Here’s a summary of interesting Internet of Things news from the past week. Get this summary in your inbox every Friday when you subscribe to the newsletter.
WeMo provides a bridge to HomeKit: Belkin, the maker of the WeMo-branded connected devices, announced it will release a bridge this fall that will allow its outlets, switches and other products to work with Apple’s HomeKit. Pricing wasn’t announced. As awkward as they are, I like bridges because when a company decides to build one it generally means they are all in on supporting multiple platforms. However, for a company like WeMo that only relies on Wi-Fi for connectivity to have to do this is a testament to both Apple’s market power and its utter arrogance. Props to WeMo for building a bridge instead of forcing consumers to buy all new HomeKit-certified devices.
New data on the smart home: Parks, an analyst firm, held its smart home focused event this week in California. It released a lot of data on the current state of the smart home such as the prediction that 442 million connected consumer devices will be sold in the U.S. in 2020. (Twice)
RedBull is connecting its coolers to the internet: If you’re going to sell a best-served-cold drink to a crowd that’s literally addicted to your product, then you should at least make sure it’s kept chilled. That’s why RedBull is turning to the internet of things. The beverage company is connecting its coolers to monitor and ensure the temperature is right and it is also monitoring when the cooler door opens. RedBull is working with AT&T for connectivity and hosting the data as it arrives.
Why tools like AR and IIoT matter: Adding intelligence to industrial settings clearly benefits operational efficiency, but this article gives a surprising stat about how it might affect workers. Yes, it will reduce the number of jobs, but it will also make the people who remain on those jobs more fulfilled. This article says that in a 10 hour shift a worker spends only 2.5 hours of that shift on productive work – work that adds value to the business. The rest of the time is used looking for information–meaning tools that can help the worker diagnose problems and solve them in the field could lead to a big increase in productivity. (IoT Central)
How to build a secure connected car: Car hacking is a big worry, even before we have autonomous vehicles driving us around. For those that want to understand the issues and see some thinking about how to protect vehicles, check out this report. (Cloud Security Alliance)
If you find notifications annoying today … just wait until your digital assistant is pinging you from your Amazon Echo or Google Home. The promise of such notifications is that they can share important information such a traffic accident that will affect your commute, even when your phone isn’t around. But it’s unlikely that you’ll want Alexa interrupting your dinner to tell you that someone just favorited your latest snapchat. (Fast Company)
Microsoft made a pair of decent AR glasses: Many companies are excited about the promise of augmented reality. Not for entertainment, but for its ability to overlay a lot of information for technicians. This can come in handy in industrial settings or even for doctors performing a surgery. The challenge so far has been finding a way to display information that leaves the user’s hands free. Microsoft’s new glasses demo is a step in the right direction. Yes, it looks like Warby Parker specs mated with a Goodyear tire, but the glasses look closer to normal eyewear than some of the other options out there. (Wareable)
Is it time for graph databases to shine? Last week I wrote about Google’s I/O event and how it signaled the shift to AI over software. Specifically, using AI to deliver context for customized services. This vision is compelling but, to make it real, I argued that we’ll need new distributed architectures that can remain flexible at scale. Looks like Microsoft is thinking hard about this problem, with a big focus on its Microsoft Graph as a way to connect everything from the nodes at the edge to each other and to the cloud. For insights on Microsoft’s efforts, check out this blog. (Wikibon)
Good news and bad news on wearables: For those wondering how useful their fitness trackers are, Stanford has some answers. The good news is that the heart rate tracking on these things is much better and accurate enough. The bad news is that the calorie estimates these things provide is essentially useless. This wouldn’t be a big deal expect that more and more insurers and corporate wellness programs are investing in fitness trackers to build incentives and bonuses that correspond with wellness. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were accurate? (Ashley Lab)
Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson execs call on government to regulate IoT Security: This happened late last week, but it’s worth noting simply because much of our thinking about IoT regulation stems from a knee-jerk dislike of government interference. But if done well, having a set of mandated rules could actually help the industry move forward and instill a sense of user confidence that their data is protected and the repercussions of sharing that data won’t come back to haunt them. (Data Center Knowledge)
Walt Mossberg is retiring: Uncle Walt was “the” reviewer for computers as far back as I can remember. His relevance may have waned as gadgets and gadget journalism exploded, but he’s a smart guy and his final column discussing the evolution of technology is a must read. (ReCode)
Verizon made a smart home hub: It has LTE as a backup, doubles as a Wi-Fi router and supports connected devices including Nest and Philips Hue. (Android Police)