Episode 293: Amazon’s Halo and the election and IoT

We kicked off the post-Election Day show with an update on ballot initiatives in Massachusetts, Maine, and California that have an impact on the internet of things. After that, we discussed Google’s ability to predict HVAC problems and the promise of smart thermostats. Then we focused on two devices worth covering, a smart lamp from Byte-Dance and a communications tool for outdoor adventures from Milo. Smarter AI in the form of voice detection and drones that can tell the number of people in a building rounded out the news. After that, I discussed my first impressions of the Amazon Halo fitness tracker and had a small break down over body fat percentages. We ended with a call from a football fan who wants to play AM radio over his smart speakers during the game.

The Amazon Halo is an activity tracker focused on wellness. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

Our guest this week is Nick Kucharewski, VP and GM of wired and wireless infrastructure and networking at Qualcomm. He’s on the show to explain where Wi-Fi is heading in the next few years and why you should upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 if you’re in the market for a new router. He also makes the case for a new router even if you don’t think you need one. And he explains what we can expect from home Wi-Fi in the future such as security services, monitoring of the elderly, and more. But the next generation of Wi-Fi isn’t something that will come in a box; it’s something you’ll pay subscription fees for. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Kucharewski of Qualcomm
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Teracode

  • Ballot initiatives that impact the IoT
  • An expensive gift idea for outdoor fans
  • The Amazon Halo makes me feel a lot of things
  • What’s up with the latest Wi-Fi routers?
  • Why do I need Wi-Fi 6?

 

Episode 292: We play with Whoop bands and Wyze cams

First up on this week’s show are Forrester’s predictions for the year ahead in IoT, followed by me talking about my latest tech gadget, the Whoop Strap. Whoop recently raised $100 million in funding for its subscription-based band designed for hardcore athletes. From there we talked about the new Arduino Oplà IoT Kit, the real steps we’d like to see companies take with their green gadget efforts, and the FCC’s decision to allocate spectrum for both unlicensed use and cellular connected-car technology. In our news bits, we talk about Amazon, Mercedes, Google Nest, and Starlink. From there, Kevin reviews the latest version of the Wyze Camera that launched this week. We close by answering a listener question about smart light sockets.

The Whoop strap is a fitness tracker/coach that requires a monthly subscription.

Our guest this week is Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected. Three years ago he launched the company with a Kickstarter project: A replacement for motherboards inside old alarm systems, turning the existing panel and sensors into a smart security system. DIYers love the ability to control their existing sensors and Clark explains where the product is going and how he handled SmartThing’s transition from its Groovy IDE to the cloud. He ends with advice for anyone who wants to build a business in the smart home.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nate Clark, the CEO of Konnected
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Very

  • Forrester predicts COVID-19 making IoT pretty ubiquitous
  • Whoop is a different kind of fitness tracker
  • Wyze’s third-generation cam looks familiar
  • SmartThings’ platform shift explained by a developer
  • Advice for people building a niche connected product

Episode 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

Episode 275: Does the smart home need glasses?

This week Kevin and I talk about my recent move and what I am looking for in a video doorbell before diving into our thoughts on Google’s planned smart home event for next week. Then we cover the big IoT acquisitions of the week from Google, lululemon(!), and Amazon. After that, we discuss Qualcomm’s new chip for wearables, Netgear’s mid-range Orbi router, Amazon’s new space services, Nest installations, and companies giving up on 360 video for VR. Kevin then shares his thoughts on the Echo Frames, which is Amazon’s attempt to put Alexa on your face. We conclude the news segment by answering a question about why we like color-changing light bulbs.

The North Focals glasses cost $999 and now belong to Google. Image by North.

Our guest this week is Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise, who came on the show to discuss the partnership Honeywell signed last month with SAP to combine operations data from buildings with business data. She explains that this deal is about bringing the analytics common in the IT world to the action-oriented information from the OT world, allowing companies to understand how their buildings affect their bottom line. She talks about the details of the partnership but also explains what’s behind the IT/OT convergence and shares her thoughts on how far companies can get with a horizontal solution for enterprise IoT. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise,
Sponsor: Very and Very

  • Which video doorbell did I buy?
  • Google buys North and gets another pair of glasses
  • Kevin tries on Amazon Echo Frames
  • What’s behind the new SAP and Honeywell partnership
  • How COVID-19 pushed Honeywell and SAP to focus on smart buildings

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

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 211: Google’s Anthos and the death of Stringify

This week Kevin and I spend a chunk of the podcast discussing the end of Stringify and the other options available to users. We also talk about the need for an easy way to transfer automations from one system to another. After that, we tackle Google’s Anthos cloud platform and what it means for the IoT and edge before veering back to consumer news with IKEA’s partnership with Sonos.  Then we cover the plethora of smart cameras at the ISC trade show, more details about Google’s mysterious Mistral board, a new HomeKit device from Eve, and JD Powers getting into the IoT. We close by answering a question about stopping your friends from telling your Google Home what to do.

The Sonos and IKEA collaboration produced this speaker/lamp combo.

Our guest this week is Andy Coravos who is the CEO of Elektra Labs, a startup that is trying to create scientifically accurate benchmarks for medical devices. The early audience is pharma companies who want to remotely monitor participants in clinical trials and need to know if the step counter on the Apple Watch or the heart rate monitor on the Fitbit is accurate. Coravos was also a former EIR at the Food and Drug Administration, and she talks about the steps the agency is taking to regulate digital health products without standing in the way of innovation and security. It’s a great conversation.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Coravos, CEO of Elektra Labs
Sponsors: SoftwareAG and IoTWorld

  • Throwing in the towel on Wink and the tinkerer’s smart home
  • Google performed some sweet jujitsu with Anthos
  • Smart cameras are boosting demand for AI at the edge
  • How to eliminate the threat of digital snake oil in connected health
  • What other agencies can learn about regulating the IoT from the FDA

Episode 210: Hannover Messe and haptic IoT

This week’s show focuses on the tremendous amount of industrial IoT news coming out of the Hannover Messe event held in Germany. We cover Microsoft and BMW’s Open Manufacturing Platform and the similarly named Open Industry 4.0 Alliance as well as the prevalence of 5G news at the show. After explaining what is going on in the industrial world, Kevin and I discuss a patent for silencing drones from Amazon, news on Google’s shopping partnership extension with Wal-Mart, and a new Google Hub. Kevin also shares his scoop on Google’s new Mistral board. We then discuss surveillance in smart cities before revisiting our answer from last week’s voicemail to add more ways to connect your smart blinds to Alexa.

A figure from Amazon’s hot air balloon patent issued this week.

This week our guest is Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks, which makes a product called the Wayband. The Wayband uses haptic feedback to guide visually-impaired people using haptic feedback. Kirkland explains what his team learned about building a product, the opportunities offered by haptic feedback and how other designers should think about adding haptic feedback to their devices. And all of this started because he just wanted to build a connected suit that would help him learn Kung Fu. It’s a fun interview!

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Keith Kirkland, CEO of Wearworks
Sponsors: Software AG and IoT World

  • The IT industry digs into industrial IoT at Hannover Messe
  • Why wireless matters for industrial IoT
  • Kevin’s got a scoop on a possible Google device
  • Waterproofing is somewhat important
  • Touch isn’t the same everywhere on the body

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

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. It’s well known that smart home technology is the latest method that homeowners can use to reduce their energy bills. Traditional techniques like fitting new windows austin is known for having the best range of suppliers if this is something you’re looking into, are still effective but you will need to embrace modern methods too in order to save as much as you can. 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?