IoT news of the week for Nov. 2, 2018 – Stacey on IoT

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Amazon releases its new Echo Show presentation language: One day we will look back on html and the original web and realize that we lived in a Garden of Eden where one markup language allowed you to write for pretty much every browser. Those days are long gone, however, so now when you want to build something pretty for phones, the web, or a screen-enabled digital assistant, you’re going to need more tools. Amazon announced its version of those tools at its massive news event in September, and now the results — Alexa Presentation Language — are available in public beta. So go forth and build a cool screen or two for the Echo Shows out in the world. (VentureBeat)

This is how it’s done: A week or so ago, a PR person for Armis, a security company, reached out to let me know about the upcoming release of a vulnerability in some Bluetooth chips. I honored the embargo and received the first of a couple of news releases about this vulnerability, which affected some Texas Instruments Bluetooth chips. The vulnerability let someone take over the chip and spread malicious software throughout the network. It was a bad one, and it affected routers from Cisco, Aruba, and Meraki. However, I received multiple releases, because while the news was being held, vendors were finishing their patches. Texas Instruments had provided a patch even before I had heard of the issue, and the affected router vendors were applying them as of Nov. 1. And honestly, this is an ideal situation. A vulnerability was discovered, shared among the relevant parties, and those parties acted responsibly — all before the news was broadcast. So update your routers. (ZDNet)

D-Link cameras aren’t good for data security: In news that probably surprised no one — especially anyone familiar with the FTC lawsuit against D-Link for its router insecurities — Consumer Reports has called out D-Link video cameras for transmitting unencrypted video across the web. While no one has exploited this, Consumer Reports has swept up D-Link in a new set of review criteria it is using for connected devices. The Digital Standard is a data and device security and privacy standard that the consumer organization developed with several other groups. The goal is to codify best practices. And by using them in its reviews, Consumer Reports is in a unique position to get manufacturers of smart devices to pay attention. So before freaking out about D-Link cameras (the company has promised to fix the issue), start looking for products that do follow these standards. I bet we’ll see more in the near future. (Consumer Reports, Digital Standard)

Texas Instruments adopts a big new protocol for industrial IoT: Almost two years ago, I wrote about the concept of time-sensitive networking (TNS) for industrial automation. The idea behind TNS was to improve Ethernet for use in factories by taking what was a best effort pipe for data traffic and allowing some packets priority. That way, machine traffic that needs the lowest latency can arrive on time, even if a gateway on the same network is in the middle of a large update. Automakers and others working on production lines are excited about the arrival of TNS, and with the latest embedded chip from Texas Instruments, they’ll get support for it. (Texas Instruments)

Apple’s got a new privacy trick: In the most recent Macbooks, Apple has used a new security chip that when the laptop is closed, disables the microphones associated with the computer. It’s a neat trick to ensure that the laptop can’t spy on users when the lid is closed, and also a good example of a company thinking about putting security and privacy first. Granted, this feature wouldn’t work in an always-on digital assistant, but it might be something one could enable on a phone when it’s turned face down for example. It would be the auditory equivalent of a camera shutter. (TechCrunch)

Sonos needs more time to integrate Google Assistant: If you’re one of the people who shelled out for a Sonos One speaker that promised Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, I have bad news: You’re going to have to wait until some time in 2019 before you get Google on that device. This is frustrating, but it’s also well within the prior Sonos experience for the One speaker. Sonos promised an Amazon Echo-enabled speaker back in 2016, and it took over a year for it to deliver on that promise. The thought was that it would take another year to add Google Assistant, and we’d have it before 2018 was over. But that’s not going to happen. Either Sonos is struggling to integrate well and quickly, or it is still fighting with Google over what that integration will and will not have. Either way, consumers lose. (The Verge)

So maybe the algorithms will make things better: I’m so used to thinking about poorly trained algorithms exhibiting bias, I forget that there could be positive sides to letting computers take over. In her final piece for CNET, Ashlee Clark Thompson writes about Amazon Go and how it’s the first time in her life she’s had a shopping experience where no one looked askance at her because she is black. Maybe we can implement AI and not screw it up. (CNET)

AT&T sure is proud of its connected vehicle dominance: Almost 30 of the top automakers connect their vehicles with AT&T whether it’s Tesla or Subaru. The carrier now connects more than 24 million vehicles, having added 2 million during the last quarter. As far as real IoT devices go, cars are a huge driver of carriers’ IoT revenue at the moment and are likely to stay that way for a long time. (AT&T)

Building better eyes for the IoT: As part of my monthly columnists duties at IEEE Spectrum, I wrote about how chip companies and researchers are rethinking what cameras look like and how they function. (IEEE Spectrum)



IoT news of the week for Nov. 2, 2018 – Stacey on IoT