Episode 371: Smart screws and massive IoT

This week’s show was recorded a few hours before the annual Google I/O event so we didn’t discuss the new Pixel Watch, but we do discuss Google’s thoughts on the Matter smart home standard from an article in The Verge, which Kevin also tied to a discussion about Sonos launching its own voice assistant. Then we discussed a new gesture-recognition and fall-detection system that combines my love of Tiny ML with RF sensing. In privacy news, we focused on the use of private data by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and why we need stronger laws to govern how state agencies use private data. In smaller news, Qualcomm launched a 5G-capable robotics platform, Inmarsat launches a program to sell its Elera satellite IoT network, and Augury acquires Seebo in an industrial IoT deal. We then turn to my favorite story of the week, the creation of smart screws and a bit on the concepts of Massive IoT. We then discuss a question from a listener about the potential to create ad-hoc mesh networks using LoRaWAN or Amazon’s Sidewalk network.

Vivint’s new doorbell camera will detect package thefts and sound an alarm when it happens. Image courtesy of Vivint.

Our guest this week is Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint. This week, Vivint launched an array of new security cameras and accessories as well as a new feature called smart deter. Child is on the show to talk about the design decisions that went into building the new gear as well as what Vivint had to consider when trying to design its smart deter feature. We discuss why it’s important to own your own hardware when building novel AI-based services and what companies need to consider when evaluating partners for future integrations. He also explains why Vivint wasn’t ready to give consumers the ability to record just any message for intruders on their property. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google and others trying to reset expectations for Matter
  • Why this industrial IoT mashup makes sense
  • Smart screws are why we need tech for massive IoT
  • Why Vivint invested in an AI feature to deter criminals
  • Why building your own hardware is essential for advanced AI features

Episode 370: How to build the infrastructure for public tech

This week’s show kicks off with research suggesting Amazon uses data from Alexa devices to advertise its own products, and that Amazon is selling some of the insights derived from Alexa requests to third parties. This is disturbing, but so is John Deere’s ability to decommission tractors stolen by Russians from a Ukraine dealership. We talk about why this sort of power makes me nervous. And in a final story about digital rights, we discuss the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention buying location data from private companies so it can see how effective some of its COVID policies were. From there we go into basic product news, starting with new wellness features coming to your Google Nest Hub screen ahead of Google I/O next week, a new room sensor from Wyze, new light switches from Leviton that don’t require a neutral wire, and new Wi-Fi 7 chips from Qualcomm. Kevin then shares a new smart home purchase and his thoughts on the Schlage Encode Plus with Home Key door lock. We finish by answering a listener’s question about if we’ll get a custom sound detection from Amazon’s Alexa.

The Wyze room sensor has a screen, and tracks temperature, humidity and motion. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Bianca Wylie, who is a partner with Digital Public, a public interest firm focused on technology. She wrote an article calling for the end of Canada’s COVID contact tracing application and explains why she thinks it’s time to sunset the app. I think her ideas are important to discuss as our governments invest in digital infrastructure without necessarily having a plan for maintaining or auditing it. The COVID-tracking apps are a great case study that we can learn from. For example, when governments implement new technology they need to figure out how they plan to maintain it and ensure that it is doing the job it was intended to do. As citizens, we need to participate in the process of buying technology, working with government officials to set the requirements and limitations of the tech our government is buying. This is a really good interview for all of us to listen to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bianca Wylie
Sponsors: Impinj and InfluxData

  • Amazon is selling Alexa voice data to advertisers
  • We need to classify more data as Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Wi-Fi 7 chips are here but don’t upgrade your network
  • What’s wrong with Canada’s COVID contact-tracing app
  • Smart cities incur technical debt too

Episode 367: What do you want in a home robot?

In this week’s show we question whether or not we want Amazon’s Astro home robot after seeing a few reviews. We then note that Google has introduced gaze as signal to wake up Google Assistant, which is one of the first uses of gaze as a wake-up indicator for the smart home. Then we talk about wearables starting with a recollection from Eric Migicovsky, the founder of Pebble, about what went wrong ending up with Pebble’s assets sold to Fitbit. We compared the Pebble story to the latest funding for the Oura ring, and mentioned Fitbit’s new FDA-approved atrial fibrillation detection. Then we discuss smarter tags manufactured in a new Brazilian factory for Avery Denison before discussing two new options in air purifiers: one from Wyze and one containing a UV-filter from Xiaomi. In other product news, here’s a new smart grow lamp and watering system for houseplants and some smart trackers with a greener footprint. And for all of our Home Assistant fans, Kevin checks in on the platform after a one-year-hiatus. We close by answering a listener question about consolidating smart lights.

Amazon’s Astro robot roves around the home trying to be helpful. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Dan Simpkins, CEO and co-founder of Dwellwell, a startup that aims to create a check-engine light for the smart home. Simpkins started the company in 2018 after experiencing a flood caused by frozen pipes, and realizing that many of the options available to monitor the home were too expensive and siloed. The solution he’s worked out is a SaaS product called Dwellwell that relies on custom-sensors that contribute data to several algorithms to check on the health of several home systems. We discuss how it works, why he chose to go after the multi-family and rental market and why he needs to use his own sensors. We also discuss the role Matter will play in the smart home and eventually, his platform. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Simpkins, CEO of Dwellwell
Sponsors: Impinj and InfluxData

  • Is your home robot ready?
  • What we’ve learned in a decade of wearables
  • Home Assistant’s worth another look
  • Why companies should base their AI on their own sensors
  • How Dwellwell rethinks traditional maintenance devices

Episode 364: Speed queens and Matter dreams

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.

Omdia chart showing adoption of various smart home gadgets in the last year.

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.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • What it means that Matter is delayed again
  • The Google Home app is getting a redesign
  • Will 2022 and 2023 be the year 5G makes it in manufacturing?
  • How to turn 100,000 Speed Queens into smart washers
  • What’s next in sensor tech?

Episode 363: How will DST affect the IoT?

This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would make it possible for states to use Daylight Saving Time all year round, so we discuss what it means for IoT devices and whether or not it will be a return to Y2K. For current crises, we cover China’s latest COVID outbreak and what it means for the supply chain. We then talk about ARM’s layoffs and Google’s new design for Google Home. In privacy news, Carnegie Melon researchers have shown how sensors can easily figure out what people are doing based on their movements. We also cover funding for Copper Labs, an energy intelligence company, the first development board for Wi-Fi HaLow, the first device that will use Z-Wave long range, IKEA’s new smart shades, and a new gun safe from Wyze. For the IoT Podcast Hotline, we tackle a listener question about Wi-Fi switches that don’t require formal wiring.

The Wyze gun safe is $154.99. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Beau Legeer, the director of imagery and remote sensing from GIS software provider Esri. He explains the infrastructure behind the maps we use every day and then talk about how companies are using satellites as part of their IoT sensing infrastructure. Most of us are aware of the potential for using satellite imagery to track all kinds of things, but satellites are launching now that measure heat, various gases and more. We talk about why putting sensors in the sky can help augment those on the ground or supplant them. We also talk about using satellite data as a trigger. And if you’re a startup, we talk about Esri’s partnerships with startups and charities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beau Legeer, director of imagery and remote sensing, Esri
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • Will year-round daylight saving time affect the IoT?
  • Here comes the Nvidia/ARM merger failure fallout
  • Two new wireless standards hit the real world
  • See something on satellite? Trigger a drone!
  • Satellite can provide more than just image data

Episode 362: IoT security after Russia invaded Ukraine

This week’s show spends a lot of time on security in everything from an Amazon Echo to an infusion pump. But before we get to security stats, we offer a quick overview of Apple’s latest announcements. Then we pivot to discuss the Critical Infrastructure Defense Project, a series of free services enterprises can use to help protect their operations from attack. We also outline some vulnerabilities found in PTC’s Axeda remote management software and research showing that many infusion pumps have existing vulnerabilities. Finally, we discuss research showing that some popular consumer devices might be using vulnerable OpenSSL encryption technology. Then we talk about the end of another French unlicensed low-power wide area network and Space Force adding wearables to ensure the members of Space Force are fit. We also talk about a new predictive maintenance service from Xerox PARC called Novity. We close the news section by answering a listener question about getting rid of your old IoT devices while respecting your friends and the environment.

Space Force Guardians will wear wearable devices to track their physical fitness. Photo taken by Airman 1st Class Samuel Becker and provided by the U.S. Space Force.

Our guest this week is Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe, a cybersecurity firm. Bort is a former U.S. Army officer and a co-founder of the non-profit

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • Three tech firms get together to offer free cybersecurity tools
  • What isn’t vulnerable nowadays?
  • Are employee-mandated wearables okay if being fit is your job?
  • How ransomware fits into the invasion of Ukraine
  • How to shore up your cyber defenses in times of war (and peace)

Episode 361: IoT builds a better mousetrap

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion about smarter robots and new funding for a Canadian general purpose robotics platform. Then we talk about Amazon’s further healthcare ambitions in a deal with Teledoc that lets you ask Alexa to call a doctor. We also give an update on the Sigfox receivership process since bids were due on Feb 25. We then hit some bad news from Wyze regarding its professional monitoring subscriptions and the recall of 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic watches. We also have a lot of new product news starting with Lutron’s new honeycomb smart shades, a smart mosquito-killing system, a new HomeKit and HomeKey-compatible lock and a review from Kevin on a connected mousetrap. We end the show by answering a listener question about reliable smart lighting options and the best HomeKit gadgets for those new to the ecosystem.

Thermacell’s new Liv mosquito-repelling system works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Image courtesy of Thermacell.

Our guest this week is Bob Marshall, the CEO of Whisker Labs. the company behind the Ting fire detection device. Marshall has been working with sensor data for more than a decade, so we talk about his earlier company and where the idea for Ting came from. We also discuss how to get in business with insurance companies and why Ting has elected to build a subscription business. We also discuss what types of service you need to provide if you do plan to charge a subscription. I like the Ting device, so was excited to chat with Marshall. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bob Marshall, CEO of Whisker Labs
SponsorsSomfy and Pantacor

  • Sanctuary feels like a moonshot, not a startup
  • Alexa can connect you to medical care
  • Murder mice humanely with a smarter mouse trap
  • How Ting built a business built on insurance companies
  • How Marshall pivoted from weather to fire prevention

Episode 360: Europe’s planned IoT data law

The European Union is proposing new data regulations aimed at making it hard for companies to collect and use data as a barrier to competition. We talk about what it might mean for the IoT and Kevin also proposes that we think about regulations for using data collected by robots. We then dig into research from the PSA Certified organization that lays out how executives are thinking about IoT device security. Then we tackle smart speaker research from Omdia.  In funding news, we discuss a $38 million raise for startup Phosphorus Cybersecurity and $58 million in growth capital for Federated Wireless and its peer-to-peer 5G network for IoT. In subscription news, we review some comments from Peloton’s new CEO Barry McCarthy who is rethinking the relationship between Peloton’s hardware and subscriptions. Peloton is also cutting off its Apple Watch integration for users participating in the new Lanebreak game. In smaller news, we talk about funding for a smart rower, we review the Eve Motion Blinds, and mention the new Eve Water Guard leak detection sensor. We also went back to last week’s IoT Podcast hotline to redo our answer to a question about connecting outdoor heaters to the internet.

Research from Omdia.

Our guest this week is Joe Britt, CEO of Afero who is on the show to talk about securing IoT devices and the work his company has done with Home Depot. The home improvement retailer chose Afero to build out its custom app to control HomeDepot-branded products such as light bulbs, fans, and more. Britt explains what Home Deport was looking for and what he’s learned from his experience in the last eight years of working with IoT products. Britt, who was a founder of Danger, lays out the ways IoT platforms differ from traditional computing platforms and explains what companies with unsecured devices should do with them. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Joe Britt, CEO of Afero
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • How the EU is tackling the competitive barriers caused by data concentration
  • Investing in security can improve the bottom line
  • How to rethink subscriptions for connected hardware
  • How Home Depot’s smart home strategy has changed
  • What should we do with older insecure devices?

Episode 356: Smart home improvement is now a thing

This week’s show starts with a healthy portion of chips, with the main course being Nvidia’s reported acceptance that its deal to acquire ARM isn’t likely to happen. We then turn to the U.S. Commerce Department’s plans to combat the chip shortage crisis, new ML chips from Silicon Labs, Google’s first TinyML Coral microcontroller, and an Arduino-like RISC-V product. Feeling full from all of this chip ingestion we discuss how Peloton is trying to work out its excess inventory challenge. Two smart tracking companies raised some funding this week: Pebblebee on the consumer side and newly launched Tag-n-Trac for shipping and logistics. We then discuss how Thread turned the Wemo Stage controller from “meh” to “must-have” and share details of new Philips Hue fixtures. Rounding out the episode is a listener question from Michael asking if Alexa can control his Google Nest thermostat.

Peloton is changing its production plans, but we still think it has value. Image courtesy of Peloton.

Our guest this week is Oisin Hanrahan who is the CEO of Angi, the home services company formerly known as Angie’s List. He’s on the show to talk about startling data his company discovered late last year. According to Angi’s data, for the first time ever, smart home investments were in the top three home improvements made by homeowners. Hanrahan explains what homeowners are doing and why they are willing to invest in more technology. He also offers advice to device makers who want to attract the pro-installer business and makes recommendations on how pros think about the smart home. It’s a great interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Oisin Hanrahan, CEO of Angi
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Nvidia may be giving up on its ARM-acquisition
  • $52 billion for U.S. chip factories won’t fix the real problem
  • Peloton could learn a thing or two from Apple
  • Painting, bathroom remodels, and smart home drive home improvements
  • What a pro wants

Episode 355: Get ready for an active FTC and energy storing appliances

The big story this week in IoT was the joint venture between Ford and ADT to add smart home security to cars through an in-vehicle security system. Then we discuss the FTC and Department of Justice reconsidering how they evaluate mergers. We also explain variations on Wi-Fi, from the launch of new Wi-Fi 6E gear to the coming Wi-Fi 7 standard. We include a blast from the past with an update on Misty Robotics and, in other robot news, we cover research from the MIT Media Lab on giving robotics a personality. We’re also sharing news about energy harvesting Bluetooth company Atmosic, which has a new product and $72 million in funding. In smaller news, we are excited about smart home company Tado going public, and a new way of handling IR sensing that could figure out the nutritional value of food. We stick with the food topic by discussing my latest purchase, a smart induction range from GE Appliances. Finally, we listen to a question from Kevin in St. Louis about using Amazon Sidewalk or LoRaWAN in wearables.

Furhat Robotics has acquired Misty Robotics for better social robotics. Image courtesy of Furhat. 

Our guest this week is Kailas Nair, a co-founder and director at Plentify. The South African startup is trying to help power companies store energy generated by renewable sources for later use by home appliances. Nair discusses how his startup is trying to use sensors and data analysis to make it possible to power a fridge, a heat pump, or a water heater when power is cheap and clean, for use when renewable energy isn’t available. He also explains how important it is to manage energy across many homes, not just on an individual basis. For the last five years, Plentify has sold its electronics and algorithms for water heaters in South Africa, and now he’s bringing the tech to the U.S. and hoping to convince appliance manufacturers to put the Plentify tech into their own products.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kalais Nair, co-founder and director at Plentify
Sponsors: Rightpoint and Hologram

  • Canopy will bring smart home security to cars
  • U.S. merger guidelines are set to change
  • Let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7
  • Smart appliances will become a source of stored energy
  • How Plentify will use insurers and utilities to bring energy storage to homes