M2M, or machine to machine, communication is an essential of modern life, enabling businesses and industry to function in a manner which would have been the stuff of science fiction, only a few years ago. We take a look at what it is and how it can help your business.
What Is M2M?
Machine to machine communication is simply a process of connecting devices to the internet enabling them to display attributes of intelligence, exchange information in real time and revolutionise how a business functions.
As communications technology has developed the applications for M2M have increased and now include such diverse areas as healthcare, where it is now possible for GPs to remotely monitor their vulnerable patients’ heart rates and invite them for a check up should they change for the worse. Freight haulage companies who can keep track of where every part of their fleet is and utility companies who can use the technology to read meters from afar. In Italy, France and Sweden smart metering is already happening and can help consumers be more aware of their energy usage. A more detailed, scholarly look at the uses to which M2M can be put can be found at the University of Strathclyde where the authors Macgregor, George, Joseph, Anu, Nicholson and Dennis examine implementing an M2M terminology mapping server.
Other uses for M2M which verge on science fiction include applications inside ‘future-proof’ homes which incorporate technology to enable the owners to interact remotely with their appliances, heating systems, house alarms etc, via their mobile phones. It is also finding its way into the oil and gas industries where it is used to monitor holes in pipelines and prevent disasters such as the Gulf of Mexico spill of 2010.
Satellites connect devices like the Iridium 9062
How does it work?
You may already be aware that a string of communication satellites circles the earth, enabling devices like mobile phones and personal computers to send and receive information almost instantaneously. Full 4G is due to be rolled out late in 2013 and promises faster internet and data transmission. Effective and fast coverage is vital to enable M2M to work efficiently.
Companies providing the technology which enables M2M to function efficiently rely on innovative thinking to provide solutions for organisations which need to keep track of, for example, maritime vessels or fleet vehicles and for those who need to monitor equipment. An example of this is the Iridium 9062 single board transceiver which has been developed to enable high quality global tracking and communication to take place within a very cost-effective framework.
The pace of change accelerates technological developments to the extent that connected devices are expected to exceed 50 billion throughout the world by the year 2020 and each will require connectivity of the highest quality in order to provide the levels of service which both business and private users expect. As well as practical applications such as those found in businesses, private users are also expected to embrace M2M for social and pleasure reasons. We are already a connected world so it is interesting to contemplate just how different our lives will be with even more interaction with our machines.