The Rise of Machine-to-Machine Technology
Machine-to-machine or M2M technology is technology which allows computers to communicate with each other and act upon the data exchanged with minimum human interaction. The M2M industry is currently worth $24 billion, and is expected to rise to $86 billion by 2017. It has been used for the last two decades in industrial automation and telemetry and now is quickly spreading out into other fields as disparate as health, security, traffic control and sport.
M2M technology is beginning to be commonly used in cities to evaluate and regulate traffic. Last year Moscow city council unveiled their M2M parking assistance system, Fastprk. Fastprk is essentially made up of wireless sensors installed throughout the city centre that can notify drivers via variable signs in the city where the nearest parking space is. This is not only of great assistance to individual drivers, but also reduces CO2 emissions and relieves the dense congestion that has formerly clogged up the city’s roads.
M2M provider Deutsche Telekom announced last year that they would be creating a similar system for Pisa in Italy. As in Moscow, there will be sensors placed about the city with the ability to inform drivers of the closest available parking space. The technology can also be used to record traffic speed and density at different times of the day. This information can then be used to optimize traffic flow in the future.
In addition to this, Deutsche Telekom will be installing remotely controlled streetlights which are predicted to reduce electricity costs by 70% and maintenance costs by 10%. Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom has said:
‘Turnkey and future-proof Smart City solutions are an important pillar of our growth strategy in the area of M2M. They help cities build sustainable structures to reduce CO2 emissions and offer citizens a better quality of life.’
There are also plans for M2M technology to be implemented throughout stadiums for crowd control and security. This technology could work in conjunction with a smart phone app allowing fans to be informed of estimated waiting times and congestion around the stadium.
M2M technology is also being utilised inside people’s cars, enabling vehicles to navigate themselves away from traffic jams or towards the nearest services. In addition to this, the technology can also be used for vehicle safety, with plans in place for all cars in the EU from 2015 onwards to be fitted with an automatic emergency call function that is activated upon collision.
The future of M2M technology
In recent years the world has seen some innovative entrepreneurs take up M2M technology and achieve impressive results. Perhaps two of the most successful are Kevin McMahon and Scott Hedges. The two young men have each taken the technology in diverging directions displaying the diverse potential of the technology and the broad collection of fields that it can be applied in.
As well as having designed the technology McMahon is also the CEO of Healthimo, a company that manufactures remote healthcare technology. Healthimo is an education program that connects the most up to date and accurate news and information on diabetes through simple wireless telecommunication to sufferers and carers alike. The idea came to McMahon's after his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and he was submitted to the challenges of navigating and managing her health care.
Hedges was a swimmer and created technology that allowed trainers to speak directly and simply with the swimmers while they are training. This technology can be applied to all sports, and is of particular aid to those such as track athletics. It is thought to revolutionise sports training.
As ‘smart’ technology has taken over the mobile phone industry with ground-breaking apps, so machine-to-machine technology will soon be found in most aspects of our day-to-day lives. Imagine, for instance, your fridge ordering groceries online when it realises you are running low. Or your car automatically breaking or swerving to avoid an accident. M2M technology is not just here to stay, it is here to grow.
Recognised as having legs, this burgeoning segment of the industry is becoming increasingly popular with bright young graduates looking to find work in technology and engineering. The versatility and potential of M2M technology to simplify how we interact with each other and the world around us promises to be good news not just for individuals, but the course of society as a whole.