Episode 390: The FTC eyes Amazon’s iRobot buy

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into Amazon’s decision to purchase the maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners for $1.7 billion. The agency this week asked Amazon and iRobot for more information about the deal, so Kevin and I took a moment to explain exactly what the FTC should worry about. Then we talk about Wi-Fi sensing showing up in Signify’s WiZ lightbulbs, and a wireless power provider paired with smart tags enabling a new retail experience — all without batteries. We touch on Nvidia’s continued forays into the metaverse and its plans to create digital twins for retailers with its new Omniverse services. We also cover two surveys this week from MachineQ and Hitachi Vantara. Those surveys focus mostly on enterprise IoT adoption and things that stand in the way of them. We also cover Helium’s new deal to bring its decentralized 5G wireless network to T-Mobile and then discuss Tile’s new QR code stickers to create a tech-savvy label for your stuff that might get lost. It’s better than sewing your name in your underwear. Kevin then discusses his review of a LoRa-based IoT development kit from Blues Wireless. We end by answering a listener question about leak monitoring and water shut off tools.

Image courtesy of MachineQ.

Our guest this week is Rob Davies, the chief insurance officer at Vivint. We start the interview by asking what a monitored security company is doing in the insurance sector, and move on to discuss what data might be most useful in building new insurance products. We also talk about how an insurance company might use smart home data to become more proactive about alleviating risk as opposed to paying out once the worst has happened. Davies uses the example of someone who has forgotten to lock their door. With Vivint’s platform, the insurance provider can let the homeowner know their door is unlocked before someone tries to break in. This creates a new relationship between insurers and their clients, and it will be interesting to see how far insurance companies take this idea. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ron Davies, chief insurance officer Vivint
Sponsors:  Infineon and Silicon Labs

  • Why Robot OS could become Amazon’s anti-competitive advantage
  • Buy IoT gear is tough, and having customer support matters
  • This LoRa development kit was easy to set up and get data from
  • Why a monitored security firm is interested in offering insurance
  • Owning your own devices is useful for building new insurance products

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 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 303: Everything from CES 2021 and a bit about LoRa

This week’s show is mostly about CES 2021, starting with an array of interesting devices that were launched. We covered a lot of them here, but we also mentioned a $3,000 pet door, an energy harvesting NB-IoT modem demonstration, and Kevin’s take on where we are with the smart home based on what he saw. We also discussed Ring’s encryption news explaining what it does and does not mean. And because I love semiconductors we gave a quick mention to Intel’s new CEO and Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia. The Qualcomm deal represents a huge shift for server and computing CPUs and is likely why Intel felt it needed the skills of Pat Gelsinger in the executive chair.  We end the show by answering a question about Lutron and Apple’s adaptive lighting.

The MyQ Pup portal is quite the pet door. Image courtesy of Chamberlain MyQ.

Our guest this week is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network. He is here to talk about how to build a business around LoRa networks and give his thoughts on why enterprises might need one. We also talk about consumer LoRa networks and Amazon’s Sidewalk network. Will that ever be an open option? Giezeman shares case studies and a discount code if anyone listening wants to learn more about LoRa at The Things Conference, a weeklong virtual event all about LoRa that starts Jan. 25. That discount code we mention is TTC21-I-KNOW-STACEY. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network
Sponsors: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • CES had half the vendors and some weird tech
  • Smart home tech is in a period of refinement right now
  • Big news in the chip world
  • How many low power WANs do we need?
  • Let’s check out of LoRa in action

Episode 257: Microsoft’s IoT security play is finally here

We start this week’s show talking about the hit the tech conference circuit has taken because of the new coronavirus before segueing into some good news on the security front with the move of Microsoft’s Azure Sphere product to general availability. Then we move back into somewhat grim news discussing the trend toward the usage of facial recognition in schools. We can offer a bit of hope in a new mobile app created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that scans for data-snarfing devices nearby. Then we discuss new products from Wyze, Lutron, Semtech, and Amazon. We also discuss an industrial IoT deal in the chip space and let Kevin rant about the Nest outage. Finally, we publish a listener request for more multi-factor security options on Moen devices.

The Wyze band, according to the Wyze APK art. Founded by Dave Zatz.

Our guest this week is Om Malik, a venture partner at True Ventures and my former boss. He came on the show to discuss his recent diatribe against the tech media, which he accuses of flipping from fawning over the industry to hating it without much thought. We talk about the lack of nuance in coverage, our more nuanced relationship with technology and what regulation is the only real solution to the problem of tech companies’ overreach. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Om Malik, True Ventures
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Why we’re so excited about Microsoft Azure Sphere
  • LoRa gets a cloud-based location-tracking capability
  • Kevin’s pining for local failover options for cloud cameras
  • Tech isn’t all bad or all good, and we need to cover it that way
  • Regulations will be essential for ethical technology

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 150: Mozilla’s IoT Gateway and LoRa Roaming

There was a lot of smart home related news this week as Mozilla launched IoT gateway software, Apple’s HomePod reviews came out and Nest was folded into Google. Kevin and I discuss all of that, plus Netgear spinning out its Arlo home camera business and offering a 20 percent stake in an IPO, Amazon’s creepy wristband patent, Alexa at the Superbowl and some feature changes in popular devices. We also spend a lot of time talking about Apple’s health ambitions in light of a new study on detecting diabetes with the Apple Watch. We also answer a listener question about how to configure their Echo for Drop-In calls.

Screenshots from Mozilla’s new IoT Gateway web software. Clean design, but this is still very DIY. Image courtesy of Mozilla.

For the enterprise minded, we bring in Bruce Chatterley, the CEO of Senet, to talk about LoRa networks and offer some use cases in the smart city, enterprise and residential setting. I learned some new things, including efforts to allow roaming onto LoRa networks. Chatterley also brought up a new business model and said that new partners mean that Semtech no longer holds all the cards when it comes to LoRa networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Grab your Pi and order a Z-wave dongle for Mozilla’s new IoT software
  • What does Nest going into Google mean for consumer hardware?
  • Kevin bought a WeMo HomeKit Bridge
  • LoRa, what is it good for?
  • Could you IoT devices one day roam?

Episode 147: Okay Google, manage my home

At CES I made the decision to traumatize my family and swap out the Amazon Echo for the Google Home despite Wi-Fi challenges. We kick off this week’s show explaining why, and discussing some new tricks the Home has. From there, we hit the partnership between Maersk and IBM to create a digitized supply chain using the blockchain. Then we talk about a startup that might help with that effort. Add in news bits ranging from BMW acquiring ParkMobile to a new low power wide area network module that can last 15 years, and we round out the first half of the show. We also answer a listener question about radiation from IoT devices. If you’re not clued in on this subject, we’re living among radiation with things like WI-Fi and phone signals in our homes, which is why some are resorting to purchasing an EMF Meter to measure these levels of radiation. Listen on if you’re interested.

Port of Algeciras, Spain. Image courtesy of Maersk.

Our guest takes us back to the topic of IoT networks and the future 5G holds for the internet of things. Chetan Sharma is the founder of Chetan Sharma Consulting, and is a widely respected telecom analyst. He talks about what networks are likely to succeed and why, and then also digs into his thoughts on how we should rethink competition and M&A in the digital economy. He also asks if it’s too late to regulate anticompetitive data practices in the U.S. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting
Sponsors: PointCentral and CBT Nuggets

  • The Google Home has a secret API
  • IBM and Maersk ask what blockchain can do for shipping
  • What 5G means for IoT and which flavor arrives first
  • Things to know when picking a LPWAN
  • Our anticompetitive regime is built for the 20th century, not the 21st

Episode 135: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The home security train just keeps on rolling in the smart home with Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. Also on the home front Kevin Tofel and I discuss the new lighting startup Noon, which launches Thursday. We also talk about some new devices including a $20 camera and a Google Assistant intercom system before answering a question from Derek about how to integrate a bunch of devices together using an Android app. And because today ends in Y we also have a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

The Noon lighting system on a wall.

The guest this week is Phil Skipper of Vodafone who shares the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. I learned a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation. Enjoy the show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Phil Skipper of Vodafone
Sponsors: SAP and ADT

  • Amazon’s Key and Wink’s new security system are part of a trend
  • Noon’s lighting system is pretty cool
  • It’s not IoT exactly, but you should fear Reaper
  • Why choose NB-IoT over other low power network options
  • A glass break sensor can teach us new business models for IoT

Episode 132: Ring’s new security system and scaling sensors

This show is awesome, but we don’t discuss the Google or Sonos news, because it happened after we recorded. I just want to let y’all know going in. Instead we cover Ring’s new security system, ADT’s pair up with SmartThings and why home security is so hot right now. We also talk about a new lighting startup, a new car data and security startup and some wicked cool software for watching what you eat. We also answer a HomeKit question from Charles and talk about self-driving taxis.

The new Ring security system.

Our guest this week offers a practical perspective on building out large-scale sensor networks. Yodit Stanton, founder and CEO of OpenSensors, has deployed thousands of sensors in buildings and shares how companies should think about security, deployment and maintenance. Keeing your building safe, whether a home or an office, should be the top priority, especially if there’s other people involved counting on you to implement the best security. While these sensors are great at keeping strangers out of your building, simpler methods are offered. Simply check out these locksmith security tips for the most efficient methods on staying safe in your own building! As well as this, she also talks about how LoRa networks are gaining ground for private IoT networks. It’s a packed show!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Yodit Stanton, OpenSensors
Sponsors: Qualcomm and FSG

  • The “SimpliSafe effect” in the home security market
  • Passive information gathering is easy. Too easy?
  • How to control HomeKit light switches remotely
  • Sensor deployments have a lot in common with VoIP systems
  • Your sensors should take 30 seconds to install and cost less than $10