Episode 321: Google decides Matter matters

This week’s show focuses on news from Google I/O 2021 where it’s clear the search giant is trying to build out a fairly open ecosystem based on the Matter protocol and WebRTC for audio and video streaming. Google also said it would use Wear OS for Fitbit and combine Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS. Google also announced a CarKey deal with BMW. There’s bad news on the data-sharing front from Imperial College London and Northeastern University, where researchers tracked how many connections popular smart home devices opened, and what it means for privacy. In security news, Consumer Reports found flaws in four security cameras and video doorbells, and we discuss the Eufy video camera bug. Additionally, cyber risks are so high that the CEO of Swiss Re, a reinsurer, said insurance for cyberattacks was becoming impossible. Finally, we mention the new Echo Frame options, although Kevin is still not a fan. In our hotline, we answer a question about Matter and keeping a SmartThings hub.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at Google I/O 2021. Image courtesy of Google.

Our guest this week is Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America. We talk about embedded computer vision and what it means to have machine learning taken care of on the image sensor itself. It enables lip-reading applications, occupancy sensing, and new ways to track inventory in stores. (He’s very excited about  inventory sensing cameras.) Hanson also says the sensor and its DSP can provide training at the edge, allowing a user to show the sensor images and then have the sensor later recognize those images. We also talk about how product designers can figure out if they need a camera for a particular use case.  Hanson really wants to get new ideas from everyone listening about use cases for embedded computer vision, so see if any of the interview sparks your creativity.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Hanson, VP of Innovation at Sony Semiconductor America
SponsorVery

  • Google will embrace Matter in most displays, smart speakers and on Android
  • Do you know who your smart devices talk to?
  • Cyberattacks are becoming too big for insurance to cover
  • Why adding ML to an image sensor makes sense
  • How to use a “dumb” sensor to offload some computing tasks

 

Episode 316: Everything you need to know about Project CHIP

This week’s show launches with a deep dive on Project Connected Home over IP after the Zigbee Alliance released many new details about the specification. We discuss when you can expect it, the devices you’ll see, and the security model. Then we cover the new Wyze lamp, smart auto-dimming windows, Logitech killing the Harmony remote, and Spotify’s new Car Thing. On the enterprise side, we cover a new IoT device vulnerability, funding for Density, a people counting company, and Edge Impulse making it easier to build edge-based ML models on the Raspberry Pi 4. Kevin then shares his thoughts on Logitech’s CircleView camera. We end with a question on what will happen to Z-wave and Zigbee if CHIP succeeds.

The Swarm Tile gets integrated into a sensor or device and costs $119. Image courtesy of Swarm.

Our guest this week is Sara Spangelo, the CEO of Swarm. She talks about Swarm’s monthly $5 per device pricing model and how Swarm can offer satellite connectivity for that price. We also talk about which customers are using Swarm today and why the company decided to focus on one-to-one connectivity as opposed to building a gateway. We conclude with a conversation on how to evaluate a satellite provider since there are so many options available for customers. I have to admit, I’m coming around to the idea of IoT coverage delivered via satellite as a legitimate business proposition.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sara Spangelo CEO of Swarm
Sponsors: DigiCert and Qt

  • CHIP won’t support wearables, appliances, or cameras at launch
  • Why Project CHIP is embracing the blockchain for security
  • Should your service really have a hardware product?
  • Why the satellite era is upon us
  • How to figure out what satellite networks can and can’t do

Episode 304: Presidential Pelotons and data accountability

This week’s show kicks off with Kevin and I discussing a smart camera vulnerability before digging into what it means when the White House becomes a smart home. We then discuss Wi-Fi 6E and what it means for IoT. Next up: new devices from Signify which makes Philips Hue-branded gear. Then we dig into Google Assistants’ new skills, the Nest/SmartThings integration, and what Google wanted from Fitbit. We discuss a DIY smartwatch, self-learning sensors from Bosch, and Samsung SmartTags, which don’t seem all that smart. We end by answering a listener question about swapping out Hue gear for the Nanoleaf Essentials bulb and also Firewalla devices for Eero services.

The new Philips Hue dimmer switch looks much better. Image courtesy of Signify.

Our guest this week is Ran Korber, CEO and co-founder of BreezoMeter, which uses math and public data to track air pollution. Korber joined me to talk about why air pollution matters so much, and how to combine many sources of data to produce real insights. He also talks about how to check his company’s algorithms, as well as how to build a business on shared data. After last summers’ wildfires, I am convinced of the value of good air pollution data, and it was neat to hear how companies are putting it to use. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Ran Korber, CEO and co-founder of BreezoMeter
SponsorsTeraCode and Techmeme

  • President Biden’s Peloton could influence smart home security efforts
  • More Philips Hue gear heading our way
  • Google’s Fitbit deal is about data, not advertising
  • How to combine air quality sensors with traffic data
  • Building a business on data begins with transparency

Episode 296: Gifts galore and a recipe for smarter food prep

This week’s podcast is full of gift suggestions from our annual gift guide, many of which are aimed at those people on your list who have a green thumb. We then discuss my disappointment with Wemo after almost a decade of using its devices, and Kevin shares his plans to eliminate data-mining services from his life. On a related note, we do a deep dive into Amazon’s Sidewalk network plans and talk about trust. From there, we discuss new features for Google Assistant, an adorable AI bird feeder on Kickstarter, and my thoughts on the Chef IQ smart cooker. We end by answering a listener’s question about wearables and their accuracy.

The BirdBuddy feeder won’t ship until Sept. 2021, but I can’t wait to review it for next year’s gift guide. Image courtesy of BirdBuddy.

In honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday, our guest this week is Nick Holzherr, head of product for Whisk at Samsung Next, who talks about the future of the smart kitchen and food preparation. We discuss the role recipes can play as a standard for smarter kitchens, how to solve the problem of pantry management, and why it’s so hard to build updated kitchen experiences when everyone has kitchens that are from different eras. We even discuss the challenges of personalization and how to get users to trust the services to which they’re asked to give up their personal information. It’s a good show to listen to while prepping a meal.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Nick Holzherr, Head of Whisk at Samsung Next
SponsorsCalix and Teracode

  • Four gift ideas for people obsessed with their plants
  • Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t as invasive as you might think
  • The ChefIQ smart cooker combines gadgets and makes cooking easier
  • The future of the connected kitchen is almost here
  • The big trend in kitchen gadgets is combo cookers

Episode 285: All about IFTTT’s new paid plan

This week the show starts with an overview on IFTTT’s new paid plan and then dives into the recent update on Project Connected Home over IP. There’s not a lot of news, but the effort is still progressing, which is something. We also discuss the new long-range Z-Wave standard,  a new court ruling on geofencing data collection, and Apple’s upcoming event. We then discuss the challenges that Bluetooth-based contact tracing efforts face, a new smart home alarm system retrofit from Konnected, a new talent in an old air quality sensor, and some new Philips Hue products. From there we dig into some new Amazon Alexa skills for apartments and for voice calls before ending with Peloton’s new bike. We also answer a listener question about putting Alexa in different households under the same account.

An updated and more detailed diagram of what the CHIP application layer will handle.

Our guest this week is Linden Tibbets, the CEO of IFTTT. He’s on the show to explain the details behind IFTTT’s new Pro plan, which I’m guessing that most of the audience will want to investigate. The Pro plan offers users more complex applets, lower latency, and actual support, but it comes at a price. Tibbets explains why users can set their own price for the service for now, and how he hopes to get people to pay $9.99 a month eventually. Tibbets also explains what free users can expect and gives an update on the other side of IFTTT’s business — selling integration services to brands. If you’re an IFTTT user, you’ll want to listen to this show, and if you’re not an IFTTT user, maybe you’ll want to be after hearing the show.

  • Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
    Guests: Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT
    Sponsors: Very and Ayla Networks
  • Project CHIP’s latest news wasn’t big, but it was encouraging
  • Z-Wave isn’t dead yet
  • This air quality sensor will predict your home’s likelihood of mold
  • IFTTT boosts applet creation options and makes users pay
  • How IFTTT is trying to warm users up to a monthly subscription fee

Episode 281: Manufacturing trends during the pandemic

This week on the IoT podcast we begin by talking about what the widespread adoption of ultrawideband chips in phones could mean for the IoT. From there, it’s on to Google’s always-listening software update, humans coming back into the QA loop, and earthquake detection on Android phones (there’s another earthquake project too!). Kevin also asks how much control you have over your smart home. We covered security news from DEFCON starting with traffic light hacks and ending with some scary security holes in the satellite network infrastructure. We also touched on news from SmartThings, Wyze, the UK, a new fitness device, and Apple. Finally, we answer a question about the security associated with having multiple device accounts.

The new Carbon Mirror is yet another fitness service disguised as a device. Image courtesy of Carbon.

Our guest this week is Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics, which grabs data from factory machines. He discusses the impact that COVID-19 has had on manufacturing based on aggregated client data, and best practices for dealing with the pandemic. He also dug deep on the concept of a digital thread. The digital thread is the idea that manufacturers can gather enough data to follow the life of a product from material to finished good in the field, and use data from the manufacturing process to understand how to improve quality. We also talked about sharing data across supply chains, and why that isn’t yet happening. It’s a good show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Bill Bither, CEO of MachineMetrics
Sponsors: Very and Silicon Labs

  • NXP is all in on ultrawideband for the IoT
  • Gosh, darn it, Google!
  • DEFCON hacks the IoT yet again
  • What is a digital thread and why does it matter?
  • How COVID-19 is affecting manufacturing

 

 

Episode 277: Does your house need a mouse?

This week on the show Kevin and I start with a speculative Google project dubbed the “house mouse” by researchers at Google’s ATAP group. Then we cover a bit on Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit, Amazon’s new smart cart, Amazon’s developer event next week, and how Amazon can compete in the digital assistant game without a phone. We also talk about SiteWise, the AWS service for industrial IoT equipment monitoring, and Microsoft and Samsung partnering on real estate in the smart home and apartment world. From there, we discuss a proposed cybersecurity law for connected devices in the UK, Zoom’s fancy new hardware, Arm’s proposed sale or IPO,  and another device to prevent your smart speakers from eavesdropping. We also answer a listener question about smart outlets.

 

The Zoom hardware costs $599 and has three cameras, eight mics, and a 27-inch screen.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks, who explains how companies need to think about the connected tech they are adding to their offices to keep employees safe after the pandemic. We talk about what he’s doing at Ayla, what he recommends other leaders think about when trying to bring employees back, and why companies probably shouldn’t buy this stuff in haste. We also discuss security, privacy, and what you don’t want to know about your employees. It’s a helpful interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Cobb, the CEO of Ayla Networks
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Google’s house mouse may give point and click new meaning
  • Amazon’s SiteWise for IIoT is designed to lock you in
  • Who would buy Arm and would it be a good investment?
  • Define your business problem and then buy IoT
  • What should a business consider before surveilling workers

Episode 274: Apple embraces IoT and SmartThings shakes things up

This week’s show is a whopper, starting with the news from Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference. We talk about how Apple is playing the long game by integrating sensors and machine learning across devices to give contextual experiences, Apple’s updates to HomeKit, and some details about Apple opening up its FindMy network. From there we talk about SmartThings’ evolution and eventual shut down of some beloved services and the new Wyze Cam Outdoor camera. On the enterprise side, Microsoft acquires CyberX, and Deutsche Telekom spins out its IoT business. We also cover news from Google related to Hue devices, Misty Robotics, Tuya, and Segway. Kevin gives a preview of Amazon’s Echo Frames and we answer a quick question about viewing your Ring doorbell on an Apple TV.

The new Wyze Cam Outdoor is battery-powered and cheap. Image courtesy of Wyze.

This week’s guest is Mark Benson, head of engineering at Samsung SmartThings, who joins us to discuss the changes coming to the platform later this year. He lays out why SmartThings is going to end support for some features as it tries to move toward delivering a more intuitive smart home. For example, on the hardware side, your hub will still exist but SmartThings will also put its software on hubs made by other vendors and we’ll see other manufacturers make SmartThings’ branded devices. On the software side, it’s moving from the current Groovy programming environment to an API, which is going to upset some developers and DIY folks. Benson explains why this change is needed and what developers will gain and lose. You’re going to want to listen.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Mark Benson, head of engineering at SmartThings
Sponsors: Very and Very

  • Apple’s using its chips and closed ecosystem to deliver context to devices
  • Why Microsoft purchased CyberX
  • How long will the Zigbee Alliance keep its name?
  • 2020 is the turning point for the smart home
  • Why SmartThings wants to trade Groovy for an API

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 252: Bricks, CHIP and Wi-Fi 6

Kevin and start the show with our takes on Sonos deciding to stop updating older speakers and stereo components. We broaden the conversation to include Under Armor killing its UA gear and Charter/Spectrum’s decision to stop supporting smart home and security products in its footprint, leaving some customers out equipment costs. We even delve into the challenges of wealth creation in a society where physical goods are increasingly delivered as a service instead of owned.  From there we discuss Teserakt, an open-source encryption effort for IoT, NIST’s new privacy framework, Clearview AI, the fate of Noon lighting, and other bits of news. Kevin tells us what he thinks about the home automation experience with Samsung’s SmartThings Wi-Fi gear, and we end with a question about connecting a personal fan.

The Noon light switches now belong to the parent company that owns the Savant brand.

Our guest this week is Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks. Correll also acts as the liaison between Extreme Networks and the Wi-Fi Alliance and the IEEE’s 802.11 standards committee. We discuss why Wi-Fi 6 is such a sea change for networks, and also why you shouldn’t rush out and change your router. He also explains why Wi-Fi 6e is a big deal and updates us on the FCC’s progress in allocating spectrum. His comments will help both consumers and enterprise customers get a sense of the future of Wi-Fi.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Perry Correll, product manager at Extreme Networks
SponsorsMachineQ and IoT World

  • We should mandate expiration dates for smart devices
  • Privacy isn’t dead … yet
  • SmartThings has really improved as a mainstream smart home hub
  • How Wi-Fi 6 revolutionizes Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi 6E sounds strange, but enterprises and public spaces will love it