The biggest news in the internet of things this week was the staggering story about Amazon’s Alexa business being responsible for the majority of an estimated $10 billion loss in the year ahead. So Kevin and I discuss what Amazon pulling back on Alexa might look like and what it means for voice and the smart home. Then we talk about how a newly available Amazon device signals Amazon’s problem and the potential solutions to that problem. After talking about voice, we take a look at a new controller from Aqara that uses gestures and share our thoughts about the form factor. After all our user interaction talk, we then cover some news, such as the FIDO Alliance planning to work on security and authentication issues for the IoT, Google’s plans for aggregating fitness data, and a new dev kit from T-Mobile. We also talk about new devices from Wyze and Firewalla. Finally, we answer a listener’s question about connecting LED fairy lights. Then it’s time to talk about the holidays.
Every year we choose 10 devices that we think make good holiday gifts for our audience and their loved ones. This year we suggest a few in the first part of the show, such as the JaxJox kettlebell and my perennial favorite, the Ember mug. (I gave this to my mom in 2019, and she still uses it every day.) This year’s gifts include a smart plug designed for Matter, a device to reboot your router, and multiple options for smart buttons from Philips Hue and Shortcut Labs. We also include a Nanoleaf option because we’re such fans of the devices as gifts for teens. We also include some fancier gifts for chefs and dog owners. There are more options in this week’s newsletter, but before we sign off we also want to thank our listeners for the gift of their time this year, and the nine years that Kevin and I have been producing this show. Y’all are awesome.
Our guest this week is Pete Warden, CEO of Useful Sensors, a company that’s bundling a sensor with predetermined machine learning algorithms for recognizing people, faces, gestures, and more. Warden explains the challenges of TinyML; the act of embedding machine learning algorithms on constrained, power-sipping devices; and how he hopes Useful Sensors can help companies that build devices figure out compelling uses for the technology. TinlyML has a huge amount of promise for the IoT, but it’s hard to find use cases outside of the ubiquitous wake-word detection. By offering a $10 sensor that can provide person and face detection to makers, Warden hopes to jumpstart new ideas for TinyML. We might see those in future appliances, televisions, toys, and more. We also talk about how he’s thinking about respecting consumer privacy and what it will take to make people feel comfortable in a world with millions of tiny cameras, microphones, and other sensors embedded in everyday objects. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Prashant Kanhere, the CTO of PayRange. PayRange provides a Bluetooth-based module that installs on a vending machine, washing machine, or pool table and replaces coin payments with electronic payments. I’ve followed this company for years and was stoked to see they had half a million devices under management now. With that scale, the company has figured out how to monitor those devices and how to update their firmware over tiny sips of connectivity. It’s a process that could come in handy for other IoT devices on low data-rate networks that need security or feature updates. We also discuss how the app works and the future of smart pool tables for a bit of fun. Enjoy the show.
A week after the CSA said that the Matter smart home interoperability standard would be delayed we get a chance to talk about why the standard is delayed until fall, and what it means for consumers and smart home device makers. We then share Omdia data on how much ownership of different smart home devices has grown in the last year and explain what new design and privacy tweaks are coming to the Google Home app. In security-oriented news we share how radar might keep secured spaces clear of people and the latest CISA and FBI alert for infrastructure companies and satellite companies worried about cyberattacks. We then showcase how a new factory 5G network in Lexington, Kentucky deploying a private 5G network might signal the actual beginnings of 5G adoption in other manufacturing settings. In other wireless news, I reviewed the Eero Pro 6E routers mostly because I’m excited about 1,200 MHz of new spectrum for Wi-Fi. Finally, we answer a listener question about the Level Home locks and if it might get support for Apple’s HomeKey.
Our guest this week is Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI. Hawkinson is likely familiar to listeners as the founder and former CEO of SmartThings, the smart home platform purchased by Samsung. At his latest company, Hawkinson is continuing to try to add intelligence to the world by taking sensor data and turning it to insights. Only this time, he’s trying to tackle the challenge with more AI and an enterprise focus. We talk about what BrightAI is trying to do and how it ties back to Hawkinson’s history at SmartThings. He explains how BrightAI client CSC Serviceworks uses the internet of things to modernize its operations leading to a 10% to 20% growth in revenue. The case study is impressive, as is the vision of helping lots of older companies retrofit their operations with connected sensors and AI. Enjoy the show.
Our guest this week is Steve Statler, the senior vice president of marketing at Wiliot, a company that had been making Bluetooth beacons that don’t require batteries. Now the company offers sensing as a service and licenses its chip technology. Statler explains the shift and discusses how Wiliot had to build up a web of relationships to make the sensing-as-a-service option possible. We also discuss how smart Bluetooth tags can create what Statler calls the demand chain to track products on an individual level and ensure supply meets demand based on reality instead of estimates. Statler also talks about how to make the tags recyclable, and what he still needs to make that happen. It’s a fun interview for people who have high hopes for smart labels, and who want a glimpse of the future where items in your fridge or closet may communicate with you after you’ve purchased them.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Steve Statler, Wiliot Sponsors: Very
More support for Matter (and more questions too)
Alexa now has a role in senior living facilities and hospitals
Augury’s sensors have saved Colgate-Palmolive a lot of tubes of toothpaste
Why Wiliot switched from selling chips to selling a service
Do we want our clothes to ask us why we haven’t worn them in a while?
Our guest this week is Beth Flippo, CTO at Telegrid, which owns DroneExpress. DroneExpress has built a drone delivery service based on drone and radio technology built by Telegrid for the military. With DroneExpress, Flippo aims to build a business delivering items weighing less than five pounds within a small radius. This month Kroger announced it was trying the service for grocery delivery. We discuss why Teregrid decided to sell a service as opposed to the technology, what niche drone delivery serves, and even how widespread drone delivery could change consumer packaging. We also talk about the limitations of drones and Flippo’s belief that drone delivery could reinvigorate brick and mortar businesses.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Beth Flippo, DroneExpress Sponsor: Very
What will Roku do in the smart home?
Kevin thinks Google’s Fuchsia OS will be good for the IoT
Technology is a tool, but we need to understand its potential uses
Why sell hardware when you can sell a service?
How drone delivery might influence the size of consumer packaged goods
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
My guest this week is Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home. As a home builder, KB Home has started to integrate some smart devices into their portfolio. Bridleman explains what those options are and how KB plans to support (or offload the support) of a smart home. He also shares what he’s excited about in the home sector and why newer technologies could do away with expensive home infrastructure like copper wiring to switches.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home Sponsors: MachineQ and IoT World
Ring is bad, but it’s hardly the only offender
Smart cities are the opposite of a smart home
The U.K. may mandate a device expiration date!
No one comes in wanting a smart home
New tech could replace a lot of expensive home wiring
This week’s Internet of Things Podcast is a bit different from our typical format. Instead of discussing a range of topics and sharing a guest interview, we’re tackling the question we get so often from our listeners who are rightfully concerned about their home network security with smart devices installed: Should all of these webcams, smart locks, thermostats, and other devices be segmented to a guest network?
On the surface, that sounds like a smart idea. The main reason is that any compromised smart devices won’t be able to infect computers and other things on your primary network. A secondary reason is to limit access to your smart home when guests are over.
So here’s what we did: We both created guest networks in our home and migrated all of our smart devices over to them. And we found out some very interesting things. For starters, we didn’t lose access to any of our devices through this setup, which is good. However, we also found out that the reverse situation is a bad one. When on our guest networks with devices on the regular network, we still had access to many of them unexpectedly, which is bad.
Our takeaway is that if you want to put your smart home devices on a guest network, that’s fine but it may not add much more security. In particular, if your smart device credentials are stolen, as was the case with recent “hacks” of the Ring and Nest systems, this setup won’t really help you. We’re thinking that using a network monitoring system such as a Firewalla is a better solution. And better yet would be installing a router that supports VLANs, or Virtual LANs, for your smart home devices. Tune in and let us know what you think or if you have additional related network concerns or solutions.
We kick off this week’s podcast with Kevin’s struggles to get his Google Home to talk to Wink. Then we unpack some of the standards news out from the ZigBee Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation, which is introducing OCF-over-Thread. From there we do a quick update on Ring, talk about a new smart grill from Weber, a new way for Alexa to control your TV, and updates to Eero’s Wi-Fi. We then talk about my experience with the Nanoleaf Canvas lights. One of us had a better experience than the other. We end with an answer for a listener who bought low-cost Wi-Fi bulbs and wants a remote to control them.
Our guest this week is Alex Yang, the COO and co-founder of Tuya. Tuya is an IoT platform that provides everything from connectivity to help building out sales channels for end products. Brands such as Energizer, Walmart’s Merkury Innovation, and more use Tuya’s platform to connect their devices. Yang talks about Tuya’s founding, its multi-country headquarters, and its privacy policies. He also shares details behind the recent appointment of former GE CEO Jeff Immelt to the Tuya board and some details about its new deal with SmartThings. Enjoy the show.
Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel Guest: Alex Yang, the COO and co-founder of Tuya Sponsors: Legrand and Afero
Wink’s malaise strikes its Google integration … again!
Why we might want OFC-over-Thread
A fun lighting product that doubles as art
Tuya is one of the largest IoT platforms you’ve never heard of
Can we trust a Chinese startup with our home data?