Episode 309: Why your IoT device shipments are delayed

We’re really excited about radar in this week’s episode, so we discuss Ring’s new doorbell that added it for motion detection and Apple’s patent that plans to use radar for detecting vital signs. We also talk about radar being a feature that Plume plans to add to its Wi-Fi devices in the near future while discussing the company’s $270 million funding round. We then discuss Portland ditching smart city software, the Echo Show 10 reviews, HomeKit support for two sets of devices, and the coming ability to talk to Google’s Assistant even when the screen is locked. I then explain how you can stop some of the unwanted comments from Alexa if she’s telling you about low batteries in your smart home devices or asking you to rate a product you have purchased on Amazon. We end by answering a listener’s question about bringing Wi-Fi to his detached garage.

Ring’s new doorbell will cost $249.99 and ships on March 31. Image courtesy of Ring.

Our guest this week is Chris Carney, the co-founder and CEO of Abode. Carney explains why companies are experiencing so many delays in shipping products and why many of your favorite devices might be out of stock. The chip shortage plays a role, but so do delays at ports and challenges faced by last-mile delivery networks like the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. He explains how his company is trying to adapt, and when we can expect to see these shortages ease up. He also offers some advice to other companies affected by similar challenges. Enjoy the show while waiting for your latest gadget to arrive.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Carney, co-founder and CEO of Abode
Sponsor: Very

  • Ring’s new doorbell gets a fancy new feature
  • Plume’s funding could lead to small acquisitions
  • How to reduce Alexa’s spam
  • Chips, ships, and delayed trips
  • When will supply chains get back to normal?

Episode 308: Chipageddon and deets on the Pi Pico

Silicon is the theme of this week’s show, starting with a rundown on the chip shortage affecting the automotive and IoT world. Then we talk about the Los Angles Police Department requesting footage from connected doorbell cameras during the Black Lives Matter protests before moving on to Amazon’s new Kickstarter-like program for new Alexa products. In new product news, we cover Wyze’s color-changing light bulbs, Facebooks’ rumored smartwatch, and a peer-to-peer mesh network using the ClusterDuck protocol. We then share a new command for Google Assistant, discuss funding for an AI chip company, speculate on Verizon’s purchase of a robotics software startup, and dig into the many DIY options for building your own image recognition models. We end by answering a question about products that might help you save money on your electric bill.

If you want to see Amazon build a scale that works with Alexa for $34.99, you can pre-order it today. If enough people order it, Amazon will make it. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Allan explains why the Foundation decided to build its own chip for the first Pi Pico microcontroller and why the Pi Foundation even built a microcontroller in the first place. He also discusses how the Pi Pico differs from an Arduino, talks up some use cases, and dives into ways it might be used for machine learning at the edge. After declining to tell me what might be next for the Pi Foundation, he did point out that no one assembles a chip design team to build just one chip, so it sounds like there’s a lot to look forward to.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alasdair Allan, technical documentation manager at Raspberry Pi Trading, the commercial arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Sponsor: Very

  • What’s behind the chip shortage and how long will it last?
  • We can’t expect Ring to police the police, so here’s what we should expect
  • Project OWL is a public safety or industrial mesh network
  • The custom-chip in the Pi Pico is designed for flexibility
  • Tiny ML means less internet in the IoT

 

Episode 306: Ring wins big with Lennar

This week’s show kicks off with news from Lennar about its new smart home offering with Ring, and a discussion on what it means that Ring now has more than 2,000 police and fire departments as partners. After that, we discuss what we learned from the Tesla recall about the business of connected products, and what options y’all have if you want to ditch your Wink hub. Then we talk about a Kickstarter for some smart infrastructure products, an update coming to Google Home, and wellness data coming to Google displays. In smaller news, we touch on Abode’s HomeKit widgets, Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 2.0 for IoT, and Kevin going all-in on HomeKit. We end by answering a listener question about the best HomeKit hub to use.

Apple’s HomePod mini is small and costs $99. Image courtesy of Apple.

Our guest this week is Eric Feder, who is with LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar. He’s on the show to talk about Lennar’s new partnership with Ring, Flo by Moen, Resideo, Level Lock, and more. We also discuss how Lennar’s views of the smart home have changed since it first started trying to integrate connected devices into its houses. He then talks about what features might be missing and investments the company has in new building techniques, gray water reclamation, and more. It’s a sneak peek into the future.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Eric Feder, of LenX, the venture group for homebuilder Lennar
Sponsor: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • Ring’s still using local police to sell its doorbells
  • Tesla’s right about computers in long-lived devices
  • After Wink, which hub is right for you?
  • Why Lennar dumped “movie night” routines and focused on plumbing
  • Building sustainable homes with smart tech

 

Episode 303: Everything from CES 2021 and a bit about LoRa

This week’s show is mostly about CES 2021, starting with an array of interesting devices that were launched. We covered a lot of them here, but we also mentioned a $3,000 pet door, an energy harvesting NB-IoT modem demonstration, and Kevin’s take on where we are with the smart home based on what he saw. We also discussed Ring’s encryption news explaining what it does and does not mean. And because I love semiconductors we gave a quick mention to Intel’s new CEO and Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia. The Qualcomm deal represents a huge shift for server and computing CPUs and is likely why Intel felt it needed the skills of Pat Gelsinger in the executive chair.  We end the show by answering a question about Lutron and Apple’s adaptive lighting.

The MyQ Pup portal is quite the pet door. Image courtesy of Chamberlain MyQ.

Our guest this week is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network. He is here to talk about how to build a business around LoRa networks and give his thoughts on why enterprises might need one. We also talk about consumer LoRa networks and Amazon’s Sidewalk network. Will that ever be an open option? Giezeman shares case studies and a discount code if anyone listening wants to learn more about LoRa at The Things Conference, a weeklong virtual event all about LoRa that starts Jan. 25. That discount code we mention is TTC21-I-KNOW-STACEY. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Network
Sponsors: TeraCode and Techmeme

  • CES had half the vendors and some weird tech
  • Smart home tech is in a period of refinement right now
  • Big news in the chip world
  • How many low power WANs do we need?
  • Let’s check out of LoRa in action

Episode 291: All about Amazon’s Sidewalk and the new Echo

This week we start and end with dying devices. First up, we talk about Google discontinuing its Nest Secure alarm system and sensors (it will still support existing systems in the field). We then talk about Nanoleaf’s new products including lights that support Thread. This week is full of smart speakers as we discuss the new Acer Halo and I offer my thoughts on Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo and the Echo Dot with clock. We also talk about the new Raspberry Pi compute module, ARM’s new edge processor, and Microsoft’s open-source project to support Kubernetes at the edge. Google adds support for multiple accounts on your display, there’s a new smart blind project coming, a recall, and we have an update on the Ring mailbox sensor. We end with a question from a reader that wants to reuse his Harman Kardon Invoke speakers after Microsoft discontinues Cortana. And now, we’ve come full circle.

The new Nanoleaf triangles and mini-triangles will work with the existing hexagon Shapes. Image courtesy of Nanoleaf.

Our guest this week is Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He explains how the network will work for consumers and device makers. For now, you’ll need an Amazon device with a Sidewalk-compatible radio in it to connect devices to the network. We also talk about how much bandwidth Amazon wants to use on your network and which radios will support the Sidewalk protocol. For those wondering when we’ll see devices for the network and how much it will cost, he talks about that too. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Manolo Arana, GM of Amazon’s Sidewalk network
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Very

  • What do we do about dying smart home stuff?
  • Nanoleaf, shut up, and take my money!
  • The latest Echo hits the right (bass) notes
  • How Sidewalk differs from LoRaWAN and other LPWANs
  • Downed internet? Sidewalk might help.

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