M2M Creates New Opportunities

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With the rapid incorporation of technology into our daily lives, the adoption of Machine to Machine (M2M) communication has evolved over time. M2M is when machines or devices communicate with other machines or devices to pass information. In many cases these devices are connected to sensors that trigger and communicate the events that can then be acted on by other machines, applications, and/or by people. Although it seems like a simple concept, it involves a number of skilled experts and a significant amount of technical complexities on the back end.

M2M enables humans to interact intelligently with devices and vice versa, also devices with devices leading to a new level of collaboration and communication even in the most adverse climate surroundings. M2M has been rapidly adopted globally and is expected to continue to grow exponentially. Machina Research - a technology research and consulting firm recently estimated the number of M2M connections in the world to grow from 2 billion in 2011 to 18 billion by 2022. M2M is still at a development stage in India. According to industry experts, M2M in India can potentially see 200-300% year on year growth rates.

Why use M2M? With it, the possibilities are endless. The technology can be used to make life simpler, increase connectivity and create greater efficiencies and productivity in the business environment by measuring, analyzing and optimizing processes. Around the world applications have been developed in automotive, metering, remote management, industrial data collection, healthcare and home automation using the M2M technology.

Read: Asia-Pacific To Lead M2M Growth, Says Ovum

In India, M2M can enable increased efficiency with the distribution of the limited energy available. Smart grid solutions monitor the available supply of energy and extra energy generated through solar and water turbines. These manage the distribution of the energy to locations where power is required the most. The smart grid solutions can also enable to monitor and manage machines, charging equipment and switching them on and off as extra power is available during non peak hours, thus saving and managing energy.

More importantly, M2M can enable better patient care and management especially in rural areas in India. Leveraging GSM networks, doctors can track patient’s vitals in real time, share updates and even send reminders to take particular tests or medicines. Alternatively, M2M can help the 60 million caregivers worldwide who attend to more than 30 million individuals suffering from autism or Alzheimer’s disease to improve their independence and safety. GPS personal locator devices fitted with the M2M technology can help families monitor and locate members suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

M2M also helps in saving lives. The European Union, began an initiative called ‘eCall’ to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in an incident.The programme uses a GSM network and the M2M technology to automatically dial 112 in the event of a serious road incident and reliably communicate details such as timestamp of the incident, cause of activation, vehicle VIN number and GPS coordinates to the nearest emergency centre. The European Commission estimated in a report that eCall is expected to reduce emergency response times by 50 percent in rural areas and 40 percent in urban areas, saving countless lives as well as up to €14 billion in the EU 25 annually.

M2M also goes beyond enabling lives and businesses, by helping to save the environment. Tracking and tracing is not only limited to vehicles, but also in containing deforestation. As the Indian forestry officials are already struggling with the dwindling forest cover in the country, they can take cue from the Brazilian environmental protection agency to use M2M to track, trace and reduce illegal deforestationby installing solutions in trees located in active harvesting, which sends alarm notifications and exact location information to officials as soon as trees pass within 20 miles of a cellular network.

Going beyond influencing and enabling the daily lives of people, M2M also has applications across industries. In the shipping industry, M2M solutions allow tracking and tracing vehicles, goods shipments, employees, and mobile resources. In the transport industry, fleet owners can track and monitor the health of the vehicles. The use of M2M helps reduce costs, improve customer service, and increase productivity for drivers, while provide all relevant information of business processes in real-time.

Read: M2M Emerges As Major Growth Area For Mobile Operators

By allowing accurate information delivery in real time, M2M enables quicker decision making, greater efficiency and brings forth smarter processes. M2M has the potential to change and save lives while allowing firms to transit and start to focus on additional revenue streams by revolutionizing their business models.

Even with all the benefits M2M has to offer, the wider adoption of M2M is faced with challenges such as lack of standards at a global level, lack of interoperability, poor network coverage, data-privacy concerns and the lack of customer awareness. The government, network operators and enterprises that deploy the M2M technology need to work together to overcome these hurdles to allow end users to experience the M2M potential.