Episode 318: Lawsuits galore and Silicon Labs bets it all on the IoT

This week’s show starts off with two lawsuits: the first filed by ADT alleging trademark infringement against Ring, and the second a decision by the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals related to police accessing cell phone location data without a warrant. Wemo’s new scene controller, Everactive’s energy harvesting sensors, a discussion about Helium’s tokens, and a new network partner are next. We then cover some financial news with Life360 acquiring Jiobit for $37 million, Safehub getting $9 million in funding, and $55 million for OpenSpace, a startup that brings the IoT to construction. Then, Kevin shares his thoughts on Eve Aqua, a HomeKit and Thread compatible faucet controller. Finally, we close with a listener question about whether your smart home should have its own email address.

An image taken from ADT’s lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by Ring.

This week’s guest is Matt Johnson, the newly named president of Silicon Labs. He and I discussed Silicons Labs’ divestiture of its automotive and industrial lines of business to Skyworks for $2.75 billion. With this deal, Silicon Labs is going all-in on the IoT, and we talk about what that means for the company. He shares his thoughts on what the IoT requires from chipmakers in terms of hardware and software. We also explore how Silicon Labs plans to continue adding security for the IoT and the growth of machine learning on edge devices, and how that will affect chip design.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Johnson, president of Silicon Labs
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • ADT files another lawsuit against Ring
  • Will we try Wemo’s new HomeKit-enabled scene controller?
  • Helium expands its mining and network operations
  • Why Silicon Labs sold off a big chunk of its business
  • The two biggest trends in the IoT are security and AI

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 316: Everything you need to know about Project CHIP

This week’s show launches with a deep dive on Project Connected Home over IP after the Zigbee Alliance released many new details about the specification. We discuss when you can expect it, the devices you’ll see, and the security model. Then we cover the new Wyze lamp, smart auto-dimming windows, Logitech killing the Harmony remote, and Spotify’s new Car Thing. On the enterprise side, we cover a new IoT device vulnerability, funding for Density, a people counting company, and Edge Impulse making it easier to build edge-based ML models on the Raspberry Pi 4. Kevin then shares his thoughts on Logitech’s CircleView camera. We end with a question on what will happen to Z-wave and Zigbee if CHIP succeeds.

The Swarm Tile gets integrated into a sensor or device and costs $119. Image courtesy of Swarm.

Our guest this week is Sara Spangelo, the CEO of Swarm. She talks about Swarm’s monthly $5 per device pricing model and how Swarm can offer satellite connectivity for that price. We also talk about which customers are using Swarm today and why the company decided to focus on one-to-one connectivity as opposed to building a gateway. We conclude with a conversation on how to evaluate a satellite provider since there are so many options available for customers. I have to admit, I’m coming around to the idea of IoT coverage delivered via satellite as a legitimate business proposition.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sara Spangelo CEO of Swarm
Sponsors: DigiCert and Qt

  • CHIP won’t support wearables, appliances, or cameras at launch
  • Why Project CHIP is embracing the blockchain for security
  • Should your service really have a hardware product?
  • Why the satellite era is upon us
  • How to figure out what satellite networks can and can’t do

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 257: Microsoft’s IoT security play is finally here

We start this week’s show talking about the hit the tech conference circuit has taken because of the new coronavirus before segueing into some good news on the security front with the move of Microsoft’s Azure Sphere product to general availability. Then we move back into somewhat grim news discussing the trend toward the usage of facial recognition in schools. We can offer a bit of hope in a new mobile app created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that scans for data-snarfing devices nearby. Then we discuss new products from Wyze, Lutron, Semtech, and Amazon. We also discuss an industrial IoT deal in the chip space and let Kevin rant about the Nest outage. Finally, we publish a listener request for more multi-factor security options on Moen devices.

The Wyze band, according to the Wyze APK art. Founded by Dave Zatz.

Our guest this week is Om Malik, a venture partner at True Ventures and my former boss. He came on the show to discuss his recent diatribe against the tech media, which he accuses of flipping from fawning over the industry to hating it without much thought. We talk about the lack of nuance in coverage, our more nuanced relationship with technology and what regulation is the only real solution to the problem of tech companies’ overreach. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Om Malik, True Ventures
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Why we’re so excited about Microsoft Azure Sphere
  • LoRa gets a cloud-based location-tracking capability
  • Kevin’s pining for local failover options for cloud cameras
  • Tech isn’t all bad or all good, and we need to cover it that way
  • Regulations will be essential for ethical technology

Episode 256: The tech industry is growing up

This week Kevin is back and we’re digging into Ring’s decision to listen to its critics and change some of its security features. It’s a welcome sign of overall maturity in the tech industry. At the same time, it’s unclear if the Ring cameras are that helpful to law enforcement. We then discuss the rise in smart speaker sales, a privacy-focused bracelet, funding for cool new technology, and how China’s handling of the coronavirus shows off the pros and cons of IoT in society. We hit some news bits related to 5G networks, a way for ISPs to make sure your IoT gear is working, funding for Bluetooth chips, and a cybersecurity warning for healthcare. Kevin also shares his planned Home Assistant project. We end with a way to keep your Google Assistants on your home devices from fighting with your Pixel.

The prototype is a self-contained wearable comprised of ultrasonic transducers, a signal generator, a microcontroller, a battery, a voltage regulator and a 3W amplifier. Image courtesy of the University of Chicago. 

This week’s guest is Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems, who comes on to share details of the firm’s technology and to discuss how the company is trying to respect user privacy. Cognitive Systems has developed technology that measures disruptions in a home Wi-Fi network and uses those disruptions as a way to track actions in the home. Currently, ISPs and router makers can use the technology to offer motion sensing for security purposes, but eventually, it might offer a way to detect falls or even motion as subtle as a baby breathing. That level of insight also creates privacy concerns, so Manku explains exactly how the firm handles consumer data and the steps it has taken to ensure even law enforcement can’t see inside the home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems
SponsorsDigiCert and Very

  • Ring has decided to listen to consumer security complaints
  • China’s surveillance state is one version of our IoT future
  • Kevin’s planning to embrace Home Assistant
  • How to see inside a home without using cameras
  • A cloud-to-cloud approach and encryption are some ways to protect your privacy

Episode 255: A deep dive into NIST’s new privacy framework

This week’s show features Chris Albrecht, editor in chief of The Spoon, as a guest host, which means there will be a review of a connected kitchen gadget — in this case, a connected smoker from Traeger. We kick off the show discussing the FTC’s surprising antitrust review and discuss IoT acquisitions that might get scrutinized. We also mention the Sprint and T-Mo merger and what that might mean for IoT. From there we dive into Nest’s plans to require two-factor authentication, ARM’s new AI edge chip designs, a new product from LIFX, and an NB-IoT module from Tuya. Chris then discusses the sale of a connected brewing appliance called PicoBrew before reviewing the Traeger smoker. We also answer a listener question about which connected doorbell to buy.

The new LIFX switch is pricey but beautiful. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework in the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She comes on the show to explain what the many, many pages actually mean and how companies should think about and adopt the framework. She also shares why she avoids connected devices in her own life. Unsurprisingly, the complex user agreements aren’t inspiring a lot of trust.  You’ll want to hear this show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht of The Spoon
Guest: Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework at NIST
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Apple and Google could see some smart home deals come under review
  • Nest’s two-factor decision could lead to better two-factor authentication methods
  • Should I spend $800 on a smart grill?
  • Breaking down the NIST privacy framework with a connected fridge
  • The new framework won’t make you legally compliant, but it can build user trust

Episode 197: What to expect at CES and in 2019

This week’s show is all about the coming year. We start with Kevin and I discussing things we expect to see at CES next week as well as overall trends we think 2019 will bring to IoT and the smart home. They include everything from connected toilets to an increasing number of cellular providers for IoT. We also discuss smart speaker IQ tests, what’s up with Samsung’s Bixby and a new way to reduce power usage of sensors. We also talk about drone deliveries, Google’s Project Soli and a new IoT unicorn. For this week’s IoT Podcast Listener hotline, we revisit an answer from last week and answer a new question on how to get a Ring doorbell to work with Google Home.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker is MIA.

Our guest helps us kick off the new year with his thoughts on the industrial and enterprise IoT. Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital manages a fund dedicated to the industrial IoT. He explains why he thinks we’re about to enter a new phase of the internet of things where AI and cybersecurity will become far more important. His thesis is that the last five years of work building out connected machines and putting sensors in more places was building the “body” of the internet of things. And once that has been built, it’s time to focus on building the brain. For this, he’s turning to AI and cybersecurity startups. We talk about what those startups will look like and whether companies who haven’t yet built out a “body” should worry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Your bathroom is about to get seriously connected
  • Voice programming and MVNOs for IoT devices are top enterprise trends for 2019
  • Will Kevin beat last year’s CES walking goal?
  • The next five years of IoT are about a brain and an immune system
  • Is it too late for your company to digitally transform?

Episode 195: We’re switching to Google’s Home

Kevin is back this week and we kick off the show discussing GE’s decision to spin out its industrial IoT business. From there we talk about the closure of Lighthouse, the smart camera maker, a critical update for Hue bulbs and Qualcomm’s new IoT chip. Then we dive into a swath of Alexa related news, including updates that tailor routines for locations, a new wall clock and the beta program from Amazon’s Guard security feature. The show isn’t all about Alexa. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Google Home Hub and I get excited about being able to see my G Suite calendar data on my Google Smart Display. (Here’s that Norm photo album we talked about.) We also handle the rather late-breaking news about Ring’s lack of camera footage security. We also answer a listener question about why some connected devices don’t work with mesh Wi-Fi systems.

The Amazon Alexa wall clock costs $30.

My guest this week is my family. My husband and daughter come on the show each year to discuss what they like and don’t like from the world of smart devices. While we love Alexa and use it often, we’re switching over to Google Home after seeing the Nest gear and how well it performs with the Google Smart Displays. We also discuss our thoughts about what to take with us when we move and which devices we’ll miss most. I hope you enjoy the show, and the holidays!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • What the new GE IIoT business needs to do
  • Thank you Hue!
  • Alexa gets a lot of cool features and integrations
  • There’s a smart bulb in my room?
  • Yes, they are still talking about the June oven

Episode 194: Is it time to address privacy in the Constitution?

This week I’m joined by Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and my former boss. We kick off the show with a discussion of the New York Times’ investigation into app location sharing and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before Congress. Both topics led to a debate about device privacy and what we should do about the lack of privacy and security in IoT.  We also talked about the need for two-factor authentication on certain connected devices and covered new Z-wave chips, IoT backpacks for bees and the fact that Essential is still around. We also took on some edge computing with Pivotal launching serverless options for users. Finally, we answered a question about adding presence detection to your car. 

Look at this bee-autiful connected sensor backpack. Image courtesy of Vikram Iyer, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington.

We didn’t just cover privacy in the news segment. The guest this week also details what happens when data gets out of control. In this case, we’re talking about smart cities. I had Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation on to discuss why we need to hit pause before adding too much technology to cities. She suggests that we invite more people to participate in the process and tells us how to be better citizens as our governments try to bring in more technology. To be clear, she’s not against technology, but she is concerned that we don’t often have important conversations about how technology can lead to surveillance and how it can impact vulnerable citizens. 

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
Guest: Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Is changing the Constitution the key to privacy regulation?
  • Alexa needs two-factor authentication
  • Serverless and the edge are new computing paradigms
  • It’s time to hit pause on the connected city
  • Tech is not the answer to every government problem