M2M or machine to machine is a term coined to describe how one machine could able to communicate with another machine, thus giving rise to numerous potential benefits to the human beings. More specifically, M2M is a technology that connects various electronic devices through wired or wireless networks in order to create a channel where each device could digitally communicate with each other. This conversation has immense value for businesses as well as industries such as automotive, industrial automation, health, civic services, defence, smart cities and many more. The usability of M2M, as an integral part of Internet of Things (IoT), is growing day by day and its benefits are being reaped in newer industries as the technology matures.
M2M can be called as a constituent block of IoT or internet of things which is described as the network of electronic devices or computing devices. The IoT resides on the existing internet infrastructure means the internet we use enables to create another network which connect similar sort of machines or devices.
According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020. As per a recent survey and study done by Pew Research Internet Project, a large majority of the technology experts and engaged Internet users who responded—83 percent—agreed with the notion that the Internet/Cloud of Things, embedded and wearable computing (and the corresponding dynamic systems will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025. It is, as such, clear that the IoT will consist of a very large number of devices being connected to the Internet.
If we look at the speed various technology companies are bringing out wearable devices, we could smell the M2M trend in our daily lives. As cellular operator’s ARPU from voice business is coming down each passing day, and data uptake is on rise, these operators want the revenue not only come from the human beings usage of data but also from the devices as well. Means, they want revenue from internet usage by human beings but internet usage by ‘things’ or ‘machines.’ A wearable device, used as a bracelet or armlet or watch or even a ring, can collect various critical data from the user. It could track the pulse rate, heart-beat, blood pressure etc and can send it to the user to take the necessary action or even it could ask the user’s family doctor to read the report and take necessary action.
In recent years, wearable technology has made increasing technological advancement and as such many wireless carriers are now seeking to fit wearable technology with their M2M offerings. By the end of 2020, M2M and wearable devices can help carriers rake in almost $116 Billion in network connectivity revenue, with a compound annual growth rate of over 40% between 2015 and 2020.
How Does it Work?
To start a conversation among machines or devices and for human beings to understand that, M2M technology connects the devices with a common protocol and be provided a unique identifier. In order to integrate these computing devices on to the internet, each device should have an IP address. The current internet protocol we use, IPV4, has limitations upto providing only 4.3 billion unique IP addresses which means it is unable to accommodate the growing number of devices being added to the internet. The next version of internet protocol, IPV6, is the answer and needs to be adopted to provide an unique identifier to various devices.
Once connected to the network, each device is deployed with sensors which in turn responds to queries raised by the networking system, and depending up on the job assigned, the sensors as well as other chips capture data and provide that to a central database where the data is analysed and reactions are provided for the next action.
For example, sensors can be built into the tyres of vehicles which could inform the driver if there is a low-pressure, or M2M technology could help a store manager of a large convenience store to know if there is a low stock of a particular stuff and in turn, place the order for procurement.
A recent survey by Zebra Technologies, a pioneer in IoT, along with research firm Forrester reveals the growing adoption of M2M and IoT in enterprises. Forrester surveyed more than 600 firms in various business areas like retail, consumer products, manufacturing, transportation, government, oil/gas, healthcare, and hospitality. One of the data points showing the increase in IoT adoption over the past two years indicates that only 15 percent of surveyed firms had an IoT solution in place in 2012 – this number has increased to 25 percent in 2014. Over 80 percent of surveyed firms believe that IoT solutions will be the most strategic technology initiative for their organization in a decade. Nearly 65 percent of firms surveyed have deployed or are in the process of implementing IoT solutions. There is also strong IoT deployment momentum across the globe, with over 70 percent of Asia Pacific firms having an IoT solution in place, or being in the process of implementing an IoT solution. New cities, buildings, and infrastructure in many Asia Pacific countries have enabled this strong adoption rate. In comparison, 60 percent of North American, 52 percent of European and 71 percent of Latin American firms are in these same stages of IoT solution deployment.
M2M or IoT can be used in almost every aspect of human life but in terms of global adoption rate and requirement, the key areas that are seeing potential growth include industrial automation, healthcare and medical industry, energy management, infrastructure management, home automation and transport systems. On a larger scale, M2M can be used in developing a smart city where IoT can be deployed in multiple ways and in various stages.
One such example is smart metering solution. These meters are installed in residential buildings and commercial establishments by the electricity supplier or service providers. Contrary to the analogue meters, digital meters capture usage data in real time. These meters are then connected or enabled to communicate through wi-fi, cellular networks etc to pass on data to the central system where the data is being analysed. A recent report by Northeast Group said that by 2024, there will be an installed base of nearly 1.1bn smart residential meters worldwide, or 57% market penetration. The top countries by value over the next decade will be the United States, Japan, China, Brazil, India, UK, France, Germany, Russia and Mexico. The report also suggests that the smart metering market will grow at a CAGR of 22% compared with a much more modest 1.8% for the overall electricity metering market. Legacy metering will decline at a rate of 7.2% per year throughout the decade. Additionally, commercial and industrial electricity meters will be worth $3.1bn per year by 2024, the report suggests.