Episode 284: Amazon Halo, the FBI and smart cars

This week’s show starts off with the FBI’s concerns about the Ring doorbell, then news about Apple and Google making their COVID-19 exposure notification framework easier for states to use. We discuss consolidation in the smart apartment market, vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and then dive into a heap of newly launched devices. First up is the Amazon Halo wearable launched last week, and then new Amazon Blink cameras. (In other Amazon news we talked about paying for gas with Alexa and Amazon getting FAA approval for drone deliveries.) Wyze is planning to build headphones, as is Sonos, and Lenovo has a new smart speaker alarm clock for $50. We end with a listener question about wireless sensor tags.

Blink Outdoor and Indoor Cameras will sell for $99.99 and $79 .99 respectively. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo, an Israeli automotive data company. He came on the show to discuss what we can do with car data. Cars can produce gigabytes of data and Otonomo can pull data in from more than 20 million vehicles, either in aggregate or individually, to provide different services. In smart cities, car data might provide detailed parking information or flag dangerous intersections. For companies, Otonomo can provide fleet management, but it also foresees a future where third-party businesses can build services such as a tire-pressure management service that ensures all the cars in a fleet have enough air in their tires. Broadly, Matan convinced me that connectivity and sensors in cars could become a platform as powerful as the mobile phone. See what you think.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matan Tessler, VP of product for Otonomo
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • Surveillance tech can go two ways
  • Get ready for consolidation in the connected MDU world
  • Amazon is launching several cool new products and functions
  • If you think of a car like a smartphone what could you do?
  • How cars can help cities flag dangerous intersections

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 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 263: Insurance gets smart and Google Home gets local

Kevin and I kick off the show with the news that Google is moving ahead on its local control for certain smart home devices, which will be helpful for people who want faster response times and a bit more privacy. We also discuss the FCC’s approval to make Wi-Fi 6 E spectrum available. From there we speculate about the Ring Doorbox and Apple Tags products before jumping into news from Ecobee on support for multi-factor authentication and a new subscription filter business. After that, we explore the idea of a mesh network in space, a smart toilet and discuss a peer-to-peer app for track and trace. After all of this, we answer a question from a listener about how to handle smart devices during power outages.

Image courtesy of Google.

This week’s guest is Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory, a startup that began life as an IoT weather sensor company and is now an insurance provider. Kubicek talks about why the company had to build its own gear and bypass the insurance market in order to succeed. He also anticipates where we’re going to see data-driven insurance go next. As a bonus, he offers a detailed account of how hail insurance works in my former home state of Texas. Exciting!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alex Kubicek, the CEO of Understory
Sponsors: Calix and Ayla Networks

  • Why Google’s local SDK is so good for the smart home
  • What the heck is the new Ring Doorbox?
  • Yes, we did discuss the smart toilet seats that take a fingerprint of your backside
  • The connection between Texas, hail and some impressive insurance fraud
  • Data could drive the spread of parametric insurance

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 256: The tech industry is growing up

This week Kevin is back and we’re digging into Ring’s decision to listen to its critics and change some of its security features. It’s a welcome sign of overall maturity in the tech industry. At the same time, it’s unclear if the Ring cameras are that helpful to law enforcement. We then discuss the rise in smart speaker sales, a privacy-focused bracelet, funding for cool new technology, and how China’s handling of the coronavirus shows off the pros and cons of IoT in society. We hit some news bits related to 5G networks, a way for ISPs to make sure your IoT gear is working, funding for Bluetooth chips, and a cybersecurity warning for healthcare. Kevin also shares his planned Home Assistant project. We end with a way to keep your Google Assistants on your home devices from fighting with your Pixel.

The prototype is a self-contained wearable comprised of ultrasonic transducers, a signal generator, a microcontroller, a battery, a voltage regulator and a 3W amplifier. Image courtesy of the University of Chicago. 

This week’s guest is Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems, who comes on to share details of the firm’s technology and to discuss how the company is trying to respect user privacy. Cognitive Systems has developed technology that measures disruptions in a home Wi-Fi network and uses those disruptions as a way to track actions in the home. Currently, ISPs and router makers can use the technology to offer motion sensing for security purposes, but eventually, it might offer a way to detect falls or even motion as subtle as a baby breathing. That level of insight also creates privacy concerns, so Manku explains exactly how the firm handles consumer data and the steps it has taken to ensure even law enforcement can’t see inside the home. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Taj Manku, CEO of Cognitive Systems
SponsorsDigiCert and Very

  • Ring has decided to listen to consumer security complaints
  • China’s surveillance state is one version of our IoT future
  • Kevin’s planning to embrace Home Assistant
  • How to see inside a home without using cameras
  • A cloud-to-cloud approach and encryption are some ways to protect your privacy

Episode 254: Google goes enterprise with Glass

This week Kevin and I start the show with a focus on Google’s new Glass product for the enterprise, and a newly discovered smart hub from the Craftsman brand (h/t Jimmy Hawkins). We also cover the Starling smart hub that can link your Nest gear to your HomeKit account, and discuss Kevin’s reaction to Ring partnering with his local police force. In smaller news, there’s a new industrial hardware board for IoT, Google can help find your Tile, MIT has doubled wireless carrying capacity with a smart surface, and Philips Hue fixes a security flaw. We also muse on Google’s hardware numbers  — or lack thereof — and close with a question about Zigbee devices falling off a SmartThings’ network.

The Paranoid device turns off the mic on your smart speaker or spouts white noise that interferes with the speaker until you want to ask Alexa or Google for something.

My guest this week is one of the creators of a new device designed to stop your smart speaker from listening to your conversation. Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions. The Candian software development firm has launched a device called Paranoid that sits on top of your smart speaker and either physically turns off the microphone or uses white noise to block the mic from listening in. When the user activates the Paranoid device using their voice the Paranoid either physically unmutes the smart speaker or stops generating white noise so Google or Alexa can hear the request. Pimentel explains why Pleasant built this and how it works for our listeners. It feels like a security blanket for people who are worried enough about their smart speaker to spend $49 for a Paranoid device but are still enamored by the convenience of their smart speaker.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Demian Pimentel is an electrical engineer with Pleasant Solutions
Sponsors: Digicert and Very

  • Can Google’s new Glass cut it in the enterprise?
  • Kevin discovers that Ring doorbells in his neighborhood may share with police
  • This industrial IoT board may double as a space heater
  • What is Paranoid, and will it protect my privacy?
  • Is this a necessary device or a patent grab?

Episode 253: Smart cities, Ring, and the new surveillance state

On this week’s show, privacy was a big theme beginning with our conversation about Ring’s sharing of certain user data with third-party tracking sites, a plea from 40 organizations for the U.S. to stop using facial recognition technology, and a new way to think about smart cities. Kevin and I also discussed proposed device security rules for the U.K. and security challenges associated with LoRaWAN networks. We touched upon new water sensors for HomeKit homes, Ciscos’s new security service for industrial IoT, another satellite network for IoT, and Verizon’s deal to put 4G modems on Honeywell’s smart meters. Kevin also found a ring that doubles as an activity tracker. In this week’s IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a question about how to build a smart home that works for visitors.

A rendering of a home in a KB Home planned community near Seattle. Image courtesy of KB Home.

My guest this week is Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home. As a home builder, KB Home has started to integrate some smart devices into their portfolio. Bridleman explains what those options are and how KB plans to support (or offload the support) of a smart home. He also shares what he’s excited about in the home sector and why newer technologies could do away with expensive home infrastructure like copper wiring to switches.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president with KB Home
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • Ring is bad, but it’s hardly the only offender
  • Smart cities are the opposite of a smart home
  • The U.K. may mandate a device expiration date!
  • No one comes in wanting a smart home
  • New tech could replace a lot of expensive home wiring

Episode 249: Welcome to the internet of senses

Happy New Year, y’all! This week Kevin and I kick off the show with a chat about the Wyze security breach. We talk about what it means for you and I offer an idea on how to stop some of these breaches. We also mention the lawsuit against Ring, discuss how the new IoT security and privacy laws in California might be enforced, and talk about our CES predictions. They include robots, digital snake oil, and new entrants into the IoT market. We end by answering a question about pro installations and what to do when Wi-Fi goes down.

Some of your Wyze camera data is probably out in the world, but not your videos.

This week’s guest helps kick off the new year with a discussion about the future, specifically the future of the internet in 2030. I talk to Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab, about the company’s recent consumer survey on the future of the internet. We talk about brain-to-computer interfaces, building digital taste buds and how to deliver touch and scents over the internet. We also talk about the business models necessary to make this future possible. Hint: It’s not advertising.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Dr. Pernilla Jonsson, Head of Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab
SponsorCirrent

  • What Wyze data was leaked? And what wasn’t?
  • Let’s start enforcing developer checklists to protect data
  • CES is going to be good for health tech and robots
  • The next decade is when wearables replace smartphones
  • How we’ll get touch, taste and smells delivered via the internet

 

 

Episode 247: We explain Amazon, Apple and Google’s new smart home standard

This week’s big news is that Amazon, Apple, and Google have agreed to collaborate on the creation of a new smart home standard called the Connected Home over IP (CHIP). We lay out what this is and what it means for consumers, manufacturers, and developers. We then talk about a device for tracking crypto micropayments and the vulnerability with digital certificates in the IoT. We also review the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi system, mention Wyze’s new Alexa skill and talk about LIFX testing its bulbs for outdoor use. We end with a listener question about the tradeoff between security and convenience.

The LIFX BR30 bulbs are now IP65 rated and cold tolerant down to -30 Celsius. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Lee Reiber, COO of Oxygen Forensics, who talks about how law enforcement officers view your connected devices. He shares his perspective on the value of these devices when it comes to solving crimes and explains the current safeguards. The encouraging news is that it’s tough to get most of this data. That, plus the learning curve that police officers have to take judges and prosecutors down makes using it even more difficult. Thus, police officers report to device data only in bigger cases. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Lee Reiber, COO of Oxygen Forensics
Sponsor: Cirrent

  • The CHIP effort is a gamechanger. If it comes together.
  • Thanks to your questions, LIFX bulbs are now outdoor-ready
  • Why must security be so inconvenient?
  • How does law enforcement view our worries about Ring?
  • Murder makes it worth the trouble of getting device data. Shoplifting does not.