Episode 333: An IoT networking bonanza

Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellite broadband company is getting into the IoT with the acquisition of Swarm, a smallsat IoT connectivity provider. We talk about that deal, plus what it means that Helium scored $111 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. After that, we talk about malvertising infiltrating the IoT and the Samsung smartwatch that launched Wednesday. We also discuss the creation of a virtual border wall built with surveillance tech and facial recognition. In other news, Wyze has a new camera option, there’s a connected sump pump on the market, and Legrand is using Netatmo’s tech to launch battery-powered light switches that can control pre-installed Legrand dimmers and switches, allowing them to work as a remote control for existing switches. Finally, we answer a listener question about older Insteon gear and telnet.

Legrand’s new battery-powered switches can act as a remote for existing Legrand switches in the home. Image courtesy of Legrand. 

Our guest this week is Rob Aitken, a fellow and director of technology at Arm, who came on the show to discuss the new priorities in designing chips now that Moore’s Law is less of a driver for innovations in silicon. His argument is that price-performance per watt is the new focus for designers, although flexibility and cost still matter a lot. We talk about the drivers for chip innovation in the past and he also shares his thoughts on a future where chip design is less focused on the latest process node, and embraces older alternatives. This might also help us mitigate some of the problems associated with the chip shortage. Aitken packs a lot of insights into his interview, and you’ll learn something even if you aren’t a huge chip nerd.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Rob Aitken, a fellow and director of technology at Arm
Sponsors: Very

  • Why Swarm got snapped up by SpaceX
  • Helium’s 5G network needs more details
  • Samsung’s new smartwatch isn’t bad
  • Why Moore’s Law matters less
  • Chip designers have more freedom to play without Moore’s Law

 

Episode 331: Safe words for smart homes and cheap mesh

We start this week’s show with a $200 million funding for Wiliot, a company I profiled back in 2017 as one of the vanguards of low-power sensing. Then we tackle a creative idea that could see consumers create safe words for their smart homes to indicate when they might be in trouble. Next up is President Biden’s National Security Memorandum on securing cyberinfrastructure. Like coffee? This connected coffee machine raised $20 million.  If coffee’s not of interest, perhaps you’ll want to hear about research into the incidental users of smart home gear and what we owe them, or how to change Alexa to Ziggy and get a new voice option. I also talk about a new dev kit that will let you hook up Swarm’s satellite connectivity to a variety of sensors. Or maybe you’d like to hear Kevin’s review of the $60 Vilo mesh Wi-Fi system or about the upcoming Firewalla Purple device. We end the news segment by answering a listener question about the Firewalla Purple.

The Swarm Eval kit could be yours for $499 plus the $60 annual connectivity fee. Image courtesy of Swarm.

Our guest this week is Jason Shepherd, the VP of Ecosystem with Zededa, a container orchestration company for the industrial internet of things. It’s been a while since Shepherd has been on the show, so I asked him for an update on the IT and OT divide that we talked about four years ago. Both sides are coming together, but there are still challenges when it comes to bringing IT to scale in operations. We talk about heterogeneity, security, the challenges of remote access, and more differences worth thinking about when we put computers in industrial equipment. We also talk about the challenges of scaling machine learning models at the edge, and especially those designed to adapt to changing real-world conditions. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jason Shepherd, the VP of Ecosystem with Zededa
Sponsors: Very

  • Does your smart home need a safe word? Or an emergency alert?
  • Biden wants to secure our infrastructure from cyberattacks
  • Want to try a satellite connection for your sensors?
  • Four ways IT folks have to adapt to the real world of OT needs
  • How to scale machine learning for the edge

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