Following the North American wireless show CTIA at the end of May, there are growing signs of momentum in the machine-to-machine (M2M) market. Rethink Wireless reported: “we could definitely see signs of its real adoption”.
To get an industry perspective on this we invited a guest blog from Alan Woolhouse, Director of Weightless Marketing, to share his view on some of the driving applications in M2M and what it’s really going to take to realise this massive opportunity.
You don’t have to be at the forefront of technology to have been touched by the fundamental shifts in the way we are globally embracing Smart Cities, Smart Grid, Smart Meters, Big Data, M2M and the Internet of things.
These developments will continue to evolve way beyond what we can imagine today. But, at the start of 2013, it’s clear that we are already seeing themes and patterns coalesce, and models being deployed to realise the visions that have been building over the last few years.
2013, more than any other, is set to be the year we will start seeing the promises unfold into reality. We will see the early evolution of true Smart Cities across the globe with almost every country in the developed world announcing plans for at least one and in many cases several. Even in the developing world we will see multiple examples and interpretations of what a Smart City is and what it means to its citizens and commerce.
Smart Grid and Smart Metering are high on the agenda of every utility company worldwide, with the inevitable painful process of consumer acceptance dominating certain sectors of the media right now in the US – a good indication that the technology has moved convincingly from the laboratory into the real world.
All of these phenomena ultimately have one unifying factor. They require connection. Connections between the elements that make up the system whether they are a utility meter, a traffic light or a society, are the key to making intelligent systems work. There might be a hundred nodes (or terminals or edges depending on your industry) in any system that needs to be connected to make it intelligent. Once the infrastructure to connect multiple elements is in place the number of connections will accelerate rapidly until everything is connected.
What is the technology that will enable these connections to take place and what will hold it together? One thing is for sure, it will be wireless.
The sheer number of connections means that wired connections will simply not serve the needs of most systems and distance will often make traditional LANs inappropriate. There are many short-range technologies that come closer to the prices needed for commercially feasible machine communications applications, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and others.
These, however, do not provide the range and coverage needed for applications such as automotive, sensors, asset tracking, healthcare and many more. And there are long range solutions based on traditional telephony based technologies – 2G, 3G and LTE. But these are expensive and power hungry. What M2M needs is long range connectivity with the price and power consumption of LAN technology like Bluetooth low energy. This is where Weightless comes in – a new wireless standard, optimised for the Internet of Things and operating over white space spectrum, it has been developed from the ground up to support the specific requirements of machine communications.
photo credit: buggolo