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

Episode 353: Virtual CES extravaganza

It’s CES week, and neither Kevin nor I are physically there for the second year running. That makes it really tough to get a macro sense of cool tech and upcoming trends outside of press releases and product launches. Normally, we spend so much time trawling for the weird or futuristic in the demos and report on the stuff that isn’t pre-packaged in a release. Maybe we can return to that next year. In the meantime, there are a lot of stories, but the biggest trends in the smart home relate to the upcoming launch of the Matter interoperability standard for the smart home, a bunch of new products that will support HomeKit, and new products for Amazon Alexa and the Google ecosystems. We are also are excited about the newly launched Home Connectivity Alliance and what it might mean for future product features and energy consumption in the home.

Arlo’s new DIY security system includes an all-in-one sensor and keypad. Image courtesy of Arlo.

After a quick break, we share our non-amazement of John Deere’s automated tractor. It’s cool, but it has also been half a decade in the works, so it’s not like it comes as a huge shock. We then discuss new products from Samsung (an energy harvesting remote and a tablet for the smart home), Schneider Electric’s update to its energy management software, a new assistive robot, and Arlo’s smart home security system with an all-in-one sensor. Outside of product news, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released an update to the Wi-Fi 6 standard with more uplink capacity and better power management. This will ensure that Wi-Fi 6 is more relevant for IoT devices and perhaps ensure those chips get used in more end devices, especially in cameras and video doorbells. Masonite also showed off its smart door at CES so we share our impressions. Finally, we answer a question from a listener about power consumption in IoT devices.

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

  • Matter may be late, but it’s looking much better
  • All three digital assistants got a lot of love from new product launches
  • John Deere’s robot tractor shows how technical farming has gotten
  • Wi-Fi 6 gets an update custom-made for the IoT
  • How much energy does Alexa or Siri consume?

Episode 352: As Alexa goes, so does the smart home?

We’re back after a one-week break in the Internet of Things Podcast, and we didn’t miss too much. The biggest stories of this show are the slow collapse of CES 2022 and a Bloomberg article that uses internal Amazon documents to show how Alexa growth has stagnated and illustrates the hopes Amazon has for its smart speakers. We also talk about Alexa’s unfortunate suggestion to a 10-year-old looking for a challenge. After that, we discuss a survey related to edge computing from Zededa after we explain what edge computing means for different folks. Then, in smaller news, we highlight Level Lock’s new keypad, a smart ring, sales data on connected appliances, and my review of the Fi collar. We close out the news portions of the show by answering a listener question about why he can’t find Wi-Fi motion sensors anywhere.

The Level keypad fulfills an essential need for people who don’t carry a smartphone — or their keys. Image courtesy of Level.

Our guest this week is Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean. Wijergangs joined EnOcean in August to help the maker of energy-harvesting IoT devices expand into building management with a focus on sustainability. In the interview, Wijergangs talks about what he’s learned from his efforts building out the Z-wave standard, and how he’s trying to apply an ecosystems approach to making buildings smarter. We also talk about the challenges of designing energy-harvesting sensors and what new energy harvesting technologies might become available. It’s a fun interview.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Raoul Wijgergangs CEO of EnOcean
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • I’m no longer going to CES, and I’m not alone.
  • Alexa and the smart home are stagnant.
  • I love keypads with my smart locks.
  • Sustainable buildings should be smart and need middleware to get there.
  • New polymers might drive the next generation of energy harvesting devices.

Episode 351: Smart homes in the metaverse

What happens when the smart home meets the metaverse? We talk about the potential for better user interfaces and home mapping if we build digital twins of the home in a metaverse, while also discussing the potential of UWB to expand the amount of information contained in that digital twin. Then we discuss an excellent article on the Matter protocol and a new chip for Matter devices before noting Samsara’s successful public offering. In some anti-consumer news, Toyota is disabling features in its radio-controlled keyfobs unless people pay a subscription, leading us to wonder how we assess value in software as compared to hardware. We then look at LoRaWAN coverage maps for the combined Helium and Senet network, a new deal in the satellite IoT sector. Finally, we answer a listener question about Shelly RGBW modules for lighting and Home Assistant.

The Fi collar costs $149 and requires a subscription for its location-tracking feature. Image courtesy of Fi.

This week’s guest is Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi, a maker of a connected dog collar. We discuss the product and why people buy a connected collar. Then we cover the connectivity options and why the Fi collar uses cellular as opposed to some of the other low-power wide-area networks such as Amazon’s Sidewalk. Lastly, we talk about subscription options and how to build a plan that works for your audience. Whatever Bensamoun is doing works, because 93% of people who buy the collar subscribe to the service. That’s amazing! Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Jonathan Bensamoun, the CEO and founder of Fi
Sponsors: Twilio and Silicon Labs

  • Does the metaverse have a role in the smart home?
  • How UWB can help make the smart home better
  • Where there’s LoRaWAN coverage, and where there isn’t
  • Why cellular still beats Amazon Sidewalk and LoRaWAN
  • How to price a subscription for an IoT device

Episode 350: Lexmark shares how to manage millions of connected devices

Today’s show is our 350th episode, so we start off with a little bit of celebration before hitting half a dozen pieces of Amazon-related news, including the AWS outage that took out many smart home services, and a newly submitted FCC listing that could be a big deal for those needing a low-power wide-area network. Then we mention Amazon’s latest Halo device and the new Amazon Alexa Together service, which launched this week (it works with a radar sensor from Vayyar to monitor for falls). Then we talk about long-term support for FreeRTOS and an update bringing Alexa smart home capabilities to the FireTV platform. After all that time on Amazon, we then turn to some LiFi news and a bit on how LiFi could be adapted to become relevant for the IoT. Then, we celebrate again over Sonos’ plan to design its devices to last longer and be easily recycled when they reach the end of life.  We also cover some slimy data practices by Life360, a big round of funding for IoT platform Afero, and a new Thread-capable device from Eve. Finally, we end by answering a listener question about smart smoke detectors.

The sensor from Vayyar costs $250 and can work with Amazon’s Amazon’s Alexa Together service to track falls. Image courtesy of Amazon.

This week’s guest is Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark, the printer giant. He’s on the show to share what Lexmark has learned through more than a decade of managing millions of connected printers around the world. He shares how the company built a predictive maintenance program, uses sensor data from printers to redesign new printers to handle common problems, and even discusses how connected devices help with Lexmark’s sustainability goals. Lexmark has taken its expertise and created its own IoT platform called Optra. Lexmark launched the first Optra service this year, and Carter talks about why Lexmark launched the platform and why it felt that a consulting element was essential for the platform. It’s a very practical interview for those trying to build and manage a bunch of connected devices.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Phil Carter, director of managed print and IoT services at Lexmark
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • So much Amazon news from data center outages to new devices
  • We’re really excited about how Sonos is designing gadgets for sustainability
  • Boo. Life360 forces people to opt-out of allowing it to share location data
  • Why Lexmark decided to launch an IoT platform of its own
  • How connected printers can help reduce Lexmark’s environmental impact

 

Episode 349: AWS overload and Libelium embraces the cloud

This week’s show kicks off with a bunch of IoT-related news from Amazon’s re:Invent conference happening this week in Las Vegas. We cover the launch of a fleet management service, a digital twin service, an easy way to securely connect hardware to Amazon’s cloud, a way to manage massive robot deployments, and the launch of three analytics services that are now serverless. We then discuss new funding for Ember and its plans for that money before highlighting one of the most consumer-friendly device shutdowns I have ever seen from Schneider Electric. Because every yin has a yang, we also covered Owlet’s decision to stop selling its baby-monitoring sock after the FDA called it out for misleading marketing. In smaller news, Twinkly’s smart holiday lights now support HomeKit, the Raspberry Pi Trading Group has hired bankers to possibly go public and the UK passed a cybersecurity law aimed at smart devices that will fine manufacturers for poor security practices. Also, Allegion Ventures has created a second fund with $100 million for IoT companies. We end the show by answering a listener’s question about keeping teenagers from turning off all the lights in a home.

The Ember mug was the best gift I’ve ever given. Image courtesy of S. Higginbotham.

Our guest this week is Alicia Asin, the co-founder and CEO of Libelium, which this week launched its own cloud service. She is on the show to talk about Libelium’s shift from making hardware sensors for the IoT to building a complete IoT platform that includes devices, connectivity, and the cloud. She also shares her perspective on the changes in the marketplace over the last decade and then in the last two years with the pandemic. Finally, she discusses her future plans for Libelium, which include several acquisitions in the coming 24 months as Libelium adds consulting services that require industry expertise. She talks about what verticals make sense and more in this interview. Stay tuned!

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Alicia Asin, the co-founder and CEO of Libelium
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Amazon re:Invent has lots of IoT news so far
  • Schneider Electric deserves an award for its Wiser thermostat shut down
  • Will the FDA crack down on companies selling digital snake oil?
  • As the IoT matures, having a platform matters
  • Why Libelium plans on buying up smaller IoT firms

Episode 348: We’re thankful for smart cows

Heading into the holiday weekend, Kevin and I share what we’re thankful for (mostly y’all, our sponsors, each other, and Thread), while also talking about the sad sale of Tile to Life360. We also discuss ClevrQeexo, and efforts to make AI accessible to people who can’t or don’t want to code. After that, I discuss my desire for a new activity tracker and the rise of Wear OS. We also talk about a new HomeKit camera from Aqara that’s pretty fancy without having a high-end price tag before diving into some of the financials and data from Samsara’s IPO filing. This week on the IoT Podcast Hotline, we answer a listener question about the anti-drunk driving provision in the Build Back Better legislation.

Smaxtec can track the health of cows for better milk and fewer farts.

Our guest this week is Stefan Scherer, the CEO of Smaxtec, a company making health sensors for dairy cows. First, we learn a lot about cows and how to assess temperature, motion, and data on acidity from a cow’s stomach and translate that into health metrics. Then we talk about the challenges of building a sensor that’s rugged enough to last three to five years in a cow’s stomach as well as the challenges of keeping such a device connected. With this data, farmers are able to track disease spread in dairy cows and prevent costly illnesses that could mean their milk gets tossed, while also tracking data that can help prevent cow farts from causing as much damage to the environment through the release of methane. You’re going to learn a lot about cows and a lot about solving a connectivity problem I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Stefan Scherer, CEO of Smaxtec
Sponsors: Twilio and Juniper Networks

  • Several things we’re thankful for
  • Why the Tile buy makes us a bit sad
  • How no-code AI will make information overload less of an issue
  • Rugged sensors can lead to smart cows, and smart milk prodiction
  • Smaxtec wants to optimize a cow to produce fewer carbon emissions

Episode 346: Three IoT acquisitions and the infrastructure bill

This week’s show focuses on three big deals happening in the IoT sector and a meaty enterprise IoT report. First up, we discuss ADT buying SunPro Solar for $825 million, which represents yet another deal bringing energy management to the smart home. We then talk about Level Home’s acquisition, the state of smart home deals, and the multifamily dwelling unit market before digging into an enterprise IoT report from Oracle that offers some good surprises. For the final acquisition of the show, we cover Viasat’s $7.3 billion buy of Inmarsat and explain a bit of the satellite economics I’ve written about recently. In smaller news, Kevin has found a neat HomeKit app and service, Wyze has a new outdoor light and camera, and GE’s ovens are getting capabilities familiar to June users. We also share our gift guide picks and other ideas for the holidays. Finally, we hear from a listener with low vision who is bummed about Facebook getting out of facial recognition.

GE will deliver a software update to its connected ovens that will make cooking a turkey a breeze. Image courtesy of GE.

Our guest this week is Karen Lightman, the executive director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s on the show to talk about the passage of the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill by Congress. We talk about the impact this will have on smart cities and specific policy recommendations to ensure we get wide-reaching equitable broadband access. Because you can’t have a smart city or even the internet of things without the internet. She also shares a bit about the backlash that the smart cities movement experiences as citizens grew concerned about their privacy and the rise of surveillance states, and talks about her hopes that companies will do more to build that trust. Myself, I think that’s going to take government action, but we’ll see. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Karen Lightman of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute
Sponsors: Very

  • The four categories that count in the smart-energy-aware home
  • Level Home is trying a practical pivot
  • Oracle’s data on enterprise IoT is worth reading
  • Why broadband funding also needs new regulations
  • Why now is the right time to invest in tech-capable infrastructure

Episode 345: Ecobee’s big deal and climate-friendly chips

The big news in IoT this week was the announced acquisition of Ecobee by Generac, so Kevin and I share our thoughts on the deal and what it means for the smart home. After that, we were excited to see Amazon launching a smart air quality monitoring device for $70 as well as publically state its support for Matter. We also cover Facebook’s decision to stop using facial recognition and believe that more companies will seek to prove they are trustworthy in hopes of getting even closer to us as consumers. Then we talk about the EU’s addition of new categories to its cybersecurity rules, the new Flic Twist campaign, Tempo’s smaller, cheaper home gym, ADT’s security service for DoorDashers, and a $500 kid’s toy that I really want. We also note that the Espresif ESP32s now formally support the Zephyr RTOS. We end by answering a question about whether or not you need the device app to update HomeKit-compatible products.

The Alexa air quality monitor will cost $70 and ship in December. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Sri Samavedam, who is the senior vice president of semiconductor technologies at imec, a semiconductor R&D consortium. We discuss imec’s new effort to research sustainability in chip manufacturing. You’ll learn how chips are made and why manufacturing ICs delivers such a blow to the environment. Samavedum explains why Apple has joined its efforts and how it plans to measure the carbon footprint of chipmaking. He also offers some advice for product manufacturers and consumers on how they can use chips more responsibly given how much they cost (in terms of environmental damage) to make. There’s no sugar-coating it, we need more data on this and we also need to think about using silicon for longer than we do today.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Sri Samavedam, imec
Sponsors: Very

  • What Generac’s Ecobee purchase means for the smart home
  • Amazon loves Matter
  • Would you buy your kid a $500 hoverboard?
  • Chip manufacturing is extremely bad for the environment
  • We should try to use our devices for as along as possible

 

 

Episode 344: Energy harvesting sensors are finally real

This week’s show kicks off with news from many of the big smart home players offering their plans for the Matter smart home protocol. First, we discuss Google’s plans, before focusing on Samsung’s latest announcements and then a surprise update from Eero, which is owned by Amazon. Sticking with Amazon, we also cover the news that Alexa is now employed in hospitals and senior living facilities. We cover industrial IoT sensor provider Augury’s $180 million round of funding, and a new report from Palo Alto Networks on how remote working and IoT devices have compromised enterprise security before heading into some news from Amazon, Aqara, Inmarsat, and two retailers removing Chinese cameras from their shelves. Finally, we answer a listener question about a switch for LIFX lighting without a neutral wire.

Alexa is heading to senior living facilities and hospitals. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Our guest this week is Steve Statler, the senior vice president of marketing at Wiliot, a company that had been making Bluetooth beacons that don’t require batteries. Now the company offers sensing as a service and licenses its chip technology. Statler explains the shift and discusses how Wiliot had to build up a web of relationships to make the sensing-as-a-service option possible. We also discuss how smart Bluetooth tags can create what Statler calls the demand chain to track products on an individual level and ensure supply meets demand based on reality instead of estimates. Statler also talks about how to make the tags recyclable, and what he still needs to make that happen. It’s a fun interview for people who have high hopes for smart labels, and who want a glimpse of the future where items in your fridge or closet may communicate with you after you’ve purchased them.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Steve Statler, Wiliot
Sponsors: Very

  • More support for Matter (and more questions too)
  • Alexa now has a role in senior living facilities and hospitals
  • Augury’s sensors have saved Colgate-Palmolive a lot of tubes of toothpaste
  • Why Wiliot switched from selling chips to selling a service
  • Do we want our clothes to ask us why we haven’t worn them in a while?