Episode 325: The IoT goes to Congress

Hello! This week we start with Congress, where the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings related to interoperability and lock-in tied to smart home devices. We drew special attention to testimony by Jonathan Zittrain, who wrote a long, but insightful statement about the development of the web, the benefits gained when using interoperable protocols, and what the government should do to ensure the openness of the IoT. After that, we discuss Amazon’s use of person detection on its new Echo Show devices to use motion-sensing as a trigger for routines and Apple’s planned features for its next smartwatch. We then talk about the new Level lock and why you may want to wait before buying a smart lock. In our news roundup, we track the rise of smart home devices, IKEA’s new $199 picture frame speaker, a new cellular module, and Accenture’s acquisition of umlaut, an industrial IoT engineering firm. We close on a question from a listener about which devices will support Matter going forward.

IKEA’s new speaker hides within a picture frame, but IKEA has limited art available. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos. Carhart’s specialty is industrial IoT incident response which means she’s been busy, given how often ransomware attacks have taken out critical infrastructure in the past few months. She explains how she got into doing industrial security and how it differs from IT security (which she also did). She shares what industrial clients want IT security professionals to understand, and shares how people can get into the field of providing industrial IoT security. In my favorite moment, she explains the Purdue Model of security used by manufacturing and industrial clients. Understanding these things will only become more important as we place more assets online. Please listen.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lesley Carhart, an incident responder at Dragos SponsorsBsquare and Edge Impulse

  • A few remedies to prevent lock-in by the tech giants
  • Wellness is gaining ground in the smartwatch world
  • Maybe wait on that smart lock purchase
  • Hardhats may be necessary for industrial IoT security response
  • What the OT world wants the IT world to know about security

Episode 324: HomeKit and Home Assistant embrace Matter

We start this week’s show with a quick update on Amazon’s Sidewalk and then focused on the smart home news from Apple’s WWDC event earlier this week. We’re excited about third-party devices getting Siri support. We then cover the EU’s thoughts on anticompetitive behavior by IoT device companies, as well as the launch of a new standard that allows for low-power, highly-dense, mesh networks for 5G and Bluetooth. While on the topic of networking, we explain why Qualcomm’s new cluster of IoT chips is pretty cool. Then we talk about Google backing off AR Measure and Helium getting a new customer. I also review the new Nanoleaf Elements light panels and explain why you might want them, despite their cost. We close by highlighting a caller’s demand for two-factor authentication on smart home devices, specifically the Moen Flo products.

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat will be one of the first third-party devices to support Siri. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant, a smart home platform for DIYers. He talks about why he built the service as well as plans for new hardware later this year. We also discuss his plans for the Matter protocol and difficulty implementing the available Matter code on Github. Schoutsen also shares his recommendations on what buyers should look for in a connected product, especially one that connects back to the cloud. We end with a bit about Home Assistant’s business model, and with me asking for his help on a common listener question. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Apple’s bringing Siri to more devices and opens up on Matter
  • The EU isn’t keen on walled gardens in the smart home
  • This new low-power, highly-dense wireless network is worth a look
  • The folks at Home Assistant are working on new hardware
  • Will Home Assistant support Matter? You betcha!

 

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 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 271: Surveillance scares and a nutrition label for IoT security

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of what’s happening in the U.S. with protests, police brutality, and the role connected tech can play in smart cities, including the role image recognition can and does play. We then tackle the IoT news starting with Nest’s addition of Google’s advanced protection program and a GPS tracker that seems like a good buy. Then we discuss funding for a smart oven, a pool sensor, another HomeKit enabled security camera, a subscription service for monitoring the health of your HVAC system, cheap sensors, and a new doorbell from Wyze. We then move onto Amazon killing the Echo Look camera and its new intercom feature before breaking out the deep science for windows that can adjust to different light levels automatically. In our IoT Podcast Hotline segment, we answer a question about using a connected sprinkler to ward off animals.

The nutrition-style label that helps users figure out how secure a connected device is.

This week’s guest is Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is on the show discussing the newly created nutrition-style label researchers created for IoT devices. Researchers tried to convey about 47 relevant pieces of information that relate to a device’s security and privacy qualifications and crammed as many as they could onto an easy-to-read-label that’s designed to fit on a product’s packaging. The label doesn’t convey all 47 elements, but it does capture several key pieces of information about how long a device will get security updates, the types of sensors it has, and how the company treats its data. Other elements are relegated to a deeper privacy fact sheet that a consumer can access via a web site or QR code. Cranor explains the label, the methodology, and asks for help turning the research into something useful for the industry at large. Let’s make it happen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: Calix and Edge Impulse

  • We need to talk about how to enforce laws when IoT can see everything
  • This is a really nice GPS tracker for the masses
  • $10 Zigbee sensors? Yes, please!
  • What should a security label measure?
  • How can we get this label on our devices?

Episode 269: Wyze wants to bulk up and Microsoft Build news

This week’s show is all about Seattle-area companies. First up, Wyze wants to raise money, so it shared its sales from last year and plans for 30 more smart home products. Kevin and I talk about the company and its impact on the industry. Then we shift to Microsoft and its Build event, which took place this week. We discuss the IoT news including Azure RTOS, an update to Azure IoT Central (the SaaS IoT platform for Azure), and more.  We also took a side trip to explore a new consortium dedicated to digital twins. We then discuss what $4.99 a month buys you from Wink, a new wearable for contact tracing from Nodle and Avnet, the new Logitech Circle View camera, and Google Assistant getting new skills for appliances. We conclude by answering an email from Australia about door locks for rentals.

The new Logitech Circle View camera works with Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video service and sells for $159. Image courtesy of Logitech.

This week’s guest is Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive. I profiled the company a few years back when it had a different name but the same mission — building battery-free sensors that are powered via energy harvesting. The company has sold its steam trap sensor since 2018 and is now launching a vibration sensor. We talk about how to build a sensor that can harvest enough energy to monitor factory conditions, how COVID-19 is changing the demand for industrial IoT, and what changes once plant managers get a continuous stream of data about their operations. It’s a fun show, and you’ll learn all about steam traps!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder, and co-CTO at Everactive
SponsorsVery and Edge Impulse

  • Wyze sold $95 million in gear last year
  • Microsoft’s really building out an end-to-end IoT infrastructure
  • Wink is charging me $5 a month so my voice assistants integrate better
  • Why we need energy harvesting sensors
  • How to sell a big name on a startup’s tech

 

Episode 268: Subscription news from Wink and Nest

This week’s show is all about subscriptions! First Kevin and I share thoughts on Wink’s decision to charge a subscription fee after giving customers a week’s notice and threatening to shut down their devices if they don’t convert. We also detail Nest’s new subscription plan and keep on the Alphabet/Google topic by discussing the end of the Toronto smart city effort from Sidewalk Labs and a new Google Assistant skill.  After that, we cover a new Teensy board with Ethernet, an acquisition in the smart apartment world, and get details on how reopening is going in Texas from the B8ta point of view. I talk about my experience with the new, smaller Wi-Fi August lock, and then we answer a listener question about how to build a smart home from scratch.

The brains of Johnson’s smart home are packed away in custom-made benches. Image courtesy of Jason Johnson.

Our guest this week is Jason Johnson, the co-founder of August Home. He’s not on the show to discuss the new lock but to talk about his new home and the systems he uses for automation. Like many of us, Johnson went the DIY route and says he spends about five or more hours a week tweaking his set up. He explains why he chose the platforms he uses and how he has routines and automation set up. For those curious about what’s governing the 138 nodes in his home, I encourage you to listen and find out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jason Johnson, co-founder August Home
Sponsors: Very and Edge Impulse

  • Is Wink’s new subscription worth it? Nest’s?
  • Apparently, a few people still need their gadget fix in Texas
  • August’s new lock is great for renters, but may not work for everyone
  • Three organizing principles for a smart home
  • Device longevity is a problem for the smart home