Episode 319: How ML at the edge will make products truly smart

This week’s show was a lot of fun to record with Kevin and me discussing Google’s upcoming I/O event and updates on the chip shortage from STMicro, TSMC, and someone who makes electronics. We also talk about Kroger’s drone delivery plans, cameras in cars, funding for robotic computer vision, and funding for robotic welding driven by AI. After that, we hit some smaller news items such as Amazon adding greetings to the Ring doorbell, Oura raising $100 million, and an update to Withings’ scale that provides a new biomarker. We then cover my review of the Lutron outdoor outlet and Kevin reviews Apple’s new AirTags. We conclude by answering a listener question about Bluetooth mesh.

Kroger will introduce a drone delivery pilot this spring in the Midwest in partnership with Drone Express. Image courtesy of Kroger.

This week, our guest is David McIntyre, the VP of marketing at Perceive, a startup building edge-based machine learning chips. He shares several ways that local machine learning will enable new features in products and explains how to add machine learning to consumer devices. He also explains how adding smarts to products changes their design and offers advice for those trying to rethink their own product strategies. We spent a lot of time trying to dissect what makes something smart as opposed to connected, and I think y’all will enjoy that discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David McIntyre of Perceive
Sponsor: Very

  • The chip shortage will make a lot of gadgets more expensive
  • How should we handle camera data from inside our cars?
  • Lutron’s outdoor outlet is pricey, but high quality
  • Local ML will enable better Zoom calls and smart appliances
  • Forget the ecosystem, and think about differentiation when building smart devices

Episode 317: Apple’s AirTags and greener devices

The week’s Apple event is the star of the podcast, with Kevin and I spending time noting a smart use of iPhone sensors with the new Apple TV 4K. We then discuss the AirTags tech, the implications for consumers, frustrated competitors, and the things we find disappointing. Then, we talk about the EU’s proposed rules for AI and AI-based applications before questioning the market for the just-announced Fitbit Luxe tracker that hews closer to jewelry than the company’s traditional devices. Enterprise IoT security gets some attention with the FIDO Alliance’s new provisioning protocol and app certification from the ioXt Alliance. In honor of Earth Day, Samsung is boosting its upcycling efforts for old smartphones, and we cover an update and news from smart electrical panel company Span. We end the show by answering a listener’s question about how Thread devices will work in homes.

The Fitbit Luxe is designed to look more like jewelry. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

Also in honor of Earth Day, our guest this week is Phil Skipper, head of business development and strategy for IoT at Vodafone Business. Skipper explains how Vodafone is trying to reduce the carbon footprint of its networks and IoT devices. For example, Vodafone uses an integrated SIM card for some of its devices to cut down on plastic. In other designs, it is using different batteries that are more recyclable than lithium-ion batteries. The company is trying to extend the life of its equipment by selling it to other network operators, which ensures that the carbon created to produce the equipment at least is spread out over a longer life. He also touches on how Vodafone is helping customers reduce their carbon footprints using connected products provided by Vodafone. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Skipper, Vodafone Business
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • Apple’s AirTags go above and beyond the traditional Bluetooth trackers
  • What the EU gets right with its proposed AI legislation
  • Two new security standards for the IoT
  • Don’t forget reuse when thinking about your carbon footprint
  • What’s an iSIM, and why is Vodafone pushing it?

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 315: A Mad Max mask and a power grid of your own

This week Kevin is back and we start the show talking about the Xupermask from Will.i.am and Honeywell. Ring is adding radar to a floodlight camera and we’re pumped for that, while MIT researchers are using RF to help give robots X-ray vision. Apple is formally launching a certification program for developers who want to build for its Find My service, Verizon is expanding its edge computing partnership with Amazon Web Services, and we also talk about the end of 3G. More water plant hacks, Amazon Alexa adding a skills platform for businesses, new Ikea speakers, and tweaks to Google’s Home app round out the news segment of the show. Kevin also shares his review of the Wyze Watch. Finally, we answer a listener question about if and how platforms such as Home Assistant or OpenHAB can handle deprecated APIs for smart home devices.

Eaton’s new Alexa Wi-Fi dimmer is part of a portfolio of products that fit into its Home as a Grid concept. Image courtesy of Eaton.

Our guest this week is Jennifer Ploskina, connected solutions segment manager with Eaton. Eaton makes electrical equipment for utilities, industry, and homes. We talk about how demand for electricity will force utilities, homeowners and building owners to invest in a smarter grid.  She argues that we will eventually have energy generation capabilities that will help offset demand from the grid, and may one day even provide additional revenue streams for homes or offices. And she explains how we’ll get to the place where homes have batteries, solar and other features that will turn them into little power stations. We also discuss standards, Alexa, and the potential for Project Connected Home over IP. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jennifer Ploskina with Eaton
Sponsors: Digicert and Qt

  • The Will.i.am mask is not totally ridiculous
  • Apple expands its proprietary ecosystem to asset finding
  • Some “hackers” are employees and companies need to deal with that
  • What happens when your home or office has a mini power grid?
  • Turn your EV battery into a revenue stream

Episode 314: A look at Arm’s new vision for computing

Om Malik takes Kevin’s place this week as my co-host and also doubles as my guest. Malik is my former boss at GigaOm, is currently a partner at True Ventures, and writes thoughtfully about technology on his own blog. We start the show focused on chips, specifically Arm’s brand new v9 architecture and the vision Arm has for secure, distributed computing. Both Om and I are big believers that chip architectures can help us predict the future, so we spend time discussing what the silicon tea leaves are telling us.

The Bluetooth SIG’s 2021 market update anticipates growth in Bluetooth chips for the smart home.

After touching a bit on the chip shortage, we dig into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s latest market update. Bluetooth growth was flat, but the smart home had a few bright spots. I review the second-generation Google Nest hub which reminded me how much Google knows about me. I also focus on Tesla’s in-cabin cameras. Malik uses my worries to explain why we need a regulatory framework for thinking about our rights in what will essentially become a surveillance state. We both are excited about the Biden administration’s plan to back broadband and I wonder what Tonal will do with $250 million in funding. We end the episode by answering a question from a listener about the best sprinkler systems or hose timers to buy ahead of summer. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Arm’s vision for computing makes the cloud and edge equal players
  • Bluetooth shipments were flat and LE audio is delayed
  • The new Nest hub is a decent hub and sleep tracker
  • We need a new framework for citizen’s rights when digital data is everywhere
  • Will the big ISPs crash Biden’s multi-billion-dollar broadband bonanza?

 

Episode 312: Cricut’s switch up, Google’s new hub, and the end of the HomePod

This week on the show we return to the classic story of a company trying to use a software update to limit the functionality of a connected product after someone has purchased it. The latest example is Cricut, which makes a connected craft cutting device. The company recently said users would have to start subscribing to its service if they wanted to continue uploading more than 20 patterns to its software each month. After an outcry, it shifted its stance. We also talk about Apple stopping sales of the original HomePod, and new products from Ring. We then cover updates to the Particle platform, a self-sanitizing door handle, and Apple’s potential plan for light switches. We also answer a listener question about HomeKit-compatible indoor cameras.

Deako plug-n-play light switches are contracted to be installed into 1 out of every 8 new single-family homes built in the U.S.

Our guest this week is Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako, a company that builds modular light switches for home builders. The company just raised a $12.5 million funding round, so Richardson and I discuss the plans for the money and the changes happening in the builder market when it comes to smart devices. We then talked about what it takes to build a long-lived device and why you may one day pack your light switches when you move. We closed with a bit on Thread and the potential that Project CHIP might have. It’s a fun interview and offers a very different perspective on smart lighting.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Cricut angers a lot of users with new subscription push
  • Do you want to let Google watch you sleep?
  • Particle entices developers with free connectivity for the first 100 devices
  • What has changed in the last five years of selling smart homes to builders
  • Will you one day bring your light switches when you move?

Episode 310: Thanks to the IoT, everything’s a subscription now

We kick off this week’s show with the news of SmartThings device depreciation and Amazon’s Alexa Conversations feature finally making it to general availability. After that, we talk about the rising revenue from subscriptions in the consumer IoT and in manufacturing based on a new survey from Zuora. Then we discuss how police departments feel about connected doorbells such as Ring and a new consumer privacy law in Virginia. Both NXP and Silicon Labs shared news at the embedded world event this week, while rumors about a new Nest display hit the press. We closed with conversations on Tuya filing to go public, Beam’s funding for connected dental insurance, and Kevin’s review of some Meross HomeKit outlets. On the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answered a listener’s question about a connected doorbell that doesn’t collect video data.

Zuora’s end of ownership report looks at the increasing consumer interest in subscription services.

Our guest this week is Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora. He’s on the show to explain why the ownership model is going away and how companies can make the shift to charging subscriptions for products ranging from cars to steam traps. We talk about how subscriptions and software updates change marketing, finance, and innovation inside companies with Tzuo offering some excellent examples. We then talk about how to set pricing, and what that might look like in the years ahead. Tzuo thinks the cell phone providers are a good model, but I hate my carrier’s opaque pricing. There’s a lot of food for thought here.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora
Sponsor: Very

  • SmartThings’ changes make now a good time to evaluate other hubs
  • Virginia’s new privacy law is a lighter version of California’s CCPA
  • NXP’s secure IoT chips are coming and gigahertz MCUs are here
  • How selling subscriptions changes the way a company thinks about innovations
  • Consumer trust and systemic thinking are essential to building a subscription service

Episode 309: Why your IoT device shipments are delayed

We’re really excited about radar in this week’s episode, so we discuss Ring’s new doorbell that added it for motion detection and Apple’s patent that plans to use radar for detecting vital signs. We also talk about radar being a feature that Plume plans to add to its Wi-Fi devices in the near future while discussing the company’s $270 million funding round. We then discuss Portland ditching smart city software, the Echo Show 10 reviews, HomeKit support for two sets of devices, and the coming ability to talk to Google’s Assistant even when the screen is locked. I then explain how you can stop some of the unwanted comments from Alexa if she’s telling you about low batteries in your smart home devices or asking you to rate a product you have purchased on Amazon. We end by answering a listener’s question about bringing Wi-Fi to his detached garage.

Ring’s new doorbell will cost $249.99 and ships on March 31. Image courtesy of Ring.

Our guest this week is Chris Carney, the co-founder and CEO of Abode. Carney explains why companies are experiencing so many delays in shipping products and why many of your favorite devices might be out of stock. The chip shortage plays a role, but so do delays at ports and challenges faced by last-mile delivery networks like the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. He explains how his company is trying to adapt, and when we can expect to see these shortages ease up. He also offers some advice to other companies affected by similar challenges. Enjoy the show while waiting for your latest gadget to arrive.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Carney, co-founder and CEO of Abode
Sponsor: Very

  • Ring’s new doorbell gets a fancy new feature
  • Plume’s funding could lead to small acquisitions
  • How to reduce Alexa’s spam
  • Chips, ships, and delayed trips
  • When will supply chains get back to normal?

Episode 308: Chipageddon and deets on the Pi Pico

Silicon is the theme of this week’s show, starting with a rundown on the chip shortage affecting the automotive and IoT world. Then we talk about the Los Angles Police Department requesting footage from connected doorbell cameras during the Black Lives Matter protests before moving on to Amazon’s new Kickstarter-like program for new Alexa products. In new product news, we cover Wyze’s color-changing light bulbs, Facebooks’ rumored smartwatch, and a peer-to-peer mesh network using the ClusterDuck protocol. We then share a new command for Google Assistant, discuss funding for an AI chip company, speculate on Verizon’s purchase of a robotics software startup, and dig into the many DIY options for building your own image recognition models. We end by answering a question about products that might help you save money on your electric bill.

If you want to see Amazon build a scale that works with Alexa for $34.99, you can pre-order it today. If enough people order it, Amazon will make it. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Allan explains why the Foundation decided to build its own chip for the first Pi Pico microcontroller and why the Pi Foundation even built a microcontroller in the first place. He also discusses how the Pi Pico differs from an Arduino, talks up some use cases, and dives into ways it might be used for machine learning at the edge. After declining to tell me what might be next for the Pi Foundation, he did point out that no one assembles a chip design team to build just one chip, so it sounds like there’s a lot to look forward to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Sponsor: Very

  • What’s behind the chip shortage and how long will it last?
  • We can’t expect Ring to police the police, so here’s what we should expect
  • Project OWL is a public safety or industrial mesh network
  • The custom-chip in the Pi Pico is designed for flexibility
  • Tiny ML means less internet in the IoT

 

Episode 306: Ring wins big with Lennar

This week’s show kicks off with news from Lennar about its new smart home offering with Ring, and a discussion on what it means that Ring now has more than 2,000 police and fire departments as partners. After that, we discuss what we learned from the Tesla recall about the business of connected products, and what options y’all have if you want to ditch your Wink hub. Then we talk about a Kickstarter for some smart infrastructure products, an update coming to Google Home, and wellness data coming to Google displays. In smaller news, we touch on Abode’s HomeKit widgets, Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 2.0 for IoT, and Kevin going all-in on HomeKit. We end by answering a listener question about the best HomeKit hub to use.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

Our guest this week is Eric Feder, who is with LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar. He’s on the show to talk about Lennar’s new partnership with Ring, Flo by Moen, Resideo, Level Lock, and more. We also discuss how Lennar’s views of the smart home have changed since it first started trying to integrate connected devices into its houses. He then talks about what features might be missing and investments the company has in new building techniques, gray water reclamation, and more. It’s a sneak peek into the future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Feder, of LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar
Sponsor: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • Ring’s still using local police to sell its doorbells
  • Tesla’s right about computers in long-lived devices
  • After Wink, which hub is right for you?
  • Why Lennar dumped “movie night” routines and focused on plumbing
  • Building sustainable homes with smart tech