IoT Articles: Recommended Reading/Listening/Viewing – (For BNUG, I skipped all product-specific references.)


10 Real Life Examples of Internet of Things


The Best Smart Home Devices of 2018,2817,2410889,00.asp


Google Assistant Will Soon Support a Lot More of Your Household Gadgets


Currently, Google Assistant can support a lot of smart home gadgets, but for some devices like A/C units or coffee makers, there’s no easy way to control them with voice commands. That’s about to change.


If you’re using a smart air conditioner right now, behind the scenes the developer has to classify it as a thermostat in order to get it to work. This is okay, but it means some commands like turning the fan on don’t work as smoothly as they should. Other devices like coffee makers or sprinkler systems don’t have any specialized voice control systems in place behind the scenes, which means you have to use complicated voice commands “Hey Google, ask [‘Cuppa Joe’ – ed.] to start making coffee” or even turn to third-party services to make it work at all.

Google is fixing this by adding support for seven new device categories: air conditioning units, air purifiers, coffee makers, fans, kettles, ovens, and sprinklers. These devices will join the ranks of smart lights, thermostats, and smart locks to become devices that you can control directly via Google Assistant without having to jump through hoops. Or, at the very least, it means developers can set it up that way for you.


What does this mean for you? Well, currently, not much. The companies behind your favorite products will still need to update their software to make use of it. But, once they do, you should be able to use simple commands like “Hey Google, turn on the sprinklers” without having to muck around with making sure you [parse – ed.] every command exactly right.

Nest Hello review: A premium doorbell for the paranoid homeowner

You'll pay dearly for it, though.


Last September, Nest introduced several new offerings aimed at beefing up your home security. There was the Nest Secure alarm system, an outdoor version of its Nest Cam IQ and the Nest Hello, its first-ever video doorbell. The Hello is obviously Nest's answer to Ring, a competing video-enabled doorbell brand which has since been snapped up by Amazon.




The Hello, however, is a little different, with features like facial recognition, continuous video recording and HDR video. But getting the most out of it requires a subscription, and at $229, it's not cheap. Still, if the idea of a video doorbell intrigues you and you're ready to commit to a Google-and-Nest ecosystem, the Hello certainly fits the bill.


Best Smart Locks of 2018,review-3352.html

The Best Products That Work With Amazon Alexa

My PDF posting at Lexington Technology Users Group has much more material on the AI concepts behind Alexa and other Smart Assistants, with a chilling video about “The Selfish Ledger” (a Google 2016 internal concept video) as a trailer.

I am only highlighting the content of that presentation here due to time limitations.


(We can repost the original document at the BNUG site or elsewhere.)


Amazon will install a full smart home security system for you

You'll only have to pay once, and packages include the installation fee.


You know tech has arrived when you need an installer to set it all up for you. This story indicates just how pervasive IoT devices and connections are becoming.


Google Assistant Will Soon Support a Lot More of Your Household Gadgets




(My BNUG presentation begins at this point in this document.)




Part A: Important Concepts:

Image 001 (automated home diagram)


Internet of Things definition:


The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it's possible to turn anything, from a pill to an aeroplane, into part of the IoT. This adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without a human being involved, and merging the digital and physical worlds.


What is cloud computing?

A beginner's guide

(Told from the perspective of Microsoft's Azure Cloud Platform, which is an example of a Public cloud.)

(use Link)


Illustration: Cloud Computing


Image 002 (Cloud Computing)

(URL above)


"There are three different ways to deploy cloud computing resources: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud."


"How cloud computing works"


"Cloud computing services all work a little differently, depending on the provider. But many provide a friendly, browser-based dashboard that makes it easier for IT professionals and developers to order resources and manage their accounts. Some cloud computing services are also designed to work with REST APIs and a command-line interface (CLI), giving developers multiple options."

Real-Time Processing -- What Is Edge Computing?


Image 003 (Edge Computing) (URL below)


Not Ready for Cloud Computing Yet? Buckle Up for Edge Computing

(Use Link and read entire article if time permits.)


Illustration: Edge Computing



Players Being Rearranged


Microsoft has Alexa Apps in its Windows 10 Store. Microsoft (briefly) showcased Amazon products (Echo and Dot) in its online Store.


Image 004 (Alexa App in MS Store)




Apple has abandoned their long-time networking protocols in favor of the Apple Home Automation Hub. This is not a dedicated device, but leverages AppleTV or an iPad or iPhone.


Image 005 (Apple HomeKit Logo)


Image 006 (Apple HomeKit Hub Possibilities)



There is not a single, dedicated hub device with Apple. 


Apple Siri AI and huge App Store. IOS replacing MacOS?


Facebook Portal – Leverages Amazon’s Alexa AI.


Image 007 (Facebook Portal Plus)

Note that the tech press has been very unwelcoming of anything like this due to Facebook’s recent privacy scandals.


Amazon Echo and Dot Featuring Alexa AI. Amazon has their own software framework for Home Automation “skills”.


Image 008 (Amazon Echo)


Google Home and its Digital Assistant (AI). Apps, but unclear what the future of Android, ChromeOS or the mysterious Fuchsia OS will be.


Image 009 (Google Home Hub)


ISPs like Comcast and AT&T/Time-Warner are moving away from DVRs to streaming services. This allows them to replace modems and routers with Home Automation Hubs and wireless modems.


Image 010 (Xfinity Modem and Home Automation Hub)


This means 5G wireless modems, with no wired connections between the nearest 5G neighborhood node and your equipment. No technicians enter your home, and no physical setup is required.


It may also mean no need for the type of franchise agreements which currently limit your selection of local providers. Only the common “boxes” on utility poles would need to be leased from other utility companies and permitted.


Image 011 (5g Equipment in the Field)


No matter what certain network operators say, in the US at this time, there are only very limited and highly experimental 5G networks available. And only in a few cities. No 5G hardware yet.


Concept: 5G wireless communications


Image 012 (5g without Content)

(This is not an article I’m recommending – it’s just the source of this image.)

What 5G is and what it is not:

(PC Mag article, above)


From time to time, cell phone carriers announce” 5G networks”. Until very recently, none of these had the characteristics of real 5G communications.


In 2019, Samsung and others will begin releasing true 5g hotspots, modems (“radios”) and cell phones. Prices  and specs have not yet been announced. Keep in mind, as yet, only 5 US cities have very limited 5g data networks in place.


AT&T is the leading ISP/phone company in this space so far.




How 5G Works (PC Mag ca. Fall 2018)


Image 013 (Self Driving Car)

(from this article)


Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves. Each cell site must be connected to a network backbone, whether through a wired or wireless backhaul connection.


5G networks will use a type of encoding called OFDM, which is similar to the encoding that 4G LTE uses. The air interface will be designed for much lower latency and greater flexibility than LTE, though.

5G networks need to be much smarter than previous systems, as they're juggling many more, smaller cells that can change size and shape. But even with existing macro cells, Qualcomm says 5G will be able to boost capacity by four times over current systems by leveraging wider bandwidths and advanced antenna technologies.


The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency, at which point very interesting things begin to happen.





Why 5G is bringing edge computing and automation front and center

(Use Edge Computing illustration.)


Image 003 again.


“The rise of 5G coincides with the explosion of connected devices and systems associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart heating systems, wearables and [TV or video streaming in moving –ed.] vehicles all bring with them large amounts of data. In addition to more processing power, 5G promises speeds (at least) 10 times faster than those of 4G...”


“Processing these high volumes of data, at a faster speed, will require new antennas, new devices, and new applications for wireless data. No matter what the setup looks like, the influx of additional data - which will need to be processed in real-time - will drive the need for edge computing.”


Real-time processing also needs to be done at a location close to where the data will come from and be used.








Networking has to change to keep up with the new 5G speed and need for Edge Processing.


One example:


Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi EasyMesh certification aims to standardize mesh networks


Image 014 (from this article)






EasyMesh promises to bring to mesh networks the same interoperability assurances that conventional routers have long offered. If Linksys decides to make its Velop product line EasyMesh compatible, and Netgear does the same, for example, you’ll be able to use Netgear’s Orbi Outdoor access point with a Linksys Velop router.

That’s important, because to date, Netgear is the only manufacturer offering an outdoor mesh access point—but it only works with Netgear’s Orbi-series routers.








A Little bit About Security and the IoT:


How to Secure Your (Easily Hackable) Smart Home,news-19380.html

This list is Image 015 (screenshot).


Create two different Wi-Fi networks

Firewall the network

Install a unified threat management appliance (UTM)

Install security software wherever possible

Check manufacturers' websites for firmware updates (signed firmware updates vs. unsigned)



There's the hard way (manually or using a security router)


[Other] How to secure IoT devices in home network for a newb[ie]


(Just reference this article.)


and there's an easier way (buy a security appliance):





Example of a device to protect IoT Things (Review):

These security appliances cost money and need subscriptions to updating services.


Bitdefender Box 2


Image 016 (BitDefender Box 2)


(Again, the reference is for the illustration only, not a recommended reading suggestion.)


"The battle for the Internet of Things has just begun," [John] Maddison [of Fortinet] said. "The ultimate winners of the IoT connected home will come down to those vendors who can provide a balance of security and privacy vis-à-vis price and functionality."



More IoT security tips:

8 tips to secure those IoT devices

Make sure the Internet of Things isn’t a route for hackers to get into your home or workplace

(Use the article and read from it.)



Privacy and Home Assistants:


How to Make Sure Alexa, Google Home Don't Hear Too Much,news-27038.html

There is a Mute Button. Use it when you aren’t asking for assistance or doing something else with your devices.


So, in the future:


Google Duplex:



(Just call up the article.)




This was a demo of a bot so realistic that people it called could not identify it as a robot.



(Reference this article and give a brief rundown on its contents.)



“Black Mirror”




This is a Netflix streaming-only series which envisions a dystopian world in which one’s social media reputation and popularity scores determine everything you may and may not do, and your entire social status.

Given what China is reported to be doing with linking credit scoring and even “reeducation” sentences with social media scoring, this is not an impossible future.

(Reference this article and give a brief rundown on its contents.)

(In the Google video)


Foster (the author) envisions a future where “the notion of a goal-driven ledger becomes more palatable” and “suggestions may be converted not by the user but by the ledger itself.” This is where the “Black Mirror” undertones come to the fore, with the ledger actively seeking to fill gaps in its knowledge and even selecting data-harvesting products to buy that it thinks may appeal to the user. The example given in the video is a bathroom scale because the ledger doesn’t yet know how much its user weighs.






The video then takes a further turn toward anxiety-inducing sci-fi, imagining that the ledger may become so astute as to propose and 3D-print its own designs. “Welcome home, Dave, I built you a scale.”


Foster’s vision of the ledger goes beyond a tool for self-improvement. The system would be able to “plug gaps in its knowledge and refine its model of human behavior” — not just your particular behavior or mine, but that of the entire human species. “By thinking of user data as multigenerational,” explains Foster, “it becomes possible for emerging users to benefit from the preceding generation’s behaviors and decisions.”



Foster imagines mining the database of human behavior for patterns, “sequencing” it like the human genome, and making “increasingly accurate predictions about decisions and future behaviours.”


“As cycles of collection and comparison extend,” concludes Foster, “it may be possible to develop a species-level understanding of complex issues such as depression, health, and poverty.”

Questions? Ideas?


Discussion Time


June 6, 2018 – By Bob Primak,

for Lexington Technology User Group


(Amended for posting at the LTUG Yahoo Group)


This version updated for a shorter talk for the Boston Network Users Group (BNUG)


BNUG Talk scheduled for Dec. 4, 2018.


– Bob Primak –


– Dec. 03, 2018 (last revision) –

(More revisions pending if time allows.)


Further revised to put in most of the illustrations used, Dec. 03, 2018, evening, by Bob Primak.