Episode 348: We’re thankful for smart cows

Heading into the holiday weekend, Kevin and I share what we’re thankful for (mostly y’all, our sponsors, each other, and Thread), while also talking about the sad sale of Tile to Life360. We also discuss ClevrQeexo, and efforts to make AI accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to code. After that, I discuss my desire for a new activity tracker and the rise of Wear OS. We also talk about a new HomeKit camera from Aqara that’s pretty fancy without having a high-end price tag before diving into some of the financials and data from Samsara’s IPO filing. This week on the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about the anti-drunk driving provision in the Build Back Better legislation.

Smaxtec can track the health of cows for better milk and fewer farts.

Our guest this week is Stefan Scherer, the CEO of Smaxtec, a company making health sensors for dairy cows. First, we learn a lot about cows and how to assess temperature, motion, and data on acidity from a cow’s stomach and translate that into health metrics. Then we talk about the challenges of building a sensor that’s rugged enough to last three to five years in a cow’s stomach as well as the challenges of keeping such a device connected. With this data, farmers are able to track disease spread in dairy cows and prevent costly illnesses that could mean their milk gets tossed, while also tracking data that can help prevent cow farts from causing as much damage to the environment through the release of methane. You’re going to learn a lot about cows and a lot about solving a connectivity problem I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stefan Scherer, CEO of Smaxtec
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Several things we’re thankful for
  • Why the Tile buy makes us a bit sad
  • How no-code AI will make information overload less of an issue
  • Rugged sensors can lead to smart cows, and smart milk prodiction
  • Smaxtec wants to optimize a cow to produce fewer carbon emissions

Episode 345: Ecobee’s big deal and climate-friendly chips

The big news in IoT this week was the announced acquisition of Ecobee by Generac, so Kevin and I share our thoughts on the deal and what it means for the smart home. After that, we were excited to see Amazon launching a smart air quality monitoring device for $70 as well as publically state its support for Matter. We also cover Facebook’s decision to stop using facial recognition and believe that more companies will seek to prove they are trustworthy in hopes of getting even closer to us as consumers. Then we talk about the EU’s addition of new categories to its cybersecurity rules, the new Flic Twist campaign, Tempo’s smaller, cheaper home gym, ADT’s security service for DoorDashers, and a $500 kid’s toy that I really want. We also note that the Espresif ESP32s now formally support the Zephyr RTOS. We end by answering a question about whether or not you need the device app to update HomeKit-compatible products.

The Alexa air quality monitor will cost $70 and ship in December. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Sri Samavedam, who is the senior vice president of semiconductor technologies at imec, a semiconductor R&D consortium. We discuss imec’s new effort to research sustainability in chip manufacturing. You’ll learn how chips are made and why manufacturing ICs delivers such a blow to the environment. Samavedum explains why Apple has joined its efforts and how it plans to measure the carbon footprint of chipmaking. He also offers some advice for product manufacturers and consumers on how they can use chips more responsibly given how much they cost (in terms of environmental damage) to make. There’s no sugar-coating it, we need more data on this and we also need to think about using silicon for longer than we do today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sri Samavedam, imec
Sponsors: Very

  • What Generac’s Ecobee purchase means for the smart home
  • Amazon loves Matter
  • Would you buy your kid a $500 hoverboard?
  • Chip manufacturing is extremely bad for the environment
  • We should try to use our devices for as along as possible

 

 

Episode 344: Energy harvesting sensors are finally real

This week’s show kicks off with news from many of the big smart home players offering their plans for the Matter smart home protocol. First, we discuss Google’s plans, before focusing on Samsung’s latest announcements and then a surprise update from Eero, which is owned by Amazon. Sticking with Amazon, we also cover the news that Alexa is now employed in hospitals and senior living facilities. We cover industrial IoT sensor provider Augury’s $180 million round of funding, and a new report from Palo Alto Networks on how remote working and IoT devices have compromised enterprise security before heading into some news from Amazon, Aqara, Inmarsat, and two retailers removing Chinese cameras from their shelves. Finally, we answer a listener question about a switch for LIFX lighting without a neutral wire.

Alexa is heading to senior living facilities and hospitals. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Steve Statler, the senior vice president of marketing at Wiliot, a company that had been making Bluetooth beacons that don’t require batteries. Now the company offers sensing as a service and licenses its chip technology. Statler explains the shift and discusses how Wiliot had to build up a web of relationships to make the sensing-as-a-service option possible. We also discuss how smart Bluetooth tags can create what Statler calls the demand chain to track products on an individual level and ensure supply meets demand based on reality instead of estimates. Statler also talks about how to make the tags recyclable, and what he still needs to make that happen. It’s a fun interview for people who have high hopes for smart labels, and who want a glimpse of the future where items in your fridge or closet may communicate with you after you’ve purchased them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Statler, Wiliot
Sponsors: Very

  • More support for Matter (and more questions too)
  • Alexa now has a role in senior living facilities and hospitals
  • Augury’s sensors have saved Colgate-Palmolive a lot of tubes of toothpaste
  • Why Wiliot switched from selling chips to selling a service
  • Do we want our clothes to ask us why we haven’t worn them in a while?

 

Episode 343: Return of the connected bunny!

We kick off this week’s podcast with a focus on chips and hardware starting with an explainer on Arm’s new Total Solutions for IoT and why it will help developers and device makers speed up time-to-market for connected products. We then talk about plans to put Linux on Arduino devices that were outed in a release from Foundries.io and plans for scalable ways to provision and secure connected devices at the manufacturing stage from Infineon. We skipped over to Amazon’s new Alexa Connect Kit SDK and what it means before tackling the new colors for Apple’s HomePod mini and a hew Apple hire. In smaller news, we discuss Tesla’s insurance plans, Wyze’s new battery-enabled doorbell, and why I should have purchased a Pixel 6 Pro, despite its giant size. We then share a crowdfunding campaign designed to bring one of the original connected devices of yesteryear back to life. Click here to resurrect your Nabaztag connected bunny. Finally, we talk about your responses to our question from the IoT Podcast Hotline related to connected devices for workshops.

The Nabaztag bunny gets resurrected. Image courtesy of Olivier Mével.

Our guest this week is John Cowan, co-founder and CEO of EDJX, a company building out a distributed software platform for developers. We start off talking about a new project EDJX is implementing with the military at Camp Mabry in Austin. We talk about the necessary hardware for sensor deployments in cities and how those might become the new infrastructure for edge computing. Cowan then explains why containers aren’t the correct match for a highly distributed computing platform at scale, and how serverless solutions can help answer this need. We discuss compute, networking and databases, so prepare to get nerdy. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Cowan, co-founder and CEO of EDJX
Sponsors: Very

  • Details on Arm’s plans to help the IoT
  • Amazon’s new SDK takes Alexa to more hardware
  • Bring a vintage IoT bunny back from the dead
  • Why the military needs low-latency edge computing today
  • How EDJX thinks about data decay and assurance

Episode 341: Smart cities and smart fridges galore

Welcome to the weekly podcast! We’re moving Black Friday to October thanks to chip shortages and shipping delays. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a smart fridge, Google is trying to use a $10 monthly subscription and Nest thermostats to help people go green and also launching new cameras and ways to surf its displays. The Starling Home Hub gets a new feature that lets you watch your Nest cameras on HomeKit gear, and consumers interested in mining Helium Network Tokens or participating in building a LoRaWAN network for IoT have another option thanks to RAK Wireless. Kevin and I also discuss a really cute Kickstarter version of the Boston Robotics Spot robot. When it’s a small, open-source robot for kids, it doesn’t seem so scary. We also discuss some cybersecurity research on industrial controls from Nozomi. We end by answering a listener question about where to sell your old smart home gear and how to prep it for sale.

The Mini Pupper is a small and cute spin on a much larger and scarier robot. Image courtesy of Mini Pupper.

This week’s guest is Sanjeet Pandit, global head of smart cities and digital transformation at Qualcomm. He’s on the show a week after Qualcomm held a smart cities event where it added new SaaS-based smart city services. We talk about how the pandemic has changed what municipalities want from technology firms, and how they are redefining what it takes to make a city smart. Pandit didn’t answer a lot of my questions about how cities are paying for these services or which ones were deploying some of the more futuristic services such as predictive traffic management, telling me that the cities get to decide when they talk about their deployments. But he assures me that many cities are making investments that go well beyond smart lighting, and I suppose for now, I’ll have to believe him and hope to see what municipalities start making announcements.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sanjeet Pandit, global head of smart cities at Qualcomm
Sponsors: Trek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Why you want to start your holiday shopping now
  • Does anyone think an Amazon fridge could be trusted?
  • Would you trust a tiny open-source version of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot?
  • What smart cities want after the pandemic
  • Several use cases for smart cities that don’t involve lighting!

 

Episode 340: Amazon wants you to trust its devices

This week’s podcast is all about Amazon (with a few other stories for variety). We start the show with a rundown of the devices and services Amazon launched at its device drop on Tuesday. We then explain what it means for the smart home and ask if this is what we want. We also question if the Astro robot is really all it seems before offering a public service announcement about updating to iOS 15 beta software. After that, we cover a new Helium miner called Finestra, designed for the mainstream consumer. As an added bonus, the company behind the new miner, Mimiq, is also building LoRaWAN devices, which is desperately needed if we want these networks to actually provide real value. After that, we talk about a smaller satellite signal module that works indoors and an incredibly irritating marketing campaign for the new Flic Twist device that puts me off from what is actually a good idea. Then, Kevin talks about his experience with the new Wyze Cam Pan 2. We close the news segment by answering a listener request for a Spanish-speaking smart home.

Amazon launched a $1,000 robot. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week continues the Amazon theme. We have Anne Toth, head of Alexa Trust to discuss how Amazon is trying to introduce friction into the Alexa experience as a way to promote privacy and help consumers open up to Alexa at their own pace. She didn’t answer my question about the number of false positives or give me a convincing reason why Alexa keeps interrupting me with suggestions about other things I can do with the device, but she does a good job talking about the challenges of explaining what Alexa does and doesn’t know about people and why people may want Alexa to know more. It’s a good interview, even if I didn’t get all the information I’d like.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anne Toth, Head of Alexa Trust at Amazon
SponsorsTrek10 and Ayla Networks

  • Ambient intelligence is code for stop looking at your smartphone
  • There’s a looming wave of new Helium miners
  • Flic has a cool new device coming, but finding out about it is annoying
  • Amazon does care what you think about privacy
  • Alexa talks back so you know all of the cool things it can do

Episode 338: Wyze comes back from the edge

I need to warn y’all in advance that we don’t discuss Apple news at all this week because nothing really jumped out at us for the IoT. But we did have a lot of other big news starting with Wyze raising $100 million and sharing the precariousness of its situation over the last 18 months. We then talk about a political risk for Tuya and what that might mean for your devices, and three pieces of news from Silicon Labs’ Works With event that have big implications for radios, Matter, and security. After the chip news, Kevin sets the record straight on a story that got Matter wrong, I get excited by new chips coming out of a stealthy startup, and there’s an acquisition that will help developers work with more IoT devices.  Google has a new digital twin service for supply chains, Whoop has a new fitness wearable with a fancy battery, and Yale added HomeKit support for its cabinet lock. We end the segment by answering a listener question about new smart home cameras.

The Luci device fits onto existing power wheelchairs. Image courtesy of Luci.

Our guest this week is Jered Dean, who is a co-founder and CTO of Luci, a startup making a smart addition for power wheelchairs. First, Dean explains why power wheelchairs are so dangerous and why he created Luci. Then we dive into other challenges of building specialized millimeter-wave radar sensors for the device and specialized ultrasonic sensors and how challenging it is to combine those sensors and cameras into one view of the world. We also talk about why Dean added integrations to connect Luci with health monitoring platforms and digital assistants. And finally,  we talk about what it could mean if Luci shared data about what it “sees” with smart city or mapping platforms. I really had fun with this one.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jered Dean, co-founder and CTO of Luci
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Wyze shares the details of its near-death experience
  • Silicon Labs has new radios, a new security option and software for a unified smart home
  • JFrog’s Upswift buy is good news for the IoT
  • Why this startup had to build its own sensors to see the world
  • How smart cities could help people using smarter wheelchairs

 

 

Episode 336: Australia’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad surveillance law

We start this week’s show with a look at a new surveillance law in Australia that seemingly obliterates a lot of protections around how law enforcement officials can access data and what they can do with it. We also talk about a survey conducted in the U.S. that shows how willing many Americans are to share their data in exchange for cheaper insurance. From there we cover new fundings for Brilliant, Wirepas, and Carbon Robotics. For those eager for an update on Helium’s 5G plans, the Freedom Fi hotspots will hit the market on Sept. 28. We also have updates on new products and features from the maker of Philips Hue devices, Spotify, Google, and Amazon Alexa. We end with a question from David about how to avoid the problems associated with adding new devices or hubs to his smart home network.

Brilliant, the maker of smart home light switches, has raised $40 million. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes, a company that leases single-family homes. He’s on the show to discuss how Invitation Homes plans to add smart devices to its portfolio of 80,000 homes and to talk about the challenges of managing that many devices. We discuss the future of predictive maintenance across the portfolio, the savings the company has already achieved, and plans for new features such as video doorbells. We also talk about the perceived longevity for different device types in the smart home. And of course, we talk about how the company handles privacy.  It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Charles Young, the EVP and COO of Invitation Homes
Sponsors:  Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • In Australia, your data can be modified and searched by law enforcement
  • Alternative 5G networks and smart home devices raise VC funds
  • Alexa and Google both get new features
  • Why Invitation Homes thinks the smart home could help it be more efficient
  • It’s pretty difficult to manage 80,000 smart homes

 

 

Episode 335: Robots need a Myers-Briggs type

This week’s show starts off with old news that I forgot to tell y’all about last week: The Matter interoperability standard for the smart home is delayed until 2022. We talk about what that means and then turn to Google’s confusing fitness wearable strategy and the new Fitbit Charge 5 device. After that, we discuss human-computer interfaces and a new OT security report out from Honeywell. We also share an update on the Qi wireless power standard and I get angry about the Telsa robot marketing stunt designed to stop us from talking about the safety issues associated with the investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I end with a review of the Nest Cam and Nest Doorbell devices that are now each available for $179.99. We close the news segment with a question from a listener about buttons to turn off connected lights.

Surely, this understates the actual breaches, right? Image courtesy of Honeywell.

This week’s guest is Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan. He published a paper this month discussing how robots should best rebuild trust with humans after making a mistake. The paper is really interesting, and we spend a portion of this segment discussing why we need to trust robots and what is classified as a robot. From there we talk about the personality characteristics that Robert believes will work for different robots based on their form factors, their jobs, and the people they work with. We even talk about the ethics of making robots too trustworthy. It’s a lot of fun.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lionel Robert, Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Infineon

  • Google’s wellness and wearables strategy is super messed up
  • Kevin thinks your IoT products should offer real-time feedback
  • Google’s new Nest cameras are good for Google homes, but there are other options
  • Should this robot be an ESTJ  or an INTJ?
  • What even is a robot, anyway?

Episode 334: SmartThings’ new edge strategy

Welcome to this week’s episode! We kick it off with a discussion of SmartThing’s new focus on the edge with local control and user-derived device handlers. We then dive into four security stories starting with a flaw in the software development kit (SDK) for a Wi-Fi module, challenges with random number generation on IoT devices, and a flaw in an SDK by ThroughTek Kalay that affects smart cameras. We reserve most of our frustration, though, for BlackBerry, which had learned of a flaw in its QNX operating system and decided not to patch it. It was a pretty bad week for IoT security. But we did get some fun news. The Industrial IoT Consortium has changed its name and tweaked its focus to spend more time on business process and not just the IIoT tech, and Inmarsat plans to launch a new satellite network for IoT devices next year. We also discuss Google’s Fuschia OS appearing on more Nest devices. We end the segment by answering a listener question about the Span smart electrical panel.

The Otii Arc device measures power consumption. Image courtesy of Qoitech.

Our guest this week is part of a mini-theme focused on sustainability in the IoT. Last week, we heard about a new emphasis on price performance per watt from an Arm executive. This week, Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech, visits the show to discuss adding power consumption measurements throughout the product and software design process. Samuelsson discusses common energy-draining behaviors that they can address when measuring power consumption through their design process and talks about customers such as Deutsche Telekom, which encourages developers to perform power analysis to help prevent poorly behaving devices on its network. Given how much I hate changing my batteries in sensors or recharging my wearables, I hope everyone listens to what she has to say.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Vanja Samuelsson, CEO of Qoitech
Sponsors: Very

  • SmartThings has a new strategy that DIY users should love
  • A bonanza of flaws in the IoT. Some won’t ever get fixed.
  • Why not launch another IoT satellite service?
  • How to avoid choosing the wrong battery for your device
  • Even wired devices should become more power-aware