Machine to machine communication (M2M) may be depicted in movies as dangerous for the future of humanity; however, in the real world, this new technology means miracles performed for business, medicine, education and day-to-day life. In 2012, the machine to machine communication industry generated over $26 billion, which is expected to rise to $33 billion by the end of 2013.
From Fiction to Fact
There are different levels of M2M - this technology has been used in more basic forms for many years in technology engines and industry. Modern vehicles contain extensive M2M communication systems with no one having any fear about their trusted automobile springing into sentient life and trying to terminate them.
This article discusses the more basic cause-and-effect or action-and-reaction style of communication, which will play its role in the Internet of Things. Firstly, let’s take a look at the underlying fundamental principles of the working of M2M technology.
The series of sequential events that allow machines to communicate with one another are as follows: An event happens and is subsequently recorded by a sensor of some kind; The data recorded by the sensor is sent into a network; That data is read by software and becomes computerised information known as ‘telemetry’; This information is used by other computers (or machines) to react accordingly to the event.
Let’s take a look at each of the individual steps in a little more detail.
All around is a massive and complex series of intertwined tiny events. The sensor data collected could be anything from a shift in temperature, to a change in stock inventory, human, animal or plant biometric data, time, distance or just about anything.
The network is the mode of communication used by one or more machines to transfer data between one another, and could be wired, wireless or a hybrid of both. This is not new - wireless M2M was pioneered by Siemens in 1995.
It’s easy for a human to look at a thermometer and understand the reading. For the purpose of machine communication, this metric (or any other) must be translated into telematics code before being sent to another computer so it understands exactly what has been measured and where.
An event happens, it is recorded and translated into telemetry and communicated to another device. This device takes action based on the information received, completing the M2M cycle.
A reduction in costs and increase in both quality and availability of the necessary technology to carry out machine to machine communication means the world is soon entering the next phase of its evolution. Examples of this include measuring biometric data from hospital patients, which will automatically administer life-sustaining medicines based on the condition of their body; streamlining and automating processes behind international logistics companies, which could save them millions of dollars annually; adoption of M2M at the consumer level; and the idea of smart homes and even cities.
Do We Need to Start Worrying?
For those who have indeed watched too much science fiction, or have an overactive imagination, it will be some time before the human race needs to start worrying about being replaced by machines. The reality of what makes a truly sentient being is still debated, and there is no indication that the answers are just around the corner. However, advanced M2M is likely to be a significant building block in the creation of a sentient artificial life form.
LX Group has a wealth of experience and expertise in the Internet of Things and M2M fields, and can create or tailor just about anything from a simple sensor to a complete Internet-enabled system for the client within the required time-frame and budget.
As a partner, LX Group will discuss and understand the client’s requirements and goals, and help them navigate the various hardware and other options available to help solve their problems.
LX Group is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia specialising in embedded systems design and wireless technologies.