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Inside IoT (Dec 12th, 2019)

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Hello all, 

I am starting to work on the Inside IoT end-of-year issue that will look back at the top stories of 2019. What are some you remember?  If there were headlines that made your jaw drop, send them to me at Holly@inside.com. 

Onto the news: 

1. Amazon, Facebook and Google disclosed in their transparency reports if and when the government demanded smart home device consumer data, but many other device makers have been silent on the issue says TechCrunch. TechCrunch asked smart home device companies to reveal the data demands they receive and mostly got anecdotal reports or no response at all. Smart lock and doorbell maker August, iRobot and Arlo said they either had no report or never received any demands. Ring, Honeywell, Samsung and Ecobee never responded to TechCrunch’s requests. — TECHCRUNCH

2. Seek Thermal released two lines of OEM thermal cameras — Micro Core and Mosaic Core — created to test and measure, provide security surveillance and for various uses in IoT devices. Micro Core is a thermal sensor that has high-resolution and a shutterless design for accurate thermal imaging. The Mosaic Core is a series of three cameras that offer different resolutions, frame rates and fields of view. The Micro Core will be used in drones, mobile devices and wearables, while the Mosaic series will be for security devices and public safety. — ALL ABOUT CIRCUITS

3. Throwback Thursday: In March 2018, Robbie Miller, an operations manager from Uber’s autonomous group, sent an email to Uber executives raising safety concerns about the company’s autonomous vehicle program — days before a self-driving Uber vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian. The email states that the backup drivers had poor operator behavior. In the fatal incident days later, the backup driver was reportedly streaming videos during the crash.

The email also said the vehicles were hitting objects every 15,000 miles and were always damaged. Miller also suggested that Uber’s self-driving program grew too quickly to be safe. Previous documentation suggests Uber was using the number of miles self-driven as a way to say the software was advanced, when it may not have been. Miller didn’t get a direct response to the email, but was told these concerns were included in a complete safety review of the technology. — THE VERGE

4. Reporter Carly Mallenbaum tested three high-tech at-home gym options, including Tonal, Mirror and Peloton Tread. Tonal is a digital weight machine that has smart handles (which add resistance) and a library of 200-plus workouts. Mirror is... a mirror that also displays a trainer and tracks calories burned. Peloton Tread is a Wi-Fi-connected treadmill that has live-streamed classes. While none of these options have a cheap initial price, they save the user money if they originally planned on going to a boutique gym three times per week, especially when you add in drive time and the cost of parking. — USA TODAY

5. A self-driving commercial freight truck made the world’s first cross-country trip – carrying a load of butter. Plus.ai — an AI startup in Cupertino, California — engineered the full-stack self-driving technology as a way to fill the semi-truck driver shortage. The truck traveled 2,800 miles from Tulare, California, to Quakertown, Pennsylvania, and it took three days. The general conversation on Twitter surrounding this story was fear for the future of truck drivers’ jobs. — POPULAR MECHANICS

6. A Mississippi family’s Ring video feed became national news after a camera in their child’s room was hacked. In the video, a child is trying to figure out where music is coming from (the camera) and a voice begins speaking, telling the child it’s Santa Claus. In response, Ring released a statement saying the incident is under investigation but advising users to choose unique login credentials and frequently change their passwords. — WNCN-TV

7. Ikea has joined the Zigbee Alliance Board of Directors, solidifying the brand’s commitment to IoT standards. The Zigbee Alliance.is an organization of hundreds of companies — including Amazon, Lutron, Emerson and Eaton — creating, maintaining and delivering global IoT standards since 2002. In 2012, Ikea introduced its line of smart products including lighting, blinds, speakers and wireless accessories. — HIDDEN WIRES

8. Joel Sellinger — a firefighter in the Pacific Northwest has invented a product called LifeDoor that automatically closes doors in the event of a fire. Fire experts recommend sleeping with the bedroom door closed, but many people don’t. LifeDoor is a small box mounted behind a door that springs into action at the sound of a standard smoke alarm and also sounds its own alarm to wake sleeping residents. — KTLA

9. Artist Angela Sheehan has created a world of “whimsical wearables” and she showed off her connected fairy costume at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference. The costume featured a wireless sensor wand, color-changing LEDs and embedded batteries. In her talk, “Building Whimsical Wearables: Leveling Up Through Playful Prototyping” she shared lessons she learned while building the costume that would apply to any wearable, such as comfort and adjustable sizing for any user.

10. Mighty Gadget published its Secret Santa Gift Guide for gadget and tech fans, featuring items under 25£ (about $32). I’m not sure what the going rate is for secret Santa gifts, but I was still pleasantly surprised to see so many good items on this list, including the Meross Smart Power Strip and the Kasa Smart Plug by TP-Link. The Tile Slim and Tile Mate Bluetooth trackers are also on the list along with the Amazon Echo Flex. — MIGHTY GADGET

Holly A. Phillips has a passion for storytelling and uses her craft to promote brands around the world. She is a Blogging Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is always looking for a new adventure. Keep up with her on her blog Thebitterlemon.com or on Twitter at @orangejulius7.

This newsletter was edited by Bobby Cherry, a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist and senior editor at Inside, who also curates Inside Pittsburgh. Reach him at bobby@inside.com.

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