The Spark Gap Podcast - Episode 8

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Show Synopsis

Karl and Corey welcome guest Jacob Rosenthal to explain the Internet of Things.

Current State of the Internet of Things

I can’t go to a single tech blog or manufacturer site without hearing about the Internet of Things.
I could literaly include hundreds of links to examples, but I’ll just include one mostly due to its ridiculous click-bate title.

IoT Privacy and Security Concerns

Corey is right to be concerned about the privacy and security issues regarding the IoT.
There have been numerous examples of security holes in IoT devices.

We are not alone in discussing the privacy concerns regatding IoT either.

Jacob mentioned he had just returned from the HOPE conference. Here is a link for more detail:

Siri Proxy Server

Corey talked about implementing a Jack-O-Lantern that used Siri Proxy.
I’m not sure if this actually fits the IoT definition due to the fact that it uses a locally hosted server though.
Now that I think about it, a more accurate term would Intranet of Things…..and apparently that is actually a thing

What has Jacob been working on?


Open Source framework allowing all the different IoT devices to get along together; Yes please.

Jacob has been extremely busy submitting commits to Github. 661 total commits and counting in 1 year. That is impressive.

He is also pretty active on Twitter. I don’t know where he finds the time, ha.

Jacob said a bunch of techinical terms pretty quickly. Here are links to the protocols he was talking about.
First up: REST calls and HTTP. Basically the stuff the internet is built on:

Also, lets not forget about Web Sockets:

This one I don’t know much about. I should have asked about it a bit more. Looks like a communication protocol specifically for IoT.

Additionally, I’m pretty sure I heard CoApp in there. It is a package management system for open source applications on the Windows Platform.
Basically, it helps you effectively develop Open Source Applications for Windows.

IoT Devices



Firmata’s wiki says that it is “a generic protocol for communicating with microcontrollers”.
Here is my take on it:

Firmata is an agreed upon way to control the state of the pins of a microcontroller using any external device (laptop, server, Raspberry Pi) using any transport layer you want (Bluetooth, WiFi, Serial, USB, etc..)

Jacob mentioned the Arduino client library. The client class is actually a part of the ethernet library, but I think we got the point.

Arduino’s out of touch pricing

Just look at these prices..

Texas Instruments’ Wifi Modules:

TI CC3000

Pretty popular WiFi module. Although, Jacob is not a huge fan of it.

I mentioned there was a security issue when using CC3000s. These links are what I was referring to:

Texas Instruments has come out with an updated version of the CC3000 called the CC3100.
Also, they came out with a chip that has a Cortex-M4 built in as well as the WiFI. It is cleverly called the…CC3200. uses a CC3000 on their IoT platform device.

Hackaday had a nice review of as a hardware startup.

Ofcourse, you can find out more by going to their main page:

Jacob mentioned how did a Deep Update on their in-field devices.

TI’s Ethernet PHY Integrated Microcontroller

Like usual, I got the part number wrong. It is the TM4C129 line of microcontrollers that have the integrated Ethernet PHY.

Electric Imp:

The Grandfather of Iot devices.

The Amp Hour Podcast had a great interview with one of the Electric Imp guys:


A successfully crowdfunded project from Indiegogo that delivered! Color me suprised.

IoT Operating System - Contiki OS

Looks really impressive to me. Also looks a little intimidating.
Maybe a listener is a Contiki epxert and can come on the podcast and help people get started?

Iot Backend Services:

Sparkfun’s IoT service

I like the tagline “a place to push your data.” Good on ya Sparkfun.

This isn’t the first open-source software to come out of Sparkfun.
They open sourced their ERP software and just about everything else.

They even have a Job Application to be a software developer hosted on Github.

Sparkfun also sells a ton of IoT devices.

Seems they have been busy moving into their new, huge facility.
I am guessing that is why they have been a little quiet as of late.

Alternative IoT Wireless Protocols

Bluetooth LE:

General Bluetooth Low Energy Information.
Note: BLuetooth LE is also called Bluetooth Smart

Blog post about: How to Choose a Bluetooth Smart Low Energy Development Kit.
Gives a good overview of most of the common modules on the market. It is a little outdate now, but still relevant.

Here is the company Jacob was talking about liking their BLE kit.
I don’t have their kit, but I do reccomend their iOS App.

Nordic Semiconductor’s offerings in the BLE market:

The nRF51822 is the one with a SoftDevice built into it.

Mbed does now have a dev kit for the nRF81522 but it too relies on the SoftDevices.

I have the RedBearLab’s BLE Shield V2. It relies on the nRF8001 Bluetooth Smart Connectivity IC

This is the project Jacob said people were upset about the closed nature of the final product:


Not as common as BLE. ANT is a proprietary protocol.

What does the future hold for IoT?

There are actually a lot of people preparing for the IoT and its impact on privacy:

There is actually a conference dedicated to the issue really close to me.

I should have known that the EFF is well aware of the potential misuse and manipulation of the IoT

Open Sourcing as much as possible will help create a safer, more secure, more anonymous IoT.

3 Billion Dollar Bet on the IoT - Google’s purchase of Nest

Atleast we know Google is all on board the IoT bandwagon.