M2M: Renewed focus on machines communicating

Recently, buzzwords ‘M2M’ (machine-to-machine) and ‘Internet of Things’ have gotten increased attention, thanks to predominate media coverage from the likes of The New York Times and Read Write Web, and vocal support from large companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Cisco.

The concept is not new, it’s simply reached primetime. The “Machine” in M2M and the “Things” in the Internet of Things are the billions of devices that are currently deployed in hospitals, factories, power generation plants, businesses, stores, vehicles and others worldwide.

The growth is also seen with recent stats from Berg Research, which estimates that the number of wireless M2M connections will grow at an annual rate of 25.6 percent to reach 187.1 million connections in 2014. Network connectivity is being expanded with new technologies such as IEEE 802.11n, ensuring data safety with improved security protocols and improved business models enabled by lowering the cost of network access. This synergistic effect is now playing a key role in allowing devices to be connected to the Internet, to truly reap the rewards of M2M communications.

But the sheer volume of potential devices for connectivity isn’t the exciting part.  Nor is it the adding of ‘intelligence’ to these devices so they can be remotely managed and controlled. Most exciting, and important, is the end-result – the customer and end-user benefits derived from the secure transmission of vital information across networks for collection, analysis and decision-making.

For example, hospitals can now network-connect infusion pumps, which send information back to the hospital IT system, with pharmaceutical information validating the correct dosage levels for a particular patient. Consider industrial applications, where a technician can check on the status of a robotic welding machine no matter where in the world the equipment is located.

Whether we refer to it as M2M or the Internet of Things, or whether the solution calls for new levels of patient safety or keeping a factory floor running smoothly, high product quality and innovation support and drive the market’s renewed focus on network connectivity.