Episode 189: Meet the Digital Standard for IoT security and privacy

The battle for more secure IoT products will get its day in court now that a judge has rejected requests for summary judgment in a case pitting the FTC against D-Link. The agency called out D-Link for making insecure routers and cameras. Now, the courts will decide. A smart glass maker gets a whopper of an investment, we discuss two new cellular modules from Sierra Wireless and Gemalto and there’s a creepy new twist on insecure IP cameras. Microsoft is switching things up for Cortana, and there’s a good idea for getting 9-1-1 calls on your Echo or Google Home. Finally, Kevin shares a tip on getting Alexa to notify you of events in the home using a new skill and IFTTT.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport uses smart glass from View to reduce heat and glare from the sun.

Our guest this week, Andi Wilson Thompson, a policy analyst at New America’s Open Technology Institute, also hits on privacy and security of connected devices, discussing a new effort called The Digital Standard. The goal of this year-old effort is to offer specific criteria and tests that connected devices should follow in order to be considered secure. Consumer Reports is using it to evaluate products and I think we’ll start formally assessing products against it in our reviews. Learn more in this week’s show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andi Wilson Thompson from New America’s Open Technology Institute
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • Is this case the key to better IoT security?
  • Want a private LTE network? It might be yours.
  • Here’s how to solve e911 for Amazon Echo devices or Google Homes
  • The Digital Standard is a real stab at a safer IoT
  • A solution for extending the life of unsupported devices

Episode 188: How to design a better smart home

Smart home hubs are dying, DIY will become increasingly niche and smart companies are prepping for this. For example, Honeywell’s smart home spin out Resideo went public this week with an eye to removing complexity from smart homes. Meanwhile, Calix unveiled a gateway device and a service to make it easier for ISPs to deliver the smart home. In other failed IoT efforts, Kevin and I talk about the fall of beacons and point out what might take its place. Google’s new deal with iRobot comes up, and then we segue into Microsoft’s plans for a smart office followed by some of the more recent security breaches. We end with a low-power AI chip and by answering a listener’s question about a Wi-Fi motion sensor to work with his LIFX bulbs.

Roomba i7 robots will share mapping information with Google if users agree.

Our guest this week has written a new book on the smart home. We welcome Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, who is an industrial designer and author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life. We talk about more than a century of smarter homes, how the term has changed and why today’s efforts are not succeeding. She also asks us to question our current design methodologies for digital assistants and explains what might replace them. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, author of Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life
Sponsors: Bitdefender and Cognizant

  • To normalize smart homes, DIY will die
  • Google’s getting home mapping data from robotic vacuums
  • Google’s Home Hubs compromised? How to think about risks.
  • We’ve been pitched the smart home for more than a century
  • Digital assistants should be helpers, not servants

Episode 183: Amazon’s news bonanza explained

Last week Amazon released a ridiculous amount of news that we’ve covered in detail, but Kevin and I talk it out and draw attention to some of the things we thought were relevant. We stay in the Seattle area to cover the Microsoft news out this week on new Azure products and Cortana’s new enterprise skills. We also talk about the new Withings watch, August’s module for Yale locks, and HomeKit support for Rachio sprinklers. Our hotline question this week is a listener’s challenge with kids and his freezer.

Amazon launched a $60 Microwave with Alexa inside as well as a $25 smart plug.

This week’s guest is Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy to discuss his company’s digital transformation. He walks listeners through the process of creating a group to handle the technical demands of building products around data and analytics, and then talks about how to communicate with vendors and business units. It’s a detailed look at this utility’s two-year process to get a grip on the potential inherent in the internet of things. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raiford Smith, who joins us from Entergy
Sponsors: SAS and Auklet

  • Alexa listens for broken glass and whispers
  • Microsoft embraces digital twins
  • So many ways to track a freezer’s status
  • Workshopping your way to an IoT future
  • How Entergy has seen a 12x ROI with IoT

Episode 173: Nest CEO is out and Jacuzzi is in with the IoT

Nest’s CEO has been forced out, and GE and Microsoft create even deeper integrations for industrial IoT. Also this week, UPS creates a partnership with a startup to take on Amazon Key, and we discus the common question of if you should upgrade your Echo? There’s a lot of lock news, some connected car fundings (Zoox and Light) and an Alexa-enabled microwave that feels perfect for dorms or bachelors. Kevin also shares a secret to turn your Kindle FireHD tablet into an Echo Show and some news for those still hoping for a decent Android WearOS device. This week’s listener question is also about smart locks but for a very particular use case.

GE’s latest microwave costs $139 and can be controlled with Amazon’s Alexa. Image courtesy of GE Appliances.

Our guest this week is Mark Allen, vice president of IT at Jacuzzi, who discusses why and how Jacuzzi connected its premium line of hot tubs. Jacuzzi has connected 1,000 hot tubs so far and since it starting selling them in April, it has 500 of the connected tubs in consumers’ homes. Allen explains the tools Jacuzzi has used to get the hot tubs online and connected to dealers’ service operations. He also shares his thoughts about privacy rules and how connected devices will change Jacuzzi’s business. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Allen of Jacuzzi
Sponsors: Afero and Avnet

  • Why Microsoft and GE got a little closer
  • Lots of lock news from the home to the enterprise
  • Should you update your Echo?
  • Which platform did Jacuzzi choose to connect its tubs?
  • GDPR will affect your hot tub

Episode 167: Apple’s WWDC news and connected musicians

Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference news, including Siri’s new IFTTT-like abilities. We continue with Alexa finding a home on computers and a discussion of the OVAL sensor that’s hoping to crowdfund a second-generation product. I’m disappointed that Lenovo’s new Google Assistant screen-enabled device won’t ship until September, but super excited about Microsoft’s new IoT offerings, including spatial intelligence. There’s yet another industrial IoT platform for cellular low power wide area networks, this time from Sierra Wireless. Finally, Kevin and I share our latest buys, an Aware Glow air quality monitor for me, and an app that puts Alexa on the Apple Watch for Kevin.

My Awair Glow plugged into my bedroom wall.

Our guest this week is Anya Trybala, a musician and creator of SynthBabes, a group that supports female electronic music artists. Trybala talks about how connectivity and technology could change the way artists perform and introduces a concept for VR called The Elevator. For a look at her work, check out this video. To hear her thoughts on how to use AR/VR and the blockchain for changing music, listen to the interview.

Hosts: Stacey Hgginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anya Trybala of SynthBabes
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

    • Apple still isn’t changing the game in the smart home
    • Microsoft continues making its IoT services better
    • Check out Alexa on an Apple Watch
    • Building a connected concert experience
    • Are you ready for drone microphones?

Episode 163: Everything IoT from Microsoft Build and Google I/O

This week was a big one in the tech ecosystem with Microsoft and Google both hosting their big developer conferences. Microsoft’s featured a lot more IoT. Google shared a few updates for its Google Home and, prior to the show, made its Android Things operating system available. In Alexa news, Microsoft showed off its integration between Cortana and Amazon’s digital assistant, and Amazon added in-skill payments to Alexa. Ring has a new app, Fibaro has a new button, Netgear has a new update, Wyze has a new camera, Intel Capital has a new partner,  and we share a new report on camera security. I also share my experience with the Nest Hello Doorbell and the Nest Yale lock before we answer a question about moving music from room to room using the Amazon Echo.

The Fibaro HomeKit compatible button is $60.

Our guest this week is Microsoft’s head of IoT Sam George. He’s been on the show before, but this time we run down the big news on edge computing from Microsoft Build and discuss how a company can avoid messing up their business transformation. It’s a fun show no matter what you care about.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sam George, head of Microsoft’s IoT platform
Sponsors: MachineQ and Twilio

  • Google’s turning the Home into a hub
  • How much is your hacked camera feed worth?
  • Thoughts on the new Nest gear
  • Why Microsoft’s edge strategy is open source
  • How to out of pilot purgatory for enterprise IoT

Episode 160: A deep dive into Microsoft’s IoT security platform

This week’s show is all about Microsoft’s new IoT security product, Azure Sphere. Kevin and I start with that, before talking about a new checklist from the Online Trust Alliance explaining how to secure your enterprise IoT gear. We then discuss acquisitions such as Nice buying a 75% stake in home security startup abode, Lutron buying professional lighting company Ketra, and the possibility that Google might acquire Nokia’s health assets. In news bits, we talk about August’s new unlocking powers, Twilio’s new SIM offering, smart pet transport and VMware’s new lab setting for its IoT software. Kevin shares his thoughts on HomeKit sensors from Fibaro and we answer a question about doorbells.

The Art Institute of Chicago uses Ketra’s lighting. Ketra was recently acquired by Lutron. Image courtesy of Ketra.

Our guest this week is Galen Hunt from Microsoft, who has been working on the Azure Sphere product for the last four years. He shares why Microsoft attacked IoT security with a hardware, OS and cloud product and shared how far Redmond is willing to go on openness. He also talked about the revenue model, support life and other practical aspects. You’ll walk away from this one a lot smarter.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Galen Hunt, partner managing director at Microsoft
Sponsors: Forgerock and Yonomi

Episode 159: The Nest doorbell is a great video doorbell

Microsoft plans to spend $5 billion on the internet of things, and it’s more than the usual shell game that big firms play with these sorts of announcements. We discuss its plans on this week’s podcast. We also talk about Qualcomm’s new vision chips for edge devices, what it means that apps are disappearing from the Apple Watch and Kevin’s thoughts on getting Alexa or Google to talk to you. Comcast shared its vision and new features for Stringify, August is working with SimpliSafe, there’s an old UPnP exploit hitting the IoT and I dumped a gadget for poor performance. I review the Nest doorbell before we answer a question on Z-wave and ZigBee for a listener.

My Nest Hello fresh out of the box.

This week’s guest is Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, who came on the show as part of an IEEE event at SXSW last month. We talk about where hearables are today, what’s changing and some of the cool things we can look forward to. I suggest a mute button for people you dislike, which Crum admits is possible. We also dig into the things that kill your hearing, and how we perceive sound. You may never take an aspirin again. Listen and learn, y’all.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories
Sponsors: Yonomi and Forgerock

  • Why every chip company has a chip for computer vision at the edge
  • This is a great podcast on Amazon Alexa
  • Goodbye Ikea lights and hello Nest video doorbell
  • Every ear is different and so is its perception of sound
  • You can jam a lot of sensors into a hearable

Episode 141: Alexa suits up for business

Last week Amazon made a slew of IoT announcements at its annual user conference, bringing established functions into general availability and surprising us with the launch of Amazon’s Free RTOS after it hired the man responsible for the most popular embedded OS for microcontrollers. It also introduced Alexa for business. Kevin and I share our thoughts on that and also discussed Microsoft’s own platform announcement, the Google/Amazon spat, and Walmart’s search for a cheap sensor. I share my learnings from an event on IoT business models held at Target’s Open house last week and Kevin shares his thoughts on the GoControl/Linear garage door controller. We also discuss naming conventions thanks to a question on the IoT Podcast hotline.

Amazons IoT dreams are becoming clear.

The guest this week put the challenges of building an IoT project into perspective. After years of being “spoiled by cloud computing,” Upal Basu of NGP Capital says that we have to reframe our IoT projects with longer ROIs and more of a focus on decentralized deployments away from the corporate offices. His ideas make sense for anyone familiar with complexities of deploying sensors, and it’s a good interview for folks thinking about how to transform her business using connectivity, sensors and cloud analytics. I hope you enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Upal Basu, General Partner at NGP Capital
Sponsors: Lux Products and ADT

  • Greengrass, Free RTOS, Device Defender and more from Amazon
  • Alexa gets her MBA
  • Sustainable IoT hardware is actually a service
  • You returns on IoT investments should be years, not 12-18 months
  • The value in IoT deployments happens where the sensors are

Episode 123: Whatever happened to Wink and DefCon’s greatest hacks

Security was a big topic this week in the internet of things, so on the podcast we talk about news from Defcon, efforts to hack the Amazon Echo and our take on the Senate’s new IoT security bill. We also cover the week’s big news of the Wink platform getting sold to Will.i.am, Eero’s new employees and $50 million for TrackR, the Bluetooth-based tracking company. Kevin and I also highlight a product that we think is silly and discuss the future of bikes in a world of autonomous cars. Oh, and we answer a reader’s question, recommending this for lighting without a neutral wire and this for gaining voice control for your AV system.

The TrackR Atlas will one day provide location information inside the home.

The industrial and enterprise IoT folks will want to stay tuned for my interview with Microsoft’s Sam George, who heads up the Azure IoT Platform. George and I have had a few conversations in the last two years covering where the IT world stops and the real world begins. We talk about this plus the right architectures for the edge and a bit about Microsoft’s stance on cybersecurity. Finally, he shares a story from the Internet of Twizzlers.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sam George of Microsoft
Sponsors: HiQo Solutions and Eero

  • This is not the IoT security law we need
  • Will.i.am doesn’t have Kevin’s endorsement
  • We answer a reader’s A/V and lighting question
  • How Microsoft thinks about security in the overall IoT ecosystem
  • How Hershey’s uses IoT to save money on sweets