IoT news of the week for Feb. 9, 2018
Nest was absorbed into Google: We discussed this on the podcast this week, but it’s worth mentioning here, too. At best, the decision to bring Nest into Google will make for easier and faster hardware design. At worst, it’s an admission that Nest can’t stand alone as its own company in Alphabet’s “Other Bets” category. Nest has sold a relatively skimpy 11 million devices (compare that with Amazon’s estimated 31 million Echo devices in just a few years) and has been slow to produce more world-changing gadgets. (CNET)
What about your Nest data? A big question after the news broke that Nest would be absorbed by Google was, what will happen to users’ Nest data? When Google acquired Nest in 2014, it made a big deal of keeping the two companies’ data separate. When I asked that question, Matt Flegal, a Nest spokesman, said via email, “Today’s announcement does not change the way Nest uses data under its Privacy Statement.
“In short, Nest users’ data will continue to be used for the limited purposes described in our Privacy Statement like providing, developing, and improving Nest services and products. As we develop future plans and future product integrations, we will be transparent with users about the benefits of those integrations, any changes to the handling of data, and the choices available to consumers in connection with those changes.”
However, I’d keep an eye on my terms of service if I were you, because that could change down the road. But then what would a consumer do? Uninstall their thermostat? Replace their many smoke detectors? Ugh.
Let’s talk about this Intel “edge” processor: This week, Intel made a huge deal of this new system on a chip being built “for the edge.” I’ve expressed my frustration with the trend of calling everything “the edge” in the past, but Intel’s efforts seem particularly egregious. This is nothing but a massive server chip designed for telecommunications firms. The edge features Intel is touting are basically that this product would work well in servers living at the edge of the telco network. Telcos are betting big on their ability to convince corporate and enterprise customers that their networks can offer edge computing, and that will require much fatter computing power than the current industrial IoT or enterprise IoT gateway boxes, but I’m hard-pressed to consider that the edge. (Intel)
FreeRTOS and embedded OSes: With the internet of things, the mysterious and fragmented world of embedded operating systems is consolidating so as to become more accessible to developers. This article explores what role Amazon wants to play in that transition with its acquisition of the FreeRTOS embedded operating system. (Embedded Computing Design)
How to handle the aftermath of an industrial security breach: Last last year we covered the Triton exploit, which compromised an oil and gas refinery thanks to a vulnerability in equipment from Schneider Electric. Schneider, as part of the steps it took after the attack, uploaded the exploit to a public repository of viruses and malware, where it was promptly copied. Now folks are concerned that the exploit could be recreated and are arguing that Schneider’s decision to upload the code was wrong. Schneider argues that this is a common reaction to an exploit. The whole article takes a look at cybersecurity practices I had never considered and showcases how different the industrial and IT worlds are. (Automation World)
Containers for IoT: This fellow has built a container architecture for the internet of things based on the same kernel that runs the popular Docker container software. The IoT version is called Eliot. If you want to understand more about the benefits of containers for IoT, then check out this profile of Resin.io from a few weeks back. (Medium)
Spain’s big bets on smarter cars: Telefonica and Huawei have built a 5G-based vehicle-to-vehicle communications network test bed in Madrid where the two firms have a 5G Joint Innovation lab. There, they plan to test 5G-based V2V technology for remote driving, fleet platooning, and other benefits of networked cars. Also in Spain, Orange Spain and Spanish automaker SEAT have signed an agreement to improve the passenger experience, bringing smart home options to car users and building some kind of loyalty program to encourage users to adopt the new technology. (Telegeography)
Connected devices should focus on usage, not purchase: This HBR article delves into the perspectives top-performing consumer brands have on their customers. Do they think of them as buyers of the product, or focus on them as users? In the first case, the emphasis is on prompting a buying decision, while in the second, the focus is on creating an experience that leads to continued use and advocacy for the brand. My contention is that connected devices should focus on the latter. (Harvard Business Review)
The EFF is suing to break DRM on connected devices: DRM on connected devices can be used to keep owners of said products from updating their software, repairing their devices, and generally doing anything the manufacturer doesn’t like. It’s a big issue and getting bigger as we buy more connected products. Hence the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s efforts. (EFF)
FTC’s PrivacyCon event is coming! If you care as much about privacy as I do, perhaps you want to visit Washington, D.C. on Feb. 28th to attend the Federal Trade Commission’s annual event discussing the topic. It will be webcast, too! (FTC)