Episode 261: Set up a secure IoT network and Wyze has new gear

With the spread of COVID-19 and people staying home, robots are gaining ground in jobs, so Kevin and I discuss what jobs are at risk and what happened with automation during the last three recessions. We also talk about the rules that need to be in place if we want to track people during the pandemic in the U.S. and in other Western democracies. Then we cover a Russian botnet, racist digital assistants, confidentiality with Alexa, a new Arduino module, and the new scale and activity tracker from Wyze. Kevin and I take some time from the current worries about the coronavirus to envision the world we want when all this is over and discuss medical device privacy.  We end with a listener question about the new Nest subscription plans expected sometime soon.

Ready for a new IoT prototyping device? Check out this Kickstarter project. Image courtesy of Frame.IoT.

Our guest this week is Josh Datko, founder and chief engineer at embedded security firm Cryptotronix who is here to school us all in IoT security. We start with his advice for consumers, including advice on splitting off a separate IoT network in your home. We then discuss the difference between embedded security and IT security and discuss the importance of security engineers in product design. We end with Datko explaining the difference between secure enclaves, trusted execution environments and other security terms that may mystify you. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Josh Datko, Cryptotronix
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Automation and robots get a boost from the coronavirus
  • How to handle sensor data during a pandemic
  • Yes, I bought the Wyze scale for some reason
  • Here’s how to secure your smart home
  • Why the embedded world needs security engineers

Episode 259: Lights out for first-gen Hue hubs and Lightify

This week’s show starts off with Kevin and I explaining exactly what’s happening with the death of the first-gen Philips Hue hubs (which we mentioned way back in November) and the death of the cloud servers powering OSRAM’s Lightify products. We then talk about Kevin’s experience installing Home Assistant and mine with the Helium hotspot. In news, we’re discussing Amazon putting its Amazon Go tech up for sale, Google’s Jacquard finding a new home in sneakers, an update for Apple Watch, Google Assistant getting support for sensors, Arlo updating security, and new Ring doorbells. We end by answering a question from a landlord about monitoring his rental properties.

Google’s Jacquard is now inside an insole designed for soccer fans. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared, a web site and newsletter dedicated to manufacturing (and other cool stuff). He’s sharing his and his community’s perspective on the COVID-19, what it means for Apple, big manufacturers and for companies starting on their product journey. It’s not all doom and gloom. He provides great reasons to get comfortable with making your product and suggests that like most crises, there could be opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Two smart lighting platforms are shutting off support
  • Kevin thinks Home Assistant needs some tweaks for normals
  • Google Jacquard’s price isn’t crazy high
  • COVID-19 could affect your holiday gift options and next year’s laptop
  • Why you should try to manufacturer your product if you can

 

Episode 256: The tech industry is growing up

This week Kevin is back and we’re digging into Ring’s decision to listen to its critics and change some of its security features. It’s a welcome sign of overall maturity in the tech industry. At the same time, it’s unclear if the Ring cameras are that helpful to law enforcement. We then discuss the rise in smart speaker sales, a privacy-focused bracelet, funding for cool new technology, and how China’s handling of the coronavirus shows off the pros and cons of IoT in society. We hit some news bits related to 5G networks, a way for ISPs to make sure your IoT gear is working, funding for Bluetooth chips, and a cybersecurity warning for healthcare. Kevin also shares his planned Home Assistant project. We end with a way to keep your Google Assistants on your home devices from fighting with your Pixel.

The prototype is a self-contained wearable comprised of ultrasonic transducers, a signal generator, a microcontroller, a battery, a voltage regulator and a 3W amplifier. Image courtesy of the University of Chicago. 

This week’s guest is Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems, who comes on to share details of the firm’s technology and to discuss how the company is trying to respect user privacy. Cognitive Systems has developed technology that measures disruptions in a home Wi-Fi network and uses those disruptions as a way to track actions in the home. Currently, ISPs and router makers can use the technology to offer motion sensing for security purposes, but eventually, it might offer a way to detect falls or even motion as subtle as a baby breathing. That level of insight also creates privacy concerns, so Manku explains exactly how the firm handles consumer data and the steps it has taken to ensure even law enforcement can’t see inside the home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems
SponsorsDigiCert and Very

  • Ring has decided to listen to consumer security complaints
  • China’s surveillance state is one version of our IoT future
  • Kevin’s planning to embrace Home Assistant
  • How to see inside a home without using cameras
  • A cloud-to-cloud approach and encryption are some ways to protect your privacy

Episode 255: A deep dive into NIST’s new privacy framework

This week’s show features Chris Albrecht, editor in chief of The Spoon, as a guest host, which means there will be a review of a connected kitchen gadget — in this case, a connected smoker from Traeger. We kick off the show discussing the FTC’s surprising antitrust review and discuss IoT acquisitions that might get scrutinized. We also mention the Sprint and T-Mo merger and what that might mean for IoT. From there we dive into Nest’s plans to require two-factor authentication, ARM’s new AI edge chip designs, a new product from LIFX, and an NB-IoT module from Tuya. Chris then discusses the sale of a connected brewing appliance called PicoBrew before reviewing the Traeger smoker. We also answer a listener question about which connected doorbell to buy.

The new LIFX switch is pricey but beautiful. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework in the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She comes on the show to explain what the many, many pages actually mean and how companies should think about and adopt the framework. She also shares why she avoids connected devices in her own life. Unsurprisingly, the complex user agreements aren’t inspiring a lot of trust.  You’ll want to hear this show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht of The Spoon
Guest: Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework at NIST
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Apple and Google could see some smart home deals come under review
  • Nest’s two-factor decision could lead to better two-factor authentication methods
  • Should I spend $800 on a smart grill?
  • Breaking down the NIST privacy framework with a connected fridge
  • The new framework won’t make you legally compliant, but it can build user trust

Episode 254: Google goes enterprise with Glass

This week Kevin and I start the show with a focus on Google’s new Glass product for the enterprise, and a newly discovered smart hub from the Craftsman brand (h/t Jimmy Hawkins). We also cover the Starling smart hub that can link your Nest gear to your HomeKit account, and discuss Kevin’s reaction to Ring partnering with his local police force. In smaller news, there’s a new industrial hardware board for IoT, Google can help find your Tile, MIT has doubled wireless carrying capacity with a smart surface, and Philips Hue fixes a security flaw. We also muse on Google’s hardware numbers  — or lack thereof — and close with a question about Zigbee devices falling off a SmartThings’ network.

The Paranoid device turns off the mic on your smart speaker or spouts white noise that interferes with the speaker until you want to ask Alexa or Google for something.

My guest this week is one of the creators of a new device designed to stop your smart speaker from listening to your conversation. Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions. The Candian software development firm has launched a device called Paranoid that sits on top of your smart speaker and either physically turns off the microphone or uses white noise to block the mic from listening in. When the user activates the Paranoid device using their voice the Paranoid either physically unmutes the smart speaker or stops generating white noise so Google or Alexa can hear the request. Pimentel explains why Pleasant built this and how it works for our listeners. It feels like a security blanket for people who are worried enough about their smart speaker to spend $49 for a Paranoid device but are still enamored by the convenience of their smart speaker.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions
Sponsors: Digicert and Very

  • Can Google’s new Glass cut it in the enterprise?
  • Kevin discovers that Ring doorbells in his neighborhood may share with police
  • This industrial IoT board may double as a space heater
  • What is Paranoid, and will it protect my privacy?
  • Is this a necessary device or a patent grab?

Episode 250: Everything that mattered at CES

This week Kevin and I went to Las Vegas for the annual CES event showcasing thousands of technology products under dozens of roofs. We recorded the show before we had the chance to see everything, but we did pull together this show with some of the big themes we saw developing and the news that we felt would matter most to our smart home listeners.

Kevin and I in front of our official CES podcasting booth!

We saw several products purporting to adapt to the user and their environment to deliver a product or experience. L’Oreal showed off personalized makeup and skincare that adapted to the environment and your face on a daily basis, while Nanoleaf promised a lighting system that would learn your habits and deliver the right lighting. We also talked about a bunch of new Wi-Fi routers and a new talent that some routers will get. The third big trend revolves around healthcare for people and pets. We’ll have more on that next week as well.

We hit on a bunch of news items including the launch of Bluetooth 5.2, which brings quality audio and sharing to Bluetooth Low Energy. We also saw a variety of new locks, several new light switches or bulbs, and Google Assistant’s newly announced talents. And Kevin and I both share some of the cooler companies we have seen so far including Binah.ai, Sunflower Labs and Camect.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Sponsors: MachineQ and IoT World

  • Smarter personalization is almost here
  • Wi-Fi 6 is here, but you don’t need to upgrade yet
  • Urine luck if you want to monitor your health
  • There were a lot of locks and real innovation in the category
  • Lights went hipster and everyone now has a platform
  • These are a few of our favorite things

 

Episode 246: The IoT Holiday Gift Guide

This week Kevin and kick off the show on a serious note, pointing out that the U.S. is approaching China in terms of the number of people per every IP camera. We draw a line between that fact and the surveillance capabilities that Ring allows through the Neighbors app, before offering a smidgen of hope in the form of a new federal law. We then jump to the title topic — our annual gift guide that features 10 presents that won’t disappoint. One of them, the Philips Hue Sync Box, is the topic of a review from Kevin. After that, we hit a security flaw in Blink cameras, a new Ring light, and Google’s new alarm clock feature. We close by answering a listener’s request for funny smart home mishaps.

This week’s guest is Dr. Irene J. Petrick, senior director of industrial innovation in Intel’s IoT group. Petrick has conducted hours of research on the industrial IoT and the efforts companies are making to transform digitally. She talks about her newly released research as well as the skills that manufacturers believe their employees need today and in the future. I think those manufacturers are short-sighted and Petrick and I spent a lot of time discussing the shift from transactional business relationships to ecosystems. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Irene J. Petrick, senior director of industrial innovation in Intel’s IoT group
Sponsor: Cirrent

  • China’s surveillance society is as far-fetched here as you might think
  • Here’s what we recommend for your holiday gift list
  • Do you want Google’s AI to wake you up in the morning?
  • The employee of the future apparently needs some serious tech skills
  • Transactional relationships are tired; ecosystems are wired

Episode 244: How AWS plans to take on the IoT

This week Amazon announced several new services ahead of its re:Invent event next week including news about Alexa Voice Services and the IoT elements of the cloud. We also touch base about Wink’s latest problem and try to explain the kerfuffle on lightweight IoT encryption. In smaller news bits, we talk about Wyze killing its person-detection feature unexpectedly, NB-IoT trackers from See.Sense and Flok, Google’s Ambient Mode coming to phones and Black Friday deals. We then review the Philips Hue Smart Button and the RoomMe presence detection devices from Intellithings. We end by answering a listener question about ways to remotely track his parents’ medicine adherence.

The Flok is one of several upcoming trackers that will rely on NB-IoT. Image courtesy of Flok.

Our guest this week brings us back to where we started, with Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at Amazon Web Services, coming on the show to talk about how Amazon plans to compete in the industrial and enterprise IoT with cloud and on-premise services. She talks about the latest news, the architecture required for the IoT, and the three laws of building a connected service. Plus, she explains why containers and serverless computing matter so much for the internet of things. You’ll learn a lot.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sarah Cooper, GM of outcome-driven engineering at AWS
Sponsors: Legrand and Schlage

  • Amazon doubles down on the cloud for Alexa
  • What’s up with the lightweight-encryption debate
  • I loved the Hue Smart Button but Kevin didn’t go for the RoomMe sensors
  • How Amazon plans to compete for enterprise and industrial cloud services
  • Amazon’s three laws for architecting services

Episode 243: Nanoleaf Canvas review and a talk with Tuya

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.

The new Weber SmokeFire pellet grill has smarts provided by June. Image courtesy of Weber.

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?

 

 

 

Episode 242: Google explains itself and new Wyze gear!

Wyze makes some of the most reasonably-priced smart-home gear on the market and said earlier this month that it was planning a smorgasbord of new products, which Kevin and I detail in this episode. We then cover low-power wide-area networks with news that Twilio’s NB-IoT network and boards are now generally available and news that Amazon has joined the LoRa Alliance. From there we cover a security flaw, the longevity and reliability of connected home devices and a story about automation and jobs. We close with talk about a fitness company raising $55 million and another attempt at delivering wireless power at a distance. We then answer a question about who should swap out their Nest account for a Google Account.

The Whoop 3.0 fitness band is a compelling device with a pricey service.

Our guest this week is Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem, who explains why Google had to kill its Works with Nest program and what it means for users. You’ll also learn how Google thinks about privacy, that it doesn’t keep device state data and how it cordons off home data from its advertising network. We also talk about the local SDK and making it easier to add devices to the Google Home network. It’s an essential episode for Google fans.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem
SponsorsLegrand and Afero

  • Wyze has a lock, doorbell, scale and more on the way
  • Amazon gets deeper into LPWAN
  • Why Google had to kill Works with Nest
  • What’s inside Google’s Home graph
  • What to expect with Google’s local efforts