M2M – Machine to Machine Communications (An Intro)

M2M or Machine to Machine communications is the next big thing after the Internet. Yes, M2M going to be a part of ‘Internet for things’ just like how we have ‘Internet for people’. The concept of machines talking to each other and making the best decisions for us, is closer to reality than you think!

M2M has always found applications in the industrial sector, but until recently the applications were reliant on high-power/costly radio transmitters, optical fiber networks, etc. The advent and spread of cellular communications everywhere, followed by Internet over cellular communications has brought M2M applications to the mainstream and has enabled many more possible applications.

We now have the prerequisites for M2M systems – Sensors (that gather and transmit data), Computers, Servers & Software (that send/receive, process data) and Cellular Network/Internet (that carry data between sensors & computers).

Consider the possible applications: Your mobile phone could automatically coordinate with your house control system, set up your morning alarm based on your appointments/traffic, activate the coffee machine just in time you wake up, activate the hot-water system, check the amount of electric charge left on your electric car and determine if it will be sufficient for your journey, determine and automatically schedule an appointment for your car maintenance or at least remind you of it on time, etc.

It’s not that we are going to get more and more lazier, but we have more and more work to do as we advance as a society and hence the above mentioned mundane works might as well be outsourced to little machines that can talk and coordinate with each other.

M2M can do much more in the field of industrial/utility applications. There are so many things that can be done faster if machines/sensors talk to each other. For example, the stock taking/ordering for new stocks can be automated if sensors can automatically detect the stock levels at any point of time and there are clear rules on when new stocks needs to be ordered. Public dustbins can automatically send a message to clearance authorities once it is close to being full.

Traffic monitors can continuously monitor for traffic at a given lane and automatically control signals according to the real-time traffic information received. All vital parameters of a dam can be monitored through sensors and any activity that deviates from the standard conditions can be intimated immediately to the operators/supervisors using the cellular network, irrespective of where they are and what time it is.

Not that such systems don’t exist already. They do. But, M2M is set to make the ‘network of machines’ more common and find newer/better applications that were not possible with the limited-range networks of yesteryear.

Well, the machines, network and computers are ready for the transition. Are you?

Read this excellent article by howstuffworks to learn more about M2M.

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