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IoT news of the week for March 5, 2021

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Image courtesy of Eve Systems.

All about Eve’s new weather station: Eve Systems this week introduced a new version of the Eve Weather Station, which costs $ 70 and is available March 25. What’s special about this one? Thread compatibility, which brings hubless mesh connectivity and a self-healing device network. And Eve is just getting started. On April 6, the Thread-enabled Eve Energy smart plug goes on sale in the U.S. for $ 40. And the currently available second-generation Eve Aqua smart water controller is getting a firmware update to enable Thread support. These products and updates will bring Eve’s total Thread device count to seven, and I’m sure more will come. In the meantime, I have a review unit of the new Eve Weather device on the way. Stay tuned to see how it performs with my HomePod mini, which acts as a Thread router. (Eve Systems— Kevin C. Tofel

Microsoft Mesh and how AR/VR could intersect with the IoT: At Microsoft Ignite this week, the software giant showed off Mesh, software designed to handle the creation of avatars and other “plumbing” of the AR/VR worlds across different platforms. The focus was on gaming and collaboration; it used Pokémon Go and meetings where people were represented by their digital avatars hanging out in places with other people’s avatars to demo Mesh. AR and VR have never greatly appealed to me, but where it could get interesting is when our avatars meet a digital twin of a machine, building, or product in a virtual space. With quality data coming from a real-world object, people could interact in a virtual world with a facsimile of the real thing to take collaboration around product development or repair to new levels. (Protocol— Stacey Higginbotham

IoT and winterizing power plants: After the freeze in Texas, I wondered how the IoT might have helped prevent natural gas plants from going offline, so I emailed the folks at Emerson to get a sense of what might have been prevented. Bob Yeager, president of power and water solutions, Emerson Automation Solutions, emailed me to say that sensors alone wouldn’t have helped. Still, sensors that could control heating strips along cabinets or pipes would have been useful. He also noted that having a pervasive layer of sensors throughout a refining or generation process could offer earlier warnings before failure could engulf an entire plant.  Combining that sensing with actuators that could actually help keep critical areas warm would lead to what Yager called “proactive maintenance.”  — Stacey Higginbotham

Hippo will go public via a SPAC: Hippo, which is building out a modern home insurance business that will rely on connected sensors and smart home technology, has agreed to go public via Reinvent Technology Partners Z, a SPAC created by Marcus Pincus (the founder of Zynga) and Reid Hoffmann (the founder of LinkedIn). Hippo provides home insurance in 32 states today, letting users get their quotes via the web and an app. In many states, it is also providing discounts for users who have or accept certain smart home devices such as security systems or leak sensors. I recall back in 2014 talking to a venture capital friend of mine about how the high prices and lackluster use cases for many smart home devices didn’t really line up with consumer demands, but that insurers should be excited to dive in. It’s taken longer than I thought for smart home gadgets to change the world of insurance, but Hippo is one of the companies that will get us there. (Hippo— Stacey Higginbotham
Noonlight brings 24/7 safety monitoring to Tuya smart devices: You might not be familiar with Noonlight, which provides connected safety APIs to partner companies. But this week, the large IoT cloud platform provider Tuya became the latest to pair up with Noonlight. As a result, Tuya gains access to round-the-clock monitoring of sensors and video services in smart devices, and any “Powered by Tuya” app or device can be connected with Noonlight’s API and emergency dispatch teams. The new partnership not only expands Noonlight’s potential business but also provides another revenue stream opportunity for Tuya and its brand partners. Hey, not every smart device company can work a deal with ADT,, and the like. By the way, Wyze Home Monitoring uses Noonlight’s services too, as of May 2020. (Tuya)  — Kevin C. Tofel

Azure Precept is Microsoft’s latest edge product: Microsoft at its annual Ignite conference this week introduced Azure Precept, a complete connected hardware and services play — although Microsoft partners will create the former, with Asus being the first. The idea behind Azure Precept is a simple one: Bring AI to the edge and make it easy to do so. A new development kit includes the hardware and “embedded hardware-accelerated AI modules” for vision, while an optional audio add-on brings localized voice recognition. The goal here is to speed up AI at the edge for product development and eventual deployment, to bring localized AI wherever it’s needed. Of course, this is all integrated with Azure IoT Hub for easier management and provisioning. (Microsoft |The AI Blog— Kevin C. Tofel

Connected pet collars can raise big capital: This week, Fi, maker of a pet collar that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for tracking, raised $ 30 million in a second funding round. Fi collars alert pet owners if their animal wanders outside of a geofenced area. The company says it raised cash to expand product availability with additional retail channels and marketing as well as research. I hope some of that R&D will be used to look into LoRaWAN technologies, or maybe even Amazon Sidewalk. Once a pet goes beyond the limited reach of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the longer range of LoRaWAN would be useful. (TechCrunch— Kevin C. Tofel

Speaking of HomeKit, I love this dual-outlet smart plug: Our family’s latest purchase is the $ 21 Meross HomeKit Dual Plug Wi-Fi smart outlet, which I reviewed this week. I did have some challenges adding the HomeKit outlet to my home network because the device uses 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signals. After that hiccup, though? Flawless. This plug turns one wall outlet into two. But the best part is that you can control the two outlets simultaneously or independently. (Stacey on IoT— Kevin C. Tofel

Forget mesh networks; how about wearable mesh sensors? When I read about these wearable sensors, I immediately thought of Google’s Project Jacquard technology. That’s the interactive tech embedded in clothing and accessories that wearers can use to control their connected phone. Cipher Skin’s mesh sensors can also be put in clothing, but they do so much more. By reading “trillions of data points,” the company can create a 3D model from anyone wearing material embedded with the sensors. Think of compression shorts or shirts, for example. Biomechanics, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and more can be deduced from the sensors. That’s useful for rehabilitation and training activities. Boyett Group must think so, too, since it led a Series A funding round of $ 5 million for Cipher Skin this week. (VentureBeat)  — Kevin C. Tofel

Smart city infrastructure needs a rethink: This month’s column for IEEE Spectrum is all about how I think we should be building and funding the technology that underpins the smart city. Yes, I mention bonds. (IEEE Spectrum— Stacey Higginbotham

The post IoT news of the week for March 5, 2021 appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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