IoT news of the week for Dec. 29, 2017

Get ready for the telco edge: I’ve been seeing the phrase Multi-access Edge Computing, or MEC, pop up often in the last month or two. This is a telco edge computing concept that steals from a developing technology architecture and tries to wrap a bunch of services and SLAs around it in hopes of charging big companies a pretty penny. Carriers will use it to offload massive traffic from their networks as described in the article. They will also sell it to others. Unfortunately for telcos, the big IT companies are already pushing edge computing and have lower-cost services. So will MEC succeed outside of the carriers? I don’t know, but keep an eye on it. (Vodafone)

No safe Haven here: It was a slow news week which is the only reason I can see that Edward Snowden’s Haven security app got so much play. The app turns an old Android phone into a security sensor by using the phone’s microphones, accelerometers and camera to track what’s happening in the surrounding environment. People Power and a few other apps have been touting the use of cameras and mics in an old smartphone as a way to jerry-rig a security camera for a while, but the Snowden name really got people excited about this one. As far as use cases it’s pretty limited. If you are really worried about computer tampering maybe place a hair across your computer latch and see if it’s later broken like they do in old spy movies. (Wired)

An always-on thermometer: TempTraq is a battery-powered patch that sticks to your skin and can take temperature readings every 10 seconds and send them to your smart phone. Getting a reading every 10 seconds seems like overkill but the cool part of the invention is that it was built to showcase paper-thin battery technology. The battery must be pretty good to grab those readings and transmit the temp every 10 seconds. It lasts for 24 hours and then you toss it. I do hope that the tech also includes a smart way to recycle both the electronics and battery. (Cleveland.com)

Aura security is not for smart homes? Two weeks ago I mentioned that Qualcomm has licensed technology from the company that makes the Aura alarm system. Aura extrapolates images based on the disruption caused by people passing through wireless networks. It’s an intriguing concept and could lead to cool gesture-based interfaces in the smart home. However, it apparently caused some problems for one reviewer who saw his Wi-Fi network disrupted and many of his connected devices stop working. Because Qualcomm plans to license the tech for inside Wi-Fi routers, my hope is that such interference can be handled by manufacturers who will have control of both systems. Otherwise it feels like the tech will be a dud. (Techhive)

A solution for unnecessary passwords? How many times have you tried to buy a product or purchased a smart home device and found that you need to create an account with a password and then log in? If you’re security aware you know that you’re supposed to create a new password for each site, but barring a notebook full of options for esoteric sites you have visited once, it’s impossible to remember them. And frankly, it shouldn’t be necessary. As a consumer, each time I see these unnecessary logins I view them as just another chance for my information to get hacked. So I was intrigued to read about the SQRL effort. The idea is that using SQRL to log in provides you with a login and the web site with a bunch of gibberish, while it tracks the information for you. It’s not yet ready for prime time, but go check it out if you want a glimpse of the possible future. (SQRL)

Hackers are never gonna give you up: If I were going to hack a bunch of smart speakers you can bet that I would use them to Rickroll the unlucky owners of said devices. Unfortunately, hackers could also use the discovered vulnerable speakers to locate a person’s home, convince them to download malware and more. (Wired)

Thoughts on Noon lighting: A few weeks back, I covered the launch of noon and it’s approach to smart lighting, and now I can report that they apparently work. Adrian Cockcroft has installed the high-end lighting system that’s supposed to make designer lighting DIY, and he posted a very complete overview of the process and install. I’d like to see how he likes them after living with them a bit longer.  (Medium)

Is Sweden our future? This profile of Sweden looks at how its citizens view the emergence of robots that can take over people’s jobs. Unsurprisingly they are not very worried, having faith that the government and companies will retrain workers for new jobs and they won’t starve to death. The underlying idea is that a safety net makes it easier to take risks. Additionally workers are excited to help companies become more efficient and competitive because they feel like the benefits will accrue back to them. I would pay higher taxes to see America embrace this concept. (NYT)

What is IOTA? This is a good article on the pros and cons of the IOTA cryptocurrency. (Medium)

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Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Our IoT predictions and my family’s thoughts on smart homes

Once again it’s time for the holiday episode of the Internet of Things Podcast, where Kevin and I gather weeks ahead of the show’s air date to predict what we think will happen next year. We kick it off with our disappointments from 2017. From there we shared our predictions for 2018 and ended with our big questions for the industry wondering what havoc GDPR regulations will wreck and if we’ll get a new security model that works for IoT. Just like last year and the year before, the guest portion of the show features my family, sharing what they liked and didn’t like about our smart home this year. I hope you enjoy.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT for renters: 7 devices to make your home smarter

You can add a lot more than smart outlets to your rental unit.

I get a lot of plaintive requests for articles that cover IoT for renters, so I’m pulling together a list for those who aren’t lucky enough to be able to tear up their walls or remove their locks in the quest for a fully automated and smart home. By the way, the locks are a really important safety features for landlords, especially in apartment complexes, so truly, don’t mess with them. But here are several gadgets that you can buy if you’d like to add a little automation and fun to your life.

Canary: The Canary is a $ 169 all-in-one security system that offers a camera, a siren and a bunch of sensors. I’ve long recommend it as a good gift for students going away to college or those getting their first apartment. Instead of placing a bunch of sensors everywhere, you just pop this device in the main room and it performs remarkably well when it comes to hearing strange noises that might indicate a break in and even detecting increases in humidity that could help identify a big leak. There are plenty of other security systems out there, but I like the bang for your buck that Canary offers thanks to using inference rather than a bunch of sensors. It also supports optional indoor/outdoor cameras for those who want to build on the base system.

Philips Hue bulbs: There are several light bulbs out there that offer remote on/off and integrations with the main voice and smart home platforms currently available, but I have a soft spot for Philips Hue. For renters, these bulbs can link to a smart speaker to provide voice control, and Philips also offers a pricey, but simple way to control the bulbs from a light switch and using a motion detection sensor. The biggest caveats to these bulbs are that they cost a lot (color bulbs cost $ 50 and whites $ 15) and that whenever you lose power they will turn on at full brightness when the power comes back on. If you want something a bit cheaper check out the Sengled bulbs, although they won’t work with Apple’s HomeKit platform.

Amazon Echo Plus: If you are reading this, I will assume you are just starting out with a smart home. If so, the $ 150 Amazon Echo Plus is an excellent device to pave the way to basic smartness without requiring a lot of extra gear because this device is also a hub. The smart speaker offers all of the talents of Alexa with an additional ZigBee radio that lets it talk to light bulbs, sensors and connected locks. You can’t add locks to your rented abode, but you could add an ZigBee-based light bulb. This means Philips Hue, GE bulbs and others. And because smart home device companies have been working to add Alexa Skills like mad, pretty much any other connected device you buy can work with Alexa too.

Google Home: I know I just spent a paragraph extolling the virtues of the Amazon Echo, but if you don’t mind a few smart device hubs, the Google Home is a smarter device that’s currently much cheaper at $ 79 than the Echo or Echo Plus. Google’s Hardware doesn’t speak to as many connected home devices but it’s far better at answering spoken inquiries. I rely on Google to answer tough questions such as “Can I store mangoes in the fridge?” Google also lets me call people from the Home and makes it look like it’s coming from my phone number.

Switchmate: For those in a small apartment who want to replace their light switches with something smart, Switchmate is the way to go. Because smart bulbs require a light switch to stay turned on all the time, they tend to get messed up if you live with other people or have a housecleaner. Light switches are generally better, but require you to mess with electricity and replace things built into the walls. Landlords hate that. But these $ 40-to-$ 50 light switches snap over your regular light switches (toggle or rocker style) and can remotely control your lights using a Bluetooth command from your phone. Note, that because these use Bluetooth, they will only work when your phone is in Bluetooth range. So no turning off the lights from across town.

Logitech Harmony hub: I have dozens of connected devices that I can control with my voice, but my favorite might be the entertainment center, because it keeps me from having to explain to parents or a sitter the proper order of operations to get my TV to talk to the stereo system and for everything to talk to the Roku. Instead we tell Google Home or Alexa to turn on television (or turn on Netflix) and it works. Yes, we still have to use the Roku remote, but for $ 100 I really appreciate how easy this device has made my life. Perhaps my favorite is I can tell Alexa to fire up the TV while I am still getting my popcorn ready and by the time I’m ready to sit down, everything is warmed up and connected.

Smart outlets: There are so many connected outlets on the market, that’s it’s tough to pick just one. The most popular are the TP-Link and Belkin’s WeMo outlets that are able to fit two to an outlet, thus allowing you full use of the plug. They run about $ 30 to $ 40 depending on sales. The downside is that while both of these outlets are made by reputable companies, neither of these companies is particularly fast when it comes to patching security flaws. I tend to prefer WeMo over TP-Link but both have their issues with security. That being said, a smart outlet is nice for anyone who wants to control a lamp with her voice or in some cases set a device like a coffeepot or curling iron on a timer. During the holidays I have a shortage of connected outlets because I use them for holiday lighting needs. In the summer I use one with a tabletop fan to blow cool air when the outside temperature gets above a certain point. If your apartment doesn’t have AC that’s a pretty handy trick.

All in, these devices would run you well under $ 1,000 to trick out your rental, and can make your life a bit easier, safer and more fun. Happy to hear what other products you guys like.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Let’s talk about containers at the edge

Alexandros Marinos, CEO and founder of Resin.io

If the internet of things is to scale to millions of devices and embrace millions of different use cases it’s going to need developers. And to broaden the number of developers who can program edge devices, the tech industry needs to make platforms and languages that are easier to use. Resin.io is one company that hopes to make that possible.

Resin.io is building software that it hopes will provide that leap for developers. It hopes to move from fragmented and complex IoT programming frameworks and languages to tools that developers can use to manage and deploy software on what could be millions of connected devices.

Resin’s leap was building a form of a Docker container on ARM-based silicon used by many connected devices. Containers allow a developer to build a self-contained version of an app or service and then replicate it across many different servers. Or in the case of IoT, light bulbs or microprocessors.

Containers help with the problem of scale, allowing IT staff to treat an application as a resource that can be managed and deployed in any sort of infrastructure. But when thinking about computing at the edge of an industrial or enterprise network, containers aren’t enough. Alexandros Marinos, CEO and founder of Resin.io, says that in the four years since Resin.io’s founding a lot of work has gone into making the containers resilient enough for the edge.

For example, the connectivity inside a digital sign or an edge sensor can be sporadic, as can power. So Resin.io has taken steps to store data in a way that preserves it in case of power or data connection loss. But because data must travel back to the cloud on limited or unreliable networks, Resin.io also tried to minimize the container size and the way it transfers information to limit the use of bandwidth.

The software also puts guardrails in place so a machine that is operating can’t get a software update or perform certain functions. For example, if your light bulb got a security update while you are reading, you probably want it to wait until you flip the switch off before it performs an update. Today those updates are generally scheduled for a time when you aren’t likely to be using the device or when the device is first turned on after the patch has been released.

As someone who has flipped a switch only to have to wait for an update, neither is ideal.

“Some of what we have learned comes from the embedded world and some of it from the cloud,” says Marinos.

This philosophy makes sense when it comes to building what is essentially a new computing architecture for the internet of things. Now bring on the developers.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Spire makes wash and wear wearables

Spire’s new washable wearable.

During my first trip to a B8ta store a little over a year ago I bought a device that claimed it would track my breathing and tell me if I was stressing out. If I was, it would help me relax. Spire was backed by breathing rate science from the Stanford Sleep Lab. It didn’t actually work for me. It kept telling me I was relaxed when I was most definitely stressed.

However, after selling it on eBay, I discovered from Spire’s CEO that my breathing rate is apparently on the low end, which confused the sensor. He told me if I had held onto it a bit longer, it would have learned and started to be more of a help. That’s a key reason I’m interested in the newest product Spire has made.

This device measures breathing rate, heartbeat, activity and sleep. But the most exciting thing is that it does this in a tiny sensor designed to stick inside your underwear or bra for a year or so. Because it’s a semi-permanent sensor for clothing it’s also designed to go through the wash hundreds of times.

Building a health tracking device that’s low-powered enough to track activity, sleep, breathing rate, etc. for more than a year, while also protecting the electronic components from the wash, is tremendously impressive. Spire adds one more thing to its electronics, though: sustainability.

Jonathan Palley, CEO and co-founder of Spire says that the company used glues and packaging that’s designed to be taken apart and recycled when the device’s battery runs out.

When that happens, consumers send the tags back to Spire and presumably order a new one. This business model is very similar to that of Tile’s trackers.

I’m not sure how many people are going to like spending $ 100 on a three pack or $ 299 on a 15-pack only to have the devices die in a year or two. Even if they do accept this, I’m not sure how many will ship the defunct tags back.

However, I’m impressed by the way that Palley and his team have taken their vision and found a way to create it with available electronic components. Palley says that many of his suppliers, which include Maxim and Ambiq Micro, love that he’s showcasing new ways to use traditional components and using their most advanced silicon.

I’ve been covering Ambiq for at least six years. The company started with a new way to make a timing component and has since made a microcontroller that uses 10x less power than a traditional MCU. When I last covered the firm in 2015 people didn’t understand why such a low powered MCU mattered since things like displays used most of the power in a wearable.

Spire’s health tag is an excellent example of why I cared. Not everything will need a display. And by having an MCU that can use more power for computing while sipping on the battery, the tags can take in less data and make inferences from the smaller sample size by using more complex algorithms. These sorts of tradeoffs are always happening in computing, and now they can happen in a device that you wear in your underwear and can be washed.

The future is cool, and I’m excited there are companies pushing the limits on what’s possible to make real innovation happen.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Amazon’s Blink buy sums up the smart home in 2017 … and 2018

The Blink camera is a $ 99 wireless camera.

Amazon has acquired the company that makes the Blink line of cameras and a newly launched $ 99 doorbell. The deal itself doesn’t come as a surprise since Immedia Semiconductor, the Boston-based company that makes Blink, has been on the market for months.

Amazon likely scored a relative bargain, much like Ooma did with camera maker Butterfleye (see the news section below). Smart device startups seeking an exit is one huge theme from 2017, as is a focus on security. Looking ahead to 2018, it’s worth noting that Blink’s planned $ 99 doorbell and existing $ 99 wireless cameras put price pressure on competitors in the the market.

If I were picking a macro trend for the smart home device space, I would bet on next year being the year of pricing pressure for devices. For example, one of the most compelling devices I’ve seen this year is the $ 20 Wyze camera that is built to modern hardware specs like a Nest Cam or Arlo, but costs so much less. The Wyze co-founders were former Amazon alumni and the company’s goal is to sell a bunch of cameras on razor-thin margins to command the market.

With Blink, Amazon gets a cheaper device, but it also gets some serious technical know-how. The Blink camera business was actually born out of a chip company that decided it needed a new and more lucrative market for an image processing chip it had developed.

Immedia Semiconductor made a chip that sold for a few bucks to DVD and Blu-Ray player companies, but after looking at the margins, CEO Peter Besen decided to build a product that showcased the chip’s battery-sipping image processing technology. The result was a wireless camera that launched on Kickstarter in 2014.

Amazon now has the cameras and future doorbell. It also now has its own image processing chip technology. As companies like Google and Apple build dedicated silicon for their mass-market devices, that could become an advantage. Even if it doesn’t Amazon now has another advantage in the smart home — a security offering.

As I’ve written in the past, home security is a gateway drug for home automation. Companies ranging from Nest to Comcast are trying to build compelling security offerings to entice consumers to adopt their platform and buy their devices and services. Meanwhile, security firms like ADT are pushing into the home automation market and trying to stop rivals from encroaching on its turf. For example, ADT is suing Ring to stop the sale of Ring’s security system.

In short, for what is likely a relatively decent price, Amazon now has a dedicated low-power image processing chip, a security offering and a leg up on the coming price war in connected devices. Meanwhile, Blink device owners will get continued support for the time being.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT News of the Week for Dec. 22, 2017

5G is real! This week the wireless industry took a big step forward in preparing for 5G. The cellular radio standards organization, 3GPP ratified the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) specification for what will form the basis of commercial 5G products working on cellular networks. The standard isn’t totally complete, but this covers the radio access network with the rest set to become a standard by mid-2018.  (Fierce Wireless)

Wait, why 5G? The cellular industry now has a standard for 5G, but it’s not clear if it has a business case for mobile. Several executives at large cellular carriers have questioned the need for network upgrades and cautioned that it might make networks more efficient, but it won’t allow carriers to offer services that will translate into greater revenue. So while margins might improve, sales may not. And because network upgrades are expensive, analysts and executives are concerned about the rush to 5G. (Bloomberg)

More bad news for telcos: While carriers hold the key to broadband infrastructure, they have failed in their efforts to move beyond providing a dumb pipe. This article argues that one reason for this is their failure to recognize cuckoo platforms that grow beyond the platform and cannibalize its opportunities. The writer sees this happening again when it comes to offering edge computing services. Telcos think they can become a version of AWS at the edge, while Amazon is also building similar tools and is likely better positioned to succeed because it already is its own anchor tenant. (Disruptive Wireless)

The OCF is back with Samsung certification: Last year Intel’s IoT standards-setting effort merged with Qualcomm’s standards-setting effort to create the Open Connectivity Foundation. The two groups spent a lot of time this past year merging their respective code to try to build a framework for connected devices. After months of relative silence, Samsung says it won Open Connectivity Foundation 1.3 certification for its ARTIK 05x series of modules.

Ooma just bought Butterfleye: Ooma, the VoIP provider, has turned into a home automation and security provider this year. Now it’s doubling down with the purchase of Butterfleye, which makes an IP video camera that has a host of cool features. Those features include facial recognition and thermal sensors, which made it relatively unique when it launched back in 2016. However, as competition in the smart home device market has risen, companies have been seeking buyers or shutting down. Ooma may have been a savior.  (TechCrunch)

A hack shut down a plant: Malware shut down the safety system of an unnamed power plant as part of a sophisticated attack believed to have been undertaken by a nation-state. The attack, dubbed Triton, targeted a Schneider Electric controller to attempt to re-program the device. Instead the attack ended up triggering a plant shutdown as opposed to causing damage or a loss of life. (FireEye)

Check out this privacy app for iPhones: CMU researcher Yuvraj Agarwal has built a privacy app for iOS devices (specifically jailbroken iPhones). The idea is the app sits between the OS and the app, which Apple would never condone, and offers recommendations based on the permissions the app seeks. If Protect My Privacy can’t see why an app wants your contacts, for example, it will let the user choose to ignore, offer fake contacts or to carry on anyhow. It’s a powerful reminder of apps overreaching for your data, delivered in a non-utilitarian package. I want this functionality to extend to data collected by all of my devices. (PMP)

A way to think about competition in the data economy: One of the side effects of bringing computing and data to more places and making our user interactions more intuitive is we lose the ability to make informed choices. Instead, technology can influence us in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. Additionally the aggregation of user data can act as an effective moat against competition, which may lead to anticompetitive behavior. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and apparently so has the author of this piece. I recommend it as a way to dig into the issue of competition in a tech era. (Law and Political Economy)

Silicon Labs now has Z-wave: So I apparently missed this two weeks ago when Silicon Labs said it would pay $ 282 million for Z-wave radio maker Sigma Designs. However, the deal is worth a look because now Silicon Labs can design for all of the underlying radios for the internet of things. Even more interesting, it’s starting to move up the stack with software platforms that can provide more functionality on top of the radios, such as its purchase of Zentri, which offers software that manages Wi-Fi networks in the cloud. As radios become more of a commodity as the chip market consolidates, Silicon Lab’s efforts may become the only way to keep margins up. (Silicon Labs)

I really enjoyed this article from André Staltz.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Industrial IoT meets the blockchain with Xage

Xage’s software is useful to help secure the large number of smart meters that are part of the electrical grid.

I don’t think I could make a hotter sounding startup at the end of 2017 than Xage (pronounced Zage). The company, which was founded in mid-2016, has redesigned security for the industrial internet of things using blockchain and other decentralized technologies. It combines industrial IoT, security and blockchain into a single startup that has raised capital from March Capital, the Hive and others.

Xage’s core idea is that in an industrial setting there are too many sensors, computers and people communicating at any given point in time, so a centralized security architecture doesn’t make sense if information needs to travel quickly. The obvious solution for Xage’s founders was to use a distributed mechanism. In this case, Xage is using blockchain to track data requests across the system and an algorithm called Shamir’s Secret Sharing to scatter data and reconstruct it from the nodes in the system.

The end goal is a system of sensors and computers that track what’s happening in real time and then adapt to circumstances with security built in. The security comes in the form of auditing thanks to blockchain (Xage uses the IBM Hyperledger standard) and tokens that grant authorization to command a device reconstructed using Shamir’s Secret Sharing.

As someone who writes about IoT, I’m wondering if this is the new security model we might need for a world of millions (or trillions) of distributed, connected things.

Xage’s software can run on a few kilobits of memory so it can sit on tiny sensors. Xage also has partnerships with companies like Dell to put the software on industrial gateways. It also ties into existing systems, such as Microsoft’s Active Directory, that manages what privileges individual employees have. Thus the things can now link up with people in a trackable and secure way.

Customers such as industrial giant ABB are using Xage, as is smart metering company Itron.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Check out this crazy wearable sensor tech from Flex

Flex has made a super stretchy conductive material that can work with fabrics.

Earlier this month I took a field trip to the Flex campus in Milpitas, Calif. and found what might be my ultimate dream job if I ever tire of typing newsletters while sitting on my couch eating Captain Crunch and gossiping with people via text message.

Flex, which used to be known as Flextronics, makes things. With the name change in 2015, Flex likes to say it can now take an idea and turn it from a sketch into scale. By scale, it means it can make tens of thousands of something. Flex, and its rival in contract manufacturing Jabil, puts the things in the internet of things.

So about that dream job. My new plan B job is to become one of the Flex engineers that companies come to with ideas. The engineers then tell the companies what technologies Flex might have, or might know of, to turn a client’s vision into reality. So if you want to make a bracelet that tells you if your kid has been in the sun too long, or a drone that can deliver burritos, Flex can walk you through the process.

In addition to my alternative job, I saw three technologies worth talking about.

I met a scientist named Anwar Mohammed who showed me the stretchy plastic fabric pictured above. The idea here is to print conductive materials on top of a plastic fabric that can be stretched without affecting the conductive material. This has a potential home in clothing, bandages and even automotive upholstery.

Mohammed also displayed a sensor made of a monolayer of graphene that could detect glucose in a person’s sweat: not their actual sweat that occurs during and after a mile run, but the non-detectable emanations from a person’s skin. Such a sensitive sensor would lead to non-invasive glucose tests, which would be a boon to diabetics sick of pricking themselves every day to test their glucose levels.

The sensor Mohammed showed me was roughly six-to-nine months out from commercialization, and obviously anything aimed at measuring glucose as part of a medical device would need FDA approval. Yet, the potential for diabetics is huge. It could also detect electrolyte, lactate, opioid, and hydration levels.

Finally, for the chip nerds, Mohammed showed off ways to bond transistors to what was formerly an incompatible substrate using silver. Flex calls this a stretchable die-attach material. The breakthrough is around letting two materials with different heat tolerances stick together. Without the new stretchable die-attach material it’s impossible to use a metal that might expand twice as much under heat compared to something that only expands by 1.5 times at the same temperature without the two cracking.

This is similar to how buildings are constructed in earthquake zones to flex with the movement of the earth. The difference here is that it happens at a microscopic level between metals on a chip. The practical upside of this is you can now build smaller chips that won’t require fans to dissipate heat. This means you could use a silicon chip and can bond a copper heat sink to it with the new material in between. In wearable sensors, smaller is better. And eliminating the fan means you don’t use as much battery power. Cool.

Basically, I saw the future of wearables for fabrics, better biological sensing and more. I also discussed some of this, including privacy implications, in the podcast this week. Keep reading to find out more (and be sure to listen to the podcast).

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT news of the week for Dec. 15, 2017

On net neutrality: Thursday the FCC repealed 2015 rules that enshrined network neutrality into law along partisan lines (the same way the law was enacted originally, albeit with years of conversation and negotiating.) I don’t have much to say beyond what I wrote earlier, so if you want my opinion, my essay from two weeks back is pretty clear. (StaceyonIoT)

Qualcomm is bringing Wi-Fi gesture tech to homes: Qualcomm has signed a deal with a company called Cognitive Systems to bring motion detection to home Wi-Fi networks. Cognitive makes an existing security product called the Aura, which tracks disruptions in Wi-Fi signals to detect motion in the home. Aura WiFi Motion will become part of the Qualcomm Mesh Networking platform, which router makers can use inside their gear. The platform will also connect with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. Providers using Qualcomm’s mesh chips include eero, Google Wifi, and the Linksys Velop. So look for updates soon.

Dotdot is now out! Dotdot is a relatively new IoT standard created by the ZigBee Alliance and the Thread Group. The two organizations launched this at CES in January and then we didn’t hear much about it. But now the two groups say Dotdot will work over Thread’s IP network with essential elements such as the opening of a certification program and the Dotdot Commissioning application available in summer of next year. Could this make the smart home standards muddle easier? Frankly it feels like too little, too late.

One more thing on Dotdot: This was a fun little design article on how Dotdot’s design came to be. It’s old, but I just saw it. (Fast Co)

Alexa could be your maître d’: Amazon’s Echo can be used in office conference rooms and in the home, but what about putting Alexa inside a restaurant? My former colleague Chris Albrecht takes a look at what Alexa could do there. And before you think this is nuts, know that I spoke with a CIO of a major restaurant group who is actively discussing Alexa in the kitchen with Amazon. (The Spoon)

Foxconn brings AI into factories: The startup founded by tech superstar Andrew Ng, who headed up Google and Baidu’s AI efforts, has signed a deal to bring smarter automation to Foxconn’s factories. Ng’s startup, Landing.ai, is training machines to recognize flaws in circuit boards and for other tasks inside the factories. It’s also trying to train humans whose jobs are going to be affected by increasing automation availability. China is becoming less competitive as a hub for low-labour costs, which means some manufacturing is moving. However, with these types of investments, manufacturing can still cost less while China reaps the benefits of investments in AI training data for factories.  (Reuters)

Gemalto is in play: This week French security firm Atos made an unsolicited offer for Gemalto, which makes security chips used in payment processing as well as SIM cards and eSIMs. Gemalto rejected the 4.3-billion-euro ($ 5.1 billion) offer, but Atos is not backing off. Gemalto says the deal undervalues the company, which has not performed well in the stock market recently. However, analysts question if the two businesses belong together, specifically wondering what happens to Gemalto’s SIM card business. (Bloomberg)

Amazon sells the Echo in more places: Amazon said late last week that it would sell its Echo devices in more than 80 countries, but what it didn’t say was that Alexa, its assistant, would learn to speak the corresponding local languages. And that missing information gives a hint about Alexa’s future. (VentureBeat)

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Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis