Episode 388: Insurers come for the smart home

This week launched with a bang for those interested in the role insurers might play in the smart home as State Farm agreed to make a 1.2 billion equity investment in security firm ADT. This follows on the heels of Google’s equity investment in ADT in 2020 and signals a shift in the way insurance companies are thinking about the smart home. Google also said it would add more money to its ADT partnership. We then discuss a Matter demonstration at IFA and give some updates on what to expect from the protocol. After that we discuss the upcoming Google event and the Apple event from this week before taking a quick break.

The Flair vents work with a temperature-sensing puck. Image courtesy of Flair.

We don’t have a guest this week so we dove right back into the news with a trio of big fundings for the internet of things. First up is funding for a satellite IoT company called OQ that is special because it can use existing NB-IoT and LTE-M radios. The second funding is $140 million for Morse Micro, a chip company that is making chips for Wi-Fi HaLow deployments. The final funding is for Flair, a maker of connected HVAC vents for the home, which raised $7.6 million. We then talk about Ring adding end-to-end encryption for its wireless doorbell and video camera products, new ways to address your Nest Hub Max without saying “Hey Google” first, and new lights from Philips Hue. I also review the Hue Tap Dial Switch and realize my love of buttons is going to force me to do some serious work when Matter arrives. We end the show by answering a listener question about a smart button (or maybe a dumb one) for a smart garage door opener.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsors:  Infineon and Silicon Labs

  • With the smart home, insurers can make sure you’re staying secure
  • Matter previewed at IFA
  • Wi-Fi HaLow got a big boost with Morse Micro funding
  • Climate change and energy conservation is driving smarter HVAC
  • I really love the Hue Tap Dial Switch

Episode 382: Is Helium full of hot air?

We start this week’s show with a deep dive into a popular post from this week about the Helium network. The report pointed out that Helium only made $6,500 in the month of June from data rates. We explain why that’s not a surprise and what it will take to get those numbers up. Then we talk about Apple’s Air Tags and their potential use to track thieves and suitcases. Then Kevin reviews the Eve Motion with Thread sensor and then we focus on the excellent article from CNET that documents when Ring, Nest, Arlo and other camera companies will share your video data with police. The we cover shorter stories from Drover AI, two satellite deals including a $3.4 billion European acquisition deal, and updated lighting features from GE Cync. We then answer a listener question about Insteon’s plan for an annual fee for cloud connectivity and services.

My suitcase and obligatory Air Tag. Image courtesy of A. Allemann.

Our guest this week is Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable, a precision agriculture company. He’s on the show to talk about Arable’s $40 million in funding, and what Arable has learned in the last six years of operation. We also talk about the myth of using data to create “perfect predictions” and what sorts of predictions are more realistic when discussing how farm sensors can help farmers increase yields. Then we discuss why farmers are looking beyond simple ROI measurements when adopting technology and how sensor platforms such as Arable’s can help make their investments in sustainability or traceability pay off. We end with a list of hardware that Ethington would like to see for future field sensors. These include better connectivity options and sensors that provide more options for detecting different wavelengths of light. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable
Sponsors: InfluxData and Intent

  • Helium is a legit business, but is it worth $1.2 billion?
  • The Air Tag is a tool for good or evil
  • How Ring and Google decide what videos to share with police
  • The future of precision farming goes far beyond greater yields
  • Sensors with different spectral ranges will let us better monitor plant health

Episode 380: Here’s what we think with Wink on the blink

This week’s show comes to y’all from Paris and the English seaside, with Kevin and I wondering exactly what happened to Wink. We also offer options for the few remaining holdouts on the platform. We then discuss Hive’s decision to pull back on smart home devices and its new smart thermostat (Hive plans to continue making smart energy devices). Then we focus on surveillance news starting with San Francisco’s Rule’s Committee broadening support for law enforcement agencies to access Ring camera data. Then we share how often police got access to Ring device footage without the owner’s permission. The Federal Trade Commission has a warning for companies that say they anonymize their data when in fact, they do not, and Home Assistant now has a program for formal integrations. We also share our perspectives on BMW charging a monthly fee for access to heated seats. We end by answering a listener question about network extenders.

What the heck is up with Wink? We still don’t know.

Our guest this week is Pilgrim Beart, CEO of DevicePilot, which works with companies to provide service assurance for connected devices. We discuss what the heck service assurance actually is, as well as the challenges of the smart home. Beart was the former CEO of AlertMe, which provided the back end for Lowes’ Iris and the Hive smart home systems. He talks about how his companies both shifted from a focus on smart home devices to smart energy. Then we talk about why the energy market is so ripe for disruption from players willing to take advantage of embedded intelligence. We end with a discussion about the role of regulators in the connected energy markets and how they should approach the job. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Pilgrim Beart, CEO of DevicePilot
Sponsors: InfluxData and Intent

  • It’s time to dump Wink and here’s what to choose instead
  • Police have gotten data from Ring 11 time in the last year without owner permission
  • The FTC thinks your data anonymization claims are sus
  • Why the smart home was destined to fail
  • We need to think about resiliency when bringing smarts to the grid

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 329: Radar is coming to the smart home

Welcome to another show! We’re spending the first few minutes of the show diving into the rise of RF sensing in the IoT, covering the news of Amazon applying for an FCC waiver to use radar for sleep tracking, the FCC creating a notice of proposed rulemaking to use the 60 GHz spectrum for radar, and a deep dive into other technologies in the 60 GHz spectrum such as ultrawideband and even Wi-Fi sensing. Then we talk about Ring’s end-to-end video encryption, right to repair news, and how to use local control on the Amazon Echo. Our news bits include stories about Google, an IIoT vulnerability, new light strips from Wyze, and Motorola Solutions planning to buy Openpath. We end by answering a listener question about Wyze.

The latest generation Google Nest hub uses radar to track sleep. Soon, we could see the tech in more devices around the home and in cars. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Chris Grove, product evangelist at Nozomi Networks, who is on the show to discuss a new report detailing the escalation of ransomware attacks across several industries. He also talks about how the recent spate of ransomware attacks has and will continue to affect manufacturing operations. He breaks down how attacks on IT networks can affect operations networks and he offers some advice on how governments and companies can mitigate the harm of ransomware attacks. One suggestion I found worth noting was his idea that more companies start adopting separate Safety Instrumented Systems,  which are separate networks that monitor and can shut down other network systems in case of an error. It’s a really informative interview for those who want to understand more about the demands of OT systems and what they can teach us about IT security.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chris Grove, product evangelist at Nozomi Networks
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Trek10

  • Want to understand everything you need to know about radar?
  • Biden’s right-to-repair rules target smart farming equipment
  • In which we discover Alexa has local control options
  • Why IT folks should know more about safety instrumented systems
  • Cameras are everywhere, and they are still pretty vulnerable

Episode 327: Amazon’s Halo health push and more Matter

Any Amazon Halo subscriber can try Amazon’s Movement Health service now, so Kevin and I explain what it is and what Amazon’s decisions around the Halo fitness tracker signal about the company’s interest in healthcare. We then cover the good news that Google will support connected Nest devices with security updates for up to five years after launch and Google’s new location tracking app for its Wi-Fi routers. Kevin wonders why Verizon needs its own smart display and tells us about Lenovo’s latest Google clock display while I share news of a smart building startup getting funding. We end with the news that ADT and Ring have settled their lawsuit about Ring’s use of the trademarked blue ADT octagon. After the news, we answer a listener’s question about changing Wi-Fi SSIDs and passwords and what that might mean for his smart home devices.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 can charge your phone using a Qi dock. Image courtesy of Lenovo.

Our guest this week is Nathan Dyck, chief product officer at Nanoleaf. We kick off the segment by focusing on the future of lighting before digging into a discussion of the Thread protocol. He talks about why Thread is such a positive choice for the smart home, and then we talk about Matter. He explains what the multi-admin feature is and tells us why he’s excited about the distributed ledger for tracking the provenance of a device. We end with a look ahead at some of the features he expects to see in smart lights after Matter is established. Enjoy the show.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nathan Dyck, chief product officer Nanoleaf
Sponsors: Silicon Labs and Trek10

  • Amazon’s Halo isn’t about fitness, it’s a about health
  • How long should a thermostat get security updates?
  • Could Verizon’s new display offer a path to Amazon’s Sidewalk?
  • Nanoleaf didn’t start out making smart lights
  • Matter may make new features easier to develop

Episode 319: How ML at the edge will make products truly smart

This week’s show was a lot of fun to record with Kevin and me discussing Google’s upcoming I/O event and updates on the chip shortage from STMicro, TSMC, and someone who makes electronics. We also talk about Kroger’s drone delivery plans, cameras in cars, funding for robotic computer vision, and funding for robotic welding driven by AI. After that, we hit some smaller news items such as Amazon adding greetings to the Ring doorbell, Oura raising $100 million, and an update to Withings’ scale that provides a new biomarker. We then cover my review of the Lutron outdoor outlet and Kevin reviews Apple’s new AirTags. We conclude by answering a listener question about Bluetooth mesh.

Kroger will introduce a drone delivery pilot this spring in the Midwest in partnership with Drone Express. Image courtesy of Kroger.

This week, our guest is David McIntyre, the VP of marketing at Perceive, a startup building edge-based machine learning chips. He shares several ways that local machine learning will enable new features in products and explains how to add machine learning to consumer devices. He also explains how adding smarts to products changes their design and offers advice for those trying to rethink their own product strategies. We spent a lot of time trying to dissect what makes something smart as opposed to connected, and I think y’all will enjoy that discussion.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David McIntyre of Perceive
Sponsor: Very

  • The chip shortage will make a lot of gadgets more expensive
  • How should we handle camera data from inside our cars?
  • Lutron’s outdoor outlet is pricey, but high quality
  • Local ML will enable better Zoom calls and smart appliances
  • Forget the ecosystem, and think about differentiation when building smart devices

Episode 318: Lawsuits galore and Silicon Labs bets it all on the IoT

This week’s show starts off with two lawsuits: the first filed by ADT alleging trademark infringement against Ring, and the second a decision by the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals related to police accessing cell phone location data without a warrant. Wemo’s new scene controller, Everactive’s energy harvesting sensors, a discussion about Helium’s tokens, and a new network partner are next. We then cover some financial news with Life360 acquiring Jiobit for $37 million, Safehub getting $9 million in funding, and $55 million for OpenSpace, a startup that brings the IoT to construction. Then, Kevin shares his thoughts on Eve Aqua, a HomeKit and Thread compatible faucet controller. Finally, we close with a listener question about whether your smart home should have its own email address.

An image taken from ADT’s lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by Ring.

This week’s guest is Matt Johnson, the newly named president of Silicon Labs. He and I discussed Silicons Labs’ divestiture of its automotive and industrial lines of business to Skyworks for $2.75 billion. With this deal, Silicon Labs is going all-in on the IoT, and we talk about what that means for the company. He shares his thoughts on what the IoT requires from chipmakers in terms of hardware and software. We also explore how Silicon Labs plans to continue adding security for the IoT and the growth of machine learning on edge devices, and how that will affect chip design.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Matt Johnson, president of Silicon Labs
Sponsors:  DigiCert and Qt

  • ADT files another lawsuit against Ring
  • Will we try Wemo’s new HomeKit-enabled scene controller?
  • Helium expands its mining and network operations
  • Why Silicon Labs sold off a big chunk of its business
  • The two biggest trends in the IoT are security and AI

Episode 315: A Mad Max mask and a power grid of your own

This week Kevin is back and we start the show talking about the Xupermask from Will.i.am and Honeywell. Ring is adding radar to a floodlight camera and we’re pumped for that, while MIT researchers are using RF to help give robots X-ray vision. Apple is formally launching a certification program for developers who want to build for its Find My service, Verizon is expanding its edge computing partnership with Amazon Web Services, and we also talk about the end of 3G. More water plant hacks, Amazon Alexa adding a skills platform for businesses, new Ikea speakers, and tweaks to Google’s Home app round out the news segment of the show. Kevin also shares his review of the Wyze Watch. Finally, we answer a listener question about if and how platforms such as Home Assistant or OpenHAB can handle deprecated APIs for smart home devices.

Eaton’s new Alexa Wi-Fi dimmer is part of a portfolio of products that fit into its Home as a Grid concept. Image courtesy of Eaton.

Our guest this week is Jennifer Ploskina, connected solutions segment manager with Eaton. Eaton makes electrical equipment for utilities, industry, and homes. We talk about how demand for electricity will force utilities, homeowners and building owners to invest in a smarter grid.  She argues that we will eventually have energy generation capabilities that will help offset demand from the grid, and may one day even provide additional revenue streams for homes or offices. And she explains how we’ll get to the place where homes have batteries, solar and other features that will turn them into little power stations. We also discuss standards, Alexa, and the potential for Project Connected Home over IP. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jennifer Ploskina with Eaton
Sponsors: Digicert and Qt

  • The Will.i.am mask is not totally ridiculous
  • Apple expands its proprietary ecosystem to asset finding
  • Some “hackers” are employees and companies need to deal with that
  • What happens when your home or office has a mini power grid?
  • Turn your EV battery into a revenue stream

Episode 312: Cricut’s switch up, Google’s new hub, and the end of the HomePod

This week on the show we return to the classic story of a company trying to use a software update to limit the functionality of a connected product after someone has purchased it. The latest example is Cricut, which makes a connected craft cutting device. The company recently said users would have to start subscribing to its service if they wanted to continue uploading more than 20 patterns to its software each month. After an outcry, it shifted its stance. We also talk about Apple stopping sales of the original HomePod, and new products from Ring. We then cover updates to the Particle platform, a self-sanitizing door handle, and Apple’s potential plan for light switches. We also answer a listener question about HomeKit-compatible indoor cameras.

Deako plug-n-play light switches are contracted to be installed into 1 out of every 8 new single-family homes built in the U.S.

Our guest this week is Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako, a company that builds modular light switches for home builders. The company just raised a $12.5 million funding round, so Richardson and I discuss the plans for the money and the changes happening in the builder market when it comes to smart devices. We then talked about what it takes to build a long-lived device and why you may one day pack your light switches when you move. We closed with a bit on Thread and the potential that Project CHIP might have. It’s a fun interview and offers a very different perspective on smart lighting.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Derek Richardson, CEO of Deako
SponsorSwitch Always On

  • Cricut angers a lot of users with new subscription push
  • Do you want to let Google watch you sleep?
  • Particle entices developers with free connectivity for the first 100 devices
  • What has changed in the last five years of selling smart homes to builders
  • Will you one day bring your light switches when you move?