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Inside IoT

Inside IoT (Jan 16th, 2020)

Hello all, 

In yesterday’s issue, I asked for your thoughts on Tesla’s Full Self-Driving and AutoPilot features, as the names are a little misleading. The majority of responses I got stated that most Tesla owners are aware of the vehicle’s capabilities despite the name and that in general, driving a Tesla is safer. I can agree with this, but I am still holding out hope that we all get to see actual full self-driving mode at some point. 

Onto the news: 

1. Fitbit Versa, Ionic, and Charge 3 devices suddenly started offering blood oxygen data to customers after Fitbit quietly enabled blood oxygen tracking. Reddit users reported the new functions Wednesday, which was later confirmed by Fitbit. The devices are using red and infrared sensors to detect oxygen variation, which can track health issues such as asthma, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Fitbit devices created in recent years have had this hardware, but it hasn’t been used until now. — ENGADGET

2. Consumer Reports sent a letter to 25 IoT camera manufacturers — including ADT, Google, Ring, and Wyze — with a request for them to improve their products’ security. The letter outlines specific, recent incidents of IoT security cameras being hacked that often involved the hacker speaking to, and sometimes harassing, residents. Research conducted by Consumer Reports discovered 17 reported incidents of compromised cameras in the US in December 2019 alone. The letter warns these manufacturers that ratings for cameras will show whether or not they have done enough to ensure users are protected. — IOT TECH NEWS

3. #ThrowbackThursday: The new decade has so many of us looking back that creative manufacturers have launched several retro-looking gadgets, outfitted with modern technology. There’s the 8Bitdo Lite Retro Bluetooth Gamepad that works with multiple platforms, allowing for gaming anywhere. The AmazonBasics Vintage Retro-Inspired Bluetooth Speaker streams music from your smartphone, but has a mid-century modern style. The Global Gizmos Retro Portable Briefcase Turntable plays vinyl, but also streams music and can transfer records to mp3. — GADGET FLOW

4. A new report from ABI Research shows that smart home devices are predicted to push connectivity shipments to record numbers in the coming years. Smart home devices are set to account for 815 million Bluetooth-enabled products by 2024, including smart lighting, voice-controlled devices, smart appliances and sensors. Smart lighting shipments will surpass 300 million units by 2024, while increases are also expected for personal trackers, healthcare devices, commercial building automation and wearables. — ELECTRONICS 360

5. Investigators at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Massachusetts are developing heated armbands to help servicemen and women operate in colder climates. After wearing the armbands on each forearm, warmth is then passed to the extremities. The bands will be offered to troops in the next 2-3 years, with a commercial version on the market afterward. — DIGITAL TRENDS 

6. A clever Google Nest Hub Max user cut a hole in his wall and “installed” the Hub Max to work as a makeshift smart home control panel. Doing this makes it less of a smart speaker, but if you have additional connected speakers, then you finally get the wall-mounted smart display that Google hasn’t created yet. The user — who posted the directions on Reddit — mounted the Hub Max near a panel of switches beside the kitchen, which is a convenient area for the hub. — DROID LIFE 

7. Researchers at Penn State and Northeastern University are improving an existing wearable sensor that detects environmental and medical conditions. Current devices require an external heater and expensive lithography process, which the team is eliminating. The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency is interested in this sensor to detect chemical and biological agents that could damage the lungs and nerves. — PENN STATE NEWS

8. People who have limited arm movement report that fitness trackers are not accurately recording their activities. New mothers had also reported accuracy issues when tracking sleep patterns, as the tracker will say “light sleeping” when the user was awake multiple times. Indiana University associate professor of informatics Katie Siek points out that if wearable fitness trackers are logging inaccurate data, then individuals and companies will be basing decisions off of false numbers. — THE CONVERSATION

9. The latest Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study revealed that South African motorists have concerns about connected vehicles. These concerns include vehicle hacking and the collection of personal location data. The survey also showed that these motorists are interested in vehicle technology and new methods to increase road safety. — BUSINESS LIVE 

10. The Philips Hue Go is another product from the company that offers an easier way to start using connected lighting as smart home reporter Monica Chin discovered. With less than one minute for setup, Chin was impressed, but also noted the $80 price tag, which is more expensive than similar lighting from Amazon. The Hue Go has various color and brightness options and when using Bluetooth, users can pair it with Alexa or Google Assistant. — BUSINESS INSIDER

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 or on Twitter at @orangejulius7.

This newsletter was edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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