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A Smart Audience: Thanks to everyone who participated in my audience survey. It confirmed what I thought: you are shaping the future of IoT technologies for both the home and enterprise. Congrats to Scott Mischnick for winning a Google home. If you are interested in sponsoring this newsletter and my podcast, send an email to andrew (at) iotpodcast.com and he’ll send you an updated media kit with the audience data.
The iControl deal is finally done!: After a long nine months, Comcast and Alarm.com have closed on their respective deals to buy the assets of iControl. Alarm.com is getting the Piper all-in-one connected security device, and the Connect business that provides support for a variety of home security providers including part of ADT’s Pulse business. I’m curious to see what it does with Piper. Alarm.com’s business is supporting dealers who sell connected security systems, which feels somewhat competitive to Alarm.com selling its own cheaper all-in-one solution. Comcast is getting the Converge business that creates internet of things (IoT) technologies and platforms for connected home security. (Converge underlies Comcast’s Xfinity Home offering.) It also gets an IoT center in my hometown of Austin, Texas. (Alarm.com, Comcast)
Consumer Reports is tracking IoT security: The industry is working on some type of basic security standard, but Consumer Reports is beating them to it. The magazine will use some fairly common sense tests to determine if a product is secure. Those tests include the use of encryption, data storage and sharing practices and some basic hacking tests, although it’s not going to try to hack every device at an exhaustive level. This is a good move for the industry, although I would also like Consumer Reports to note if a company has a bug bounty program, since I think that shows it’s open to monitoring and fixing its security holes when discovered. (Engadget)
The scourge of bad AI: Will Oremus over at Slate says that consumers are going to bear the brunt of bad AI from companies like Tesla and Uber because good AI requires trial and error with huge data sets. And the fastest way to get huge amounts of variable data is to release a product into the wild and let consumers produce the data required. This can be bad news for self-driving cars, but it can also be a problem for consumer devices that aren’t likely to kill you if the AI messes up. For example, many devices that use machine learning have a training period where the product attempts to take in data and adapt to the user. This training period is often frustrating for the consumer, who doesn’t necessarily understand what’s happening and why the product doesn’t just work. Oremus doesn’t really have a solution, but it is a problem that companies should be aware of. (Slate)
Preventative health company raises $17M: Kinsa makes a connected thermometer so it can get information about how a disease spreads. This week is said it has raised $17 million from GSR Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, FirstMark Capital and others to expand its services around health and wellness. I love Kinsa because it’s a big idea wrapped around a relatively inexpensive and useful connected device. The funding announcement brings Kinsa’s total financing to $28.6 million. (Silicon Republic)
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Rumor has it (Sing this in your head like Adele): Nest is reportedly building a home security product, a cheaper thermostat and maybe improving its camera, according to a report by Mark Gurman. Not only is Gurman a scoop hound, he’s basically resurfacing rumors of products reported about a year ago by The Information. If Nest does release these products, it feels pretty derivative. The market has a few cheaper smart thermostats, plenty of home security hubS (see my startup profile above) and even sensors for individual rooms that could speak to a thermostat. I’d love to see the type of vision from Nest that brings us closer to a more intuitive and secure smart home. Of course, the devil is in the details when it comes to connected devices, so an awesome app or intuitive user interface could go a long way to feeling revolutionary, even if the description of the devices on paper sounds somewhat meh. (Bloomberg)
Watson, meet Einstein: This is basically a press release, but it’s big enough to get a mention. IBM has signed an agreement to resell Salesforce’s Einstein data platform to customers using its Watson platform. Salesforce has agreed to resell IBM’s platform to its customers. I read this as a cry for a broader audience for IBM’s Watson technology, which sounds really impressive and can do amazing things, but is also not growing like IBM needs it to. IBM has put a lot of eggs in the Watson basket and it needs to sell it far and wide. Maybe this will help when the reselling starts later this year. (WSJ)
How to design a better chatbot: I love Medium for its ability to surface content that’s written plainly about difficult topics like designing chatbots. This article provides some good rules to follow, such as making sure there’s a way to back up if the user makes a mistake. (Medium)
What the IoT can learn from pop stars and rappers: This post is essentially an ad for a distribution platform, but the problem it outlines of having multiple musicians collaborating on hit songs, and figuring out how to pay them when that song is streamed across any number of platforms, is similar to the challenge companies face when sharing data to build a connected service. A service such as delivering uptime for a jet engine is comprised of data from a variety of manufacturers of the individual engine parts, a cloud provider, some data analytics offerings and a connectivity partner. How on earth does a systems integrator track all of that? (DistroKid)
The next big Thread proponent? Legrand: The folks at Legrand, makers of high-end switches and outlets, are embracing smart home technology in the form of Thread. In a conversation with Manny Linhares, director of IoT strategy at Legrand, he said the company is launching a new line of connected products that will use the protocol, which was developed by Nest and Samsung. This is good news for Silicon Labs and NXP, which make Thread silicon, and also a boost for the young standard.
A better way of thinking about security: One of the challenges of securing the internet of things is that it’s a distributed system of interrelated players. If one company changes something, it may have repercussions far down the line. Much of our digital lives are coming up against this threshold, where it’s too much to solve a problem in a binary way in one area. We have to start thinking holistically. That’s what the author of this essay does. His suggestion is to think of security as less of locked door and more like an immune system. It’s a long and deep read, but worth it. (Medium)
Industrial automation is going to be big: Continuing automation and robotics are going to drive a lot of value for companies like Siemens, Emerson, and Honeywell, according to an ABI Research report. The analyst firm anticipates industrial automation control and field device shipments will surpass 55 million units in 2017 and reach approximately 146 million by 2025. This will translate to $298 billion in industrial automation device revenue by 2025. Roughly $45 billion of that will come from the shipments of robotics. (ABI Research)