Wanting to offer a neighborhood-based wifi network, Amazon has announced Amazon Sidewalk, which uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radios to connect everyone from house to house. You can get motion alerts from your security cameras, track your pets if they should run away, and even notifications when the mailman leaves you mail. As long as one device sees the other, it can pass along connectivity with a promised small amount of bandwidth.
internet of things
Eric figured out yesterday's question about adding a second Amazon Echo location to your Amazon account. He did it by adding it to his account at HIS location, and then brought it over to his mom's house by adding her phone number. So set all the Echo's up first and then bring them to mom.
Jeff bought some smart plugs to install into his house. Is there anything like that on the breaker side? Leo says that's an interesting idea, but he doesn't know if you'd really want to do that. You have to be very careful what's on your circuit and you wouldn't want to install it yourself. But it's a great idea for making your home smarter and more controllable remotely. Here's one by Leviton.
Jonathan has a Philips Hue lights and uses the Wiz App to control them. But they keep disconnecting. Leo says that's a common problem, and he says that using the Home Hub will make WiFi connection to the lights more consistent. But Leo also thinks that the smart lights are more of a gimmick these days and really more hassle than they are worth. And they are expensive too.
In general, smart home IoT as a technology still has a long way to go.
Jeff says that WINK is now charging people $5 a month to use his WINK Home Hub. Leo says that they've changed the conditions of being able to use their product, especially since it costs over $100. It's not unheard of to charge to store data, but it would be like Amazon charging $5 a month to use the Echo devices out of nowhere. And it's even more frustrating because WINK sold their device with "no fees" as a feature. Now they're charging fees. But if they don't, they'll go out of business.
Alan wants to know if Philips Hue Lights would work as lights for a video webcast. Leo says since they can change colors, they can look really good on camera. But he also hears that older Hue bridges are being placed into its end of life. Leo says they are depreciating the older models, but that doesn't mean they won't continue to work. But the problem is, any bulb that is connected to the Internet may result in a security issue for your network. That's the main thing. It's important to get all the patches you can. But in most cases, you'll likely be fine.
Tim upgraded to the Eero 10 Mesh router and several of his IOT devices don't work. Leo says it works for him: you don't need to do anything but input the new passwords. You don't need to do anything with the SSID. Eero doesn't do anything with choosing different bands. It just works automatically.
Kevin bought some Feit smart bulbs from Costco. Leo says that LED light bulbs can be controlled by mobile phones. But he's concerned about security because they connect to his network. Leo says that's a concern with IoT devices. But if he can keep it up to date, he'll be fine. But the risk is there. He's also been using an Apple Airport. Leo says Apple isn't supporting the Airport anymore and he wants a WiFi 6 router. Leo recommends the TPLink Archer A7.
Darcy and his wife recently had a baby and he's looking for a good, and secure, baby monitor. Is there one that's really secure? Leo says that they are if the company keeps them up to date. Although RING took it on the chin with a hacker who hacked a Ring Camera in an 8-year-old's office, it turns out that this was due to a simple password that the mother had used with other devices. If you use a difficult password, then the RING Camera is a good option. Or, you can get a standard model that isn't internet-connected and is broadcast over a limited range.
Looking at Internet of Things phenomenon, the Portland FBI issued a blog post talking about how connecting your computer to the same network as your internet-enabled refrigerator could pose a security risk. They advise changing the device password settings from the default, make them as long as possible and unique. Leo says that it's not practical to have a separate connection for your IoT devices. But regularly updating your devices and giving them a good password is a good idea.