Technology has changed the way we live, with the advent of broadband capabilities from fixed to wireless to super-speed mobile, allowing us to interconnect with the digital world.
What lies ahead for us now – the next disruptive technology that will change the way we live and connect with the digital ecosystem – is M2M, or machine-to-machine technology.
In simple terms, M2M is the process by which machines communicate with each other, such as the sending of a text message from one phone to another. Machine-to-machine is your mobile phone telling you that your account has been topped up with minutes of credit.
M2M goes much further into the digital world than we have encountered in our daily lives so far, maybe even further than we’d ever imagined it would.
We have already seen in some supermarkets the option for shoppers to bypass the checkout person or counter to pay for items, instead going to a computerised scanner system where each item’s bar code is read and a bill is paid via your credit card or cash.
But behind this the machines are communicating by themselves and between themselves, ordering and managing inventory systems, informing management on purchase trends reallocating stocks, among other functions, all without the need for human intervention.
Some of the key developments in M2M are:
Smart metering, where information about the electricity and gas usage in our homes is sent to suppliers, allowing them to bill us directly. This also allows the consumer access to information about energy usage per room, thereby managing the energy needs of the home more efficiently.
That efficiency creates a more eco-friendly house to boot.
M2M also has also made an impact in the medical field of diagnostics, monitoring patients’ health via a GPS-enabled mobile device. This allows a variety of information to be constantly relayed to a computer system where information is checked and accessed and any serious issues are forwarded on to medical staff. The staff, then, have all the critical data in their hands, allowing them to pinpoint a patient’s location in case medical intervention is needed.
In cars, M2M technology grants drivers the ability to analyse functionality and bring to light any potential mechanical or electrical problems once the engine is started. That way, those problems are solved before a journey is even started.
In the event of an accident, emergency organisations can be notified automatically and GPS can steer them to the precise location of the vehicle. Also, M2M can serve to establish communication with the driver, if need be.
The connected home will also be driven by M2M technologies. For example, the refrigerator will be able to order products that you’re short on and connect directly with your supermarket.
M2M technologies also will be able to access the quality of products in your fridge and notify you of any products that have passed the storage dates.
Mobile devices, such as the ever more popular tablet PC, will allow you remotely to monitor all household functions, including everything from viewing closed-circuit security cameras to turning on your air conditioner and other appliances so they’re up and running when you get there.
The future is M2M. And it will help and improve our lives in a multitude of ways, and, in some cases, even save lives.
Jazz Gill is a technology, telecoms and private equity consultant. Contact him at [email protected].