Episode 406: Return of the HomePod

This week’s show kicks off with a discussion of Apple’s new HomePod, which has some cool machine learning capabilities and new sensors built into it, plus a higher price tag than most smart speakers. Then we talk about a survey out of the UK that asked 119 appliance makers about their plans to continue updating software over the life of the appliance, finding out that some won’t commit to updates. A former Nest employee has a new connected composting startup that we have some questions about. Then we talk about some deals in the enterprise and industrial sector with the $1.2 billion acquisition of Sierra Wireless by Semtech completed, and a $7 billion hostile takeover of National Instruments by Emerson. In smaller news, we talk about what it means that Google’s new Chromecast 4K remote does away with batteries, Wyze’s new connected cameras that bring back the $20 price tag, and Kevin’s review of the Govee Smart Kettle purchased by his wife. Finally, we answer a listener question about motion sensors that don’t always work, which inspired us to create a survey asking where y’all build your smart home automations.

The new Apple HomePod will ship on Feb. 3. Image courtesy of Apple.

Our guest this week is Ivo Rook, COO of 1NCE, a company that provides device connectivity for 10 years at a cost of $10. Obviously this isn’t for smart phones or cameras, but for many IoT devices, this type of flat-rate pricing over a long time period makes it easy for developers to create a device and predict exactly how much it will cost to support. Rook discusses how the 1NCE mindset differs from the traditional carrier a-roach and explains the rationale behind a new operating system that 1NCE announced at CES. It’s not exactly an OS, but more of an abstraction layer for data traveling from the device to the cloud. It’s a good idea and the open, developer-friendly ethos 1NCE has is pretty exciting. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ivo Rook, COO of 1NCE
Sponsor: Silicon Labs

  • How long will your appliances get software updates?
  • Why Emerson would want National Instruments
  • Kevin’s wife bought a smart kettle, and it’s pretty cool
  • Rethinking the telco business model
  • Is the new 1NCE OS really an OS? Does it matter?

Episode 404: CES has more Matter and many voices

Kevin and I are at CES 2023 this week and eager for the show floor to open to see all of the new and crazy gear. But before we see the show floor, we had to slog through the planned news and media events, which we’re talking about in this week’s show. Matter is everywhere so far with most companies choosing to announce new Matter products that will arrive in the coming months. We cover news from Nanoleaf, Eve, Govee, Samsung, Lutron (no update on Matter plans), and SwitchBot. We then talk about Amazon’s Sidewalk expansion news and its work with two partners for voice interoperability in an automotive platform and with Josh.ai. Also in voice news, Home Assistant will add voice control for its platform in the coming year. And now, prepare for the rush of product news including new Ring cameras, ADT’s app with upgraded Nest integration, Cync lights, and Moen’s new sprinkler and soil sensors. We also discuss Arlo’s new end of life plans for older cameras, which the user community is upset with. Then we talk about a larger trend emerging at CES of building smart devices, such as Masonite’s new powered door, into the home itself. I don’t think we’re ready for this, but the consumer electronics industry is eager to provide these products. Finally, we get more details on Thread’s range from a listener calling in on the Internet of Things Podcast hotline.

Nanoleaf has smart switches and an intelligent Matter over Thread hub. Image courtesy of K. Tofel

Our guest this week is Gimmy Chu, CEO of Nanoleaf. He’s on the show to discuss Nanoleaf’s new Sense+ Controls light switches that contain sensors and additional buttons to manage the growing complexity of color lighting. These are also key components for Nanoleaf’s new Nanoleaf Automations Learning Assistant (Nala), which is an effort to let your lights automate themselves. The idea is that sensors inside the switches will indicate presence, based on time of day, ambient light and stated preferences, then add more information to get the appropriate lighting for that moment. As a person who has been testing smart lights for a decade, I’m eager to see if Nanoleaf has the goods. We’ll have to wait until the third quarter until these are out to test it, but Chu explains what he’s aiming for. We also talk about the future of lighting and how color will play a larger role. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Gimmy Chu, CEO of Nanoleaf
Sponsor: Silicon Labs

  • The promise of Matter is everywhere at CES. The devices, not so much
  • Amazon’s adding LoRa connectivity parters to its Sidewalk program
  • You’re getting more options on the voice assistant front
  • Nanoleaf’s plans for intuitive controls are compelling
  • Why Nanoleaf is waiting to deploy Matter to existing gear

Episode 401: Two big smart home deals explained

The end of the year is a busy time for M&A as companies rush to get deals done before the start of a new tax year, and this week the smart home sector saw Assa Abloy sell its Yale and August smart lock and some other brands to Fortune Brands for $800 million. We explain why the deal happened and why we can blame Matter and the DoJ for the sale. Then we discuss NRG Energy’s $2.8 billion planned acquisition of Vivint, and why it is a big signal for the future of energy management as part of the smart home.  Fundings also happen ahead of the new years, and Phlux Technologies, which makes infrared sensors and Reach, a company building wireless over-the-air power transmitters both scored venture capital this week. In smart home news, we discuss a new mixer from GE that’s super smart and super pricey, and Samsung’s plans for CES this year. In security news, there’s a new botnet out there to worry about. And for developers, there’s a new $200 kit from Swarm that provides satellite connectivity. Finally, we answer a listener question about Matter and local control.

The GE Profile mixer is smart, but expensive. Image courtesy of Crate and Barrel.

Our guest this week is Cathy Pearl, a conversation designer at Google and the author of the O’Reilly book Designing Voice User Interfaces. We discuss the history of voice interactions and what changed to make Amazon’s Alexa such an innovation. We also discuss how voice can help make technology less complicated, what type of conversations people want from a voice interface and how voice also drives accessibility. Then we discuss the ethics of creating voice companions for lonely people and a time that Pearl was stuck at an airport talking to a chatbot for 20 minutes. We then end after I ask if voice is going anywhere after the upheavals in Amazon’s Alexa business. Her answer will not surprise you. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Cathy Pearl, a conversation designer at Google
Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs

  • Assa Abloy slams the door on Yale and August brands
  • Why NRG wants to buy Vivint
  • Using antimony to make more accurate LiDAR
  • How context dictates what we want to say and hear
  • Can digital assistants provide companionship?

Episode 400: How to pronounce IKEA’s Dirigera hub

This week’s show starts off with a review of news from AWS Re:Invent which is happening now in LAs Vegas. We cover the general availability of support for the latest version of the MQTT messaging protocol, the launch of LoRaWAN and other connectivity technologies as part of AWS Device Location services, and there will be more in the newsletter as the conference concludes. We then talk about whether or not it makes sense to buy a cheap smart plug today or wait until we get more with Matter support. It’s just that those smart plugs are so cheap right now! We also debate whether or not it’s a good thing that the Hubitat smart home hub will start supporting HomeKit, and mention Samsung’s new capabilities that link its phones to a UWB door lock. Then we cover funding news from Sanctuary, which is trying to build general purpose robots; Morse Micro, which is making Wi-Fi HaLow chips; and Deepgram, which is developing a new natural language processing algorithm built on vocal utterances as opposed to text. I then explain what I’m using right now in my home for security and monitoring of my many connected devices. Finally, we hear from a listener offering a tip on creating a simple pill tracker using an open/close sensor.

IKEA’s Dirigera hub is now available. Image courtesy of IKEA.

Our guest this week is Rebecca Töreman, business leader of the IKEA Home Smart business. Töreman first teaches me how to pronounce Dirigera, the name of IKEA’s new smart home hub. We then talk about why IKEA has chosen to focus on products that includes lights and connected blinds, but not security cameras. After a discussion on connected air purification devices, we talk about what the IKEA Home Smart team learned from its prior five years with the Trådfri smart home hub and how that influenced the design of the Dirigera device. We clarify a few points about how IKEA plans to introduce Matter to its hub and then close out. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rebecca Töreman, business leader of the IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Arm and Silicon Labs

  • It’s our 400th episode!!!!
  • Should you buy a cheap smart plug without Matter?
  • A HomeKit compatible home may be less flexible, but it’s also less work
  • Why IKEA needed a new smart home hub
  • What IKEA learned about provisioning and communication with Trådfri

Episode 384: Here’s why Amazon really bought iRobot

This week’s show kicks off with our discussion of Amazon’s planned acquisition of iRobot, the maker of Roomba robotic vacuums for $1.7 billion. We then talk about a survey from Parks Associates that indicates almost a third of people using AirTag-style trackers to track people without their knowing and why users and companies must focus on consent. Then we hit on another ethics issue associated with a connected Epson printer that stops working after a set period of time, also unbeknownst to the user. In non-ethics news, Feit has purchased LIFX assets, Energous got FCC approval for sending up to 15 watts of power over the air for wireless charging and Qualcomm signed a deal with Global Foundries to ensure its chip supply through 2028. While on the topic of chips, we talk about software that runs on existing ESP32 that uses Wi-Fi for person detection and sensing, and future Apple products for the smart home. We end with a listener question about whether he should buy a new DIY hub and devices, or wait for Matter gear.

LIFX assets are now owned by Feit. Image courtesy of LIFX.

Our guest this week is Mark Benson, the head of Samsung SmartThings US. Benson is on the show to explain how SmartThings plans to eliminate the use of Groovy apps on hubs. The way forward is using APIs for cloud-to-cloud integrations, and LUA-based event handlers for smart apps that run locally. The final shift from Goovy takes place Sept. 30 so get ready for disruption if you have an older, niche routine or app on SmartThings, or update before then. Benson also shares more information on how SmartThings plans to support Matter and what it will mean for Samsung’s overall strategy in the smart home. We dig into what it means to be a Matter controller versus a Matter bridge and what role SmartThings will play. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Mark Benson, the head of Samsung SmartThings US
SponsorsSilicon Labs and Impinj

  • Amazon buys iRobot to build out the next generation of the smart home
  • I’m surprised to see how many people are secretly tracking others
  • We need expiration dates for smart devices
  • SmartThings gets ready for its final goodbye to Groovy
  • How SmartThings plans to adopt Matter

Episode 375: Arduino gets $32 million for enterprise IoT

This week’s show is an exercise in controlled chaos, as I am once again quarantined in a hotel room (this time with my teen). Kevin and I discuss Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and Apple’s claim that HomeKit is the foundation of the upcoming Matter smart home protocol. Insteon users got a shock this week when their formerly dead hubs mysteriously turned on and their cloud-based integrations began working. We explain what we know. SmartThings is getting a new app, and Microsoft signed a multi-year deal to help Procter & Gamble with its digital transformation. In security news, we discuss new ransomware that starts on the IT side but can move over to the OT side to wreak havoc, as well as a new program from Dragos to help small businesses secure their OT networks. Finally, in chip news radar chip company Vayyar raised $108 million and Arm launched a new low-power image sensor for embedded vision. During the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about how to prepare his smart home for a move.

Arduino launched the Portenta line of boards for the enterprise a year and half ago. Image courtesy of Arduino.

Our guest this week is Fabio Violante, the CEO of Arduino. Arduino raised €30 million ($32 million) this week as it seeks to add software and hardware to meet the needs of enterprise and industrial product designers. We discuss why Arduino is branching out from the DIY market, and how it differentiates itself from other computing platforms such as the Raspberry Pi or Nvidia’s Jetson Nano. Violante also shares his observations about the state of the market and the popularity of certain connectivity options, protocols and cloud platforms. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Fabio Violante, the CEO of Arduino
Sponsors: Nordic Semiconductor and Wirepas

  • Apple contributed a lot to HomeKit and we all will benefit
  • Who is the new Insteon owner?
  • Microsoft is helping Procter & Gamble make better paper towels
  • Good and bad news for OT security
  • Why Arduino is stepping up to the enterprise

Episode 372: Ecobee embraces radar sensors!

Did y’all know that almost a quarter of people who buy a smart home device, hire a professional to install it? That’s just one of the facts I learned at the Parks Associates event happening this week in Dallas. We talk about that before focusing on Google’s plans for Matter and SmartThings new Matter testing program. After that we talk about Ecobee’s new thermostats and a HomeKit sensor that uses millimeter wave sensing. In enterprise news, we mention a new real-time asset tracking network service from MachineQ, sub-$2 battery-powered Bluetooth tags from Wiliot, and LoRaWAN getting IPv6 functionality. We close with a review of Eve’s new outdoor camera, and a reminder to stay safe if you’re going to handle smart home installs yourself. In our hotline segment, we answer a listener’s question about moving from Alexa to HomeKit, and finding a garage door opener that works.

Image courtesy of Samsung.

Our guest this week is Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices. In our interview we dig into the new thermostats’ industrial design and why Ecobee replaced its PIR sensor with radar. Lombard also explains why services are essential for smart home providers and what Matter may do for the creation of new home services. We end with a discussion of Generac’s acquisition and why the combination of Ecobee and an energy storage and resiliency company makes sense. He didn’t share any specific products but he also gave us a hint about what to expect from the two companies going forward. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stuart Lombard, the CEO of Ecobee and president of Generac connected devices
Sponsors: LoRaWAN World Expo and InfluxData

  • Google’s preparations for Matter includes two new SDKs
  • Cheap Bluetooth tags are about to be everywhere
  • Eve’s outdoor camera for HomeKit a good choice
  • Why radar is better for people sensing
  • How smart homes will lead to energy resiliency

Episode 362: IoT security after Russia invaded Ukraine

This week’s show spends a lot of time on security in everything from an Amazon Echo to an infusion pump. But before we get to security stats, we offer a quick overview of Apple’s latest announcements. Then we pivot to discuss the Critical Infrastructure Defense Project, a series of free services enterprises can use to help protect their operations from attack. We also outline some vulnerabilities found in PTC’s Axeda remote management software and research showing that many infusion pumps have existing vulnerabilities. Finally, we discuss research showing that some popular consumer devices might be using vulnerable OpenSSL encryption technology. Then we talk about the end of another French unlicensed low-power wide area network and Space Force adding wearables to ensure the members of Space Force are fit. We also talk about a new predictive maintenance service from Xerox PARC called Novity. We close the news section by answering a listener question about getting rid of your old IoT devices while respecting your friends and the environment.

Space Force Guardians will wear wearable devices to track their physical fitness. Photo taken by Airman 1st Class Samuel Becker and provided by the U.S. Space Force.

Our guest this week is Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe, a cybersecurity firm. Bort is a former U.S. Army officer and a co-founder of the non-profit

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of Scythe
Sponsors: Somfy and Pantacor

  • Three tech firms get together to offer free cybersecurity tools
  • What isn’t vulnerable nowadays?
  • Are employee-mandated wearables okay if being fit is your job?
  • How ransomware fits into the invasion of Ukraine
  • How to shore up your cyber defenses in times of war (and peace)

Episode 358: Why Resideo’s First Alert buy makes sense

On this week’s show, we talk about the Resideo purchase of smoke detector company First Alert for $593 million and why it makes sense. Then we focus on connectivity with an update on the Sigfox receivership and a look at the annual report from the LoRa Alliance covering the adoption of LoRaWAN networks around the world. For Raspberry Pi owners we have good news on the OS front and for people who want to load the Pi OS from the network. Then we talk about two government efforts to track potholes and beach trash using AI and sensors. On the chip front, the big news is that Nvidia has formally stepped back from its plan to acquire ARM, leaving ARM with nothing to do but plan a public offering. Also, Simon Segers has stepped down as the CEO of ARM and was replaced by Rene Haas, the president of ARM’s IP business. Meanwhile, Intel is embracing RISC-V, and we talk about why that matters. In smaller news, Netgear’s latest routers make it much easier to create a separate IoT network, Apple’s VR/AR glasses are real, and Samsung’s big event this week didn’t offer up any IoT news, but we did see the end of Bixby. We end by answering a listener question about using Matter in industrial settings.

Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman of Swinburne University works with Dr. Felip Marti Carrillo and Dr. Yong-Bin Kang (left to right) to test cameras on garbage trucks in Brimbank, Australia. Image from Swinburne University.

Our guest this week is Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful. She joins us to discuss the new analytics software Kraftful has launched and to broadly discuss best practices for connected device apps. Unsurprisingly, getting a device connected quickly and easily is the most important consideration for most connected device makers, and she’ll discuss how to make that easy. But she also talks about when apps make sense compared with voice interfaces or automated routines. We end our conversation with her take on what the upcoming Matter smart home interoperability protocol might mean for her business and for consumers at large. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Togel
Guest: Yana Welinder, the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful
SponsorsRightpoint and Hologram

  • Smoke detectors have a huge opportunity in the smart home
  • Using sensors and computer vision to make cities better and beaches cleaner
  • ARM’s next step should include a plan for RISC-V
  • If your users can’t connect their device in 10 minutes, they’re gone
  • Imagining a world where every product has an app is a nightmare

 

Episode 354: Google’s Soli pivot and Amazon’s Sidewalk news

This week Google reminded us that we don’t actually own our connected products when it removed functionality from grouped Nest speakers after losing a patent case filed by Sonos. Amazon’s Sidewalk network is getting a boost and this should spark a really interesting fight between LoRaWAN and Sidewalk in the coming years. We then talk about why sensors should have standards or maybe just a certification body for calibration, pay-what-you-want plans for IoT services, and Google’s surprise pivot around its Soli radar technology. The chip shortage has made it tough for Canon to find the silicon used to enforce its digital rights management that locks people into buying Canon toner cartridges, and we love to see it. In other news, researchers can detect malware using a Raspberry Pi and electromagnetic frequencies, Abbott Labs is getting into consumer wearables that track glucose and ketones, Netatmo launches its first Thread sensor, and Wind River will be acquired for $4.3 billion. Finally, we take listener feedback on accessibility and update an answer about Wi-Fi sensors.

Abbott Labs is launching a new line of wearables for measuring glucose, ketones, and more. Image courtesy of Abbott Labs.

Our guest this week is Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance, which launched last week at CES. Choi joins me to discuss the reason the HCA exists, how it’s recruiting new members and why we want our appliances to interoperate. He addresses questions about security, why the HCA is promoting cloud-to-cloud integrations instead of local ones, and if the HCA wants to work with the Matter protocol. It’s still unclear what the HCA wants to produce in terms of APIs or certifications, but it’s clear that the companies involved recognize that collaboration will be essential for building worthwhile intelligence into washers, dryers, HVAC systems, TVs, and more. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Yoon Ho Choi, president of the Home Connectivity Alliance
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Google loses Sonos patent spat, but so do consumers
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk plans set up a low-power wide-area network fight
  • Has Google given up on Soli?
  • What exactly is the HCA trying to create?
  • Why the HCA is embracing a cloud-to-cloud strategy