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 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 279: GE Appliances goes for the Gold in security

This week Kevin and I start the show with our thoughts on CES going digital, and then turn to subscriptions for smart products, specifically tied to the news that the Mellow sous vide is now charging for functionality that had been free. We then move on to pandemic-era fundings for Density, Withings, and connected fitness company Tempo. Rite-Aid face recognition, a new Alexa app (yay!) challenges for Google/Nest, and HomeKit support for Arlo’s cameras round out our newsy segments. We then showcase a new product for securing the smart home called Hedgehog, and Kevin shares his review of the Wyze Outdoor Cam. We close by answering a listener question about Gosund products.

The Mellow sous vide has new owners and a new subscription plan. Image courtesy of Mellow.

This week’s guest is  John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances. He came on the show to discuss UL’s new IoT security framework and why GE Appliances chose to use it. We also talk about security challenges facing connected appliances, how to manage long-lived connected assets in the home, and why it will get more and more difficult to buy non-connected devices. I walked away more confident that major brands are really taking security seriously. Hopefully, you will too.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Ouseph, executive director of embedded software in the smart home solutions group at GE Appliances
Sponsor: Very

  • Struggling hardware companies have three options to manage surprise IoT costs
  • These startups are raking in the cash during the pandemic
  • Kevin likes the new Wyze Outdoor Cam but had one tiny glitch
  • GE Appliances was serious about security but needed a way to tell consumers
  • How GE thinks about security by design and risk models for your fridge

 

Episode 271: Surveillance scares and a nutrition label for IoT security

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of what’s happening in the U.S. with protests, police brutality, and the role connected tech can play in smart cities, including the role image recognition can and does play. We then tackle the IoT news starting with Nest’s addition of Google’s advanced protection program and a GPS tracker that seems like a good buy. Then we discuss funding for a smart oven, a pool sensor, another HomeKit enabled security camera, a subscription service for monitoring the health of your HVAC system, cheap sensors, and a new doorbell from Wyze. We then move onto Amazon killing the Echo Look camera and its new intercom feature before breaking out the deep science for windows that can adjust to different light levels automatically. In our IoT Podcast Hotline segment, we answer a question about using a connected sprinkler to ward off animals.

The nutrition-style label that helps users figure out how secure a connected device is.

This week’s guest is Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is on the show discussing the newly created nutrition-style label researchers created for IoT devices. Researchers tried to convey about 47 relevant pieces of information that relate to a device’s security and privacy qualifications and crammed as many as they could onto an easy-to-read-label that’s designed to fit on a product’s packaging. The label doesn’t convey all 47 elements, but it does capture several key pieces of information about how long a device will get security updates, the types of sensors it has, and how the company treats its data. Other elements are relegated to a deeper privacy fact sheet that a consumer can access via a web site or QR code. Cranor explains the label, the methodology, and asks for help turning the research into something useful for the industry at large. Let’s make it happen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest:  Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsors: Calix and Edge Impulse

  • We need to talk about how to enforce laws when IoT can see everything
  • This is a really nice GPS tracker for the masses
  • $10 Zigbee sensors? Yes, please!
  • What should a security label measure?
  • How can we get this label on our devices?

Episode 268: Subscription news from Wink and Nest

This week’s show is all about subscriptions! First Kevin and I share thoughts on Wink’s decision to charge a subscription fee after giving customers a week’s notice and threatening to shut down their devices if they don’t convert. We also detail Nest’s new subscription plan and keep on the Alphabet/Google topic by discussing the end of the Toronto smart city effort from Sidewalk Labs and a new Google Assistant skill.  After that, we cover a new Teensy board with Ethernet, an acquisition in the smart apartment world, and get details on how reopening is going in Texas from the B8ta point of view. I talk about my experience with the new, smaller Wi-Fi August lock, and then we answer a listener question about how to build a smart home from scratch.

The brains of Johnson’s smart home are packed away in custom-made benches. Image courtesy of Jason Johnson.

Our guest this week is Jason Johnson, the co-founder of August Home. He’s not on the show to discuss the new lock but to talk about his new home and the systems he uses for automation. Like many of us, Johnson went the DIY route and says he spends about five or more hours a week tweaking his set up. He explains why he chose the platforms he uses and how he has routines and automation set up. For those curious about what’s governing the 138 nodes in his home, I encourage you to listen and find out.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jason Johnson, co-founder August Home
Sponsors: Very and Edge Impulse

  • Is Wink’s new subscription worth it? Nest’s?
  • Apparently, a few people still need their gadget fix in Texas
  • August’s new lock is great for renters, but may not work for everyone
  • Three organizing principles for a smart home
  • Device longevity is a problem for the smart home

Episode 261: Set up a secure IoT network and Wyze has new gear

With the spread of COVID-19 and people staying home, robots are gaining ground in jobs, so Kevin and I discuss what jobs are at risk and what happened with automation during the last three recessions. We also talk about the rules that need to be in place if we want to track people during the pandemic in the U.S. and in other Western democracies. Then we cover a Russian botnet, racist digital assistants, confidentiality with Alexa, a new Arduino module, and the new scale and activity tracker from Wyze. Kevin and I take some time from the current worries about the coronavirus to envision the world we want when all this is over and discuss medical device privacy.  We end with a listener question about the new Nest subscription plans expected sometime soon.

Ready for a new IoT prototyping device? Check out this Kickstarter project. Image courtesy of Frame.IoT.

Our guest this week is Josh Datko, founder and chief engineer at embedded security firm Cryptotronix who is here to school us all in IoT security. We start with his advice for consumers, including advice on splitting off a separate IoT network in your home. We then discuss the difference between embedded security and IT security and discuss the importance of security engineers in product design. We end with Datko explaining the difference between secure enclaves, trusted execution environments and other security terms that may mystify you. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Josh Datko, Cryptotronix
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Automation and robots get a boost from the coronavirus
  • How to handle sensor data during a pandemic
  • Yes, I bought the Wyze scale for some reason
  • Here’s how to secure your smart home
  • Why the embedded world needs security engineers

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 242: Google explains itself and new Wyze gear!

Wyze makes some of the most reasonably-priced smart-home gear on the market and said earlier this month that it was planning a smorgasbord of new products, which Kevin and I detail in this episode. We then cover low-power wide-area networks with news that Twilio’s NB-IoT network and boards are now generally available and news that Amazon has joined the LoRa Alliance. From there we cover a security flaw, the longevity and reliability of connected home devices and a story about automation and jobs. We close with talk about a fitness company raising $55 million and another attempt at delivering wireless power at a distance. We then answer a question about who should swap out their Nest account for a Google Account.

The Whoop 3.0 fitness band is a compelling device with a pricey service.

Our guest this week is Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem, who explains why Google had to kill its Works with Nest program and what it means for users. You’ll also learn how Google thinks about privacy, that it doesn’t keep device state data and how it cordons off home data from its advertising network. We also talk about the local SDK and making it easier to add devices to the Google Home network. It’s an essential episode for Google fans.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Michele Chambers Turner, senior director Google Smart Home Ecosystem
SponsorsLegrand and Afero

  • Wyze has a lock, doorbell, scale and more on the way
  • Amazon gets deeper into LPWAN
  • Why Google had to kill Works with Nest
  • What’s inside Google’s Home graph
  • What to expect with Google’s local efforts

Episode 239: Tuya, toilets and Twinklys

This week Kevin and I start with an update on Tuya full of a variety of news the company announced at a conference held this week in Shenzen, China. From there we discuss two updates with the maker of Philips Hue light bulbs that means you won’t need a hub with SmartThings or Google Home devices. On the Google front, we chat about builders ditching Nest, missing Google Actions, a new hack, and an updated machine learning board. Nvidia hits our radar this week with machine learning at the edge, as does Shine’s smart toilet device. Kevin shares his review of the Nest Mini and we answer a listener’s question about smart holiday lights.

The Shine Bathroom Assistant cleans and detects leaks. Image courtesy of Shine.

After all that, join our guest Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast for a discussion about the role science fiction writers play in shaping our understanding of technology, We talk about the role fiction should have in setting tech policy, the different types of sci-fi and where stories should help guide our understanding of tech.  It’s a deep discussion that ends with a few book recommendations. I hope y’all enjoy it.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Rose Eveleth, journalist, and creator of the Flash Forward podcast
Sponsors: Nutanix and Afero

  • Tuya’s rapid rise as an IoT platform
  • Nvidia’s edge news was big for telcos and some IIoT
  • Here’s a smart take on the smart toilet
  • My sci-fi may not be your sci-fi
  • What can science fiction writers teach us about IoT?

Update on 10/24/2019: In the podcast, we mistakenly noted that the new SmartThings integration with Philips Hue bulbs doesn’t require a hub. Because the SmartThings Hub doesn’t support Bluetooth, a Philips Hue bridge is still required.