Episode 408: Hacking sensors and securing medical devices

This week’s show starts with an overview of the reviews for the new second generation HomePod and a deep dive into the security mess that Anker has made with its Eufy smart home cameras. We then dig into some earnings from IoT chip providers NXP and Silicon Labs, before discussing some new ideas to use RFID to prevent retail theft. We then talk about how the demand for retail tech could be generating demand for better broadband in places where broadband isn’t really all that robust. Then we cover news of a $100 million fund for Industry 5.0 companies (and explain what Industry 5.0 is) and share news of a new smart lock and a new integration for Ecobee. We talk about plans for noise sensors in NYC and Kevin’s review of a $20 Matter-capable smart plug. Finally, we answer a listener question about which video doorbell option makes the most sense, given their particular needs.

Lowe’s innovation group is testing a connected anti-theft program. Image courtesy of Lowes.

Our guest this week is Kevin Fu, who is a professor of electrical and computer science at Northeastern University, and the former acting director of medical device cybersecurity for the Food and Drug Administration. I’ve followed his efforts to hack physical sensors for years, and was excited when he started focusing on medical device security for the FDA. On the show, he discusses new federal legislation that will require companies to get an FDA review of their medical device’s cybersecurity before it goes on the market. This is a first for the U.S. in terms of requiring some sort of cybersecurity review before a product is released, and it might become an inspiration for legislation in other industries going forward. We also talk about how to regulate AI in healthcare and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Fu, professor of electrical and computer science at Northeastern University
Sponsor: Akenza

  • Transparency is helpful, but not a panacea for privacy
  • The chips are down, but not in the IoT
  • What is Industry 5.0 and why does it matter?
  • The Patch Act didn’t pass, but some elements of it did
  • What kind of regulations make sense for AI in medicine?

Episode 395: I’m running Matter. Now what?

We kick off the podcast with more conversation about the planned White House-led cybersecurity label for consumer IoT devices. Contrary to what I wrote last week, it seems that privacy won’t be as big of a focus, which is disappointing. Then we move into a bunch of updated product news, such as the launch of IKEA’s new Home Smart app and Dirigera hub. SmartThings has a Matter update, which I installed, and Google is updating its Home Assistant AI, adding older cameras to its Google Home App and its newer cameras to the web. We also share how to create routines on the new Google Home app using devices and offer some troubleshooting possibilities. In other device news, Ecobee is said to be preparing a video doorbell, which is confusing to us. There’s also a new crypto-affiliated LoRaWAN miner on the block. We then talk about Level locks and Home Key, and the end of one of my favorite devices of all time. Finally, we take a listener question about how Matter will handle security.

The IKEA Dirigera hub is available now in some markets. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Mike Nelson, VP of IoT security at DigiCert, who joins me to discuss what Matter will require from a security standpoint. We talked about it for a story two weeks back, but in the show we also discuss what the next iteration of Matter security might include as the specification matures with later versions. The current version of security with Matter is one of several progressive steps the industry has taken toward boosting security of connected devices, but regulators are also getting involved. So I ask Nelson his thoughts on the White House plans for a cybersecurity label for consumer IoT devices. He isn’t sure a detailed label makes much sense but talks about what he’d like to see for consumer IoT, and for other industries such as healthcare. It’s an important conversation.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson, VP IoT security at DigiCert
Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs

  • What we think a cybersecurity label needs
  • Everyone is preparing for Matter
  • Why is Ecobee adding a video doorbell?
  • Here’s what we may see in future Matter security requirements
  • Why a nutrition-style cybersecurity label for IoT won’t work

Episode 393: Why Roku needs the smart home

The biggest news this week is probably the launch of a line of inexpensive smart home products from Roku, the smart TV and set-top box maker. We talk about the products, its deal with Wyze and where you can get them. Then we move on to Matter, specifically when you might get Matter on your devices, and the new pact between Google and Samsung SmartThings, that will make using either Google Home’s app or the SmartThings’ app as a controller seamless for your smart home. Then we discuss the results of the Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Developer survey in detail, including popular real time operating systems and messaging protocols, before getting an update on smart home device adoption from Parks Associates. We aren’t too concerned with Prime Day deals but we did notice that the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor has a new feature. In related news, we talk about other indoor air quality products and frustrations with Kevin’s Ecobee indoor air quality monitoring. After that we mention Lufthansa’s decisions to ban AirTags (it unbanned them after we recorded the show), an ITU approval for wireless over-the-air charging in the 900 MHz band, and the soon-to-be announced cybersecurity label from The White House. Finally, we answer a listener question about viewing Wyze cameras on a Google display.

Connectivity is still hard for IoT developers according to the Eclipse Foundation survey.

Our guest this week is Janko Roettgers, a senior reporter at Protocol, who explained the role that the TV currently plays and will likely play in the smart home. This is especially helpful because, as he explains to me, my home is a bit weird when it comes to televisions. He discusses how TV makers are looking for new forms of revenue, including advertising, while tech firms are getting into making TVs for similar reasons. He also puts Roku’s move into the smart home with devices and services into context. Specifically it’s because TVs are super low-margin and if it doesn’t move into the smart home it’s rivals will. Actually, they are already as he clearly explains. He also explains how TVs will handle smart home navigation and offers a little scoop on Google’s display plans. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Janko Roettgers, a senior reporter at Protocol
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Firewalla

  • Roku gets into the smart home with help from Wyze
  • Developers are still pretty fragmented when it comes to everything at the edge
  • Kevin discovers the limits of indoor air quality monitoring
  • The TV may be the next battlefront for smart home vendors
  • What Matter will mean for TV makers

Episode 376: Senator calls out video doorbells … again

This week’s show kicks off with another look at Ring’s potential to become a surveillance tool, this time prompted by a letter from Senator Ed Markey who wants Amazon to answer some questions. We then talk about a new capability for InfluxData’s time series database and explain why it matters before encouraging everyone who listens to the show or visits the site to get comfortable with doing things yourself. We then give a brief update on Insteon’s buyer and what it might mean before covering two industrial stories. First up is Siemens’ acquisition of Senseye, a company that provides predictive maintenance software, and then we discuss a remote factory experiment between Finland and South Korea. In smaller news we discuss the number of smart locks in U.S. households, Orro signing a deal with RTI for smarter light switches, and a new HomeKit enabled smart plug from TP-Link. We close by answering a listener question about the best smart lighting options to use in a new home.

Image courtesy of Parks Associates.

Our guest this week is Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData, who is talking about the demand for time series data for the internet of things. InfluxData makes a time series database for storing trading and sensor data. We discuss how companies are using time series data as part of closed loop systems, and what the future tech stack for the IoT will be. He also shares his strategies to get developers interested in a platform and why he thinks appealing to developers will be essential for success in the industrial IoT. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • Senator Markey wants more information about Ring’s capabilities
  • Be bold, and try to DIY your next project
  • Remote factory project has incredibly low latency
  • Why the IoT loves time series data
  • What we need to build better architectures for a real-time IoT

Episode 374: Peekaboo offers privacy for the smart home

This week’s show kicks off with our favorite topic: bringing context into the smart home. This time it’s iRobot and its new operating system that aims to bring the smart home together. From there we discuss a merger between satellite IoT companies and a new idea for building a privacy-centric smart home from the folks at Carnegie Mellon. In more enterprise news, BT wants to stop being a telco and become a “tech-co” with a focus on digital transformation, while a group of chipmakers want to create a consortium to buy Arm. In smaller news bits we’ve got some more unsettling news around John Deere tractors, a smart blinds retrofit from Somfy and the end of Amazon’s Cloud Cam. We’re not mad. Kevin also reviewed Ecobee’s newest and fanciest thermostat and came to a surprising conclusion. In our IoT Podcast Hotline we answer a question from someone who is switching to HomeKit.

Image courtesy of iRobot.

Our guest this week is Ron Rock, CEO and co-founder of Microshare.io, who discusses why his company started building pre-packaged IoT solutions and selling the data, as opposed to trying for some horizontal IoT platform. He also talks about the next big use cases for enterprise IoT after COVID. First up is figuring out how to best use corporate real estate in a hybrid work environment and how to rightsize corporate real estate holdings post-pandemic. His third use case is my favorite. He talks about why ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) demands are driving companies to adopt IoT solutions across a wide variety of use cases and industries. We end with a bit of conversation about new building standards and how he expects those standards to develop in the next three to five years. It’s a fun show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ron Rock, CEO and co-founder of Microshare.io
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Why iRobot could turn the smart home into a robot
  • The IoT satellite consolidation is here
  • Who should buy Arm? Everyone.
  • COVID drove enterprise IoT spending, but what’s next?
  • All your pre-2020 occupancy data is worthless now

Episode 372: Ecobee embraces radar sensors!

Did y’all know that almost a quarter of people who buy a smart home device, hire a professional to install it? That’s just one of the facts I learned at the Parks Associates event happening this week in Dallas. We talk about that before focusing on Google’s plans for Matter and SmartThings new Matter testing program. After that we talk about Ecobee’s new thermostats and a HomeKit sensor that uses millimeter wave sensing. In enterprise news, we mention a new real-time asset tracking network service from MachineQ, sub-$2 battery-powered Bluetooth tags from Wiliot, and LoRaWAN getting IPv6 functionality. We close with a review of Eve’s new outdoor camera, and a reminder to stay safe if you’re going to handle smart home installs yourself. In our hotline segment, we answer a listener’s question about moving from Alexa to HomeKit, and finding a garage door opener that works.

Image courtesy of Samsung.

Our guest this week is Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices. In our interview we dig into the new thermostats’ industrial design and why Ecobee replaced its PIR sensor with radar. Lombard also explains why services are essential for smart home providers and what Matter may do for the creation of new home services. We end with a discussion of Generac’s acquisition and why the combination of Ecobee and an energy storage and resiliency company makes sense. He didn’t share any specific products but he also gave us a hint about what to expect from the two companies going forward. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google’s preparations for Matter includes two new SDKs
  • Cheap Bluetooth tags are about to be everywhere
  • Eve’s outdoor camera for HomeKit a good choice
  • Why radar is better for people sensing
  • How smart homes will lead to energy resiliency

Episode 346: Three IoT acquisitions and the infrastructure bill

This week’s show focuses on three big deals happening in the IoT sector and a meaty enterprise IoT report. First up, we discuss ADT buying SunPro Solar for $825 million, which represents yet another deal bringing energy management to the smart home. We then talk about Level Home’s acquisition, the state of smart home deals, and the multifamily dwelling unit market before digging into an enterprise IoT report from Oracle that offers some good surprises. For the final acquisition of the show, we cover Viasat’s $7.3 billion buy of Inmarsat and explain a bit of the satellite economics I’ve written about recently. In smaller news, Kevin has found a neat HomeKit app and service, Wyze has a new outdoor light and camera, and GE’s ovens are getting capabilities familiar to June users. We also share our gift guide picks and other ideas for the holidays. Finally, we hear from a listener with low vision who is bummed about Facebook getting out of facial recognition.

GE will deliver a software update to its connected ovens that will make cooking a turkey a breeze. Image courtesy of GE.

Our guest this week is Karen Lightman, the executive director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s on the show to talk about the passage of the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill by Congress. We talk about the impact this will have on smart cities and specific policy recommendations to ensure we get wide-reaching equitable broadband access. Because you can’t have a smart city or even the internet of things without the internet. She also shares a bit about the backlash that the smart cities movement experiences as citizens grew concerned about their privacy and the rise of surveillance states, and talks about her hopes that companies will do more to build that trust. Myself, I think that’s going to take government action, but we’ll see. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Lightman of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute
Sponsors: Very

  • The four categories that count in the smart-energy-aware home
  • Level Home is trying a practical pivot
  • Oracle’s data on enterprise IoT is worth reading
  • Why broadband funding also needs new regulations
  • Why now is the right time to invest in tech-capable infrastructure

Episode 345: Ecobee’s big deal and climate-friendly chips

The big news in IoT this week was the announced acquisition of Ecobee by Generac, so Kevin and I share our thoughts on the deal and what it means for the smart home. After that, we were excited to see Amazon launching a smart air quality monitoring device for $70 as well as publically state its support for Matter. We also cover Facebook’s decision to stop using facial recognition and believe that more companies will seek to prove they are trustworthy in hopes of getting even closer to us as consumers. Then we talk about the EU’s addition of new categories to its cybersecurity rules, the new Flic Twist campaign, Tempo’s smaller, cheaper home gym, ADT’s security service for DoorDashers, and a $500 kid’s toy that I really want. We also note that the Espresif ESP32s now formally support the Zephyr RTOS. We end by answering a question about whether or not you need the device app to update HomeKit-compatible products.

The Alexa air quality monitor will cost $70 and ship in December. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Sri Samavedam, who is the senior vice president of semiconductor technologies at imec, a semiconductor R&D consortium. We discuss imec’s new effort to research sustainability in chip manufacturing. You’ll learn how chips are made and why manufacturing ICs delivers such a blow to the environment. Samavedum explains why Apple has joined its efforts and how it plans to measure the carbon footprint of chipmaking. He also offers some advice for product manufacturers and consumers on how they can use chips more responsibly given how much they cost (in terms of environmental damage) to make. There’s no sugar-coating it, we need more data on this and we also need to think about using silicon for longer than we do today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sri Samavedam, imec
Sponsors: Very

  • What Generac’s Ecobee purchase means for the smart home
  • Amazon loves Matter
  • Would you buy your kid a $500 hoverboard?
  • Chip manufacturing is extremely bad for the environment
  • We should try to use our devices for as along as possible

 

 

Episode 342: Explaining the IoT’s latest $11B deal

The industrial automation world got a jolt of news with Emerson combining some of its industrial IoT software businesses with AspenTech in an $11 billion transaction. We explain why the deal matters and what it means, before hopping over to discuss Best Buy’s acquisition of Current Health. Then we review large funding rounds for Plume and Magic Leap. On the product news front, AT&T will provide connectivity for Blues Wireless, Tile’s new trackers have Ultrawideband, and Ecobee has added Siri support for its voice thermostat. Apple is also thinking about health sensors inside its AirPods, although this has been a dream of headphone companies for years, and Amazon Alexa has new Halloween routines. I’m less excited about the routine and more excited that Amazon has found an easy mechanism to share routines. We close out the news segment of the show by answering a listener question about smart devices for woodworking workshops.

Tile uses AR to help find your lost objects. Image courtesy of Tile.

Our guest this week is Jim Carroll, who is the CEO of Sendal, a fairly new smart home company that wants to create services built on the backs of popular connected devices. We discuss the planned business model, why people will pay for good user experiences in the smart home, and how to share revenue among many device makers. We also get Carroll’s perspective on the smart home from his time as the CEO of Savant until now. Like me, he’s disappointed at where we’re at and hopes to change it. We then discuss how you can differentiate a true IoT company from a hardware company, and how to graduate from thinking like a device maker to a services company. It’s a fun interview, and I always enjoy a good Boston accent.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jim Carroll, CEO of Sendal
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Why Emerson’s deal with AspenTech matters for the industrial IoT
  • Best Buy aims to be the connected device integrator for remote healthcare
  • Why Magic Leap got more money
  • After Savant, this is the smart home problem Jim Carroll wants to solve
  • Are you a real IoT company or just a pusher of connected hardware?

 

 

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