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 259: Lights out for first-gen Hue hubs and Lightify

This week’s show starts off with Kevin and I explaining exactly what’s happening with the death of the first-gen Philips Hue hubs (which we mentioned way back in November) and the death of the cloud servers powering OSRAM’s Lightify products. We then talk about Kevin’s experience installing Home Assistant and mine with the Helium hotspot. In news, we’re discussing Amazon putting its Amazon Go tech up for sale, Google’s Jacquard finding a new home in sneakers, an update for Apple Watch, Google Assistant getting support for sensors, Arlo updating security, and new Ring doorbells. We end by answering a question from a landlord about monitoring his rental properties.

Google’s Jacquard is now inside an insole designed for soccer fans. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared, a web site and newsletter dedicated to manufacturing (and other cool stuff). He’s sharing his and his community’s perspective on the COVID-19, what it means for Apple, big manufacturers and for companies starting on their product journey. It’s not all doom and gloom. He provides great reasons to get comfortable with making your product and suggests that like most crises, there could be opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Spencer Wright, the editor of The Prepared
Sponsors: MachineQ and LiveWorx

  • Two smart lighting platforms are shutting off support
  • Kevin thinks Home Assistant needs some tweaks for normals
  • Google Jacquard’s price isn’t crazy high
  • COVID-19 could affect your holiday gift options and next year’s laptop
  • Why you should try to manufacturer your product if you can

 

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 168: How GE’s Current curtailed dreams to meet reality

This week Kevin and I spend a bit of time on industrial IoT news with Rockwell Automation’s $1 billion investment in PTC and also ARM’s buy of a Stream Technologies. On the consumer side, we debate Wi-Fi subscription plans and Nest’s price drop and Ring’s new security system. We also talk about Thread’s milestone in industrial IoT, Verizon’s new CEO, and whether or not Google Home can now handle three consecutive commands. I review the Wyze Pan Cam and we answer a question about the Qolsys’ IQ Panel 2.

Ring’s security system lands on July 4 for $199.

This week’s guest comes from GE’s Current lighting business. Garret Miller, the chief digital officer at Current by GE explains why the division is for sale, why GE has to offer lighting as a service, and how reality forced a shift in thinking for Current. When Current launched, it had grand plans to deliver electricity as a service but realized that it was several steps ahead of the market, so it now offers lighting as a platform. It’s a good interview about how to reassess the market when needed.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Garret Miller, chief digital officer at Current by GE
Sponsors: Praetorian and Control4

  • Why ARM bought Stream Technologies
  • Ring and Nest gear up for home security fight
  • I like the Wyze Pan Cam
  • Why GE had to change the way it sells lights
  • Why Current changed business models and what it says about IoT

Episode 149: Here’s how the GDPR will change IoT

We kick off the podcast this week with a discussion of the unintended costs of combining user data, namely the story that Strava had unintentionally outed clandestine U.S. military bases around the world with the publication of its user heat map. Kevin Tofel and I then test text delivery from the Amazon Echo and talk about new features and numbers on the big voice platforms. After that we touch on a PTC tie up with Microsoft Azure and the rise of the industrial IoT at the World Economic Forum. We also answer a reader question on how you know if you’ve been hacked.

A close up of the Strava heatmap.

This week’s guest also discusses the Strava news as part of a broader discussion on the new regulations on data privacy in the EU. The General Data Protection Regulation rules come into effect on May 25 of this year and will have an effect on tech companies, data brokers and consumers — even if you aren’t in the EU. Chiara Rustici is an independent analyst covering privacy and GDPR, and she goes into depth on what it means, how it may be enforced and the questions better data privacy poses for innovation, especially when it comes to third party risk management or any other types of software that relate to GDPR. You’ll want to hear this.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chiara Rustici
Sponsors: PointCentral and Renesas

  • Will this be the wake up call the U.S. needs to secure data?
  • No ads on Alexa, but you can text
  • Meet Marvis, an Alexa for diagnosing network woes
  • GDPR makes data privacy a human right
  • Let’s use analytics to protect privacy instead of pierce it

Episode 95: The industrial internet is gaining ground

You asked and we delivered! This week Kevin discusses the possibility of using the Nvidia Shield as a smart home controller of sorts (and gives his impression of its gaming chops). I give an early review of the Stringify app which is now out for Android and iOS. We also discuss “The Big Show” as folks call the National Retail Federation conference that happened this week, hitting on how players like Intel and Zebra are staking out territory. There’s some Nest news, a bit on another service provider offering a smart home plan and our thoughts on Sonos’ new direction.

The Industrial Internet of Things Lab at National Instruments.

After the news, I brought on three industrial internet experts to talk about the state of the industrial internet of things, tips for smaller companies at setting your pricing in a negotiation with larger players and insights on PTC’s strategy after it bought all of those IoT and augmented reality companies. I’m curious if you guys see what PTC CEO Hepplemann sees when it comes to the future of AR.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Jamie Smith, Director of Embedded Systems at NI, Alex Davern CEO of NI, and Jim Heppelmann CEO of PTC
Sponsor: Dell

  • New Raspberry Pis boost compute
  • Can connected retail save the brick and mortar store?
  • Sonos, Nvidia’s Shield and Stringify thoughts
  • Who’s buying the industrial IoT
  • Taking Pokemon Go to the factory floor

Episode 29: The smart home may one day have a debt to NASA

If you’ve ever wondered how to get started on a smart home of your own, Kevin Tofel and I share a few ways to get started, answering some questions about hubs outlets and how to think about buying connected gadgets for the first time. Those looking to start converting their home to a smart home could begin with something as simple as Smart blinds to revolutionize the way natural light is let into their properties. A solution as simple as this can prove extremely effective in demonstrating what the future of similar technologies holds in store and the exciting world of smart devices we are moving towards. We also discuss a few new development boards and why I went on a rant about the issues with the smart home in Fortune last week. Finally we talked about Korner, a really simple to use home security product for $98 that seems to have a lot going for it.

Korner tag being applied to a window. -- Image courtesy of Korner.
Korner tag being applied to a window. — Image courtesy of Korner.

For those looking for my SmartThings review, please wait another week. I set it up and became a little too ambitious and didn’t test out the more common use cases before going straight to some really fancy things that most people wouldn’t do and caused some problems for myself. Next week it will be ready for the full run down. As for this week’s guest, We have Jim Hepplemann, the CEO of PTC, whose company just said it would acquire the Vuforia augmented reality platform from Qualcomm. PTC has also acquired ThingWorx and Axeda, both IoT platforms for businesses as part of remaking the former industrial design software company into a one-stop-shop for the connected world.

Heppleman shares this idea of creating a digital twin in AR for every physical product, chock full of data that product might be generating. So under AR, your smart devices might one day share information about their connections with other devices and services, their histories and stats that aren’t visible to you and more. In industrial settings it’s far more powerful. So listen to the podcast and be wowed.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jim Hepplemann, CEO of PTC

  • Let’s put the consumer first and stop issuing new standards that require people to constantly buy new stuff.
  • How to set up a smart home? We tell you how to think about it.
  • Check out new dev boards and a the Korner home security set up.
  • Thinking about how to use augmented reality in the smart home and industrial internet.
  • The concept of a digital twin and the IoT’s debt to NASA.