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

Episode 193: Inside Calgary’s sensor network

This week we tackle a bunch of device news, the rebranding of TrackR, the end of ARM’s Cordio Bluetooth IP and Nokia’s latest data on IoT botnets. We also ask what y’all think about network security devices and services for the connected home. We don’t currently consider them a must-have device, but should we? In device news, we mention Arlo’s new 4K security camera, iHome’s new mirror and alarm clock, IKEA’s $10 smart plug, Bose’s connected sunglasses, and Free ISP’s new Freebox Delta. We also discuss Kevin’s purchase of the Google Home Hub and my review of the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector and smart speaker. Finally, we answer a question about what connected tech belongs in the bedroom.

A chart from Nokia’s Threat Intelligence report showing the increase in detection botnets using IoT devices.

Our guest this week is Heather Reed-Fenske, the chief information technology officer at the City of Calgary. She talks about how Calgary has built a sensor network on top of its existing city-wide fiber network. Calgary is using LoRa radios that cost about $45,000, and is layering all kinds of new services on top of the network. She talks about what that has meant for city workers, trees and even concert promoters. We also discuss privacy and how governments should think about deploying smart tech in municipal settings. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Heather Reed-Fenske, the CITO at the City of Calgary
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Bluetooth trackers are boring, so those companies are changing
  • Should a network defense product be part of your smart home?
  • First Alert’s smart smoke detector is pricey and smart
  • How Calgary uses its LoRa network to keep trees alive
  • Real time noise sensors keep outdoor concerts in line

Episode 191: Lowe’s wants to dump Iris

This week on the show, Kevin and I talk about Lowe’s putting the Iris smart home system on the block, Apple buying Silk Labs and why now is a perfect time to pull the trigger on the smart home device you’ve been eyeing. We then dug deep on a swath of Alexa-related news such as the ability to bring Bluetooth devices to the Alexa ecosystem, Anki’s Vector robot getting Alexa integration and the new Alexa Wake-on LAN commands. Google also has some new features to discuss such as an ability to replace Siri on an iOS and a new developer board with microcontrollers linked to Google’s cloud. We also teased our gift guide coming out on Friday in the Stacey on IoT newsletter and shared the new Abode security device plus a new Google Assistant Smart Display from LG. In this week’s voicemail, we advise a dad about what smart home gear he should buy his two daughters for their first apartments.

The Iota gateway and camera from Abode costs $259. Image courtesy of Abode.

November is National Diabetes Month, and so I brought on Mike Nelson who is the head of IoT security at DigiCert, but for the show purposes, is a father whose 4-year-old daughter has diabetes. He does too. Nelson talks about how connected devices have changed the way he manages his illness and what it means for him as a parent. He also shows how insecure devices, especially medical devices, can become deeply concerning for patients and parents. It’s a good interview that will bring home the need for better security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson of DigiCert
Sponsor: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • What went wrong with Lowe’s Iris
  • Why Apple bought a smart home hub company
  • Alexa and Google add new IoT talents
  • How IoT changed the world of diabetes care
  • Why security really, really matter for medical devices

Episode 190: The Federal government takes on consumer privacy

We kick off this week with an in-depth discussion of the NTIA’s suggestions for regulating consumer privacy in a digital era. It’s a long discussion, but one worth having, and we welcome your thoughts as well. From there, we talk about botnets, neural networks on a stick, and then Alexa’s new talents and devices. Then some Google Home and Wi-Fi news makes the cut as well as a new Withings activity tracker and new services from IFTTT. From there we end with some enterprise security stats and a new effort to bring IoT to the enterprise. This time the platform is intelligent windows! Instead of answering a listener question we offer a suggestions from a listener that may solve some outdoor camera and sensor problems.

The Withings Pulse HR costs $129.95 and has a projected 20-day battery life!

Our guest this week is Emily Silverman, a program manager for Denver’s smart city efforts. Silverman explains how Denver is thinking about smart infrastructure and how to provide new citizen services. She also details how the city is trying to safeguard citizen privacy and protect data. Some vendors aren’t keen on the plans, but Silverman says the attitude is changing. It’s a good interview and important for anyone who wants to be an informed citizen.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Emily Silverman, program manager for the City and County of Denver
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Here’s how the feds want to boost consumer privacy
  • Why Alexa’s new talents matter
  • Why not add another enterprise IoT platform?
  • Some vendors aren’t ready to let go of your data
  • How Denver anonymizes traffic data. Really.