Episode 283: Cloudflare’s CEO on ethics and building out edge computing

ARM is back in our news lineup this week, as Kevin and I discuss who might be interested in buying the chip design company and why it decided not to spin out its IoT assets. We also talk about a new lock that opens with a touch, biometrics on other locks, and Fitbit’s new wearables. Some Roomba vacuums received a new update that makes them easier to control via voice and we talk about appliance companies’ approaches toward IoT security updates. Spoiler alert: they’re mostly not great. Then we cover a new product from Mueral, data on LPWAN adoption and satellite networks for IoT. We also answer a listener question about what the success of Project CHIP might mean for Zigbee and Z-wave.

The Level lock with touch or a keycard retails for $329 and doesn’t have the clunky hardware associated with most connected locks. Image courtesy of Level.

This week’s guest is Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare who starts off with a history of computing and an insight into his college dorm room decor. The history will be especially valuable for folks who are not in the IT world but who have to deal with it thanks to the IoT. Prince then discusses what comes after containers and talks about what drives usage on his company’s distributed edge compute service. Then, he explains why he views his engineering work through the lens of others, and how Cloudflare tries to make ethical decisions when building products and offering them. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why ARM isn’t spinning out its IoT assets
  • Fitbit has a new, wellness device
  • Let’s talk about security in appliances
  • How computing has moved from individual servers to containers
  • How to create a culture where engineers can discuss ethics

 

Episode 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

Episode 262: Use your wearable data to detect COVID-19

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion of who should be tracking you during the pandemic and what rules companies and governments should use in order to protect user privacy. We also dig into the importance of APIs after Apple purchased the Dark Skye weather app. Then we explain the tightening relationship between carriers and the cloud with Microsoft’s preview launch of Azure Edge Zones. From there we dig into how social media can influence people during the pandemic, the best home Wi-Fi system, the new Fitbit, turning your Wyze Cam into a webcam, and a discussion of what we want broadband to be in the world we want to live in after the pandemic. We close on Kevin talking about Home Assistant integrations and his answer for a question on the IoT Podcast Hotline about how secure Home Assistant is.

The Fitbit Charge 4 will be out on April 13 and cost $149.95. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

This week’s guest is Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Scripps is trying to recruit people who have a Fitbit or other wearable to participate in a study to detect COVID-19 using variations in resting heart rate. We talk about the DETECT study (which you can sign up for from the link) as well as how to design a legitimate health study that includes consumer wearables. We also discuss the use of data and data privacy for those who want to understand those things before dedicating data to science. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Should Google and Apple implement contact tracing using our phones?
  • Azure Edge Zones are an example of the carriers and clouds getting closer
  • Home Assistant integrations are all over the map
  • What doctors look for when building studies around wearables
  • Why the DETECT study matters and how it’s data practices work

Episode 241: How a smarter edge can make schools safer

This week on the show, Kevin and I started with a discussion of reports of how smart speakers can receive remote commands from a hacker with a laser. We then shifted gears to talk about company research showing how much data your smart homes are sending and a brand new network product from Firewalla. Cortana’s pivot to productivity gets a mention, as does Kevin’s take on Google buying Fitbit. From there we reviewed the Twinklys smart lights, talked about new Ecobee features, smart apartment deals and the open-sourcing of Google’s Titan chip. We then answer a listener question about smart garage door opener alternatives for Chamberlain’s MyQ product.

The new Firewalla security device is now also a router. Image courtesy of Firewalla.

Our guest this week is Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion. We start off talking about smart edge capabilities that could be used to make schools, offices and other spaces safer. Then we discuss how smart home device manufacturers have changed their goals when trying to create partnerships. Before, the focus might be on marketing on one-off features, but manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated. Find out what’s new, and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion.
Sponsors: Legrand and Afero

  • Using frickin’ lasers to hack Alexa
  • What do your devices do while you are sleeping?
  • Why Amazon should have purchased Fitbit
  • Stopping tailgaters at college requires smarts at the edge
  • Privacy is becoming a point of negotiation in the gadget world

Episode 231: What to do with Wi-Fi 6 and voice in the enterprise

What is Wi-Fi 6? Should you care? We tackle these questions first up in this week’s podcast. From there, Kevin and I discuss the Bluetooth KNOB vulnerability and our fears of how smart home data could affect a Chinese-style social credit score. To lighten things up I talk about my visit with Microsoft, and experience with the Hololens 2 as well as Microsoft’s digital twin strategy. In the news segments, we cover the new Eero security service, the Nest doorbell package detection, and Fitbit’s proposed health service. We then answer a listener question about smart spigots.

This Microsoft image shows one of the Guides Microsoft has created for industry partners using the Hololens 2.

Our guest this week is Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe. He discusses how enterprises should view voice interactions. He shares his thoughts on why voice should be separated from the digital assistants that have become popular in the home and explains why enterprise software will lead to different interactions and UX design. As part of the conversation, he also talks about where voice stops being useful and when companies should think about a multi-modal user interface that includes voice, screens and even gestures. If the future of work interests you, then this is a good episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe
Sponsors: Afero and SimpleCommands

  • Wait on Wi-Fi 6 routers until there are more devices
  • Explaining Microsoft’s digital twin plans and Hololens 2
  • Fitbit is planning a service to go with its devices
  • Voice UIs  should not be confused with digital assistants
  • When does voice stop being useful

Episode 178: Facebook’s smart speaker and a new security startup

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I trying to figure out Facebook’s voice ambitions. We then explain how Google is using IoT data and AI to shave 40% in energy use in its data centers. This is the future. From there we talk about that future’s dark side with a survey on consumer fears, a security exploit of Wemo devices and an attack that could waste a lot of water. We then discuss news bits such as C3 working with Google Cloud, using Wi-Fi for airport security, my thoughts on the new FitBit Charge 3, the acquisition of the maker of the Vera hub and the acquisition of CE Pro. We also answer a question about tracking when your kids come in and out of the home.

This is how I picture myself in the FitBit Charge 3. Not stuck behind my computer screen.

Our guest this week is Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io, a company created to provide continued security for connected devices. Baker explains why Foundries.io exists, how it works and the company’s attempts to become the Red Hat of IoT security software. Unlike some of the recent IoT security platform efforts out there, Foundries.io isn’t linked directly to hardware. You’ll learn more on the show. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyler Baker, the CTO of Foundries.io
Sponsors: NETGEAR and Afero

  • Why Facebook needs your voice
  • A new type of IoT attack changes how I think about risks
  • 50 ways to track your children
  • Foundries.io is taking open source security and turning it into a service

Episode 162: Smart walls and dumb homes

This week Kevin and I discuss Amazon’s big security install reveal and how it made us feel. Plus, a smart home executive leaves Amazon and Facebook’s rumored smart speaker makes another appearance. China is taking surveillance even further and Kevin and I share our thoughts on the state of the smart home, and failed projects. In our news tidbits we cover a possible new SmartThings hub, a boost for ZigBee in the UK, the sale of Withings/Nokia Health, the death of a smart luggage company, and reviews for Google Assistant apps. We also answer a reader question about a connected door lock camera.

The Smart Wall research was conducted at Disney Research. The first step is building a grid of conductive materials. Later, researchers painted over it.

This week’s guest Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, share his creation of a smarter wall, one that responds to touch and also recognizes electronic activity in the room. We discuss the smart wall, digital paper, how to bring context to the connected home or office, and why you may want to give up on privacy. It’s a fun episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Harrison, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • A surprise appearance from the Wink hub
  • What happens when IoT can read your thoughts?
  • Kevin swapped hubs and is pretty unhappy about it
  • A cheap way to make connected paper
  • Go ahead, rethink you walls

Episode 131: Amazon’s new gear and Nest’s Matt Rogers

This week’s show features a quick rundown of Amazon’s new devices. It also has a lot of exciting news on the wearable front. Kevin Tofel reviews his Apple Watch with LTE and we also discuss a new program from the Food and Drug Administration that will allow nine companies to get pre-certifications for their devices. I’m optimistic that consumers will get more innovation and better data. We also hit on a stealthy new lighting startup from a former Nest co-founder, a partnership around autonomous vehicles and a fight between Google and Amazon.

The Echo spot has a camera, a screen and costs $129.99.

My guest is Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nest, who discusses the rationale behind the new Nest Security system and where Nest is heading. We also talk about efforts to build a closer relationship between the Google Home and Nest teams. Plus, he offers hope for an eventual HomeKit integration, although I am not going to hold my breath. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Rogers, Nest
Sponsors: Qualcomm and Eero

  • Which new Amazon device will you buy?
  • The FDA gets into wearables
  • Advice for a listener on creating audio-activated scenes
  • Why Nest is aiming at the high end for security
  • Will Nest gear ever get HomeKit support?

Episode 97: Enterprises will spend big bucks ($269 billion) on IoT

There’s a lot of money in the internet of things. No, not just in your smart home gadgets. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2020 enterprises will be spending €250 billion on the internet of things. We discuss the survey, news of the week, an update on my OpenHab project and answer the question of how one gets started with a smart home. Two cases caught our eye on the privacy and security front, with one dealing with self-incrimination and a pacemaker and the other being the hotel in Austria that dealt with a ransomware attack on its smart lock system.

A chart from the recent BCG report on the internet of things.

And for everyone who wants to know about how to get into the smart home as a renter, I brought on Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis to discuss things renters can buy to connect their (temporary) homes. She also laid out the future of smart apartments and explained what tech renters are likely to see from their landlords. There’s something for everyone this week.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Felicite Moorman, the CEO of Stratis
Sponsor: Ayla Networks

Episode 94: Our CES Hangover with Alexa, Comcast and Carnival

Whelp, I’m back from CES with the obligatory cold, thinking over many of the conversations I had and the gadgets I saw. Some of that bubbles up in this show, with talk of Amazon Alexa Voice Services taking a star turn at the event, my thesis that industrial IoT is going to be where the real opportunities are and Kevin and I trying to parse the idea of Fitbit having an app store. We also talked about Carnival’s connected cruise ship concept, and why I believe that is worth keeping an eye on. I also review my GE Z-wave hinge pin sensor and we discuss Comcast’s new Wi-Fi software and gateway.

The Carnival medallion that connects passengers with several systems on the ship.

And for everyone who woke up in 2017 with the plan to make a device, I brought on maker extraordinaire Dr. Lucy Rogers to inspire you. Five years ago Rogers picked up a soldering iron and taught herself how to build connected products. Now she does it for a living. And some of her work involves dinosaurs! Listen up to learn more.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Lucy Rogers of Makertorium
Sponsors: Dell and Level Education