Graphic showing Internet of Things news

Forget glasses, industrials are investing in smart hard hats: Guardhat, a Detroit-based maker of $1,500 hard hats that include radios and sensors, has raised a second round of funding. The company’s invention lets companies track workers in real time, communicate with radios built into the helmets, and ensure employee health with an array of sensors to measure the environment. Guardhat also makes AR glasses in a partnership with Vuzix, but my interest this week is in the helmets. They are larger and can store more electronics and batteries when compared with glasses. Also, I’ve seen a couple of interesting hard hats that include air conditioning to help workers keep cool, something that will be increasingly important in a warming world. (DBusiness)

Spanish IIoT startup gets a seed round: Barbara IoT has raised €400,000 ($491,000) led by GoHub Ventures. The round also includes funds from investment vehicles of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia and the Basque Government. The company makes an OS for industrial IoT companies that includes security and device management features. It’s a crowded area, but most companies split the OS needs from security elements, so the approach is at least novel. (EU-Startups)

Y’all sure are buying a lot of cameras: U.S. consumers whose homes have connected cameras now own an average of 3.4 of these devices, which is a big leap from 2018, when those homes had fewer than two standalone cameras each, according to research firm Parks Associates. (I’ll note that I own four IP cameras, but none of them are deployed on a regular basis; we only pull them out when we go on vacation.) The data, which was released to gin up attendance at a Parks event held during CES, also shared that more than one-third of those who bought a smart video doorbell in the past 12 months are first-time buyers. Security is still a big entry point for smart home devices. (Parks Associates)

Speaking of cameras, Nest plans a refresh of its camera line: Google’s smart home device brand, Nest, will discontinue its Nest Cam IQ Outdoor camera and refresh its camera lineup. The news isn’t all that surprising given that the $399 outdoor camera was by far one of the most expensive outdoor cameras on the market. And the refresh timing makes sense given that Nest last updated its cameras (which it snagged after acquiring Dropcam in 2014) about three years ago. Based on the recent launch of a modestly priced Nest thermostat after a few years of nothing, it feels like Google might be embracing a three-year cycle for new smart device launches. Honestly, this feels about right for cameras, TVs, and even smart speakers. I’d expect thermostats and lights to be updated even more rarely. (The Verge)

What we’d like to see at CES: Kevin covered the six things he’s looking for as a smart home gadget fan. Many of the requests are things we’ve been waiting on for the last few years, although there are signs of hope on the horizon with Project Connected Home over IP getting ready for launch and Amazon turning on its low-power Sidewalk Network. Technologies such as Soli and Apple’s UWB chip may also enable some of Kevin’s alternative user interfaces and better presence. We’ll have to see. (StaceyonIoT)

Ezlo launches new smart home hubs: Despite SmartThings leaving the hardware game and Wink slowly failing, there are still smart home hubs out on the market. Ezlo, a company created by cobbling together three smart home brands, has launched two new hubs that will ship in February. Both hubs have Zigbee, Z-wave, and Wi-Fi as well as thousands of device drivers for smart home devices including Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. The Ezlo Plus costs $69.95 and the more powerful Ezlo Secure will cost $199.95. Unfortunately for those who have Vera hubs (one of the companies Ezlo purchased), there is no simple way to upgrade so expect lots of unpairing and re-pairing of your existing devices. (Ezlo)

A blind man’s lawsuit against Uber might change how we accept terms of service: One of the most galling aspects of the internet of things is that every light bulb and sensor comes with its own user agreement. And in the rush to get a device online, not everyone reads it. Or, when faced with thousands of words displayed on a tiny thermostat or phone screen, users just click through to get to the service. But in doing so, people sign away all sorts of rights to their data, and even information about the status of their home. I’d like more user-friendly terms that are shorter and more intelligible. That’s why I was excited to read about this man’s lawsuit against Uber. He is fighting an arbitration clause that Uber says the man agreed to when he agreed to use the service. So far, a judge has decided that he probably didn’t read the contract and without forcing someone to, at a minimum, click “I agree,” any contract on the other side is unenforceable. This sort of legal precedent would be especially good for folks who buy devices and can’t see the terms of service until they get home, download the app, and tie it to the device. If at that point the user doesn’t want to keep the device, they shouldn’t have to pay restocking fees or have difficulty returning it. (Ars Technica)

Teledyne will spend $8B acquiring FLIR Systems: This is a sensor-sational deal! I love keeping up with data on various sensor technologies because improvements there can change the cost associated with smarter devices as well as the elements a smart device can measure. This deal is notable both because it’s big and because it shows how important imaging technology is going to be in adding smarts to everything from hard hats to cars. Teledyne makes LiDAR sensors used in self-driving cars and industrial settings, while FLIR makes sensors that take images using heat. As Robert Mehrabian, CEO of Teledyne, pointed out in the release announcing the deal, both companies provide sensors and cameras but each company uses a different form of technology built on different chips. Having engineers from both companies together could lead to big things in the world of visual sensors, or even sensors built on reading RF signals to produce insights. (Teledyne)

Here are a lot of predictions about voice as a user interface: I haven’t gotten through all of them, and many are pretty obvious (using voice in enterprise settings), but others are surprising, such as the Audiobrain CEO’s prediction that companies will soon build unique voices for their brands. Give these 100 predictions a scan the next time you’re waiting in line at the grocery store to see if any spark a new insight for you. (Voicebot AI)