Welcome to the December edition of the monthly State of IoT series. While we ended 2021 with a rosy outlook prompted by rising unit shipments and hardware spending, 2022 ended amidst supply chain disruptions, economic sanctions and an ongoing war. Despite this, we will likely remember 2022 as a transitional year in the ever-increasing adoption of embedded and IoT devices. Cybersecurity vulnerabilities in IoT devices, smart homes and a few major announcements took the headlines. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the most prominent news across the IoT landscape from the last month of what proved to be an exciting year.

Open Source Robotics Corporation behind ROS gets acquired

Alphabet-owned Intrinsic acquired the commercial subsidiary of Open Robotics, the firm behind the popular Robot Operating System (ROS). ROS is an open-source framework helping researchers and developers build and reuse code between robotics applications. ROS is already used across numerous industries, from agriculture to medical devices, and is spreading to include all kinds of automation and software-defined use cases.

Open questions remain as to how the acquisition will affect the future of ROS. In July 2021, Intrinsic graduated from X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, to become an independent company at Alphabet. According to Intrinsic CEO Wendy Tan White, her company’s mission is to democratise access to robotics by building a software platform for developers, entrepreneurs and businesses. As per the leadership team behind ROS, the acquisition was a conscious move to help the ROS community at scale, by leveraging resources from Intrinsic and Alphabet’s track record of support for open-source software projects.

Supply chain risks in IoT devices

The Boa web server has been discontinued since 2005, but it’s still pervasive in IoT. Device vendors and SDK publishers still implement it across embedded devices, from routers to cameras. To this day, there are over 1 million Internet-exposed Boa web servers on devices to access settings, management consoles, and sign-in screens.

The global success of the discontinued server clashes with the threats it poses, as Boa servers are affected by several vulnerabilities, from arbitrary file access in routers to information disclosure from corporate and manufacturing assets connected to IoT devices.

A new investigation by Microsoft demonstrates how Boa’s vulnerabilities are distributed downstream to organisations and their assets in an insecure IoT device supply chain. Microsoft recommends patching vulnerable devices and reducing their attack surface, among other preventive measures. 

IoT botnet upgraded to target unpatched Apache servers

Zerobot is a Go-based botnet primarily affecting various IoT devices, including firewall devices, routers, and cameras. Zerobot operators continuously expand the malware with the latest capabilities, enabling it to add compromised systems to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) botnet.

As per the above, web-exposed IoT devices are often vulnerable to exploitation by malicious actors. Cybercriminals target unpatched IoT devices exposed to the internet due to their continuous growth. 

Zerobot was recently upgraded to version 1.1, featuring novel capabilities, including new attack methods and exploits for support architectures. The improved botnet is thus expanding its reach to different types of devices, including the ability to target vulnerabilities on unpatched Apache servers.

Microsoft’s Security Threat Intelligence team recently disclosed the new attack capabilities, including a set of recommendations to defend devices and networks against Zerobot.

Ericsson offloads IoT division

Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud is an automotive platform offering fleet management systems, OTA updates and telematics capabilities. Despite connecting more than 5.5 million vehicles, the communications service providers announced they will sell their Connected Vehicle Cloud business to Aeris. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023, and it further includes Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator unit, a cloud-based connectivity management platform.

The sale has the potential to refocus the internal strategy at Ericsson while doubling down on Aeris’ value proposition as a leading provider of a host of services supporting IoT connectivity. Aeris offers technology expertise in low- to mid-bandwidth communication, 5G, and eSIMs for global connectivity, among their initiatives. This helps businesses bring new IoT programs to market, as well as replace 2G and 3G technologies by embracing 5G.

Amazon to support Matter on Echo devices

Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, SmartThings, and the Connectivity Standards Alliance came together in 2019 to develop and promote Matter, a royalty-free, IPv6-based connectivity standard defining the application layer deployed on devices with Wi-Fi support, Thread, and BLE. 

The CSA announced the official release of the Matter 1.0 specification In October. Since the announcement, several companies have pledged to join the CSA and help set new security and reliability standards for IoT. For instance, Canonical joined the CSA in September as the first company to offer an independent Linux distribution.

Recently, Amazon announced it will support Matter on several Echo devices. As a founding member and key contributor of Matter, Amazon stated they will bring broader Matter availability to more devices early next year.

InsurTech market targets the smart home

Pepper is a leading consumer IoT platform enabling corporations to deliver the latest in smart home solutions to their customers. Pepper’s Platform as a Service provides enterprises access to a robust, fully configurable IoT platform featuring integrations, cloud-based capabilities and revenue-generating services like installation and warranty. Notion, on the other hand, is a smart property monitoring system, dedicated to helping de-risk a property and reduce the complexities of property ownership.

Recently, Pepper’s consumer IoT Platform and Notion combined to create a leading IoT platform company, fueled by investment from Comcast. The merger aims to accelerate growth for Pepper’s IoT Platform and enable insurance carriers to deploy seamless IoT solutions.

Z-Wave source code is open and available

Z-Wave is a mesh network and wireless technology for smart homes. After losing the spotlight to the release of the Matter 1.0 specification, the Z-Wave source code is now available to all Z-Wave Alliance members. The Alliance stated opening the development of the protocol will enable members to contribute code, thus helping to shape its future.

According to the leadership team at the Z-Wave Alliance, the protocol currently holds the largest certified interoperable ecosystem in the market. For instance, earlier in March, the Ecolink 700 Series Garage Door Controller was introduced as the first Z-Wave Long Range device. Whether the source code announcement will generate momentum similar to Matter’s is yet to be seen. That 2022 was the Year of the Smart Home, however, is becoming increasingly apparent.

Lexi launches third-generation platform

The Lexi platform provides a solution for enterprise customers to deploy smart home offerings and commercial IoT projects. The platform is designed for controlling smart buildings and home configurations and is interoperable with 3rd-party devices. It claims to work across multiple home ecosystems.

After more than two years in development, Lexi recently launched its third-generation platform, including new white-label mobile apps, white label cloud and an agnostic, universal IoT gateway. Lexi’s multi-protocol, edge-to-cloud offering enables companies to work with leading ecosystems across major wireless protocols. IoT gateways are usually required in smart home protocols, whereas a universal IoT gateway supposedly interconnects different wireless protocols.

It will be interesting to monitor whether the LEXI IoT Platform will deliver on the promise of easing the IoT experience by connecting products across ecosystems.

Next-gen satellite IoT data service is available

Iridium is a global satellite communications company that provides access to voice and data services. Iridium’s satellite constellation creates a global mesh of coverage over the planet. Its satellites are cross-linked to provide reliable, low-latency, weather-resilient connectivity unmatched by other communications providers.

Recently, Iridium introduced a next-generation data service, aiming to simplify the development of satellite IoT services. Iridium Messaging Transport (IMT) is a two-way cloud-native networked data service enabling the addition of satellite connections to existing or new IoT solutions. IMT enables Iridium terminals to send and receive data over the Iridium Network utilising industry-standard terrestrial IoT and data transaction methods.

Being connected everywhere is not only expected, but essential. Yet,  vast parts of our world are still outside the bounds of traditional communications technologies. With the addition of IoT services, it will be exciting to see whether Iridium will succeed in delivering reliable, global connectivity.

LiDAR maker files for bankruptcy

Quanergy Systems is a provider of LiDAR sensors and smart 3D solutions for IoT and automotive applications. Quanergy’s smart LiDAR products enable enterprises to leverage real-time, 3D insights in multiple industries, including industrial automation and smart cities. Last month, Quanergy announced an industry-first 3D LiDAR movement-based false alarm reduction solution. The latest Qortex DTC 3D aimed to improve classification accuracy and reduce critical infrastructures’ physical security costs.

Despite the new release, this month Quanergy filed for bankruptcy and is now looking for a buyer. Citing volatile capital market conditions, the whole LiDAR industry has been going through a rough financial period. Whether innovations and growth opportunities in LiDAR sensors for IoT resume in 2023 remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for more IoT news

We will soon be back with next month’s summary of IoT news. Meanwhile, join the conversation in our IoT Discourse to discuss everything related to IoT and tightly connected, embedded devices. 

Further reading