IoT news of the week for Sept. 16, 2022 – Stacey on IoT

Graphic showing Internet of Things news

Graphic showing Internet of Things news

The EU is proposing some good security rules for connected hardware: On Thursday the EU proposed a Cyber Resilience Act that would mandate that connected products come with specific security rules. One of the rules is that a device come with a specified support time frame or that the device be supported for up to five years if the manufacturer doesn’t provide a specific time frame. This comes close to an expiration date on connected hardware, which I have asked for for years. Other rules require a device be designed with security in mind and in an interesting new add for this type of legislation requires that the device maker consider the entire lifecycles of the product not just its creation and early years. It also calls for companies to minimize the amount of data collected. The law borrows from laws already passed in California, the UK and recommendations by NIST, and I expect we’ll see the usual complaints that it goes too far and will add to the cost of devices. Which it will, but we can’t sacrifice security for cheap electronics. (European Commission)

This assistive robot uses machine learning to prevent falls: Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Tan Tock Seng Hospital have designed an assistive robot that follows patients at risk of falls and uses AI to anticipate or recognize a fall. When the AI detects the fall it unfurls a harness that catches the person and helps to keep them from hitting the ground. Since falls are a huge source of cost and can lead to rapid decline in aging populations, keeping people on their feet is a really good idea. This device was tested over three days in a population of 29 people who apparently didn’t fall the entire time. I do wish that test was longer, so we could see if something that is likely to cost as much as this roaming robot is the best option. (Hackster.io)

Ask Alexa and get a sponsored result: After eight years of being able to ask Alexa to turn on the lights or what the capitol of South Dakota is without advertisements, that’s about to change. At a user conference, Amazon announced a new feature that would allow brands to submit answers to popular questions that customers ask Alexa. So if you ask Alexa how to clean a washing machine, Whirlpool can sponsor an answer that recommends using its Affresh brand of washing machine cleaner tablets as a good option. It isn’t clear how Amazon would indicate that the result to a search is sponsored, but I am 100% sure consumers will not be thrilled to get an audio response that’s bought and paid for. Unlike with the web, where you can scroll past the ads, in audio they are intrusive and time-wasting. (The Verge)

Firewalla has a new device for fatter pipes: We love the Firewalla devices for showing us what’s on our network. The Firewalla box connects to a home’s modem or router to monitor the network traffic in real time, sending alerts and blocking traffic as needed. But some customers with really fast, multi-gigabit networks will need a fatter and faster Firewalla capable of monitoring a flood of traffic as opposed to a stream. So Firewalla has introduced the Firewalla Gold Plus, which can handle 2.5 gigabits of network traffic on the box. It costs $569 and is good for small businesses and homes with super-fast connections. If you order the Gold Plus it will arrive between December and January. (Firewalla)

Stop with the silly data grabs: Given how often data breaches occur and how often consumers are asked to register and give up personal data in their personal lives, this article really resonated with me. The author complains that smart TVs shouldn’t force users to register in order to make their basic features, such as downloading an app for TV streaming, work. I agree. It’s one of the things I am excited about with Matter. For basic devices, I’ll be able to ditch the account creation and just add a device to my existing smart home controller and in the process, save myself from creating yet another password that is destined to get lost in yet another data breach. (TechRadar)

A French chip firm is offering RISC-V-based microcontrollers: While the Arm architecture doesn’t have a lock on the microcontroller market, its M-class of silicon is very popular. But now Arm is getting a new competitor with the RISC-V architecture. So far it hasn’t made a splash in the IoT world of MCUs, but that may change as more companies develop low-power and constrained chips using RISC-V instruction sets. Cortus, a French chip firm, has announced new RISC-V-based MCUs with a focus on security and low power consumption for the automotive industry. Keep an eye on this trend. (Design Reuse)

Tonal is raising money for its fitness system: Bloomberg is reporting that home fitness company Tonal is raising more than $100 million in funding at a $1.9 billion valuation. For those of us watching Peloton try to recover from the rapid swings in fortune wrought by the pandemic, seeing Tonal about to embark on a big fundraise with a high valuation for a smart, subscription-based home fitness product feels like a rerun — an insane rerun where investors are forgetting the lessons learned in the last year. But even doubtful investors are probably going to pony up since, as Bloomberg notes, the latest investors will get paid first if Tonal gets sold. Such deal terms tend to reward inflated valuations and large fundraises while penalizing early investors who don’t have the deep pockets to keep re-upping their stake. This leads to larger funds overall and is a symptom of how out of control the tech funding ecosystem has become. (Bloomberg)

Hunter Douglas’ new smart shades will support Matter: I don’t know if there are many users of this product out there, but if you have Hunter Douglas third-generation smart shades you’ll get a Matter update, while users of the earlier shades will not. However, if you want Matter support on your third-generation shades you’ll need to spend $195 on the new PowerView Gateway. So maybe wait a minute after the Matter cert and SDK launch before investing. That way you can see if you really will benefit. (The Verge)

The times, they are a changin’: This week, I received a mass email press release about Hubble Connected baby products. And while I don’t love the trend toward electronic surveillance in the nursery, I know many parents feel better having eyes or at least AI on their child 24/7. But I was curious if the company had made any concessions to basic device security and whether or not someone could answer some questions about data encryption and the underlying cloud provider. Back in 2015 or even 2014 when I asked these questions, most baby tech companies didn’t have much of anything to say. That’s changed. I heard back that Hubble uses AWS and encrypts its data at 128 AES-level encryption in transit and at rest. Additionally, Hubble’s connection to its network provider Orbweb is certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cryptographic Algorithm Validation Program. We are getting better. (Hubble Connected)

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