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.

 

 

Episode 234: It’s M&A season for the smart home

This week alarm company Vivint went public through a reverse merger, with the aim of becoming a leader in the smart home and security space. We discuss the transaction and what it means for the small clutch of smart home companies that have one or two successful products but an unclear exit. From there we talk about rumors of the Nest Wi-Fi/Google Assistant combo device, a smart backpack, and Facebook’s new Portal devices. Then we share more dispiriting security news, a Philips Hue product for your TV and Amazon forcing people into arbitration. We end with some news bits from Avnet, Gatwick airport and North. In our IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about what someone can and can’t do with your biometric data.

Facebook’s family of Portal devices for video calling.

Our guest this week is Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group, a pavement engineering firm. He shares how he turned a simple Bluetooth sensor into a fifth of his company’s revenue and his hopes for the next generation of Bluetooth. He also talks about the future of roads from how we should redesign them for autonomous vehicles to new sensor technology needed to give our highways more intelligence. We close with a far-fetched project focusing on bioluminescent trees. Sure.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Rozycki, the CEO and founder of The Transtec Group
Sponsors: Afero and Simple Commands

  • Four companies that are ripe for an acquisition
  • Google Assistant + Google Wi-Fi = Google’s new device?
  • Can Philips Hue make TV cool again?
  • How a connected product changed this firm’s business
  • Coming soon; roads that charge sensors and your car

 

 

Episode 231: What to do with Wi-Fi 6 and voice in the enterprise

What is Wi-Fi 6? Should you care? We tackle these questions first up in this week’s podcast. From there, Kevin and I discuss the Bluetooth KNOB vulnerability and our fears of how smart home data could affect a Chinese-style social credit score. To lighten things up I talk about my visit with Microsoft, and experience with the Hololens 2 as well as Microsoft’s digital twin strategy. In the news segments, we cover the new Eero security service, the Nest doorbell package detection, and Fitbit’s proposed health service. We then answer a listener question about smart spigots.

This Microsoft image shows one of the Guides Microsoft has created for industry partners using the Hololens 2.

Our guest this week is Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe. He discusses how enterprises should view voice interactions. He shares his thoughts on why voice should be separated from the digital assistants that have become popular in the home and explains why enterprise software will lead to different interactions and UX design. As part of the conversation, he also talks about where voice stops being useful and when companies should think about a multi-modal user interface that includes voice, screens and even gestures. If the future of work interests you, then this is a good episode.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Webster, who is a director of product at Adobe
Sponsors: Afero and SimpleCommands

  • Wait on Wi-Fi 6 routers until there are more devices
  • Explaining Microsoft’s digital twin plans and Hololens 2
  • Fitbit is planning a service to go with its devices
  • Voice UIs  should not be confused with digital assistants
  • When does voice stop being useful

Episode 230: Which IoT satellite efforts will fail?

This week I get excited about a new home water monitoring product from Phyn while Kevin migrated his Nest account over to a Google account. We also discussed the creation of IKEA’s new Home Smart business unit and Amazon’s dream of putting Alexa in every car. SimpliSafe adds a door lock, MIT researchers build an energy-harvesting underwater sensor and a Chinese IP camera company is taking worries about security and U.S. fears of Chinese brands seriously. We also answer a question about Walmart’s Merkury Innovation brand of connected products.

The Phyn Smart Water Assistant will cost $299 and tracks leaks.

Our guest this week is Tim Farrar, of TMF Associates, who is a consultant in the satellite industry. I’ve turned to Tim to answer questions about the rush of companies trying to offer connectivity to the IoT using satellites. Do the economics make sense? How many of these businesses can the industry support and what the heck happens if these companies fail? Plus, we address the issue of space trash. You’ll want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tim Farrar of TMF Associates
Sponsors: Nutanix and DigitalOcean

  • This water monitoring device is worth a look
  • How Google’s Nest migration works
  • Will Chinese companies start locating IoT cloud services in the U.S.
  • The economics of satellite make broad IoT use cases tough
  • Why broadband satellite efforts may doom smaller IoT plans

 

Episode 216: Your smart home data will lead to cheaper insurance

This week Kevin and I continue discussing the fall out from Google killing the Works with Nest program. We discuss alternative devices for those who want to replace their Nest devices. Next, we go into the Amazon Alexa updates that add the Guard security features and sunrise and sunset schedule. Then we look at the new NB-IoT networks from Verizon and AT&T before talking about the facial recognition ban in San Francisco. We mention Lenovo’s new IoT Edge gateway and cover the new Wi-Fi Home Certification for single-family homes and apartments. Finally, we answer a listener question about outdoor mesh Wi-Fi.

The Sonos One got Google Assistant and there’s one drawback. Photo by Kevin Tofel.

This week’s guest is Mariel Devesa, global head of business at Phyn who discusses why insurance firms have been slow to underwrite more smart home devices and what we can expect going forward. One potential future involves companies bidding for our business based on feeds of smart home data showing how low our risk profiles are. Because Phyn is a leak prevention sensor, she also spends a chunk of time talking about water damage and how to find algorithms to build a compelling product. Enjoy the glimpse into our future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mariel Devesa, global head of business at Phyn
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • How should IoT devices remove features or privacy?
  • Sonos One adds Google Assistant but there’s a drawback
  • Verizon’s NB-IoT network seems pricey
  • Why insurance firms still won’t underwrite your smart home
  • One day your insurer might bid for your business

Episode 215: What Google killing Works with Nest means

This week’s show is a long one, thanks to both Google I/O and Microsoft Build happening this week. We kick off with news from I/O about local processing and gesture controls before digging deep into what it means that Google is killing its Works with Nest program. We explain what it means for consumers, the industry, and for developers. From there we move to the privacy one can expect in Amazon’s Echo products and generally what Amazon knows about you. We also talk about the new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera. The enterprise gets a lot of love from Microsoft at Build with new conversational talents, a way to migrate old embedded devices to the modern Windows 10 IoT OS and support for robots and Windows 10 IoT. We end with news bits including an update on Bluetooth’s success and an update on the lawsuit over landlords installing smart locks. I also review Wyze Sense sensors.

The new Amazon Blink XT2 indoor/outdoor wireless camera will sell for $89.99.

This week’s guest is Kiva Allgood, the new head of IoT and Automotive at Ericsson. She has worked at GE Ventures and at Qualcomm, so she’s familiar with the history of the IoT. She discusses agile factories that will be enabled by 5G networks, why we need industry-wide standards for the IoT and explains why adoption has been slow. We also talk about the importance of resiliency in the industrial IoT, something that is occasionally lost on the IT folks.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Kiva Allgood of Ericsson
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Consumers should only buy Nest gear if they are Google-only homes
  • Would you dump your digital assistant?
  • At last Azure Sphere security service is being used in the real world!
  • Standards will make the industrial IoT profitable
  • With 5G you can reprogram your factory like you reprogram software

Episode 205: How technology will shape your energy bills

There were two big shows this week with Embedded World and Mobile World Congress. Thus, this week’s show focuses a lot on industrial and enterprise news starting with a deep dive on ARM’s PSA certification announcement. We explain what it means and how it should improve IoT security for all before moving to news about new chips that bring Alexa to microcontrollers and to Wi-Fi access points. We also discuss a gesture-based interaction model for smart homes and explain why we’re getting excited about it for the home and office. From there we spend time on Alexa in hospitals as well as a bunch of small industrial and embedded news from Google, Microsoft, Wind River, SAP, and Qualcomm. This week’s IoT Podcast Hotline inquiry is about finding a chime for the Nest Hello doorbell.

NXP’s MCU-based solution for Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service. Image courtesy of NXP.

Our guest this week is Beth Karlin, CEO and founder of the See Change Institute, a research institute aimed at solving environmental and social justice issues. Karlin came on the show to discuss how utilities view smart home devices. She discusses their goals in offering connected device rebate programs and talks about methods they might use to stabilize the grid when more of our devices are connected and have computing power. We also talk about the role the big tech guys could play in the energy sector.  Plus, she talks about the best device to buy if you want to save money on energy costs.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Beth Karlin, CEO and founder of the See Change Institute
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • ARM’s security plan is looking good
  • Is this the beginning of a gesture revolution?
  • A bunch of IoT news from MWC and Embedded World
  • How your utility may change the way you think about drying your clothes
  • What device should you buy to save energy?

Episode 204: Apple’s next big market and Silicon Labs’ CEO

This week Kevin and start the show with an educated guess about what comes next for Apple after the iPhone and then discuss the leadership transition at IFTTT. In the wake of Google saying that it didn’t disclose the microphone inside the Nest Guard box, Kevin and I reiterate our take from last week, which is that cameras and microphones should always be disclosed in the specs. We also talk about Osram being for sale, smart circuit breakers, Libellium’s embrace of NB-IoT and what Google needs to do to catch up to Amazon in the digital assistant race. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about creating panic buttons for the home.

The Nest Guard’s hidden mic became apparent after Google announced it offered Google Assistant.

This week’s guest is Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a semiconductor firm that is making a big bet on IoT. Tuttle talks about the role of various radios in the smart home and in industrial settings. He also explains why he’s not worried about the tech giants snapping up gadget-makers that are using his chips. We end with a discussion on how we need to rethink tech and innovation for the edge. It’s a good chat.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs
Sponsors: Urban-X and Western Digital

  • Apple’s HomePod feels like a gimmick
  • Mics and cameras shouldn’t come as a surprise
  • Smart circuit breakers are still a hard sell
  • Are Z-wave and ZigBee doomed?
  • What happens when Amazon buys up your customer?

 

 

Episode 201: Bluetooth gets better and more smart lights

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released new standards that improve location tracking, so we talk about Kevin’s hopes for that and save the bigger details for our guest segment. We’ve got two new smart lighting products. The first is from Casper —yes the mattress company — and the second is from a startup called Orro. From there we focus on a creepy new lamp, tech giants getting into the utility business and a new energy harvesting method. Plus, Japan is hacking its citizens’ devices, Amazon offers hosting, and here’s a tip sheet on what to look for in smart apartments from an infosec writer whose apartment is about to be made smart. We also answer a question about which Z-wave hub he should buy.

The Casper Glow sells for $89 for one or $169 for two.

This week’s guest is Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Kolderup explains what the SIG’s new location services technology is all about and when we can expect it in industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Unsurprisingly, Bluetooth is prepping for a role in industrial and enterprise settings with this move. He also explains why Beacons are not the failure I think they are. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG
Sponsors: FairCom and Western Digital

  • Two very different lights, both smarter than you think
  • Why home automation’s next frontier is in energy
  • An update from last week’s show on unwanted smart apartments
  • Get the scoop on Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature
  • Maybe beacons aren’t as doomed as I thought