Episode 274: Apple embraces IoT and SmartThings shakes things up

This week’s show is a whopper, starting with the news from Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference. We talk about how Apple is playing the long game by integrating sensors and machine learning across devices to give contextual experiences, Apple’s updates to HomeKit, and some details about Apple opening up its FindMy network. From there we talk about SmartThings’ evolution and eventual shut down of some beloved services and the new Wyze Cam Outdoor camera. On the enterprise side, Microsoft acquires CyberX, and Deutsche Telekom spins out its IoT business. We also cover news from Google related to Hue devices, Misty Robotics, Tuya, and Segway. Kevin gives a preview of Amazon’s Echo Frames and we answer a quick question about viewing your Ring doorbell on an Apple TV.

The new Wyze Cam Outdoor is battery-powered and cheap. Image courtesy of Wyze.

This week’s guest is Mark Benson, head of engineering at Samsung SmartThings, who joins us to discuss the changes coming to the platform later this year. He lays out why SmartThings is going to end support for some features as it tries to move toward delivering a more intuitive smart home. For example, on the hardware side, your hub will still exist but SmartThings will also put its software on hubs made by other vendors and we’ll see other manufacturers make SmartThings’ branded devices. On the software side, it’s moving from the current Groovy programming environment to an API, which is going to upset some developers and DIY folks. Benson explains why this change is needed and what developers will gain and lose. You’re going to want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Benson, head of engineering at SmartThings
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Apple’s using its chips and closed ecosystem to deliver context to devices
  • Why Microsoft purchased CyberX
  • How long will the Zigbee Alliance keep its name?
  • 2020 is the turning point for the smart home
  • Why SmartThings wants to trade Groovy for an API

Episode 272: Let’s talk about anonymity by design

This week’s podcast starts off with IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software (we recorded before Amazon made a similar announcement) and then shifts to a discussion on neuromorphic computing. From there we discuss Lutron’s new wooden blinds, turning a Commodore 64 into a home automation system,  insights on water use during the pandemic,  more integrations from RoomMe, and funding for Drop’s kitchen operating system. We also touch on industrial news with a scaled-out Bluetooth deployment and PTC, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation offering Factory Insights as a service. Kevin then shares some thoughts on the next big things necessary for smart homes to advance. Finally, we hear from a listener who wants to find a way to make his smoke alarms smarter.

Lutron adds smart wooden blinds to its Serena line of smart window coverings. Image courtesy of Lutron.

Our guest this week is Andrew Farah, CEO of Density, a startup that provides sensors for people tracking. We last chatted more than five years ago and since then he’s built out the company, created a product for commercial real estate and found time to advocate for building IoT products that are anonymous by design. We talk about how companies are using his service and sensors to keep occupancy rates below the legal limits during the pandemic and why sensors are much better than cameras. You’ll enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andrew Farah, CEO of Density
Sponsors: Calix and Very

  • IBM’s decision to stop selling facial recognition software is a start
  • This enterprise hub can read 12,000 Bluetooth tags in a minute
  • Three things that will move the smart home forward
  • This sensor has 800 components and can tell how many people are in a room
  • Why we need to build things with anonymity at the forefront

Episode 267: How to build your own IoT device

This week on the show, Kevin and I start with a potential privacy bill in the Senate related to COVID-19 track and trace and then discuss the challenges legislation and Bluetooth track-trace efforts will face. We then talk about a possible acquisition by Microsoft of an industrial IoT security company. Kevin shared his hope for a smart home with common sense based on advances in AI research before we dig into new IoT malware called Kaiji. In news, Nordic Semiconductor is touting new smart gear for hospitals, Nest is requiring all users to use multi-factor authentication, Ring has a new $99 doorbell, and Automatic joins other companies in shutting down because of the pandemic. This week on the IoT Podcast hotline, we answer a question about Z-Wave repeaters and buggy mesh networks.

Image of the MailPig mailbox sensor courtesy of Christine Sunu.

Our guest this week is Christine Sunu, who got a lot of attention a week or two ago with the creation of a sourdough fitness tracker called Sourd.io. She joined us to walk us through the creation of a sensor to detect if your mail has arrived (specifically if your mailbox has been opened). As an IoT developer community engagement manager with Twilio, and a former developer engagement manager with Particle, Sunu has been making connected devices for years, so she helps with the terms you might want to Google and how to get over common barriers standing in the way of a final project. It was so much fun to talk to her, and she has written a blog post to go with the interview in case you need more than the auditory guidance.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Christine Sunu
Sponsors: Very and Liveworx

  • The latest on COVID-19 track and trace news
  • Is Microsoft getting more serious about industrial IoT?
  • Ring’s got a new doorbell
  • How to build a connected mailbox sensor
  • Two common barriers to finishing your projects

 

Episode 265: How to make the electric grid more like the internet

This week Kevin and I dig into two sets of best practices for privacy and data collection relating to track-and-trace programs enacted on our devices. One is from Microsoft, and the other is from MIT. We also talk about Ring asking users if they want the ability to read license plates in their security cameras and offer some insights about the recently launched update to the Ring Alarm system. From there we discuss vulnerable smart hubs, vulnerable servers, and a power-efficient NB-IoT modem. Next up is a bit of news about Folding@Home using a Raspberry Pi, smart swim googles, using computer vision to save coral reefs, and a bit about blood pressure monitors. We end by answering a listener question about available Wi-Fi 6 routers.

The $199 swim goggles from Form include a heads up display, heart rate tracking, and more. Image courtesy of Form.

This week’s guest is Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission, who explains how we’re going to get to a dynamic energy grid that helps consumers and businesses react in real time to the price of energy. We have plenty of energy-saving devices and even the ability to turn off or lower the energy demands in our home, using smart tech, but there’s not much of an incentive. If states and utilities work to make real-time pricing changes available to the home (likely a governing device) then the home can react by reducing electrical demand. She talks about the tech and regulations that will make this possible and informs me that FM broadcasts might be the best way to disseminate the pricing information cheaply. It’s a good interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Herter, Level III energy specialist at the California Energy Commission
SponsorsCalix and Ayla Networks

  • How to think about data privacy during a pandemic
  • Ring’s interest in surveillance style tech continues
  • Smart googles and microamp modems are pretty cool
  • Why California wants an energy grid that looks like the internet
  • Maybe FM radio has a role to play in the IoT

Episode 262: Use your wearable data to detect COVID-19

This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion of who should be tracking you during the pandemic and what rules companies and governments should use in order to protect user privacy. We also dig into the importance of APIs after Apple purchased the Dark Skye weather app. Then we explain the tightening relationship between carriers and the cloud with Microsoft’s preview launch of Azure Edge Zones. From there we dig into how social media can influence people during the pandemic, the best home Wi-Fi system, the new Fitbit, turning your Wyze Cam into a webcam, and a discussion of what we want broadband to be in the world we want to live in after the pandemic. We close on Kevin talking about Home Assistant integrations and his answer for a question on the IoT Podcast Hotline about how secure Home Assistant is.

The Fitbit Charge 4 will be out on April 13 and cost $149.95. Image courtesy of Fitbit.

This week’s guest is Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Scripps is trying to recruit people who have a Fitbit or other wearable to participate in a study to detect COVID-19 using variations in resting heart rate. We talk about the DETECT study (which you can sign up for from the link) as well as how to design a legitimate health study that includes consumer wearables. We also discuss the use of data and data privacy for those who want to understand those things before dedicating data to science. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Steinhubl, the director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Should Google and Apple implement contact tracing using our phones?
  • Azure Edge Zones are an example of the carriers and clouds getting closer
  • Home Assistant integrations are all over the map
  • What doctors look for when building studies around wearables
  • Why the DETECT study matters and how it’s data practices work

Episode 260: How to make telemedicine work in a crisis

Kevin and I kick off this week’s show discussing COVID-19 again. We start with a virus tracker for Home Assistant, a handwashing sensor, relaxed healthcare rules, disaster relief networks, Israeli tracking software, and Kevin’s tips for connected workout gear and online resources to keep you fit while quarantined. We then talk about a partnership for smarter SIMs with Thales Telstra, Microsoft, and Arduino before talking about some scary security research. Smart speakers, Sonos’ new OS, Amazon open-sourcing its checkout-free shopping system, and a smart ring that doubles as an activity tracker, round out the news. Finally, we answer a question about whole-home smart lighting.

Only 13% of connected device makers have any sort of bug reporting program according to a new survey.

Our guest this week is Nick Dawson, who has had several roles at the intersection of medicine and design at places such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Kaiser Permanente. We talk about the state of telemedicine today and where it may go after COVID-19 forces changes in the current medical system. We also talk about the role of connected health gadgets in these times, and advice for individuals who want to help solve some of the medical challenges facing us today. I learned a lot about why it’s 2020 and we still don’t have widespread telehealth.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Dawson, designer
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Smart things for a viral pandemic
  • Make ways for DuckLinks
  • Smarter SIM cards are coming to the IoT
  • What’s holding back telemedicine today
  • Go ahead and buy an oximeter if you’re worried

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 255: A deep dive into NIST’s new privacy framework

This week’s show features Chris Albrecht, editor in chief of The Spoon, as a guest host, which means there will be a review of a connected kitchen gadget — in this case, a connected smoker from Traeger. We kick off the show discussing the FTC’s surprising antitrust review and discuss IoT acquisitions that might get scrutinized. We also mention the Sprint and T-Mo merger and what that might mean for IoT. From there we dive into Nest’s plans to require two-factor authentication, ARM’s new AI edge chip designs, a new product from LIFX, and an NB-IoT module from Tuya. Chris then discusses the sale of a connected brewing appliance called PicoBrew before reviewing the Traeger smoker. We also answer a listener question about which connected doorbell to buy.

The new LIFX switch is pricey but beautiful. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework in the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She comes on the show to explain what the many, many pages actually mean and how companies should think about and adopt the framework. She also shares why she avoids connected devices in her own life. Unsurprisingly, the complex user agreements aren’t inspiring a lot of trust.  You’ll want to hear this show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht of The Spoon
Guest: Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor and lead for the Privacy Framework at NIST
Sponsors: DigiCert and Very

  • Apple and Google could see some smart home deals come under review
  • Nest’s two-factor decision could lead to better two-factor authentication methods
  • Should I spend $800 on a smart grill?
  • Breaking down the NIST privacy framework with a connected fridge
  • The new framework won’t make you legally compliant, but it can build user trust

Episode 241: How a smarter edge can make schools safer

This week on the show, Kevin and I started with a discussion of reports of how smart speakers can receive remote commands from a hacker with a laser. We then shifted gears to talk about company research showing how much data your smart homes are sending and a brand new network product from Firewalla. Cortana’s pivot to productivity gets a mention, as does Kevin’s take on Google buying Fitbit. From there we reviewed the Twinklys smart lights, talked about new Ecobee features, smart apartment deals and the open-sourcing of Google’s Titan chip. We then answer a listener question about smart garage door opener alternatives for Chamberlain’s MyQ product.

The new Firewalla security device is now also a router. Image courtesy of Firewalla.

Our guest this week is Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion. We start off talking about smart edge capabilities that could be used to make schools, offices and other spaces safer. Then we discuss how smart home device manufacturers have changed their goals when trying to create partnerships. Before, the focus might be on marketing on one-off features, but manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated. Find out what’s new, and enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Odess, vice president of strategic partnerships at Allegion.
Sponsors: Legrand and Afero

  • Using frickin’ lasers to hack Alexa
  • What do your devices do while you are sleeping?
  • Why Amazon should have purchased Fitbit
  • Stopping tailgaters at college requires smarts at the edge
  • Privacy is becoming a point of negotiation in the gadget world

Episode 240: Wave goodbye to Wink?

This week Kevin and I lamented about the future state of Wink. Its status is almost dead. We also discussed Apple’s renewed interest in the smart home, Google’s rumored interest in Fitbit and Microsoft’s certain interest in improving its credentials for edge IoT. We also talked about security vulnerabilities enabled by smart lights, why you shouldn’t connect a phone to your rental car, and Wi-Fi getting a long-distance boost for the IoT. Particle raised $40 million, Google Home gets a new interface, Alexa can now add dimming to routines, Tile talks to Google Assistant, and a new smart button from IKEA hit the FCC. We also answer a listener question about smart pools.

What the heck is up with Wink? We still don’t know.

This week’s guest is Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG, who came on the show to discuss why incumbent businesses have an advantage in the internet of things. We discuss how existing businesses can take advantage of their data and expertise to offer services that startups just can’t. We also talk about when to partner up with startups and tech firms, and how that can make your businesses even more successful. In the coming era of competing and cooperating, businesses will have to figure this out. Enjoy and Happy Halloween.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner at BCG
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • What to buy if Wink dies
  • What Google should do with Fitbit
  • Microsoft adds  some excellent features to it’s IoT products
  • What big businesses have that startups don’t
  • How to make money on digital twins