Internet of Things News of the Week, June 16, 2017
My podcast co-host Kevin Tofel wrote this week’s news items for me as I was on vacation.
In case you didn’t think cybersecurity threats were scary enough: The Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology this week shared some astounding cyber stats in support of raising awareness for encrypted systems. Data breaches in government systems, for example, take an average of 229 days to detect, and there were 72 of them in 2016 alone. ICIT notes that roughly half of all breaches in these systems exposed social security numbers. What makes these types of attacks on both government and commercial systems especially concerning is that service providers often don’t know they’ve been hacked. As ICIT says, “There are only two types of networks, those that have been compromised and those that are compromised without the operator’s awareness.” You can read more here, if I haven’t frightened you too much.
Guess who’s inside the new Eero 2nd gen routers? If you guessed Qualcomm, you’d be correct. In May, Qualcomm debuted its Mesh Networking Platform for OEMs to build more powerful wireless routers with advanced capabilities such as support for voice controls and multiple radio protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 802.15.4, which includes Zigbee and Thread. Score another spot in home devices — adding to phones, tablets, televisions and more — for Qualcomm chips. Bonus fact: The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications inside Amazon’s Echo are run by a Qualcomm Atheros chip.
Speaking of chips inside the Amazon Echo: Intel isn’t sitting on the consumer IoT sidelines and letting ARM chip makers have all of the fun. As assistant type devices mature and add new functions, there’s an opportunity for Intel. And the company is taking advantage of that opportunity, supplying the Intel Atom x5-Z8350 for Amazon’s new Echo Look and Echo Show devices. Intel may also benefit with providing its RealSense cameras for the devices, but we’ll have to wait for a device teardown to see if that pans out. Either way, Intel seems to have found a home for its Atom silicon while also continuing to get a foot in the door of IoT in the home. Let’s just hope there’s no “Intel Inside” sticker on the devices! (Seeking Alpha)
Who’s talking to who: Cisco predicts that by 2021, machine to machine communications will top that of humans on the internet with 51 percent of internet-connected systems and sensors speaking to each other. Thank smart cities, grids and related IoT markets for all that chatter, further explaining why networks specific for IoT may not be a bad idea. I don’t want my Netflix binge-watching interrupted by leak detectors, intelligent parking meters and energy monitors. (Quartz)
IoT spending estimated to approach $ 1T in 2017 : IDC updated its worldwide spending forecast for Internet of Things investments in 2017, expecting to see them cross over $ 800 billion this year. That’s up 16.7 percent from last year’s figure on the way to what IDC thinks will be $ 1.4 trillion in 2021. Smart homes are part of this market, of course, but IDC suggests the larger investment areas are manufacturing ($ 183B) transportation ($ 85B) and utilities ($ 66B); verticals where such spending can positively impact a large group of people. (IDC)
Insteon has a new owner: Rob Lilleness, former CEO of Medio Systems, decided to set his sights on home automation last month becoming the CEO of Smartlabs. If Smartlabs doesn’t ring a bell, this might: The company is the parent of Insteon and also operates the Smarthome.com retail site for connected products. Lilleness acquired Smartlabs through a $ 7.3 million investment from Richmond Capital Partners. Smartlabs will continue to be based in Irvine, California although Lilleness plans to open an office in Seattle; not surprising as he worked in that area previously for Microsoft. (GeekWire)
Say goodbye to Hello: Bad news this week for Hello, the company that built and sold Sense, a bedside sleep monitoring device. In a blog post, Hello says it’s shutting down soon, although it appears the company is seeking a buyer. Instead of a wearable sleep monitor, Hello built what looks to me like a 3-D printed ball of yarn that wirelessly connects to a small monitoring sensor tucked under your pillow. The Sense device originally debuted on Kickstarter with $ 2.4 million in backing and the company raised an additional $ 40 million in 2015. Unfortunately, Sense competes with wearables that can also track sleep habits, have intelligent alarm features and do much more. Perhaps that’s why it’s lights out for Hello Sense? If you bought a Hello Sense directly from the company, refunds won’t be available, unfortunately. (Hello)
Altair can tell you where your LTE CAT-M device is: The IoT industry is ideal for low power radio chips that don’t use or need high bandwidth, so CAT-M fits the bill. Altair’s new ALT1250 chip adds a useful bonus for some applications: support for global navigation satellite system location services. And the chip still doesn’t use much energy because it can run on a battery for up to 10 years. While I wouldn’t put this in a stationary connected device such as a vending machine or electric meter, it might be useful for supply chain or fleet management. (Altair)
Ukraine power grid malware could be just the beginning: After taking out the electricity to 230,000 Ukrainians, researchers are taking a closer look at the malware that caused the December outage. And it’s not a pretty story. The exploit could theoretically affect other grids in Europe, the Middle East and Asia which use four different industrial control protocols. The US uses a different protocol (Distributed Network Protocol 3), which wasn’t found in the malware. Still, it’s concerning at the very least that the exploit isn’t specifically engineered for a single grid implementation. (Motherboard)
AWS Greengrass has its limits: Last week this newsletter covered the launch of Amazon’s IoT at the Edge platform and why it exists. But analyst Janakiram MSV offers folks the chance to understand where AWS Greengrass needs some work. There’s a distinct lack of on device storage options and on-board analytics, which means the data will end up heading back to Amazon’s cloud sooner rather than later at the moment. For more on the details and a bit on architecting around it, check out his article. (Forbes) -SH