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 278: Amazon’s Alexa Developer news and 5G’s next wave

This week’s show digs into the announcements made during Amazon’s Alexa Live event held Wednesday. We explain the Connect Kit hardware and Alexa skill upgrades and try to offer a bit of context about what it means for users and developers. After that, we move to Wyze’s ask for donations and our fears over its business model. Then Kevin and I talk about big soda bringing QR codes back in the U.S. Next, we cover Ford, Fitbit, a new lighting brand at Best Buy, and new smart plugs from Belkin Wemo. Finally, we answer a question about automating a Schlage lock and Zigbee lights using SmartThings.

New Wemo outlets are smaller, and if you buy a 3-pack, cheaper. Image courtesy of Wemo.

Our guest this week is John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm, who explains everything you need to know about 5G for the IoT. We discuss the recently approved release 16 version of the 5G standard and how it helps with enterprise and industrial IoT. That release includes the ability to combine licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offers better positioning  and lower latency. And then we move onto the Release 17 standard that will come out in 18 months. This standard is what I call the Goldilocks standard that will provide a mix of capabilities between the superfast multi-gigabit 5G on phones today and the very low-data-rate NB-IoT capabilities. You’ll learn what it will enable and when to expect it. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: John Smee, the VP of engineering and head of cellular research at Qualcomm
Sponsor: Very

  • Amazon’s Alexa updates make it smarter and put Alexa inside apps
  • Wyze wants its “friends” to donate for person detection
  • Smart lighting and outlets get two new products
  • This upcoming 5G update will give us 100 Mbps speeds for IoT devices
  • 5G will do away with buying a bucket of data

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 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

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.

Episode 245: What to ask your landlord about smart apartments

Amazon is bringing its services closer to the edge with a new product and deal with Verizon, but it’s not the only cloud provider signing a partnership with a carrier. We also discuss Resideo’s executive change and a new smart home hub concept crammed into a thermostat. From there we talk about our confusion with the new Wyze door lock, disappointment with Ring, a crucial service going down, an FBI warning, and why Kevin is unplugging his Wink hub. We end by answering a listener question about how to transfer between smart hubs.

The new Wyze lock is $89 but doesn’t have a keypad. Image courtesy of Wyze.

This week’s guest is Felicite Moorman, CEO of Stratis IoT. Moorman’s company provides the infrastructure for smart apartment buildings, so we discuss the up and coming trends for connectivity in multi-family housing and how to optimize for security. We also talk about the questions residents should ask when they lease a smart apartment, and what rights they should have. Moorman also explains how smarter buildings can help increase sustainable living and her faith in younger generations. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Felicite Moorman, CEO, Stratis IoT
Sponsor: Cirrent

  • Could Amazon’s new Wavelength service be good for the industrial edge?
  • Resideo’s CEO is stepping down.
  • How to transfer your smart hubs.
  • Is now the time for sustainable smart apartments?
  • Questions you should ask your landlord when moving into a smart apartment.

Episode 223: How Amazon treats your Alexa data

This week Kevin and I read and discuss the letter from Amazon responding to inquiries about how it keeps and handles data. We go in-depth because it’s important to discuss the tradeoff between services and privacy. We also discuss a company leaking smart home data, the FTC settlement with D-Link and a smart home hub for apartments that can be hacked. After the bad news, we move to analyze HPE’s goal of selling everything as a service by 2022 and Kevin’s experience trying out Olisto, an IFTTT-like service. There are few news bits to cover, and then we answer a listener question about how to set up Amazon or Google accounts when two people with their own accounts move into the same house.

RealWear CEO Andy Lowery, wearing a RealWear head-mounted display. Image courtesy of RealWear.

Our guest this week is Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear, a company that makes a head-mounted display for industrial workers. The company raised $80 million this week, so I ask about Lowery’s plans for that kind of capital. I also want to know why people were using head-mounted displays, and how RealWear’s products are different from something like Google Glass or Microsoft’s HoloLens. We also talk about the shift in industrial work that will come about thanks to real-time collaboration in the field over remote connections, and what it means for workers. Enjoy.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Andy Lowery, the CEO of RealWear
Sponsors: Dell Technologies and Afero

  • Privacy is nuanced, and that’s what makes it hard to talk about
  • HPE wants to make all of its products a service by 2022
  • Philips Hue’s Bluetooth bulbs make Kevin happy
  • $80 million can buy a lot of R&D
  • Are you ready for the centaur workforce?

Episode 208: IKEA’s smart home arrives in August

Kevin was out of town this week, so I co-hosted the podcast with my former colleague Chris Albrecht, who is managing editor at the Spoon, a foodtech site and the head of the Articulate conference all about kitchen robots.  We start the show with news about Vivint adding cars to its smart home product and Alexa getting contextual data from Echo devices. Then we discuss two pieces of federal legislation. The first covers IoT security and the second prevents companies from grabbing facial recognition data without permission. From there we talk about robot dogs, Nvidia’s new ML dongle that will be great for industrial IoT, Fibaro’s link up with SmartThings and  Qualcomm’s new chips for smart speakers. We close by answering a question on the Stich smart home hub from Monoprice.

Fibaro gear now works with SmartThings without you downloading a custom device handler.

Our guest this week is Bjorn Block, the head of development at IKEA Home Smart. Block returned to the show to give us the details on the new IKEA Fyrtur roller shades and some hints about its collaboration with Sonos for new smart speakers. We also talk about how IKEA plans to support smart home products at retail. It will unveil a new smart home section of the store in August along with the blinds and Sonos speakers.  In the wake of most big retailers shutting down their smart home efforts, I am eager to see how IKEA plans to plow ahead. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Chris Albrecht, managing editor of The Spoon
Guest: Bjorn Block, IKEA Home Smart
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Alexa gets context clues in cars
  • The feds tack security and privacy legislation
  • Would you buy a $500 robot dog?
  • All the deets on IKEA’s smart blinds
  • August is a big month for IKEA’s smart home plans

 

 

 

Episode 206: Why your smart devices cost so much

This week Kevin and I start off the show with a discussion about Google’s new Coral board that provides machine learning at the edge. We then jump to sensor company Centralite’s bankruptcy filing in Alabama. We also discuss the death of Jibo and how the end of Lighthouse meant new patents for Apple. After covering all of that sad news we jump to new Alexa skills, why I want an Alexa Auto, and a new video doorbell from August Home. From there Kevin and I spend the rest of the show discussing the challenges associated with smart home hubs, the best home hubs and why you should delete your devices from your home hubs. We end by answering a listener question about connected car devices for teens.

The Centralite family of products.

Our guest this week is Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures and a former product manager at companies that include Square and Apple. She shares her experiences building connected devices, where companies tend to go wrong and what to look for in a manufacturing partner. She also explains why a device that costs $100 to make might end up costing $300 on the shelves at Best Buy. It’s a good conversation for anyone building or buying connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Chrissy Meyer, a partner at Root Ventures
Sponsors: Afero and Western Digital

  • Why we need machine learning at the edge
  • Could the next Homepod have video?
  • Hubs are complicated even for experts
  • How to give your favorite device startups an extra chance to succeed
  • What to look for in your manufacturing partner

Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage