IoT news of the week for Sept. 24, 2021 – Stacey on IoT

IoT news of the week for Sept. 24, 2021 - Stacey on IoT

Graphic showing Internet of Things news

We are offloading too much to tech: The productivity boost that technology drove in the late 1990s and early 2000s has convinced a certain section of the population that software, chips, and data can solve many of the hard problems facing the world. Even my faith in IoT is driven in part by using technology to make the invisible visible and then using those insights to create a solution for whatever problem I’m trying to solve. But when the problem is people, things can get complicated. For example, this story about police departments trying to give Ring doorbell cameras to domestic abuse survivors proves how tech can’t solve a problem that requires an understanding of human behavior and empathy. It describes police programs that give domestic violence survivors Ring doorbells (Ring provides the doorbells for free) as long as the survivor agrees to keep an injunction against their abuser and share video from the doorbell with the police. The problem is that in many domestic violence situations, getting a victim to testify or press charges can be tough. Instead of working to address those reasons, the police are relying on the promise of a free doorbell to provide evidence of a crime when the victim backs out of pressing charges. That may make life easier for the police, but the tech isn’t really solving the array of issues that make it so hard to testify against an abuser. Technology isn’t the panacea we want it to be, and I’m hoping we talk more about what it can and cannot do outside of quick articles and press releases. (MIT Technology Review)

It’s not enough to recognize that tech can’t solve every problem; it can exacerbate them, too: This is an excellent interview with Timnit Gebru, an AI researcher who was famously fired from Google after publishing a research paper that the search giant said it hadn’t approved. Gebru calls on people working within the tech industry to look at the potential harms of the products they build and address them before releasing them into the world. It’s a message that’s still not internalized in the engineering world, but very much should be. (Bloomberg)

Amazon will launch new devices next Tuesday: Fall is the best time of year for gadget lovers because there are tons of new phones, new computers, and thanks to Amazon, new smart home devices. On Sept. 28, the online retailer will show off its latest Alexa gadgets and — I hope — provide an update on how many customers have opted out of the Amazon Sidewalk Network. I’d also like a little more color on its plans for the Matter smart home interoperability protocol. (Digital Trends)

IKEA is making wireless charging retrofits easier: I like the way IKEA is trying to bring smarts and technology into our homes without making them ugly or forcing us to replace our older stuff. The furniture company launched Sjömärke, a $40 device that attaches to the underside of a table or desk and delivers 5W of power delivered wirelessly. It will only work on some surfaces and this is pretty slow charging, but it does get me closer to being able to place my phone or earbuds on my bedside table, and rest assured they are charging. While I sleep. (Pocket-Lint)

Sensor company Ruuvi introduces a new product: Back in 2019, I profiled Ruuvi Innovations which made very popular low-power sensors for the IoT. The company’s sensors are used by DIYers, enterprises, and even industrial companies such as Bosch. This week I was excited to see it has launched two new, rugged sensor tags for industrial and “serious home use.” I’m not exactly sure what serious home use is, but the tag will track temperature, humidity, and acceleration, and do so outdoors and even underwater in the case of one of the sensors. The sensors will have a 2-year battery life and will ship in October. They cost 49,90€ ($58.60 USD). (Ruuvi)

Why not marry your security software with your compliance software: I’ve followed Nozomi Networks for a while because I like its approach to OT security, and its efforts to link its products with IT security using partnerships such as the one it has with Cisco. So I was eager to see what sort of deal it had signed with Tripwire, a compliance software company. Basically, Tripwire’s compliance software and Nozomi’s security software will lead to security professionals ensuring that weird devices aren’t on the network and those that are, are in compliance with company policies. It’s just another layer in the layered security approach we need. (Automation World)

Did you make CEDIA this year? For professional installers, the CEDIA Expo is a chance to meet with fellow pros and see all the new gadgets designed for the smart home. This year’s event was in person, and while I saw a few firms pull out because of COVID, clearly people did attend the physical show. But to make life easier for those of us who are still a little nervous, the event planners are putting up recorded content through the end of October if you register. (CEDIA)

There’s no Hippocratic Oath for digital medicine, and no research into it either: Researchers from the Digital Medicine Society, which is behind a list of data on consumer and professional-grade wearables and devices for tracking health, has discovered that in the two years between January 2019 and February 2021, there were lots of studies related to digital analytics, usability and other practical aspects of digital medicine and none related to ethics. The researchers looked at 295 articles and found that three-fourths (76%) of the articles involved operations research, and 59% analytical validation. Only one study looked at security, one tackled data rights and governance, and none focused on ethics. This is highly personal (and valuable) data. We need to do better. (Stat News)

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