News of the Week for Oct. 6, 2017

Eero’s data on smart devices shows Austin Eero users have the most. I blame me.

Want to know what tech nerds are buying? Surprise, there’s a whole lot of Apple! Eero, the maker of mesh Wi-Fi routers, has released data from the homes of its customers showing what devices are most popular. Keep in mind though, that 79% of the homes that have Eero’s routers have seven or fewer devices. Most of the connected things are variations on phones and computers, but Nest thermostats, Sonos speakers and the Amazon Echo are all popular as well. Click on through to see the list. While you’re there, perhaps ponder how much Eero knows about you if it can say that 42% of its users check their phones within 10 minutes of waking up in the morning.  (Eero)

Check out this effort to build a policy framework for token sales: The sale of tokens built on some kind of distributed ledger (blockchain) is reaching fever pitch. Outside of some of these token sales being outright scams brought on by the Bitcoin hype (Bitcoin is a blockchain based cryptocurrency), the legal framework is evolving. Even people trying to create a legitimate security face questions about legitimacy and practices. These papers seek to develop a legal framework for blockchain based token sales and could help legitimize the tech. And before you scoff, blockchain-based ledgers are important for IoT because it’s a scalable way to build accountability into a distributed system…and the IoT will need accountability. (SAFT Project)

What’s up with Z-Wave? One of the bigger takeaways from the slew of Amazon hardware that came out last week was the realization that the Amazon Echo Plus, which combines Alexa with a home hub, doesn’t have a Z-Wave radio. What was once an essential home security standard is starting to feel a bit like an also-ran. Ring is using Z-Wave in its home security system, but Nest is not. One challenge with Z-Wave is that not all hubs support all the functionality of Z-Wave sensors. For example, Wink or SmartThings might recognize a basic input like on/off but miss out on other functions. This need to integrate more deeply to capture all of a device’s functionality can be frustrating for buyers and vendors, as this story shows. (Automated Home)

Connected desks change how WeWork does business: MasterCard is working with WeWork to charge for its desks only when they are used. This is another example of how connectivity can enable metered transactions across an entirely new class of services. For some this will be a yay, while others will certainly end up paying more. (Point of Sale)

Emerson creates a consulting group for the industrial IoT: Connecting stuff is tough. And when that stuff is critical to you operations it can be hard to trust a startup or even a known IT brand that might not understand the challenges associated with making physical products. This week, Emerson decided it would take its hard-won knowledge from connecting plants and share that experience through a consulting group. (Industry Week)

The Canary in the IoT business model coal mine: Canary, the maker of a connected home security unit that is far more forward-looking than many of the me-too security solutions on the market, screwed up. The company launched its device in 2013 with a price tag of $ 199. That may have covered the cost of the device, but there’s no way it could cover the cost of sending all the video that Canary devices send to and store in the cloud. Later it launched a subscription plan that acted like AAA does for drivers, except this one was for people whose homes were burgled. But it seems that it couldn’t match its business to its costs because last week it sent out an email rolling back some of its services and causing massive angst among its customers. More proof that picking the right business model matters for a connected device. I suspect we’re going to see moves like this, fire sales, or outright closures in the coming months.

Let’s take a look at medical device privacy rules! The Norwegian Consumer Council hired researchers to evaluate 10 connected home health devices to see how they used and secured a person’s health data. The results were grim. Most devices had poor device security and worse terms of services. Download the report to find a good framework for thinking about digital device privacy and security. (The Norwegian Consumer Council)

Speaking of privacy (and medical device security) … Did you know your Bluetooth connected sex toy could be activated by someone with the right skills without your consent? This hacker shows how the lack of BLE security in connected devices, plus an ability to access their code, means someone within Bluetooth range could activate someone’s connected vibrator or butt plug. In fact, he discovered he was within range of the latter on a public street in Germany. I’m relieved he didn’t test control of the device, but he points out that this holds true for a lot of products like my beloved hearables, which have Bluetooth Low Energy and don’t have a physical keyboard for entering a PIN to authenticate. Ugh. (Pen Test Partners)

Integration matters in the internet of things: One of the earliest stories I wrote as a chip reporter was about Broadcom combining FM radios, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the same chip. This was a biggish deal because it cut costs, took less space inside a smaller form factor and helped with power consumption. This was a long time ago, but as devices get smaller and we rely on them for all-day use on a single charge, integration has only become more important. That’s why these two stories caught my eye. In the Reuters story on Europe’s future licensing models, the issue is what integration may cost in devices like fridges or home medical equipment that don’t have a high price tag (like that of a smart phone). The PE Hub story is about Dialog, a chip company that makes terribly dull components buying Silego to try to integrate other fairly dull (but essential) elements onto chips for IoT devices. Again, chips predict our future, so it’s always good to keep an eye on how they are doing. (ReutersPE Hub)

Hilton is planning smart hotel rooms: Not much else to say here, other than anything that can help me find the light switches in my hotel room is welcome. (Digital Trends)

Phones are a relic: My podcasting colleague Kevin Tofel bought an Apple Watch and now he’s living in a world where voice calls don’t require a phone. Yes, people whose jobs require them to spend a lot of time talking to others will still need a handset, but thanks to tech, we can use any number of other devices from watches to Google Homes to make quick calls. (StaceyonIoT)

Bluetooth gets some industrial cred with Ayla: The IoT platform provider Ayla Networks now lets companies use phones as an intermediary to get data from Bluetooth sensors to Ayla’s cloud-based IoT platform. This is a big deal for bringing Bluetooth sensors into the industrial space, something that several executives at plants and in enterprises seem keen to do. The idea is that Bluetooth’s limited range will be more secure, although they may want to read the story above about insecure sex toys. Another company to watch in this space is Cassia, which makes an enterprise-grade Bluetooth hub. (Ayla)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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