home to bring in new sources of data for emergency workers. Martin talks about what sensors would be most useful for first responders and what the future might entail. It’s a good glimpse of how the smart home might help people in the years ahead.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Almost all Amazon Echo devices will support Matter
  • What could you do with flexible electronics?
  • Welcome the Nokia brand to the smart lighting world
  • Why you might want to send your health data to 911
  • Smart cameras, cars, and wearables would help first responders

Episode 326: It’s about ethics in smart devices

Kevin and I start this week’s show with a discussion of his Amazon Prime Day purchases and then talk about the kerfuffle over smart thermostats and demand-response energy programs in Texas. I happened to be there at the time, and there is a definite right and wrong way to enroll people in the program. We also mentioned a more egregious example of digital overreach with Massachusettes pushing COVID-tracking apps to Android devices. After that, we explain Senator Amy Klobuchar’s interest in the Matter smart home protocol,  Arm’s confidential compute plans and share plans for a new LoRaWAN network. We round out the rest of the show with an update on Ecobee thermostat’s smarts and new devices from Wyze. We close by answering a listener question about the Ting fire safety device.

Ecobee participates in demand response programs such as those that caused frustration in Texas. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Mary Beth Hall, director of wireless strategy and marketing with Panasonic. We dig into the reality of 5G deployments inside manufacturing plants and what it will take to actually see real deployments instead of mere pilots. She’s responsible for putting 5G inside Panasonic’s line of Toughbook handheld computers used in industrial settings, so she has good insights into what’s real and what’s hype. She also shares her thoughts about what 5G will offer manufacturing customers when they finally adopt it. But she can’t actually tell us when that moment will come. I enjoyed her honesty.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mary Beth Hall from Panasonic
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Smart thermostats aren’t the problem in Texas, communication is
  • The Senate wants more information on smart home interoperability. Us too.
  • Why I’m excited for Arm’s confidential compute plans
  • Why most factories are fine with 4G wireless
  • Why 5G will help carriers deliver five nines

Episode 317: Apple’s AirTags and greener devices

The week’s Apple event is the star of the podcast, with Kevin and I spending time noting a smart use of iPhone sensors with the new Apple TV 4K. We then discuss the AirTags tech, the implications for consumers, frustrated competitors, and the things we find disappointing. Then, we talk about the EU’s proposed rules for AI and AI-based applications before questioning the market for the just-announced Fitbit Luxe tracker that hews closer to jewelry than the company’s traditional devices. Enterprise IoT security gets some attention with the FIDO Alliance’s new provisioning protocol and app certification from the ioXt Alliance. In honor of Earth Day, Samsung is boosting its upcycling efforts for old smartphones, and we cover an update and news from smart electrical panel company Span. We end the show by answering a listener’s question about how Thread devices will work in homes.

The Fitbit Luxe is designed to look more like jewelry. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

Also in honor of Earth Day, our guest this week is Phil Skipper, head of business development and strategy for IoT at Vodafone Business. Skipper explains how Vodafone is trying to reduce the carbon footprint of its networks and IoT devices. For example, Vodafone uses an integrated SIM card for some of its devices to cut down on plastic. In other designs, it is using different batteries that are more recyclable than lithium-ion batteries. The company is trying to extend the life of its equipment by selling it to other network operators, which ensures that the carbon created to produce the equipment at least is spread out over a longer life. He also touches on how Vodafone is helping customers reduce their carbon footprints using connected products provided by Vodafone. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Skipper, Vodafone Business
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • Apple’s AirTags go above and beyond the traditional Bluetooth trackers
  • What the EU gets right with its proposed AI legislation
  • Two new security standards for the IoT
  • Don’t forget reuse when thinking about your carbon footprint
  • What’s an iSIM, and why is Vodafone pushing it?

Episode 314: A look at Arm’s new vision for computing

Om Malik takes Kevin’s place this week as my co-host and also doubles as my guest. Malik is my former boss at GigaOm, is currently a partner at True Ventures, and writes thoughtfully about technology on his own blog. We start the show focused on chips, specifically Arm’s brand new v9 architecture and the vision Arm has for secure, distributed computing. Both Om and I are big believers that chip architectures can help us predict the future, so we spend time discussing what the silicon tea leaves are telling us.

The Bluetooth SIG’s 2021 market update anticipates growth in Bluetooth chips for the smart home.

After touching a bit on the chip shortage, we dig into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s latest market update. Bluetooth growth was flat, but the smart home had a few bright spots. I review the second-generation Google Nest hub which reminded me how much Google knows about me. I also focus on Tesla’s in-cabin cameras. Malik uses my worries to explain why we need a regulatory framework for thinking about our rights in what will essentially become a surveillance state. We both are excited about the Biden administration’s plan to back broadband and I wonder what Tonal will do with $250 million in funding. We end the episode by answering a question from a listener about the best sprinkler systems or hose timers to buy ahead of summer. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Arm’s vision for computing makes the cloud and edge equal players
  • Bluetooth shipments were flat and LE audio is delayed
  • The new Nest hub is a decent hub and sleep tracker
  • We need a new framework for citizen’s rights when digital data is everywhere
  • Will the big ISPs crash Biden’s multi-billion-dollar broadband bonanza?

 

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

 

Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

Episode 289: Nest Audio and IoT trends in the enterprise

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of data from Microsoft’s latest IoT Signals report which shows that, for a third of companies, COVID-19 is speeding up their IoT deployments. We discuss the data and then talk about updates on the Nvidia deal for ARM from ARM’s developer conference, a cheaper Jetson AI module, and another Telnet weakness. Yes, we also discuss the hacked sex toy, the $50 Wyze thermostat, my experience with the brighter Philips Hue bulbs, and my thoughts on the new Nest Audio speaker. We round out the show with a cheaper Jacquard backpack and Google’s latest accessibility efforts. We end by answering a question about using a Wyze sensor to alert a grandparent to a toddler near the stairs.

Even in my cluttered office, the $99 Nest Audio fits right in and sounds pretty good. Image courtesy of me.

Our guest this week is Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab, discussing how Ecolab is using Hololens and IoT to save time and keep workers away from manufacturing plants. Ecolab provides sensors and services to ensure water quality for industrial clients. Cerilli explains how different industries use water and what the company has learned after 25 years of offering a custom-designed connected sensor. He also shares tips on augmented reality and how it’s helping Ecolab keep workers remote.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab
Sponsors: Perceive and Very

  • The average IoT project deployment takes 12 months
  • ARM and Nvidia’s CEOs think the deal will go through (but it will be slow)
  • Nest Audio fits on your shelf and sounds great for $99
  • Can augmented reality help cram a week’s worth of training in a few hours?
  • IoT is going to help companies with water use and conservation

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 283: Cloudflare’s CEO on ethics and building out edge computing

ARM is back in our news lineup this week, as Kevin and I discuss who might be interested in buying the chip design company and why it decided not to spin out its IoT assets. We also talk about a new lock that opens with a touch, biometrics on other locks, and Fitbit’s new wearables. Some Roomba vacuums received a new update that makes them easier to control via voice and we talk about appliance companies’ approaches toward IoT security updates. Spoiler alert: they’re mostly not great. Then we cover a new product from Mueral, data on LPWAN adoption and satellite networks for IoT. We also answer a listener question about what the success of Project CHIP might mean for Zigbee and Z-wave.

The Level lock with touch or a keycard retails for $329 and doesn’t have the clunky hardware associated with most connected locks. Image courtesy of Level.

This week’s guest is Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare who starts off with a history of computing and an insight into his college dorm room decor. The history will be especially valuable for folks who are not in the IT world but who have to deal with it thanks to the IoT. Prince then discusses what comes after containers and talks about what drives usage on his company’s distributed edge compute service. Then, he explains why he views his engineering work through the lens of others, and how Cloudflare tries to make ethical decisions when building products and offering them. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why ARM isn’t spinning out its IoT assets
  • Fitbit has a new, wellness device
  • Let’s talk about security in appliances
  • How computing has moved from individual servers to containers
  • How to create a culture where engineers can discuss ethics