Episode 393: Why Roku needs the smart home

The biggest news this week is probably the launch of a line of inexpensive smart home products from Roku, the smart TV and set-top box maker. We talk about the products, its deal with Wyze and where you can get them. Then we move on to Matter, specifically when you might get Matter on your devices, and the new pact between Google and Samsung SmartThings, that will make using either Google Home’s app or the SmartThings’ app as a controller seamless for your smart home. Then we discuss the results of the Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Developer survey in detail, including popular real time operating systems and messaging protocols, before getting an update on smart home device adoption from Parks Associates. We aren’t too concerned with Prime Day deals but we did notice that the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor has a new feature. In related news, we talk about other indoor air quality products and frustrations with Kevin’s Ecobee indoor air quality monitoring. After that we mention Lufthansa’s decisions to ban AirTags (it unbanned them after we recorded the show), an ITU approval for wireless over-the-air charging in the 900 MHz band, and the soon-to-be announced cybersecurity label from The White House. Finally, we answer a listener question about viewing Wyze cameras on a Google display.

Connectivity is still hard for IoT developers according to the Eclipse Foundation survey.

Our guest this week is Janko Roettgers, a senior reporter at Protocol, who explained the role that the TV currently plays and will likely play in the smart home. This is especially helpful because, as he explains to me, my home is a bit weird when it comes to televisions. He discusses how TV makers are looking for new forms of revenue, including advertising, while tech firms are getting into making TVs for similar reasons. He also puts Roku’s move into the smart home with devices and services into context. Specifically it’s because TVs are super low-margin and if it doesn’t move into the smart home it’s rivals will. Actually, they are already as he clearly explains. He also explains how TVs will handle smart home navigation and offers a little scoop on Google’s display plans. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Janko Roettgers, a senior reporter at Protocol
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Firewalla

  • Roku gets into the smart home with help from Wyze
  • Developers are still pretty fragmented when it comes to everything at the edge
  • Kevin discovers the limits of indoor air quality monitoring
  • The TV may be the next battlefront for smart home vendors
  • What Matter will mean for TV makers

Episode 392: Matter is here. Now what?

Matter is now official after almost three years of waiting, and Kevin and I are super excited. Well, I am. Kevin is more measured, but we talk about what to expect and when to expect Matter to start changing your smart home. In related news, we discuss Google’s new doorbell, mesh router, and plans for the Home app. Google is also adding more sensing capabilities to the smart home through its existing hubs. In November, IKEA plans to launch its latest smart home hub, the Dirigera, which will cost about $60. This will replace the Trådfri hub, but will also let users bridge their older IKEA devices to the Matter protocol. Kevin gets to tell me that he told me so, as Amazon kills the Glow video-calling device for kids, and we lay out the five principles that are part of a new U.S. blueprint for legislation related to AI. We end by answering a question from a listener about using their SmartRent Hub as a secondary Z-wave controller.

Like other big name smart home vendors, Google already has plans for Matter. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guests this week are both from John Deere. We have Tracy Schrauben, manager, manufacturing emerging technologies at John Deere, who represents the operational technology side of the manufacturing plant. Also joining is Jason Wallin, principal architect at John Deere, who is handling IT. Both are on the show for an exclusive look at how the agricultural company is deploying the CBRS spectrum it purchased in 2020. In its Moline, Ill. plant, John Deere has deployed 14 microcells that today provide LTE connectivity to various pieces of equipment. But the plan is to get to an all-5G network as end devices become available. Our guests explain why they are unwiring the factory, some of the use cases, and what it’s like to build and manage your own private wireless network. This is a must-listen for folks who care about factory 5G.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Tracy Schrauben and Jason Wallin of John Deere
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Firewalla

  • Matter is live, and now we get to test it in our homes!
  • Google’s new Home app is a much needed improvement
  • The U.S. now has a good framework for AI legislation
  • Why John Deere invested in its own spectrum for factory 5G
  • How John Deere plans to unwire its factories

Episode 389: Is Matter ready for its close up?

I’m in Austin this week, for Silicon Labs’ Works With event, and while there I hosted a panel that provided a good sense of what is going to happen with the Matter smart home interoperability protocol. I think Kevin is a bit more optimistic than I am. We also got some small updates on Amazon’s Sidewalk Network plans, which we discuss. After that, we talk about some news from Silicon Labs, and why folks in the IoT should keep an eye on Apple’s satellite plans. Then we talk about Lutron’s new smart paddle switch and dimmer that will fit right into existing home decor as well as how long certain device lifespans should be in the wake of Eero canceling support for its first-generation mesh routers. We then look at what is likely the next-generation wired Nest Hello doorbells, and look at some new resources for mapping out smart building capabilities before discussing funding for industrial IoT middleware provider Litmus Automation. We end by answering a listener’s question about smart smoke alarms and sending notifications to a phone.

The new Diva paddle switch and dimmer. Image courtesy of Lutron.

Our guest this week is Prashant Kanhere, the CTO of PayRange. PayRange provides a Bluetooth-based module that installs on a vending machine, washing machine, or pool table and replaces coin payments with electronic payments. I’ve followed this company for years and was stoked to see they had half a million devices under management now. With that scale, the company has figured out how to monitor those devices and how to update their firmware over tiny sips of connectivity. It’s a process that could come in handy for other IoT devices on low data-rate networks that need security or feature updates. We also discuss how the app works and the future of smart pool tables for a bit of fun. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Prashant Kanhere, the CTO of PayRange
Sponsors:  Infineon and Silicon Labs

  • Matter may be too little, too late
  • The IoT should keep an eye on Apple’s satellite ambitions
  • Lutron’s new switch will fit right in
  • Dynamic pricing could come for commercial laundromats
  • Smart pool tables are in the future

Episode 388: Insurers come for the smart home

This week launched with a bang for those interested in the role insurers might play in the smart home as State Farm agreed to make a 1.2 billion equity investment in security firm ADT. This follows on the heels of Google’s equity investment in ADT in 2020 and signals a shift in the way insurance companies are thinking about the smart home. Google also said it would add more money to its ADT partnership. We then discuss a Matter demonstration at IFA and give some updates on what to expect from the protocol. After that we discuss the upcoming Google event and the Apple event from this week before taking a quick break.

The Flair vents work with a temperature-sensing puck. Image courtesy of Flair.

We don’t have a guest this week so we dove right back into the news with a trio of big fundings for the internet of things. First up is funding for a satellite IoT company called OQ that is special because it can use existing NB-IoT and LTE-M radios. The second funding is $140 million for Morse Micro, a chip company that is making chips for Wi-Fi HaLow deployments. The final funding is for Flair, a maker of connected HVAC vents for the home, which raised $7.6 million. We then talk about Ring adding end-to-end encryption for its wireless doorbell and video camera products, new ways to address your Nest Hub Max without saying “Hey Google” first, and new lights from Philips Hue. I also review the Hue Tap Dial Switch and realize my love of buttons is going to force me to do some serious work when Matter arrives. We end the show by answering a listener question about a smart button (or maybe a dumb one) for a smart garage door opener.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors:  Infineon and Silicon Labs

  • With the smart home, insurers can make sure you’re staying secure
  • Matter previewed at IFA
  • Wi-Fi HaLow got a big boost with Morse Micro funding
  • Climate change and energy conservation is driving smarter HVAC
  • I really love the Hue Tap Dial Switch

Episode 384: Here’s why Amazon really bought iRobot

This week’s show kicks off with our discussion of Amazon’s planned acquisition of iRobot, the maker of Roomba robotic vacuums for $1.7 billion. We then talk about a survey from Parks Associates that indicates almost a third of people using AirTag-style trackers to track people without their knowing and why users and companies must focus on consent. Then we hit on another ethics issue associated with a connected Epson printer that stops working after a set period of time, also unbeknownst to the user. In non-ethics news, Feit has purchased LIFX assets, Energous got FCC approval for sending up to 15 watts of power over the air for wireless charging and Qualcomm signed a deal with Global Foundries to ensure its chip supply through 2028. While on the topic of chips, we talk about software that runs on existing ESP32 that uses Wi-Fi for person detection and sensing, and future Apple products for the smart home. We end with a listener question about whether he should buy a new DIY hub and devices, or wait for Matter gear.

LIFX assets are now owned by Feit. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Mark Benson, the head of Samsung SmartThings US. Benson is on the show to explain how SmartThings plans to eliminate the use of Groovy apps on hubs. The way forward is using APIs for cloud-to-cloud integrations, and LUA-based event handlers for smart apps that run locally. The final shift from Goovy takes place Sept. 30 so get ready for disruption if you have an older, niche routine or app on SmartThings, or update before then. Benson also shares more information on how SmartThings plans to support Matter and what it will mean for Samsung’s overall strategy in the smart home. We dig into what it means to be a Matter controller versus a Matter bridge and what role SmartThings will play. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Mark Benson, the head of Samsung SmartThings US
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Impinj

  • Amazon buys iRobot to build out the next generation of the smart home
  • I’m surprised to see how many people are secretly tracking others
  • We need expiration dates for smart devices
  • SmartThings gets ready for its final goodbye to Groovy
  • How SmartThings plans to adopt Matter

Episode 381: Alexa and Qualcomm embrace ambient tech

This week’s show kicks off with our discussion of several announcements from Amazon’s Alexa Live developers’ conference held Wednesday. Alexa is getting several features as part of the launch of the Matter smart home interoperability protocol that should launch in the fall. For example, users will be able to name a device once and put it in a group and that nomenclature will work across Alexa, manufacturer apps, and other controllers such as Google Home or Apple’s Siri. Amazon also shared new ways for developers to access context in the home thanks to its new Ambient Home Dev Kit and new ways for developers to build Routines for Alexa. Also ahead of Matter, Thread is getting an update, so Kevin and I explain what that entails before turning to Qualcomm’s new wearables chip.

The Google Glass AR prototype. Image courtesy of Google.

One of the keywords for Qualcomm’s new wearable platform is ambient, as the chipmaker has moved several features to a low-power always-on processor to ensure that smart watches built using the platform have always-on sensing, wake-word detection, and a nice display without compromising on battery life. Then we talk about FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s inquiry into data-gathering and sharing practices by cell phone providers, especially when it comes to location data. We also discuss Google’s new plans for AR glasses, using the IoT to detect forest fires, and yet another security flaw. This time it’s in a GPS tracker from a Chinese provider. We also say goodbye to Microsoft’s Sam George who retired from his role leading Microsoft Azure IoT. We end by answering a listener question about tracking the temperature of a fish pond.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors: InfluxData and Intent

  • With new features Alexa is a smarter brain for the smart home
  • Thread’s getting an update ahead of Matter
  • Qualcomm’s wearable chip is better late than never
  • The FCC wants to know what carriers want with your location
  • Google’s new glasses respect the camera shy

Episode 373: Matter’s security details explained

Our focus is on the Matter smart home interoperability protocol this week, specifically some of the security requirements that will be associated with the standard. I moderated a panel on Tuesday where we learned a lot about plans for security, controllers, provisioning, and how companies such as Amazon and Google plan to keep Matter devices working within their respective ecosystems. We also talk about IKEA’s upcoming smart home hub and what that might mean for existing Tradfri hubs. In the enterprise world, we cover Nokia’s plan to release 5G-capable devices to help drive adoption of private 5G and 5G networks in commercial settings, Verizon’s new Data Breach Investigation Report and edge-computing capabilities coming to the world of industrial robotics. We also answer a listener question about the future of motion sensors in the home.

Verizon now tracks eight types of attack patterns in its survey. Image courtesy of Verizon.

Our guest this week is Jonathan Beri, CEO and founder of Golioth, a hardware platform for IoT. We discuss his history at Google/Nest and Particle to discover why he thought the IoT world needs a platform like Golioth. From there we talk about choosing a real-time operating system, how companies can adapt to the continued chip shortage, and ideal networking platforms for the IoT. Surprisingly, he’s seeing a lot of interest in Thread for industrial clients. He shares a lot of practical advice for companies trying to optimize their IoT hardware, so if you’re building products, this is a good interview.  Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Beri, CEO and founder of Golioth
SponsorsLoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • How Matter will handle security for devices
  • IKEA’s new hub should be Matter-compliant
  • Verizon finds that 82% of cyber attacks have a human element
  • How to decide the best RTOS for your IoT device
  • How to think about redesigning your hardware during the chip shortage

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 371: Smart screws and massive IoT

This week’s show was recorded a few hours before the annual Google I/O event so we didn’t discuss the new Pixel Watch, but we do discuss Google’s thoughts on the Matter smart home standard from an article in The Verge, which Kevin also tied to a discussion about Sonos launching its own voice assistant. Then we discussed a new gesture-recognition and fall-detection system that combines my love of Tiny ML with RF sensing. In privacy news, we focused on the use of private data by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and why we need stronger laws to govern how state agencies use private data. In smaller news, Qualcomm launched a 5G-capable robotics platform, Inmarsat launches a program to sell its Elera satellite IoT network, and Augury acquires Seebo in an industrial IoT deal. We then turn to my favorite story of the week, the creation of smart screws and a bit on the concepts of Massive IoT. We then discuss a question from a listener about the potential to create ad-hoc mesh networks using LoRaWAN or Amazon’s Sidewalk network.

Vivint’s new doorbell camera will detect package thefts and sound an alarm when it happens. Image courtesy of Vivint.

Our guest this week is Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint. This week, Vivint launched an array of new security cameras and accessories as well as a new feature called smart deter. Child is on the show to talk about the design decisions that went into building the new gear as well as what Vivint had to consider when trying to design its smart deter feature. We discuss why it’s important to own your own hardware when building novel AI-based services and what companies need to consider when evaluating partners for future integrations. He also explains why Vivint wasn’t ready to give consumers the ability to record just any message for intruders on their property. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Child, VP of Product Management at Vivint
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google and others trying to reset expectations for Matter
  • Why this industrial IoT mashup makes sense
  • Smart screws are why we need tech for massive IoT
  • Why Vivint invested in an AI feature to deter criminals
  • Why building your own hardware is essential for advanced AI features

Episode 364: Speed queens and Matter dreams

A week after the CSA said that the Matter smart home interoperability standard would be delayed we get a chance to talk about why the standard is delayed until fall, and what it means for consumers and smart home device makers. We then share Omdia data on how much ownership of different smart home devices has grown in the last year and explain what new design and privacy tweaks are coming to the Google Home app. In security-oriented news we share how radar might keep secured spaces clear of people and the latest CISA and FBI alert for infrastructure companies and satellite companies worried about cyberattacks. We then showcase how a new factory 5G network in Lexington, Kentucky deploying a private 5G network might signal the actual beginnings of 5G adoption in other manufacturing settings. In other wireless news, I reviewed the Eero Pro 6E routers mostly because I’m excited about 1,200 MHz of new spectrum for Wi-Fi. Finally, we answer a listener question about the Level Home locks and if it might get support for Apple’s HomeKey.

Omdia chart showing adoption of various smart home gadgets in the last year.

Our guest this week is Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI. Hawkinson is likely familiar to listeners as the founder and former CEO of SmartThings, the smart home platform purchased by Samsung. At his latest company, Hawkinson is continuing to try to add intelligence to the world by taking sensor data and turning it to insights. Only this time, he’s trying to tackle the challenge with more AI and an enterprise focus. We talk about what BrightAI is trying to do and how it ties back to Hawkinson’s history at SmartThings. He explains how BrightAI client CSC Serviceworks uses the internet of things to modernize its operations leading to a 10% to 20% growth in revenue. The case study is impressive, as is the vision of helping lots of older companies retrofit their operations with connected sensors and AI. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Hawkinson, CEO of BrightAI
Sponsors: Save our Standards and RAKwireless

  • What it means that Matter is delayed again
  • The Google Home app is getting a redesign
  • Will 2022 and 2023 be the year 5G makes it in manufacturing?
  • How to turn 100,000 Speed Queens into smart washers
  • What’s next in sensor tech?