Episode 391: Amazon’s turning Alexa into the brains of the home

This week’s show focuses on Amazon’s new devices and services launched Wednesday. Kevin and I talk about Amazon’s direction with Alexa as the manager of your life. We also gawp at the price iRobot is charging for its latest iteration of the Roomba robotic vacuum, although Kevin convinces me it’s not too crazy. Then we move into a discussion of the energy grid, sharing data from Itron on how utilities are thinking about the future electric grid, and how a partnership between Itron and Samsung SmartThings is an example of long-term thinking. Then I talk about the latest reporting from Forbes on Helium, and apologize for not being more wary about the chicanery that went on in the beginning by Helium’s executives. We then talk about my experience with the latest Yale lock. We end by answering a listener question about Ecobee thermostats that start heating or cooling before you intended.

The new Roomba is both a vacuum and mop. Image courtesy of iRobot.

Our guest this week is Elizabeth Parks, president and CMO of Parks Associates, a research firm focused on emerging technologies. Parks discusses how COVID changed the home security market as well as how monitored security providers have moved downmarket while DIY security companies have expanded upward into offering monitored security. All of this jostling has expanded the overall market. We also talk about the coming demand for energy management services as well as trends in new home building. Expect more connected devices! We end with a quick overview of what to expect from the CEDIA Expo happening this week in Dallas. It’s a fun conversation.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Elizabeth Parks of Parks Associates
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Firewalla

  • Amazon’s home robot is really Alexa
  • Why energy is becoming a hot topic in the smart home
  • A mea culpa on Helium
  • The security market is expanding thanks to the smart home
  • What to expect from CEDIA

 

Episode 386: We question Nova Labs’ 5G deal

Nova Labs, the company behind the decentralized Helium IoT network, has acquired FreedomFi, a company trying to build a decentralized 5G network. Kevin and I share our doubts about the value of a decentralized 5G network and question how this might work before moving on to discuss an array of security news. We start with the latest report on OT security from cybersecurity firm Claroty before sharing research on air-gapped networks bypasses with lights and sound. We end with a story about Amazon patching Ring apps on Android devices and my hope of a new tool that could make it easy to monitor devices that might invade your privacy. We also talk about a new wearable that tracks mood, Kevin’s frustration with devices, Nordic Semiconductor’s foray into Wi-Fi chips, Chamberlain’s reversal of HomeKit support, and InfluxDB announcing native connectors for MQTT. We end the show by answering a listener question about NovaLabs and its 5G plans.

The Happy Ring will track your moods and is only available via a subscription. Image courtesy of Happy Health.

Our guest this week is Josh Corman, who returns to the show to discuss his work at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (he just joined Claroty as vice president of cyber safety strategy). Infrastructure in the U.S. and in many other countries has become increasingly attractive to hackers seeking ransoms or more serious disruption. Whether it’s someone hoping for profits or a nation-state, Corman points out some of the easiest and most effective steps an entity can take, even if that organization doesn’t have a formal cybersecurity program — or the budget for one.  He starts with the Bad Practices list from CISA that states organizations should avoid hard-coded passwords, establish multi-factor authentication and to avoid using software that has reached its end of life. We also discuss an easy effort to get your Stuff off Search, a program that helps any IT person suss out open ports on popular search sites such as Shodan, Censys and Thingful. It’s so easy I can do it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Josh Corman, Founder, I am The Cavalry and VP Cyber Safety Strategy at Claroty
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Impinj

  • We have big concerns about a decentralized 5G network’s viability
  • More vulnerabilities are showing up in firmware
  • Here’s a mood ring for the 21st century
  • We need to get more companies to do the bare minimum for cybersecurity
  • How to get your stuff off search and start securing your network

Podcast 378: Welcome to the industrial metaverse

It’s been a minute since we’ve discussed the metaverse, but this week we cover Siemens’ deal with Nvidia to create the metaverse for the industrial IoT. It’s part of several announcements this week from Siemens that include an acquisition and a new product launch for smart buildings. We also dig into some Apple rumors about a new HomePod, whether or not you’ll want to use the iPad as a home hub, and Kevin’s advice for folks trying to adopt HomeKit. Then we ask if you want to pay for a subscription to Insteon’s cloud and explore how the ADT partnership with Google is working. From there we talk talk about the new Raspberry Pi Pico W device with Wi-Fi. For $6, they are a steal. In smaller news, we talk about wireless power research and new sounds that help your Nest doorbell celebrate the Fourth of July. We also answer a listener question about automating his water heater.

Siemens Process Simulate (left) connects to NVIDIA Omniverse (right) to enable a photorealistic, real-time digital twin. Image courtesy of Nvidia. 

Our guest this week is Alok Bhanot, the CTO of ParkourSC, a company trying to create digital twins for the supply chain. We discuss the current state of the supply chain and why we’re moving into what Bhanot calls supply chain 2.0. He explains how companies are going beyond merely tracking their products and instead are trying to predict problem areas in advance and automate their response to those problems. This takes sensors and connected devices, but it also takes deep integration across the entire logistics, transportation and product ecosystem. We also explain how these solutions can’t predict everything, but for many companies, the goal is to optimize for easing the delivery of the most important things. We also discuss why ParkourSC decided to stop making its own hardware.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alok Bhanot, CTO of ParkourSC
SponsorsNordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • Will the industrial IoT use the metaverse?
  • Do you want a new HomePod or an iPad for HomeKit?
  • There’s a new Raspberry Pi for the IoT.
  • What the heck is supply chain 2.0?
  • Why this startup decided to stop building sensors.

Episode 377: Why there were 56 OT vulnerabilities this week

This week we cover the Ericsson mobility report that offers some stats on cellular IoT connections, including the surprising nugget that we won’t see 4G/5G connections surpass 2G/3G connections until some time next year. Then we hit another report. This one is from NPR and covers the state of audio and smart speakers. It proves that growth is slowing for smart speakers and that we may not do as many things with voice as we think. In dystopian news we cover China using COVID tracking apps to lock down protesters, and Microsoft stopping sales of some facial recognition tools. In new product news we talk about the latest Philips Hue gear, a new material that could generate electricity for wearables, and new MCUs from NXP. We also address the closure of SmartDry and explain how Google’s update on the Nest Max Hub may break your Nest x Yale lock. We end by answering a listener question about more accurate motion sensors.

Our guest this week is Daniel dos Santos, head of security research at Vedere, a business unit of Forescout. He’s on the show to discuss why Forescout released 56 new OT vulnerabilities dubbed ICEFALL. He shares the design flaws that led to these vulnerabilities and more importantly, explains what needs to happen if compromised controllers or devices can’t be fixed. He also shares a startling stat about how many industrial customers are actually updating their devices after a vulnerability has been disclosed, and how to encourage more of them to address security flaws. If you want to learn more abut securing critical infrastructure, this is a good place to start.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel dos Santos, head of security research at Forescout
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • There are still more 2G and 3G IoT connections than 4G/5G ones
  • With smart speakers it’s the same as it ever was
  • Are the new Hue track lights for you?
  • The ICEFALL vulnerabilities are a sign of progress actually.
  • This vendor says only one in ten patch their OT gear

Episode 376: Senator calls out video doorbells … again

This week’s show kicks off with another look at Ring’s potential to become a surveillance tool, this time prompted by a letter from Senator Ed Markey who wants Amazon to answer some questions. We then talk about a new capability for InfluxData’s time series database and explain why it matters before encouraging everyone who listens to the show or visits the site to get comfortable with doing things yourself. We then give a brief update on Insteon’s buyer and what it might mean before covering two industrial stories. First up is Siemens’ acquisition of Senseye, a company that provides predictive maintenance software, and then we discuss a remote factory experiment between Finland and South Korea. In smaller news we discuss the number of smart locks in U.S. households, Orro signing a deal with RTI for smarter light switches, and a new HomeKit enabled smart plug from TP-Link. We close by answering a listener question about the best smart lighting options to use in a new home.

Image courtesy of Parks Associates.

Our guest this week is Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData, who is talking about the demand for time series data for the internet of things. InfluxData makes a time series database for storing trading and sensor data. We discuss how companies are using time series data as part of closed loop systems, and what the future tech stack for the IoT will be. He also shares his strategies to get developers interested in a platform and why he thinks appealing to developers will be essential for success in the industrial IoT. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • Senator Markey wants more information about Ring’s capabilities
  • Be bold, and try to DIY your next project
  • Remote factory project has incredibly low latency
  • Why the IoT loves time series data
  • What we need to build better architectures for a real-time IoT

Episode 375: Arduino gets $32 million for enterprise IoT

This week’s show is an exercise in controlled chaos, as I am once again quarantined in a hotel room (this time with my teen). Kevin and I discuss Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and Apple’s claim that HomeKit is the foundation of the upcoming Matter smart home protocol. Insteon users got a shock this week when their formerly dead hubs mysteriously turned on and their cloud-based integrations began working. We explain what we know. SmartThings is getting a new app, and Microsoft signed a multi-year deal to help Procter & Gamble with its digital transformation. In security news, we discuss new ransomware that starts on the IT side but can move over to the OT side to wreak havoc, as well as a new program from Dragos to help small businesses secure their OT networks. Finally, in chip news radar chip company Vayyar raised $108 million and Arm launched a new low-power image sensor for embedded vision. During the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about how to prepare his smart home for a move.

Arduino launched the Portenta line of boards for the enterprise a year and half ago. Image courtesy of Arduino.

Our guest this week is Fabio Violante, the CEO of Arduino. Arduino raised €30 million ($32 million) this week as it seeks to add software and hardware to meet the needs of enterprise and industrial product designers. We discuss why Arduino is branching out from the DIY market, and how it differentiates itself from other computing platforms such as the Raspberry Pi or Nvidia’s Jetson Nano. Violante also shares his observations about the state of the market and the popularity of certain connectivity options, protocols and cloud platforms. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Fabio Violante, the CEO of Arduino
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • Apple contributed a lot to HomeKit and we all will benefit
  • Who is the new Insteon owner?
  • Microsoft is helping Procter & Gamble make better paper towels
  • Good and bad news for OT security
  • Why Arduino is stepping up to the enterprise

Episode 305: Alexa Hunches, Tiny ML and a new wireless standard

This week’s podcast is full of nerdy wonder. We start off with news from Amazon regarding proactive Hunches and the new Guard Plus service before mentioning that the Echo Show 10 is now available for pre-order. Then, in honor of the Tiny ML movement, we highlight new deals from Edge Impulse to put its software on Silicon Labs’ chips and chips from Nordic Semiconductor. Meanwhile, Qualcomm has created a toolkit to shrink AI models for 8-bit inference! Then we introduce you to a scalable LPWAN based on Wirepas’ technology that is now an ETSI standard. After that, we discuss biodegradable displays and disable sensors for COVID-19 detection. Then we hit the news briefs with Wink going down, the new $60 Ring doorbell, roaming on LoRa networks, and Homepods getting a UWB handoff to iPhones. To close out the news, Kevin discusses what buyers should look for when it comes to securing home cameras from errant employees. We end by answering a listener question from a high school student who’s looking for resources to learn more about the IoT.

Span’s electrical panel combines computing and circuit breakers. Image courtesy of Span.

Our guest this week is Arch Rao, CEO and founder of Span, which raised $20 million in venture funds this week. Span’s product is a rethink on traditional electrical panels that adds computing and internet connectivity to the box. The idea is that people will put more electrical load on homes as homes and our transportation networks electrify. Adding a breaker box that understands what’s using power and providing computing to orchestrate the flow of power around the home helps reduce energy usage during peak times, but also can help a home avoid upgrading their electrical systems. Rao explains this and talks about building a connected device designed for a thirty-year life. It’s a glimpse into a future I’d like to live in.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Arch Rao, CEO and founder of Span
SponsorsTeraCode and Techmeme

  • How Amazon is taking the guesswork out of hunches
  • Why Tiny ML is such a big deal now
  • This is a LPWAN that really scales
  • The grid of the future needs a more proactive electrical panel
  • Why solar installs and batteries may be the key to Span’s growth

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 222: SmartThings’ new gear and a Wink sighting

This week on the IoT Podcast, Kevin and I spend time discussing Amazon’s new smaller Echo Show and SmartThings’ new trifecta of products.  From there we talk about a frightening new malware that’s bricking IoT devices and its unlikely origin. We check in on schools’ and hospitals use of an unproven AI and microphones to detect violence before it happens. Then it’s on to smart factories, a smarter Raspberry Pi for industrial IoT and a fitness watch that’s really smart. We also mention a small Wink update courtesy of a listener. From there we take a call asking about good leak detection options for a home.

SmartThings launched a bulb, camera and light bulb that could form the basis of a beginner smart home.

This week’s guest is Komathi Stem, the CEO of MonArc Bionetworks, who explains how her background in clinical trials enabled her to see the future of medicine in a world of unproven wearables. Like one of our prior guests, Stem is interested in using remote monitoring provided by connected medical devices to broaden the participants in clinical trials. She is ultimately advocating for personalized and data-driven medicine based on proven devices and algorithms. I don’t know if medicine will adapt but I feel better knowing people such as stem are pushing it to adapt without compromising on proven data.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Komethi Stem, the CEO of MonArc Bionetworks
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • Which is for you, a small Echo Show or a small Nest Hub?
  • This is an absolute unit of a Raspberry Pi
  • June must be smart factories month
  • Medicine needs donated data, but how to protect people from abuse?
  • Personalized medicine will require much more from doctors

 

Episode 220: The future of surveillance includes hacked data and biased AI

This week Kevin and I offer a take on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency hack and what it means in terms of biometric data, broader security trends and how it relates to policing that can rely on connected AR glasses. Basically, it’s going to be a dystopian hellscape. Especially when you consider Spotify selling data about your emotional state, Amazon’s work on a wearable that detects your emotions, and Facebook trying hard to make a version of the Portal system that could sell. In other news, we discuss whether Uber’s air taxis need 5G, Amazon halting sales of its new Blink XT2 video camera and a new environmental sensing board from Google. And, in our IoT Podcast listener hotline, we answer a question about underrated smart home features. By definition, our answers should surprise you.

Google’s IoT sensor board plugs into a Raspberry Pi and talks to Google’s Cloud IoT Core service.

This week’s guest is Dominique Guinard, the CTO of Evrythng, a platform that connects unique tags to the internet. Brands ranging from Coke to liquor giant Diageo use the Evrythng platform to track individual items and connect brands to customers. Guinard discussed how Evrythng has changed with the times in the internet of things, how a new standard could let consumer packaged good companies track individual items, and how the economics are finally in favor of connected tags.  We also discuss the tech needed to track a trillion connected objects,  salmon and why companies always turn to marketing first when it comes to IoT. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dominique Guinard, the CTO of Evrythng
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Nordic Semiconductor

  • The surveillance state isn’t very secure
  • This isn’t the data I really want to share with companies
  • How many sensors did Google cram onto this board?
  • Sensor tags are finally cheap enough for packaged good
  • Yes, it’s the internet of salmon