ST Micro buys two wireless companies for its microcontroller biz: STMicroelectronics, a chip giant that makes several microcontrollers popular for the IoT, has purchased two companies specializing in different wireless radios. STMicro said it purchased BeSpoon, a company that has expertise in ultrawideband technology, such as what Apple is placing its iPhones for fine-grained location. It also purchased Riot Micro, which was focused on cellular connectivity. The deals are done, and STMicro says it will soon disclose its plans to add new tech to its roadmap. (EETimes)
Atmosic gets a win in contact tracing: Chip firm Atmosic, which has designed a Bluetooth module that runs on harvested energy, has found a good use case for its super low-power technology. Atmosic is providing the radio for a contact tracing wearable designed by TraceSafe. The wearable device will be worn by attendees of the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Football Club events in Canada so that health officials can trace those attendees in case of illness. It’s a small deal, but it shows how uncertainty can create an atmosphere for innovation and opportunity for startups with real differentiation. (Atmosic)
Microsoft signs an IoT and broadband alliance with Land O’Lakes: By this point, the internet of cows has become a cliché, but the deal between Microsoft and Land O’Lakes is worth a look. The dairy co-operative will use Microsoft Azure and Microsoft AI services (check out FarmBeats) to improve operations. Microsoft is also working with Land O’Lakes to provide free public Wi-Fi in 150 rural communities by placing gateways on land owned by Land O’ Lakes farms. Which is a good reminder that there’s no internet of things without the internet. (Microsoft)
Researchers discover battling bots on routers: Trend Micro has discovered that attacks on routers (specifically through telnet) have skyrocketed in the last few months, and propose that the reason behind the increasing attacks is a fight on the dark web to gather as many infected routers as possible in order to assemble large botnets for distributed denial-of-service attacks. In a botnet, each router you control becomes a source of firepower you can turn on an unsuspecting website during a DDoS attack, so the larger your botnet army, the more you’re worth. The report details the three mail worms that hackers use to try to attack routers and discusses how there is essentially a bot battle for your unpatched or open networking gear. Since I foresaw the coming battle of the bots in my 2018 predictions, I’m feeling validated, but also a little dismayed. (Trend Micro)
Researchers create a tool to detect cameras and other spies: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have released a paper detailing how people search for connected devices in a home or office setting. The research focused on how people locate connected devices after they are told the devices are there, what they did with the devices when they found them, and what methods make the most sense for locating the devices in general. I found the paper fascinating and a glimpse into a benign world where cameras and smart speakers are fully disclosed to people when they enter a space. I also thought it was interesting that the test subjects were worried about looking suspicious as they hunted down the potentially privacy-invading devices. The paper assumes that manufacturers would like to notify people that the devices are in a room, so it calls for manufacturers to use some kind of wireless identifier that an app running on a smartphone might be able to pick up, or that a cheap device could register using an audio or visual signal. (ACM)
Savant completes its purchase of GE Lighting: The deal that takes GE out of the lighting business where it began has now closed. Smart home automation company Savant has completed its purchase of GE’s Lighting business and will keep the current management team in charge. Savant is licensing the GE brand, much like Signifiy continues to license the Philips and Phillips Hue brands for those lights. Savant is hoping to use this deal to help it gain more ground in the competitive home automation market, but it feels like it’s focused on smart lighting and home automation, while the consumer tech giants are thinking ahead to imbuing tech and their digital services throughout every aspect of consumers’ lives. Maybe Savant needs to think bigger? (CEPro)
Verizon and IBM team up for a buzzword-filled edge computing effort: Verizon and IBM are working together to combine their various 5G and IoT products into some kind of collaborative super project that sounds like it will make life easy for companies that want to monitor their industrial networks, track their assets, and perform remote diagnostics. However, the truth is that these collaborations between telcos and cloud companies are a dime a dozen, and generally offer a pre-selected package of technology that may not be exactly what a company needs, but are certainly good for supplying the buzzwords. (Verizon)
Amazon hosts virtual IIoT event next Wednesday: This is somewhat surprising, but on the same day Amazon is hosting a smart home developer event, it is also hosting the AWS Manufacturing and Industrial IoT Web Day, which will feature customers and partners discussing the use of AWS and other tech products for smart manufacturing. See if it’s something you might want to attend. (Amazon)
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