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.
Intel’s Compute Card is worth a look: There are many technical limitations that long-lived devices present. For example, a connected oven might live in your home for 15 years while the electronics inside die after five. So how do connected device makers continue upgrading or replacing old tech in cars, appliances and other products? Modular housing for electronics is the solution most companies are discussing whether it is Jenn-Air or Audi. And Intel just showed off something that may fit the bill. (Although it seems too powerful for many embedded use cases.) The chipmaker unveiled a Computer Card at Computex that slots into machines and contains the computing and memory a device needs. It’s a long way from this demo to production, and most of the demos seemed to revolve around turning a monitor into a full-fledged computer, but a mass market upgradeable compute card has a lot of potential value. (Engadget)
Europe is looking at expanding privacy regs for IoT: The EU already has some privacy regulations around cookies and data collection on web sites, but it now aims to expand them to non-web devices. You can read the amended proposal here.
A robot learned how to pick up real things in virtual reality: This story is kind of mind-blowing for me. It’s about a robot that was learning how to pick up 3-D objects (which is easy for humans but tough for robots) and it did so by picking up virtual versions of the object. The robot was trained in virtual reality with coded models and, by picking up millions of things, the robot taught itself how to pick up real-world objects. This has huge implications for training robots on delicate tasks that might involve people, such as helping hold onto elderly people as they walk. This isn’t an area where a robot can afford to make mistakes with real people, but virtual models of humans may be all that’s needed. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what this has to do with IoT but it’s a pretty big development. (MIT Technology Review)
Everybody is getting high on home Wi-Fi: After what feels like years of complaining about lame home Wi-Fi, it seems the big companies are responding. Comcast invested in Plume and now Qualcomm is building a mesh Wi-Fi system while Samsung this week unveiled its new mesh-Wi-Fi routers. Mesh isn’t a panacea but it does solve some of the problems user have as they try to extend their Wi-Fi networks throughout a home. The latest Wi-Fi tech promises better coverage and more user-friendly software for must-have features like guest networks and device data. (CNET, Engadget))
Another big risk for connected devices: We spend a ton of time discussing device security, but less time discussing what happens as non-tech companies try to open up their services to consumers with mobile apps or data-sharing. Without the proper security practices these apps are dangerous gateways into customer data and can even provide access to back end systems. Even if you encrypt the data on the way to a database, you have to make sure it is secured. (eWeek)
Softbank invests in OSIsoft: Softbank, which bought ARM last year in a bid on the internet of things, has made an investment in OSISoft, buying stakes from Kleiner Perkins, TCV and Tola Capital. OSIsoft makes software that helps manage data coming in from industrial processes. More than 1,000 utilities, 95 percent of the largest oil and gas companies and other large industrial conglomerates use its PI system software. The company touts itself as a big industrial IoT player, but I am curious how its proprietary system weathers the up-and-coming generation of efforts to make the industrial IoT more standards-based.
Dewalt is building an IoT platform: Tool maker Dewalt is going all in with an IoT platform for construction sites. Dewalt plans a mesh Wi-Fi network product for construction sites and will include services like asset tracking and data analytics coming from the tools and workers. (Dewalt)
Google Home and Nest are two different companies (and they will remain so): So sayeth Ruth Porat, CFO at Alphabet. Speaking at the Code conference this week, she said, “Our view is that Home is pursuing one path and Nest is looking at a different set of products and go-to-market strategy.” All this does in my mind is cement this idea that Nest may soon find itself sold to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, Google will continue to move forward with the operating systems and infrastructure associated with connected devices, as opposed to the hardware itself. (ReCode)
The internet of things will eat your lunch: Everyone in business spouts off about digital transformations, including me. The idea of a lot of cheap data that can be quickly and inexpensively analyzed to provide insights is a big game changer for every business. But while executives recognize this, they apparently have less faith in their digital intelligence than ever. PwC quizzed executives on this topic in 2007 and 2017 and the results were pretty grim. (Harvard Business Review)
So many new cameras! This week Nest launched its 4K connected camera that offers facial recognition and up to 12x zooming abilities. The camera will cost $299 and will have some nice features such as the ability to notify you when it hears a dog bark. Meanwhile, Honeywell also launched a connected camera for the home as part of its Lyric line of devices. The Honeywell camera is $119, and seems fairly basic with two-way audio and night vision. (Nest, Honeywell)
Would you buy P2P electricity? I have so many questions about Drift, the startup profiled in this article. It is basically providing customers energy by trying to use excess capacity from other customers who it pays to reduce their demand. It can also buy electricity on the spot market when needed. The idea is that it can offer lower prices thanks to micro-generation and awesome algorithms. I am intrigued, but it also reminds me a bit of Enron. Plus statements from the CEO like, “We flip the priority list over from what a utility does…[which] is to keep lights on. It seems after 135 years, we should be beyond that,” have me a bit worried. (Quartz)