A trifecta of IoT fundings worth a mention: We covered these in the podcast this week, but I’m trying to be a bit more thorough with the weekly news roundups. So if you’re tracking this sort of thing, know that satellite IoT company OQ received $12.9 million in funding, Wi-Fi HaLow chip maker Morse Micro received $140 million, and a company making smart vents for home HVAC systems called Flair received $7.6 million. (Stacey on IoT)
Some thoughts on the ADT and State Farm deal: State Farm said this week it would take a 15% stake in monitored security company ADT valued at $1.2 billion. It also said it would allocate $300 million toward R&D and marketing. The insurance firm joins Google, which in August 2020 took a 6.6% stake in ADT and this week said it would spend $150 million and up to $300 million on developing products and marketing those products with ADT. Its deal with Google centered around adding Nest hardware to ADT’s tired line of security sensors and cameras since, as ADT is embracing the smart home, it is also rethinking what it means to offer monitored security in a more connected world. In the meantime, State Farm has signed deals to provide in-app security buttons to Uber drivers and riders as part of a pattern of deals that offer “security” outside the home.
ADT’s involvement could lead to new insurance products for State Farm, but it also opens a new market to which ADT can market its services. Today, customers who install a security system might get a 5% discount on their home insurance premiums, but an insurance product closely tailored to the smart home could lead to much greater discounts and lead more consumers to buy ADT’s services. For example, just knowing that a customer actually uses their security camera is a benefit that could lead to cheaper premiums and lowered claims. If you add in additional sensors such as those that track leaks or detect smoke, the risk reduction for insurance providers might be worth a more significant discount. This incentivizes more consumers to invest in smarter products and ADT’s services. I am eager to see how this turns out. (ADT)
Do you see a smart TV as the future hub of your smart home? I really liked the essay in last week’s issue of the Protocol entertainment newsletter. It’s written by a friend and former colleague, who is proposing that smart TV makers want to make their device the hub of a smart home. He notes that smart TV makers have been reliant on advertising but want to branch out into other options, such as deeper integrations with home fitness providers or gaming. Those options may work out, but he believes that the real killer app will come from smart home security integrations. As he points out, both Sonos and Roku have filed patents for using RF sensing in their devices to catch motion in the home based on disruptions in Wi-Fi fields generated by their devices. My hunch is that Sonos and Roku would need multiple devices in the home, and thus ties to other companies pushing for Wi-Fi-based motion sensing, to make this work, but it could be good leverage to start a conversation. (Protocol)
The Helium community will vote on switching to a different blockchain: Next week, the Helium community will vote on whether or not they want to replace the existing Helium blockchain behind the Helium Network Tokens (HNTs) with the Solana blockchain. This is primarily a crypto story, because it’s driven by people who own miners and are upset over the lack of tokens they are earning, as opposed to a tech story that will change the way the network operates or finds customers. Proponents of switching blockchains argue that it will make transactions faster and the underlying blockchain more stable, as well as open up the Helium network to more developers who currently use the Solana blockchain. But what jumps out at me is that the switch would result in more than 2 million additional HNTs to miners over the first year, or what the article says is more than $11.1 million at the price of HNTs last week. This makes me wonder if the interest is really in building a network for the IoT or just juicing the value of the tokens as a means to generate quick cash. I should note that I mine HNTs from a miner I set up in April 2020 and have earned a lot of money, but I also don’t really have a dog in this hunt other than wanting to create viable low-cost IoT networks. (Decrypt)
Do you want or need this device? Bosch showed off what it calls its Kitchen Smart Dock at the IFA trade show last week, and I have questions. The device is a smart speaker that also doubles as a docking station for a tablet. It works with Alexa; presumably you can talk to Alexa while also looking at a recipe or other instructions on your tablet. Part of me feels like an Echo Show placed in the kitchen would provide much the same function, although your content would be more limited on the Echo Show. A tablet gives you the whole web, while the Show gives you a screen displaying content from Amazon partners. But the Bosch dock gives users something else. By using some kind of proximity and gesture sensor in the dock and an app running on the tablet on the dock, users can use gestures to control a special Bosch cooking app that lets you wave to look through recipes or otherwise look up cooking information without touching the tablet with your dirty hands. That’s pretty cool, although it still relies on a closed ecosystem created by a specialized app. (Android Police)
OK, maybe Wi-SUN is going to happen after all: For years, the folks at Silicon Labs have been telling me that Wi-SUN was the next big wireless technology for smart cities and long-range, dense IoT deployments. I’ve spent a decade waiting for Wi-SUN to gain ground, so I wasn’t buying the claim. But it might be time to change my tune. Next week, I’ll meet with folks who are pitching and using the technology. The governing board for the standard saw a 20% increase in members from 2020 to 2021, and more places are adopting the technology. For a quick overview of the tech and comparisons between it and other options, check out this article. (CNX Software)
Here’s a new software language for embedded IoT: Let me first say that I am not a programmer, so this is not a topic I’m well-versed in. But I do like to keep my eye on trends in programming languages, especially the types of languages associated with things I care about. So I thought this thread on Ferret, a Clojure-inspired programming language for real-time embedded control systems, was fun to read about. Are any of y’all using it or interested in it? (Hacker News)
Vodafone is working with a company for centimeter-level accuracy in satellite services: Current location-tracking services such as GPS, GNSS, and Glonass are pretty awesome, but they have their limits. They can only pinpoint location within feet and struggle with dense buildings or topographic features such as canyons. Vodafone is working with a company called Topcon Positioning Group to build a precise positioning system that will locate IoT devices, machinery, and cars with more accuracy than Europe’s GNSS satellites. (Electronics Weekly)
Also in asset-tracking news: Deutsche Telekom has signed a deal with a Belgian sensor company called Sensolus to add its sensors to Deutsche Telekom’s NB-IoT network in order to offer asset-tracking services. The services will use GPS signaling, so won’t locate a package in a pile of mail, but should be useful for tracking shipments on long journeys or vehicles. By using the NB-IoT network, the batteries in Sensolus’ sensors should last for at least five years. (IoT Tech News)
“A tablet gives you the whole web, while the Show gives you a screen displaying content from Amazon partners.”
“Alexa, open Silk.” gives me the whole web on my Echo Shows.