IoT news of the week for March 11, 2022 – Stacey on IoT

Graphic showing Internet of Things news

MWC was about the emergence of private 5G: Mobile World Congress (MWC) was held in person this year following a two-year slough caused by the pandemic. Attendance was about 60% of 2019 levels, but the trends were similar. The author of this article proposes that while there was a lot of talk about 5G and its impact on industrial and enterprise IoT, the real 5G adoption is still a couple of years out. He also stresses that the connectivity itself is just one small bit of the infrastructure story associated with 5G and digital transformation, and that the real fight will be around such infrastructure and software design for edge computing. I will say the story is a little hard to follow (it’s clear the author is in a hurry), but it reads as a smart take on the show as well as on trends around edge computing, telcos, and digital transformations. (Enterprise IoT Insights— Stacey Higginbotham

Cooksy is the next kitchen gadget to try: Look, y’all know I am a sucker for kitchen tech. One of the biggest areas where IoT and AI can assist the average person is by helping them quickly achieve expertise at a skill. In the enterprise, that might entail using sensors to monitor a complex process or AR glasses to learn how to repair equipment. In the home, it often means learning how to cook. Cooksy is a thermal sensor that sits above a stove to track the temperature of the food in a pan. It uses this information to help users better cook whatever is in the pan, ensuring things get to the appropriate temperature but also making sure they don’t burn. I think I like this approach better than the heavy and finicky Hestan Cue pans I wrote about last week. The $299 device launched last month, and I can’t wait to try it out. (Cooksy— Stacey Higginbotham

A fresh perspective on designing connected products: The folks at Sonos have published a really great blog post detailing how they designed and tested the Swap feature of its speaker system. With Swap a user can tell the Sonos app to move the audio playing on one speaker to a different speaker closer to the user. Basically, this is the start of the context-aware smart home that I am so eager to see come to fruition. The post describes how the company is using ultrasonic sensing to figure out what room someone is in so the app can move audio around. It also shows how much stuff needs to be developed in tandem when it comes to connected products. (Sonos does user testing while a feature is in development.) Best practices dictate that companies should also be putting security in by design, so suddenly we’re talking about a development process that involves a lot of different teams. (Sonos— Stacey Higginbotham

RF sensing gets another use case: I’m really stoked about the promise of using RF for sensing, whether it’s radar for fall detection or Wi-Fi for motion detection. This article shows how companies can use radar as a mechanism to boost energy efficiency in a home or business. Yes, it’s written by an Infineon staffer who is trying to sell Infineon’s radar chips, but some of the use cases are pretty compelling. The least novel one is that of using radar chips inside common household devices to better manage sleep and wake cycles, as it’s more power efficient to use radar to detect presence and then wake up the device. I’m more interested in cooler use cases such as using radar sensors to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms or lowering temperatures when no one is around. Other options, such as using radar to track where to send audio in a room, are also cool. (EETimes— Stacey Higginbotham

Build your own whole-home energy monitor: Got a Raspberry Pi, around $30, and some time to spend on a DIY project? If so, you can build your own whole-home energy monitoring sensor. Even for non-electricians, this looks to be a safe project since you’re just using a sensor clamp around the wires in your electrical panel. A low-cost microcontroller reads the electrical data and sends it to the free Home Assistant software on your Pi, creating a nice energy dashboard. With it, you can see both real-time and historical energy usage over time. I may just tackle this one myself! (MakeUseOf— Kevin C. Tofel

Apple Studio Display could become a better smart screen: We noted on the IoT Podcast that this week’s Apple event was a bust. But did we overlook something? Maybe. Our former employer, Om Malik, wrote a thought-provoking piece on this topic that’s worth reading. By including its own A13 Bionic silicon inside, Apple made a monitor that’s more than a monitor. That 12-megapixel ultrawide camera paired with a powerful processor enables Apple’s Center Stage feature, following you as you move around on a video call, for example. Add in the chipset’s neural capabilities and a three-microphone array and you get closer to a smart display of sorts. And that makes this product line worth watching to see what develops in the future. (On my Om) — Kevin C. Tofel

Nvidia invests $10M to back robots: Now that its multibillion-dollar ARM deal is kaput, Nvidia likely has money to burn. This week, the chip designer set its sights on robotics for the first time, investing $10 million in Serve Robotics, which was spun out of Uber. This isn’t a big money deal, of course, but it’s worth noting as it’s Nvidia’s first financial foray into the sidewalk delivery robotics market. Serve Robotics builds autonomous delivery bots that currently navigate neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The robots already rely on several Nvidia technologies to do this on their own, but now Nvidia could get more real-world data to improve its own neural net chips. I’d say the relatively low-cost investment is worth it. (TechCrunch— Kevin C. Tofel

An early look at Magic Leap 2 AR glasses: You can’t buy them yet and we don’t know how much they’ll cost, but the next iteration of Magic Leap’s AR glasses got an early preview this week. I’m less intrigued by the hardware and more by the experiences of AR and VR — even for businesses, which is the target audience here, though that experience can be limited by the hardware. This time around, you’ll get a much wider field of view, automatic lens dimming (similar to photochromatic sunglasses), spatial audio, and a new AMD processor that sounds more powerful than the phone-centric chips used in similar devices. The big downside? You can’t wear glasses under the Magic Leap 2, so prescription lenses will add to the cost for those that need them. Oh, and this time Magic Leap didn’t create its own proprietary software; this set of goggles runs the open source version of Android. (CNET) — Kevin C. Tofel


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