M2M (machine to machine) communication is the technology that allows our devices to talk to each other. Without M2M communication, we wouldn’t be able to take cash out of an ATM, and our smart meters wouldn’t be able to send automated updates to our energy providers.
M2M doesn’t just affect our personal lives though: in facilitating communication between computerized devices and allowing companies to gather huge amounts of crucial data, M2M communication also allows a great many modern businesses to do things like:
- Gather valuable information about important processes
- Streamline and improve supply chains
- Pre-empt expensive maintenance and avoid costly mistakes
- Keep tabs on expensive assets
- Offer value-ads and/or services that it wouldn’t be practical to offer without some level of M2M technology (think Apple’s find your phone service, or AA’s ‘car genie’)
In fact, M2M (sometimes confused with the IoT) is now so widespread that over 7 billion devices currently leverage some form of automated, M2M communication protocol. To help you understand the importance of M2M, we’ve pulled together 5 real-world M2M IoT examples of the technology in action.
1. In-car telemetry services
Several car manufacturers offer internet connectivity services for their customers. Occasionally, these services allow you to use a built-in SIM card to access the world wide web on your smart-phone or tablet, but in-car connectivity isn’t just about letting you browse your favorite sites.
Built-in SIM cards are also used to relay important information about your car, sending a steady stream of data to your manufacturer’s computer systems so they can see how well it is performing.
Some manufacturers use this data to improve future models, and may also offer more hands-on help; contacting you if it looks like a part will need replacing soon, or automatically booking service once your car clocks a certain number of miles.
All of these services can be hugely convenient for the end-user, and allow car manufacturers to offer a better service than they’d be able to if they couldn’t obtain information about your vehicle. All of these services are also completely reliant on M2M technology, which allows your car to send information to the processing computer.
2. Smart meters
Smart meters (sometimes called utility meters) allow you to track energy consumption in real-time. They also allow your energy provider to see how much energy you’re using, which means that:
- You know exactly how much it costs to keep the lights on
- Your energy provider can track fluctuations in power consumption, and manufacture power in more efficient ways
- You’ll never be surprised by a large bill
Smart meters also require M2M technology in order to function. They work by tracking your energy usage using a series of sensors, then transmit the information directly to your energy provider using a foolproof M2M network.
3. Smart asset tracking services
Asset tracking is an important concern for many businesses. Particularly businesses in the shipping industry and/or businesses with a large fleet of vehicles. Thanks to recent advances in M2M technology, businesses that need to track their assets can now do so using relatively inexpensive GPS trackers that are connected to an M2M network.
These GPS trackers allow the movement of vehicles to be tracked in real-time. They also allow companies to gather useful data about the fuel consumption, average trip times and driver performance, that can be used to improve the efficiency of journeys and processes.
4. Supply chain management (SCM) solutions
Modern supply chains can be very complex, and incredibly large. M2M technologies, including smart barcode scanners, RFID systems, automatic stock management systems, and GPS tracking help to keep these supply chains connected. They play a crucial role in allowing a business to track raw materials, stock and finished goods as they move through the manufacturing/retail process – providing companies with the data they need to refine their processes and remove the everyday roadblocks that eat into profit.
5. Wearable technologies
Another vital part of the Internet of Things (IoT), smartwatches, Fitbit and other ‘wearables’ make wide use of M2M technologies to send data about your physical activity, heart rate and other important metrics to your smartphone, as well as receive texts, push notifications and other communications about your day-to-day activity.
Generally speaking, a smartwatch or Fitbit will have a very limited processing power, which means that it relies on your smartphone’s CPU to do things like nudging you when you’ve walked a certain number of steps, or trigger an alarm when it’s time to head for the gym.
In fact, these devices are primarily a gateway between a wrist-mounted sensor, and your phone’s computing power, and while they generally use short-range, low-bandwidth technologies to communicate, they still show just how important M2M technologies have become.
At Top Connect, we’re focused on helping modern businesses to make effective use of M2M technologies. These M2M IoT examples are just a few of the ways in which this technology can improve efficiencies. If you are interested in learning about how M2M could improve your business, get in touch today.