What is M2M?
The Internet has changed the world, although most thought leaders support the idea that the imminent changes are potentially much more significant in their effect on the world and its inhabitants. Most of what has happened on the Internet to date has been the creation of the basic infrastructure, the core technologies of connectivity. The personal computer is still the predominant interface to the Internet while the telephone and its unwired variety, the mobile phone, is slowly catching up as a key connectivity device. Both these classes of devices are fundamentally human-oriented; they provide humans with information and allow humans to interact with each other, businesses, and information servers. Given their human orientation, the few billion such devices connected to the Internet are reaching saturation when one considers there are only six billion people who inhabit this world.
The next milestone of the Internet will be the explosion of non-human-oriented devices. Eventually reaching tens of billions in number, these machines will need to communicate with each other as well as with data-mining and processing systems that will automate the communication and interpretation of the mass of data they hold for various value-adds to businesses and consumers alike.
M2M technology is making science fiction, reality.
This new world is described as M2M, or Machine-to-Machine. This description focuses on the issue of how machines can effectively communicate with other machines in an open manner almost anywhere in the world. Specifically it focuses on how these machines communicate, how they are managed, how the data and information within them are managed, and most importantly, how the world (humans, businesses, and society) interacts with them.
Simply put, M2M stands for Machine-to-Machine, Mobile-to-Machine, and Machine-to-Mobile Communication Technology.
Unlike science fiction, it does not signal the overthrow of man by machines that can communicate with each other. Instead, M2M empowers man with greater control over machines.
M2M is about the networking of machines, devices and individuals using available wireless infrastructure (GSM, GPRS, 3G) for a seamless flow of data allowing you to monitor and control your remote plants, facilities, assets or terminals from a central location or a mobile device.
This translates to increased operational efficiencies, cost savings, better service levels, and even additional revenues.
It's the wave of today!
The Gartner Group projects that by 2005 there will as many as 160 million M2M connections to and / or between these machines and field devices.
M2M systems can be applied in virtually any industry or environment,
including manufacturing, telecommunications, quick-serve restaurants, power, water and wastewater utilities, convenience stores, oil and gas, supermarkets, and railroads.
M2M systems can interface with virtually any type of mechanical, electrical or electronic system or machine for an unlimited number of specific applications, including:
- Toll Collection, Transaction support functions including money replacement, funds transfer and service location
- Energy management, Sensors of temperature, pressure, humidity, illumination, presence and various gases
- Management of simple and complex machines such as vending, signage and traffic signals
- Remote monitoring for life, property safety and productivity efficiency
- Location services for humans, animals, vehicles and property
- Entertainment purposes such as games, music and video
- Process control and automation
- Access control and security
- Water and power metering
- Remote diagnostics
- Asset management
Unlike human-targeted devices that are theoretically finite, the number of devices in the M2M world is not bound by such limits. A person can only usefully carry one communication device and normally only one personal computer, while a 100-meter corridor in an office building or home can potentially have hundreds if not thousands of valuable sensor devices (machines) measuring all manner of information—as long as such information can be useful.
The new world possibilities permitted by M2M thinking are unfathomable today just as Online Games, Search Engines, and Live Chat would have been unthinkable only 10 years ago.