Episode 324: HomeKit and Home Assistant embrace Matter

We start this week’s show with a quick update on Amazon’s Sidewalk and then focused on the smart home news from Apple’s WWDC event earlier this week. We’re excited about third-party devices getting Siri support. We then cover the EU’s thoughts on anticompetitive behavior by IoT device companies, as well as the launch of a new standard that allows for low-power, highly-dense, mesh networks for 5G and Bluetooth. While on the topic of networking, we explain why Qualcomm’s new cluster of IoT chips is pretty cool. Then we talk about Google backing off AR Measure and Helium getting a new customer. I also review the new Nanoleaf Elements light panels and explain why you might want them, despite their cost. We close by highlighting a caller’s demand for two-factor authentication on smart home devices, specifically the Moen Flo products.

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat will be one of the first third-party devices to support Siri. Image courtesy of Ecobee.

Our guest this week is Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant, a smart home platform for DIYers. He talks about why he built the service as well as plans for new hardware later this year. We also discuss his plans for the Matter protocol and difficulty implementing the available Matter code on Github. Schoutsen also shares his recommendations on what buyers should look for in a connected product, especially one that connects back to the cloud. We end with a bit about Home Assistant’s business model, and with me asking for his help on a common listener question. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Paulus Schoutsen, the creator of Home Assistant
Sponsors: Bsquare and Edge Impulse

  • Apple’s bringing Siri to more devices and opens up on Matter
  • The EU isn’t keen on walled gardens in the smart home
  • This new low-power, highly-dense wireless network is worth a look
  • The folks at Home Assistant are working on new hardware
  • Will Home Assistant support Matter? You betcha!

 

Episode 323: Stick with Sidewalk, y’all

This week’s show is going to get controversial with a discussion of Amazon’s Sidewalk. Kevin is out on vacation this week, so my friend Chris Albrect of The Spoon is here to co-host.   We start with a rundown on why I think you should participate in Amazon’s Sidewalk network but also explain how to opt out. We then talk about how tech-savvy lawyers helped push Amazon to drop arbitration clauses, the meatpacking hack, and new rules from the Army’s CIO on IoT devices in the home. Then we focus on fitness, discussing the potential for connected rower Hydrow to go public, Google’s plans for Fitbit, and the speculation around Apple’s upcoming Airpods. We end by answering a question from an electrician about what we’d like to see in a newly built smart home.

The Level Lock. Image courtesy of Level.

Our guest this week is Ken Goto, the co-founder and CTO of Level Lock. I invited him on the show because I am fascinated by how well the company has adapted to changing software requirements for the smart home. So I asked him what sort of planning that took and how the company approaches things like Homekit, Alexa, Matter, and even Amazon’s Sidewalk. Goto is actually a big fan of Sidewalk, and talks about what it can offer customers of the lock and what it does for him as a developer. We close with a look ahead at the technology he’s really excited about seeing in the smart home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Christ Albrecht
Guest: Ken Goto, CTO of Level Lock
Sponsors: Bsquare and Very

  • If you opt-out of Amazon’s Sidewalk, do it for the right reasons
  • The Army is alerting teleworkers to smart home security flaws
  • Why not take a smart rower public
  • How Level tried to future proof its devices
  • Level’s CTO explains why he’s excited about Amazon’s Sidewalk

 

 

Episode 322: Google’s Fuchsia looks promising for the IoT

Did you know that Roku aims to get into the smart home game? We discuss that along with a new set of vulnerabilities in Bluetooth during the first part of the show, before moving onto Google’s new Fuchsia OS and some updates from Google I/O. After that, we discuss surveillance technology from China and the need for more discussion and disclosure around new technology purchases by local governments. We touch on a proposed data privacy law, new HomeKit support for the Eero 6 routers, and Wyze night lights. We end the news segment by answering a listener question about the Wyze security system and Yale locks.

A DroneExpress drone and package. Image courtesy of DroneExpress.

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
SponsorVery

  • 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

Episode 321: Google decides Matter matters

This week’s show focuses on news from Google I/O 2021 where it’s clear the search giant is trying to build out a fairly open ecosystem based on the Matter protocol and WebRTC for audio and video streaming. Google also said it would use Wear OS for Fitbit and combine Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS. Google also announced a CarKey deal with BMW. There’s bad news on the data-sharing front from Imperial College London and Northeastern University, where researchers tracked how many connections popular smart home devices opened, and what it means for privacy. In security news, Consumer Reports found flaws in four security cameras and video doorbells, and we discuss the Eufy video camera bug. Additionally, cyber risks are so high that the CEO of Swiss Re, a reinsurer, said insurance for cyberattacks was becoming impossible. Finally, we mention the new Echo Frame options, although Kevin is still not a fan. In our hotline, we answer a question about Matter and keeping a SmartThings hub.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at Google I/O 2021. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America. We talk about embedded computer vision and what it means to have machine learning taken care of on the image sensor itself. It enables lip-reading applications, occupancy sensing, and new ways to track inventory in stores. (He’s very excited about  inventory sensing cameras.) Hanson also says the sensor and its DSP can provide training at the edge, allowing a user to show the sensor images and then have the sensor later recognize those images. We also talk about how product designers can figure out if they need a camera for a particular use case.  Hanson really wants to get new ideas from everyone listening about use cases for embedded computer vision, so see if any of the interview sparks your creativity.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America
SponsorVery

  • Google will embrace Matter in most displays, smart speakers and on Android
  • Do you know who your smart devices talk to?
  • Cyberattacks are becoming too big for insurance to cover
  • Why adding ML to an image sensor makes sense
  • How to use a “dumb” sensor to offload some computing tasks

 

Episode 320: Project CHIP becomes Matter and hacked pipelines

This week’s show hits on two of the biggest stories of the year for the smart home: Project Connected Home over IP is now called Matter and Amazon’s Sidewalk Network adds Tile as a participant. We also discuss what it means for Zigbee after the Zigbee Alliance changed its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance.  The Colonial Pipeline ransomware also merits some attention. We then spend time on some news bits such as Amazon updating its Echo Show devices for the video calling era we seem to be in, Wyze’s new earbuds with noise-canceling technology, and the new Phyn leak detection sensors. We also discuss the FragAttack vulnerabilities and try to explain them. We conclude by answering a listener question about whether we’ll see Thread on phones anytime soon.

The Phyn puck, cable, and extension node combine to create a compelling option for sensing leaks. Image courtesy of Phyn.

Our guest this week delves even deeper into the Matter protocol. Kevin Po, a senior product manager at Google, is involved in the Matter working group. Po explains the multi-admin feature that will let consumers swap ecosystems with ease if they have Matter-certified devices, and lets me pester him with specific questions for those who might have multiple ecosystems in one home, or those that might want to use different smartphones.  He also lays out some of the security features and explains where he thinks device makers should try to differentiate themselves as the Matter standard develops. He also foreshadows some Google-related Matter news at Google I/O next week, so we should probably pay attention.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kevin Po, a senior product manager at Google
Sponsor: Very

  • Project CHIP becomes Matter and the Zigbee Alliance becomes the Connectivity Standards Alliance
  • Why the Colonial Pipeline really shut down
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk network is better than Apple’s Airtags at one thing
  • Will Matter let me have Alexa and Google in my home?
  • Is Matter an attempt for the big three tech firms to dominate the smart home?

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?