Episode 328: The IoT is a privacy nightmare and more 5G

Imagine all of the potential problems associated with the internet of things, and then settle in, because I think we talk about all of them in this episode. We start by detailing research out of Northeastern University that shows old data isn’t deleted from hardware-reset Amazon Echo devices and then discuss a class action lawsuit going ahead against Google’s digital assistant. We toss in a disturbing stat from Microsoft and a school that’s deploying facial recognition to round it out. We also devote time to Facebook’s synthetic training environment for home robots, ADT suing Vivint, and  Brilliant’s connected light switches getting HomeKit support. Kevin also reviews the Wyze lock. We end by answering a listener question about developer access on Amazon’s Sidewalk network.

Brilliant’s smart lights. Image courtesy of Brilliant.

Our guest this week is Teppo Hemiä, the CEO of Wirepas. Hemiä explains what massive IoT is and where Wirepas’ network fits in with other IoT networks such as those from Amazon, Apple, or even proprietary industrial options. Instead of the physical radios, Wirepas makes a distributed, mesh network software that can run on other company’s radios. Hemiä shares some customer stories from a hospital and from a ball-bearing manufacturer to show the benefits of having access to a cheap, scalable connectivity layer. He then tries to explain how Wirepas technology is part of a new DECT-2020 new radio standard that was adopted by the ITU for 5G deployments. It’s a bit confusing but could lead to a non-cellular technology used as part of 5G networks. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Teppo Hemiä, the CEO of Wirepas
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Researchers discover a privacy flaw in Echo devices
  • Wait, how many requests for user data does Microsoft get each day?
  • Can we train robots to handle the real world in virtual spaces?
  • What the heck is massive IoT?
  • How a non-3GPP standard is breaking into 5G

Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

Episode 289: Nest Audio and IoT trends in the enterprise

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of data from Microsoft’s latest IoT Signals report which shows that, for a third of companies, COVID-19 is speeding up their IoT deployments. We discuss the data and then talk about updates on the Nvidia deal for ARM from ARM’s developer conference, a cheaper Jetson AI module, and another Telnet weakness. Yes, we also discuss the hacked sex toy, the $50 Wyze thermostat, my experience with the brighter Philips Hue bulbs, and my thoughts on the new Nest Audio speaker. We round out the show with a cheaper Jacquard backpack and Google’s latest accessibility efforts. We end by answering a question about using a Wyze sensor to alert a grandparent to a toddler near the stairs.

Even in my cluttered office, the $99 Nest Audio fits right in and sounds pretty good. Image courtesy of me.

Our guest this week is Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab, discussing how Ecolab is using Hololens and IoT to save time and keep workers away from manufacturing plants. Ecolab provides sensors and services to ensure water quality for industrial clients. Cerilli explains how different industries use water and what the company has learned after 25 years of offering a custom-designed connected sensor. He also shares tips on augmented reality and how it’s helping Ecolab keep workers remote.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mike Cerilli, VP Marketing, Commercial Digital Solutions at Ecolab
Sponsors: Perceive and Very

  • The average IoT project deployment takes 12 months
  • ARM and Nvidia’s CEOs think the deal will go through (but it will be slow)
  • Nest Audio fits on your shelf and sounds great for $99
  • Can augmented reality help cram a week’s worth of training in a few hours?
  • IoT is going to help companies with water use and conservation

Episode 287: Amazon’s new network and cleaner air from 3M

This week’s podcast covers our thinking on Amazon’s new Sidewalk network, but not the devices the retailer launched on Thursday. As part of the network conversation, we also discussed LoRaWAN network operator Senet’s new $16 million in funding before detailing three upcoming products from Wyze. We then talked about sharing Alexa routines, Google’s new mystery product, Intel’s new edge chips, a new automation hub that controls IR-based devices, Microsoft’s foray into satellite networks, and Mozilla spinning out WebThings. Kevin now has the new contact tracing app in his state and he also reviews the Nuheara IQ Buds2 Max hearables. We conclude by revisiting a question from two weeks back when we gave the wrong answer. We got it right this time.

The Wyze video doorbell will cost $29.99 and offers two-way audio and 1080p video. Image courtesy of Wyze.

Our guest this week is Andy Boyd, a product manager who handles the business side of 3M’s Filtrete brand. He came on the show to talk about wildfires, a little COVID, and mostly about 3M’s plans to make indoor air quality better using the IoT, by combining its materials expertise with connected devices and other platforms. Boyd talks about the lessons learned building a Bluetooth-based connected air filter, an upcoming Filtrete air purifier, and plans for a smart plug that will let customers link their older air purifiers to the Filtrete ecosystem. I really love Boyd’s approach to the smart home. 3M clearly knows what it has to offer and is willing to work with others or take on all the elements needed to deliver good indoor air quality.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Boyd, 3M
SponsorsPerceive and Ayla Networks

  • Why Amazon decided it needed to build an IoT network
  • Intel’s edge chips are really designed for industrial use cases
  • Alternatives to WebThings now that Mozilla is spinning it out
  • How to clean indoor air, even during wildfire season
  • Why 3M wants to work with everyone when it comes to better air quality

 

Episode 282: Philips Hue has high hopes for Project CHIP

This week’s show kicks off with the Bluetooth SIG’s effort to bring Bluetooth-based contact tracing to individuals who might not have phones, and then segues into what’s behind the Z-Wave Alliance’s organizational shakeup.  After that, we pause to remember the passing of Verizon’s IoT platform dreams and cover the end (or maybe just a momentary pause) of Alphabet’s smart city dreams. Kevin and I debate the utility of research that can use your phone’s accelerometer to tell if you’ve had too much to drink, and we cover news from IBM’s security team, Zoom, Google Nest, and Microsoft. Kevin and I also talk about bringing a new interaction modality to the smart home. We end with a tip from a listener on the IoT Podcast Hotline that covers new ideas for smart plugs.

Expect to buy one or more hubs over the life of your Philips Hue bulbs, as the system gets smarter or addresses new opportunities over time.

Our guest this week is George Yianni, head of technology at Philips Hue, who came on to discuss what Hue is trying to do with smart lighting and where it wants to go next. We also get his thoughts on Project Connected Home over IP, the unifying standard that Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung are trying to create. For users who want to understand the decision to kill the version 1 Hue hub, Yianni explains that move and covers a good lesson for other device manufacturers on how to handle the tough calls to stop supporting a device. It’s a good show that has me eager to spend money on color-changing light bulbs.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: George Yianni, head of technology at Philips Hue
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Why the Z-Wave Alliance shook up its organizational structure
  • Remember the days of the IoT platform play?
  • Your smartphone may know when you’ve had one too many drinks
  • Has Philips Hue achieved what its inventors hoped?
  • How Project CHIP could help, or hinder Philips Hue

Episode 277: Does your house need a mouse?

This week on the show Kevin and I start with a speculative Google project dubbed the “house mouse” by researchers at Google’s ATAP group. Then we cover a bit on Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit, Amazon’s new smart cart, Amazon’s developer event next week, and how Amazon can compete in the digital assistant game without a phone. We also talk about SiteWise, the AWS service for industrial IoT equipment monitoring, and Microsoft and Samsung partnering on real estate in the smart home and apartment world. From there, we discuss a proposed cybersecurity law for connected devices in the UK, Zoom’s fancy new hardware, Arm’s proposed sale or IPO,  and another device to prevent your smart speakers from eavesdropping. We also answer a listener question about smart outlets.

 

The Zoom hardware costs $599 and has three cameras, eight mics, and a 27-inch screen.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks, who explains how companies need to think about the connected tech they are adding to their offices to keep employees safe after the pandemic. We talk about what he’s doing at Ayla, what he recommends other leaders think about when trying to bring employees back, and why companies probably shouldn’t buy this stuff in haste. We also discuss security, privacy, and what you don’t want to know about your employees. It’s a helpful interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Google’s house mouse may give point and click new meaning
  • Amazon’s SiteWise for IIoT is designed to lock you in
  • Who would buy Arm and would it be a good investment?
  • Define your business problem and then buy IoT
  • What should a business consider before surveilling workers

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