Episode 201: Bluetooth gets better and more smart lights

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released new standards that improve location tracking, so we talk about Kevin’s hopes for that and save the bigger details for our guest segment. We’ve got two new smart lighting products. The first is from Casper —yes the mattress company — and the second is from a startup called Orro. From there we focus on a creepy new lamp, tech giants getting into the utility business and a new energy harvesting method. Plus, Japan is hacking its citizens’ devices, Amazon offers hosting, and here’s a tip sheet on what to look for in smart apartments from an infosec writer whose apartment is about to be made smart. We also answer a question about which Z-wave hub he should buy.

The Casper Glow sells for $89 for one or $169 for two.

This week’s guest is Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup explains what the SIG’s new location services technology is all about and when we can expect it in industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Unsurprisingly, Bluetooth is prepping for a role in industrial and enterprise settings with this move. He also explains why Beacons are not the failure I think they are. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: FairCom and Western Digital

  • Two very different lights, both smarter than you think
  • Why home automation’s next frontier is in energy
  • An update from last week’s show on unwanted smart apartments
  • Get the scoop on Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature
  • Maybe beacons aren’t as doomed as I thought

Episode 199: Check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT

We finish up our CES thoughts this week, although after living it, writing about it and talking about I’m not sure what’s been covered and where. We talk about Wi-Fi devices, Chamberlain working with Amazon’s Key program, and Kevin’s post-CES thoughts. We then turn to some security issues that are still plaguing companies grabbing and storing IoT data from Gemalto and Trend Micro. But avoid despair, IEEE has an idea to help improve security. In fun news, Lutron made an acquisition, Kevin’s excited about robots in his grocery store and there’s a new idea to protect your privacy from smart speakers. We also answer a listener question about tracking when someone comes home from school.

ABB makes robots and the software to work with them. Image courtesy of ABB.

Our guest this week is Guido Jouret, the chief digital officer from ABB. ABB makes everything from industrial robots to plastic zip ties in more than 290 factories around the world. Jouret explains Maslow’s hierarchy of IoT needs, or rather IoT development. From there we discuss the industrial IoT moonshot and new capital models enabled by usage-based pricing. What if pension firms end up owning big industrial assets while other companies merely pay per use? It turns capital expenditures into operating expenditures for manufacturers and lets investment firms own the capital equipment. Crazy. You’ll like this episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Guido Jouret, chief digital officer of ABB
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • CES was not the leap forward we wanted
  • Here’s our Instagram account
  • Amazon’s Key program just got a lot more compelling
  • There are five layers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of IoT and most of us are only two layers up
  • How usage-based pricing of big equipment might change the assets pension funds hold

Episode 198: Check out CES and a smart KB Home

Kevin and I are at CES this week ready to embrace the future of consumer technology. But so far, we haven’t found much that is new. We discuss the domination by Google at the show, a bunch of news about Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem and a smattering of news from smart home providers. By this point in the show, we had seen several demos of smart home systems, tried on the connected glasses from North and tasted bread baked by a robot. Kevin also rode the ride marketing Google’s Assistant.  This time we conducted the show from a bar in Vegas while we were rehashing our thoughts from the last few days and figured we might as well just hit record. It’s a bit loosey-goosey, but it will help you feel like you’re there.

Google announced a smaller clock display at CES as well as ways to bring the Google Assistant into the car.

This week’s guest was also in Las Vegas, showing off a new concept home from KB Home. Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home, joined us to share the details of KB Home’s concept house in Vegas that combines connected products, wellness-focused AI, pre-fabrication techniques and walls that move to create new rooms on demand. The concept home has air quality sensors built into the walls, lights that are tuned to circadian rhythms and connected an HVAC system that tries to make the house as healthy as possible. Atalla explains the tech and which of these technologies you might see in future homes.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability at KB Home
Sponsors: FairCom and Afero

  • Google may have the biggest news at CES and that’s sad
  • Alexa is also stealing the show with partnerships galore
  • Smarter kitchens are coming whether you want them or not
  • KB Home has built a house with a wall that moves and solar power
  • How to future-proof sensors built into walls

Episode 197: What to expect at CES and in 2019

This week’s show is all about the coming year. We start with Kevin and I discussing things we expect to see at CES next week as well as overall trends we think 2019 will bring to IoT and the smart home. They include everything from connected toilets to an increasing number of cellular providers for IoT. We also discuss smart speaker IQ tests, what’s up with Samsung’s Bixby and a new way to reduce power usage of sensors. We also talk about drone deliveries, Google’s Project Soli and a new IoT unicorn. For this week’s IoT Podcast Listener hotline, we revisit an answer from last week and answer a new question on how to get a Ring doorbell to work with Google Home.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker is MIA.

Our guest helps us kick off the new year with his thoughts on the industrial and enterprise IoT. Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital manages a fund dedicated to the industrial IoT. He explains why he thinks we’re about to enter a new phase of the internet of things where AI and cybersecurity will become far more important. His thesis is that the last five years of work building out connected machines and putting sensors in more places was building the “body” of the internet of things. And once that has been built, it’s time to focus on building the brain. For this, he’s turning to AI and cybersecurity startups. We talk about what those startups will look like and whether companies who haven’t yet built out a “body” should worry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Scott MacDonald, managing partner at McRock Capital
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Your bathroom is about to get seriously connected
  • Voice programming and MVNOs for IoT devices are top enterprise trends for 2019
  • Will Kevin beat last year’s CES walking goal?
  • The next five years of IoT are about a brain and an immune system
  • Is it too late for your company to digitally transform?

Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage

Episode 195: We’re switching to Google’s Home

Kevin is back this week and we kick off the show discussing GE’s decision to spin out its industrial IoT business. From there we talk about the closure of Lighthouse, the smart camera maker, a critical update for Hue bulbs and Qualcomm’s new IoT chip. Then we dive into a swath of Alexa related news, including updates that tailor routines for locations, a new wall clock and the beta program from Amazon’s Guard security feature. The show isn’t all about Alexa. Kevin shares his thoughts on the Google Home Hub and I get excited about being able to see my G Suite calendar data on my Google Smart Display. (Here’s that Norm photo album we talked about.) We also handle the rather late-breaking news about Ring’s lack of camera footage security. We also answer a listener question about why some connected devices don’t work with mesh Wi-Fi systems.

The Amazon Alexa wall clock costs $30.

My guest this week is my family. My husband and daughter come on the show each year to discuss what they like and don’t like from the world of smart devices. While we love Alexa and use it often, we’re switching over to Google Home after seeing the Nest gear and how well it performs with the Google Smart Displays. We also discuss our thoughts about what to take with us when we move and which devices we’ll miss most. I hope you enjoy the show, and the holidays!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew and Anna Allemann
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • What the new GE IIoT business needs to do
  • Thank you Hue!
  • Alexa gets a lot of cool features and integrations
  • There’s a smart bulb in my room?
  • Yes, they are still talking about the June oven

Episode 194: Is it time to address privacy in the Constitution?

This week I’m joined by Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and my former boss. We kick off the show with a discussion of the New York Times’ investigation into app location sharing and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before Congress. Both topics led to a debate about device privacy and what we should do about the lack of privacy and security in IoT.  We also talked about the need for two-factor authentication on certain connected devices and covered new Z-wave chips, IoT backpacks for bees and the fact that Essential is still around. We also took on some edge computing with Pivotal launching serverless options for users. Finally, we answered a question about adding presence detection to your car. 

Look at this bee-autiful connected sensor backpack. Image courtesy of Vikram Iyer, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington.

We didn’t just cover privacy in the news segment. The guest this week also details what happens when data gets out of control. In this case, we’re talking about smart cities. I had Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation on to discuss why we need to hit pause before adding too much technology to cities. She suggests that we invite more people to participate in the process and tells us how to be better citizens as our governments try to bring in more technology. To be clear, she’s not against technology, but she is concerned that we don’t often have important conversations about how technology can lead to surveillance and how it can impact vulnerable citizens. 

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Om Malik
Guest: Bianca Wylie co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Is changing the Constitution the key to privacy regulation?
  • Alexa needs two-factor authentication
  • Serverless and the edge are new computing paradigms
  • It’s time to hit pause on the connected city
  • Tech is not the answer to every government problem

Episode 193: Inside Calgary’s sensor network

This week we tackle a bunch of device news, the rebranding of TrackR, the end of ARM’s Cordio Bluetooth IP and Nokia’s latest data on IoT botnets. We also ask what y’all think about network security devices and services for the connected home. We don’t currently consider them a must-have device, but should we? In device news, we mention Arlo’s new 4K security camera, iHome’s new mirror and alarm clock, IKEA’s $10 smart plug, Bose’s connected sunglasses, and Free ISP’s new Freebox Delta. We also discuss Kevin’s purchase of the Google Home Hub and my review of the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smoke detector and smart speaker. Finally, we answer a question about what connected tech belongs in the bedroom.

A chart from Nokia’s Threat Intelligence report showing the increase in detection botnets using IoT devices.

Our guest this week is Heather Reed-Fenske, the chief information technology officer at the City of Calgary. She talks about how Calgary has built a sensor network on top of its existing city-wide fiber network. Calgary is using LoRa radios that cost about $45,000, and is layering all kinds of new services on top of the network. She talks about what that has meant for city workers, trees and even concert promoters. We also discuss privacy and how governments should think about deploying smart tech in municipal settings. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Heather Reed-Fenske, the CITO at the City of Calgary
Sponsors: Digicert and Afero

  • Bluetooth trackers are boring, so those companies are changing
  • Should a network defense product be part of your smart home?
  • First Alert’s smart smoke detector is pricey and smart
  • How Calgary uses its LoRa network to keep trees alive
  • Real time noise sensors keep outdoor concerts in line

Episode 192: Amazon’s big news and UL’s cyber safety standard

This week Kevin and I start off on a heavy note discussing the things that went wrong during the Lion Air crash at the end of October relating that to the increase in sensors, software and inadequate procedures for marrying the Silicon Valley mindset with the real world. We then tackle the many, many announcements made by Amazon at its Re:Invent event, focused on the elements that matter to the internet of things. From there we discuss smaller news such as the Open Connectivity Foundation’s standards becoming an ISO standard, ISO’s new drone standard proposal and a new Google speaker. Kevin shares his thoughts on the future of digital assistants and we tell a father which connected light switches won’t require a neutral wire.

The Klipsch Google Assistant speaker is pricey, but pretty. Image courtesy of Klipsch.

After that, I speak with Gonda Lamberink, who is  a senior business development manager at UL, about the cybersecurity standards UL is working  on. We talk about best practices, why UL charges for its standard and how many UL certifications an IoT company should expect to get. We also discuss the challenges in preparing a standard for the software world, which changes so rapidly. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Gonda Lamberink, UL
Sponsor: Afero

  • Sensors can lie, so how do we adapt?
  • Amazon’s new IoT services take aim at the enterprise and industrial IoT
  • Kevin is waiting for Jarvis
  • How will UL adapt it’s standards work for software?
  • What makes a device secure in UL’s eyes?

 

Episode 191: Lowe’s wants to dump Iris

This week on the show, Kevin and I talk about Lowe’s putting the Iris smart home system on the block, Apple buying Silk Labs and why now is a perfect time to pull the trigger on the smart home device you’ve been eyeing. We then dug deep on a swath of Alexa-related news such as the ability to bring Bluetooth devices to the Alexa ecosystem, Anki’s Vector robot getting Alexa integration and the new Alexa Wake-on LAN commands. Google also has some new features to discuss such as an ability to replace Siri on an iOS and a new developer board with microcontrollers linked to Google’s cloud. We also teased our gift guide coming out on Friday in the Stacey on IoT newsletter and shared the new Abode security device plus a new Google Assistant Smart Display from LG. In this week’s voicemail, we advise a dad about what smart home gear he should buy his two daughters for their first apartments.

The Iota gateway and camera from Abode costs $259. Image courtesy of Abode.

November is National Diabetes Month, and so I brought on Mike Nelson who is the head of IoT security at DigiCert, but for the show purposes, is a father whose 4-year-old daughter has diabetes. He does too. Nelson talks about how connected devices have changed the way he manages his illness and what it means for him as a parent. He also shows how insecure devices, especially medical devices, can become deeply concerning for patients and parents. It’s a good interview that will bring home the need for better security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Nelson of DigiCert
Sponsor: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • What went wrong with Lowe’s Iris
  • Why Apple bought a smart home hub company
  • Alexa and Google add new IoT talents
  • How IoT changed the world of diabetes care
  • Why security really, really matter for medical devices