Here’s this week’s curated list of IoT news. Get this in your inbox every Friday when you sign up for Stacey’s newsletter.
Samsung packed a smart hub into a Wi-Fi router: This week Samsung announced the Connect Home Smart Wi-Fi System which is basically a mesh Wi-Fi system that packs the smarts of its SmartThings hub. It also has the radios. Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, Zigbee and Z-wave to be exact. No word on pricing or when this new box will be available, but anything that eliminates a hub is a win in my book. But because there are still half a dozen other hubs I have to support, I am glad to see the router has multiple ports on the back. (Engadget)
Microsoft opened a European IoT Lab: Microsoft has opened an IoT lab in Munich to round out its other IoT labs in Redmond, Washington and one in Shenzen, China. Germany, with its Industry 4.0 effort and many industrial conglomerates such as Siemens and Bosch, is a good place to see what’s bubbling up in the industrial IoT. (Seattle Times)
Ericsson’s new plan: Ericsson has struggled to stay relevant as the telecom equipment market has changed. It has made several smart moves such as becoming a network service provider for carriers and investing in the internet of things, but shareholders are not content to see if that pays off. So the company said this week that it will book between $1.8 billion and $2.4 billion in charges and restructure its business. It will also shift its IoT strategy “from a systems-integration-led approach to a platform- and solutions-led strategy.” It always seemed odd to me that Ericsson was pursuing a systems integrator approach, since many of its telco customers are doing so as well. It looked like Ericsson was competing with customers for business. (Fierce Wireless)
Verizon almost hit $1 billion in revenue from IoT devices: According to Chetan Sharma, Verizon’s 2016 IoT revenue neared $1 billion, a number AT&T achieved in 2016. In 2017, it will become the third global operator to pass the $1B mark in the segment. Much of AT&T’s IoT revenue comes from cars. By the end of 2016, AT&T had almost 12M cars connected to its network, probably the most by any operator. (Chetan Sharma)
IoT network company Filament raised $15 million: Filament has a unique distributed networking technology that uses blockchain and other protocols for low power radio networks. They are especially useful in sparsely populated places where cellular signals are few and gateways are inconvenient. The company has raised a second round of funding from Intel Capital, Flex Lab IX, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and CME Ventures. (Medium)
GE is retraining its workers for smarter factories: Robots may take your job, but corporate training programs can help. As new technology changes the nature of the work people do, companies should help their workers adapt. AT&T has been working with Udacity to help retain its workforce as its networks evolve from physical to software-defined technology. Meanwhile, GE has just launched a program for factory workers to gain skills they will need in newly connected and intelligent factories. GE calls its program “brilliant learning,” and it starts with online courses and then gets more specialized with in-person classes. (GE Voices)
Car makers vs. Silicon Valley: This story is a broad overview of how car makers (notably Ford) are screwing up their chance to own the high-value platform for connected vehicles because they can’t get together and create useful standards. This, in turn, means developers won’t flock to their platforms to build cool in-car services. Smart home providers should take note. (The Register)
I thought this company was dead: Back in the heady days of 2014 when the smart home was exciting and a new platform emerged every month, Best Buy teamed up with a Kansas City startup to create the Peq hub. That didn’t work out, but the company behind Peq software has raised $8.5 million and turned its underlying smart home automation software into Pepper. Pepper appears to be kind of like a white-label If This That offering, letting a manufacturers or service provider (a utility or insurance company would be an ideal client) connect its devices to others in the Pepper system. It is both an OS and a simple, tile-based interface for mobile or tablet apps. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Four stories about robots taking people’s jobs: Despite what Trump says about jobs coming back, the trend here is that those jobs are lost to automation. And more change is coming. This was a big issue this week. (NYT, TechCrunch, Buzzfeed, MIT Technology Review )
Siri and Alexa battle it out in hotels: Marriott is testing the Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri in a few of its hotels, but my big question is where the heck is Google Home? (Reuters)
Want to hack your IKEA desk to work with Alexa? Here’s a great tutorial. What’s next? Opening the pod bay doors? (Hackster.io)
First thoughts on Samsung’s Bixby personal assistant: Samsung introduced its Galaxy S8 phone this week, which features Bixby, Samsung’s answer to the Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri. Bixby isn’t designed to offer answers from the cloud, but is rather aimed at letting you tell your device what to do. Apps also have to be written to work with Bixby, which doesn’t sound terribly promising. (The Verge)
More Stacey: This week I wrote about cool Qualcomm tech for MIT Technology Review and wrote about Google Home’s new partners for my own site. Oh, and I also added an events calendar, so send me your events.