Episode 383: Meet Insteon’s new CEO

Last week, we kicked off the podcast with a discussion on the Helium peer-to-peer IoT network, and this week we did the same thing. This time we dug into the disclosures that Helium didn’t actually have Lime or Salesforce.com as current customers, despite having listed them prominently on its web site. Nova Labs CEO Amir Haleem tried to explain what happened in a Twitter thread, but since the crypto industry is full of scammers, it feels like a company should aspite to higher levels of integrity. Then we discuss the planned Semtech acquisition of Sierra Wireless and explain what it might mean for LoRaWAN. Then we talk about the creation of a new connectivity and hardware company thanks to the combination of Telit and Thales’ connectivity business. From there we highlight the mailbox of the future, some cool battery tech, a secret Google device, a broken Google integration and ADT’s Google partnership. Then we note that Home Assistant’s latest hardware option, the Home Assistant Yellow is now shipping to early buyers, and discuss a smart scarf deployed by a UK soccer team to measure fans’ feelings during a match. We end by answering a listener question about how to track their laundry in the wake of Smart Dry’s closure.

The new Dronedek mailbox has a section for postal delivery and a climate-controlled chamber for food delivered via drone. Image courtesy of Dronedek.

Our guest this week is Ken Fairbanks, the CEO of Insteon Technologies Inc. who is ready to share what happened between the end of Insteon in April and his acquisition of the assets in June. He also discloses what comes next for the new Insteon and explains why customers were caught off guard by the abrupt closure and the equally abrupt return of service for their hubs. Fairbanks is still trying to piece together the assets he purchased, but is also trying to talk to users about what they want to see for the smart home service. He also explains why he had to charge a subscription and how he plans to move forward. If you’re an Insteon customer take a listen, and if you are smart home user you might learn why it’s so hard to restart a dying connected home business.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Fairbanks, the CEO of Insteon Technologies Inc.
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Impinj

  • Who’s using the Helium network?
  • Two big mergers in industrial and enterprise IoT
  • Good news from Google and some bad news from Google
  • Behind the scenes during the Insteon sale
  • Insteon has plans for Matter

Episode 382: Is Helium full of hot air?

We start this week’s show with a deep dive into a popular post from this week about the Helium network. The report pointed out that Helium only made $6,500 in the month of June from data rates. We explain why that’s not a surprise and what it will take to get those numbers up. Then we talk about Apple’s Air Tags and their potential use to track thieves and suitcases. Then Kevin reviews the Eve Motion with Thread sensor and then we focus on the excellent article from CNET that documents when Ring, Nest, Arlo and other camera companies will share your video data with police. The we cover shorter stories from Drover AI, two satellite deals including a $3.4 billion European acquisition deal, and updated lighting features from GE Cync. We then answer a listener question about Insteon’s plan for an annual fee for cloud connectivity and services.

My suitcase and obligatory Air Tag. Image courtesy of A. Allemann.

Our guest this week is Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable, a precision agriculture company. He’s on the show to talk about Arable’s $40 million in funding, and what Arable has learned in the last six years of operation. We also talk about the myth of using data to create “perfect predictions” and what sorts of predictions are more realistic when discussing how farm sensors can help farmers increase yields. Then we discuss why farmers are looking beyond simple ROI measurements when adopting technology and how sensor platforms such as Arable’s can help make their investments in sustainability or traceability pay off. We end with a list of hardware that Ethington would like to see for future field sensors. These include better connectivity options and sensors that provide more options for detecting different wavelengths of light. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable
Sponsors: InfluxData and Intent

  • Helium is a legit business, but is it worth $1.2 billion?
  • The Air Tag is a tool for good or evil
  • How Ring and Google decide what videos to share with police
  • The future of precision farming goes far beyond greater yields
  • Sensors with different spectral ranges will let us better monitor plant health

Episode 372: Ecobee embraces radar sensors!

Did y’all know that almost a quarter of people who buy a smart home device, hire a professional to install it? That’s just one of the facts I learned at the Parks Associates event happening this week in Dallas. We talk about that before focusing on Google’s plans for Matter and SmartThings new Matter testing program. After that we talk about Ecobee’s new thermostats and a HomeKit sensor that uses millimeter wave sensing. In enterprise news, we mention a new real-time asset tracking network service from MachineQ, sub-$2 battery-powered Bluetooth tags from Wiliot, and LoRaWAN getting IPv6 functionality. We close with a review of Eve’s new outdoor camera, and a reminder to stay safe if you’re going to handle smart home installs yourself. In our hotline segment, we answer a listener’s question about moving from Alexa to HomeKit, and finding a garage door opener that works.

Image courtesy of Samsung.

Our guest this week is Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices. In our interview we dig into the new thermostats’ industrial design and why Ecobee replaced its PIR sensor with radar. Lombard also explains why services are essential for smart home providers and what Matter may do for the creation of new home services. We end with a discussion of Generac’s acquisition and why the combination of Ecobee and an energy storage and resiliency company makes sense. He didn’t share any specific products but he also gave us a hint about what to expect from the two companies going forward. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google’s preparations for Matter includes two new SDKs
  • Cheap Bluetooth tags are about to be everywhere
  • Eve’s outdoor camera for HomeKit a good choice
  • Why radar is better for people sensing
  • How smart homes will lead to energy resiliency

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 358: Why Resideo’s First Alert buy makes sense

On this week’s show, we talk about the Resideo purchase of smoke detector company First Alert for $593 million and why it makes sense. Then we focus on connectivity with an update on the Sigfox receivership and a look at the annual report from the LoRa Alliance covering the adoption of LoRaWAN networks around the world. For Raspberry Pi owners we have good news on the OS front and for people who want to load the Pi OS from the network. Then we talk about two government efforts to track potholes and beach trash using AI and sensors. On the chip front, the big news is that Nvidia has formally stepped back from its plan to acquire ARM, leaving ARM with nothing to do but plan a public offering. Also, Simon Segers has stepped down as the CEO of ARM and was replaced by Rene Haas, the president of ARM’s IP business. Meanwhile, Intel is embracing RISC-V, and we talk about why that matters. In smaller news, Netgear’s latest routers make it much easier to create a separate IoT network, Apple’s VR/AR glasses are real, and Samsung’s big event this week didn’t offer up any IoT news, but we did see the end of Bixby. We end by answering a listener question about using Matter in industrial settings.

Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman of Swinburne University works with Dr. Felip Marti Carrillo and Dr. Yong-Bin Kang (left to right) to test cameras on garbage trucks in Brimbank, Australia. Image from Swinburne University.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful. She joins us to discuss the new analytics software Kraftful has launched and to broadly discuss best practices for connected device apps. Unsurprisingly, getting a device connected quickly and easily is the most important consideration for most connected device makers, and she’ll discuss how to make that easy. But she also talks about when apps make sense compared with voice interfaces or automated routines. We end our conversation with her take on what the upcoming Matter smart home interoperability protocol might mean for her business and for consumers at large. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Togel
Guest: Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful
SponsorsRightpoint and Hologram

  • Smoke detectors have a huge opportunity in the smart home
  • Using sensors and computer vision to make cities better and beaches cleaner
  • ARM’s next step should include a plan for RISC-V
  • If your users can’t connect their device in 10 minutes, they’re gone
  • Imagining a world where every product has an app is a nightmare

 

Episode 354: Google’s Soli pivot and Amazon’s Sidewalk news

This week Google reminded us that we don’t actually own our connected products when it removed functionality from grouped Nest speakers after losing a patent case filed by Sonos. Amazon’s Sidewalk network is getting a boost and this should spark a really interesting fight between LoRaWAN and Sidewalk in the coming years. We then talk about why sensors should have standards or maybe just a certification body for calibration, pay-what-you-want plans for IoT services, and Google’s surprise pivot around its Soli radar technology. The chip shortage has made it tough for Canon to find the silicon used to enforce its digital rights management that locks people into buying Canon toner cartridges, and we love to see it. In other news, researchers can detect malware using a Raspberry Pi and electromagnetic frequencies, Abbott Labs is getting into consumer wearables that track glucose and ketones, Netatmo launches its first Thread sensor, and Wind River will be acquired for $4.3 billion. Finally, we take listener feedback on accessibility and update an answer about Wi-Fi sensors.

Abbott Labs is launching a new line of wearables for measuring glucose, ketones, and more. Image courtesy of Abbott Labs.

Our guest this week is Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance, which launched last week at CES. Choi joins me to discuss the reason the HCA exists, how it’s recruiting new members and why we want our appliances to interoperate. He addresses questions about security, why the HCA is promoting cloud-to-cloud integrations instead of local ones, and if the HCA wants to work with the Matter protocol. It’s still unclear what the HCA wants to produce in terms of APIs or certifications, but it’s clear that the companies involved recognize that collaboration will be essential for building worthwhile intelligence into washers, dryers, HVAC systems, TVs, and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Google loses Sonos patent spat, but so do consumers
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk plans set up a low-power wide-area network fight
  • Has Google given up on Soli?
  • What exactly is the HCA trying to create?
  • Why the HCA is embracing a cloud-to-cloud strategy

Episode 351: Smart homes in the metaverse

What happens when the smart home meets the metaverse? We talk about the potential for better user interfaces and home mapping if we build digital twins of the home in a metaverse, while also discussing the potential of UWB to expand the amount of information contained in that digital twin. Then we discuss an excellent article on the Matter protocol and a new chip for Matter devices before noting Samsara’s successful public offering. In some anti-consumer news, Toyota is disabling features in its radio-controlled keyfobs unless people pay a subscription, leading us to wonder how we assess value in software as compared to hardware. We then look at LoRaWAN coverage maps for the combined Helium and Senet network, a new deal in the satellite IoT sector. Finally, we answer a listener question about Shelly RGBW modules for lighting and Home Assistant.

The Fi collar costs $149 and requires a subscription for its location-tracking feature. Image courtesy of Fi.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi, a maker of a connected dog collar. We discuss the product and why people buy a connected collar. Then we cover the connectivity options and why the Fi collar uses cellular as opposed to some of the other low-power wide-area networks such as Amazon’s Sidewalk. Lastly, we talk about subscription options and how to build a plan that works for your audience. Whatever Bensamoun is doing works, because 93% of people who buy the collar subscribe to the service. That’s amazing! Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Does the metaverse have a role in the smart home?
  • How UWB can help make the smart home better
  • Where there’s LoRaWAN coverage, and where there isn’t
  • Why cellular still beats Amazon Sidewalk and LoRaWAN
  • How to price a subscription for an IoT device

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