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Should We Be Worried About Machine to Machine Communication?

17th April 2013
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terminatorWe’re at a stage in the technology revolution where it’s difficult to tell whether the idea of machine to machine communication (M2M) is genuinely creepy, or if we’ve all just been watching too many sci-fi movies.

If cinema classics such as the Terminator and The Matrix franchises are to be believed, encouraging too many advances in M2M may not bode well for the future of humanity. In the real world however, 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, and that’s expected to rise to $33 billion by the end of 2013.
 

From Fiction to Fact

And therein lies the rub. There are different levels of M2M and, in fact, this technology has been used in more basic forms for many years in technology engines and industry. We certainly don’t lose any sleep over the idea that our trusted automobile is about to spring into sentient life and try and terminate us in our sleep, yet a modern vehicle contains extensive M2M communication systems.

We’re talking about the more basic cause-and-effect or action-and-reaction style of communication which will play its role in the Internet of Things which we discussed last week. Firstly, let’s take a look at the underlying fundamental principles of how M2M works.
 

How it Works

The series of sequential events which allow machines to communicate with one another are as follows.
 



1. An event happens and is subsequently recorded by a sensor of some kind

2. The data recorded by the sensor is sent into a network

3. That data is read by software and becomes computerised information known as ‘telemetry’

4. This information is used by other computers (or machines) to react accordingly to the event
 

It seems like a relatively straightforward process and, in many respects, it is. Let’s take a look at each of the individual steps in a little more detail.
 

The Event

All around us 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 else.
 

The Network

The network could be wired, wireless or a hybrid of both. The network is the mode of communication used by one or more machines to transfer the data between one another. This is not new, wireless M2M was pioneered by Siemens in 1995.

The Translation

It’s easy for a human to look at a thermometer and understand that it’s around 37°. For the purposes 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.

The Action

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.

The Possibilities

A reduction in costs and increase in both quality and availability of the necessary technology to carry out Machine to Machine communication means we’re soon to enter the next phase of its evolution. Examples of this include applications such as:

  • 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.

It’s won’t be long before widespread adoption of M2M is experienced at the consumer level. This will have profound effects on our daily lives, many of which we cannot even envision yet.

The idea of smart homes and even cities will be a hot topic at the annual M2M conference being held in London this year, and the attendees will be the Who’s Who of global ICT companies.

Do We Need to Start Worrying?

For those who have indeed watched too much science fiction, or if you just have an overactive imagination, it’s worth noting that we probably have some time before we need to start worrying about the overthrow of the human race.

The reality of what makes a truly sentient being is still debated, and there is no indication that the answers are just round the corner. However, advanced M2M is likely to be a significant building block in the creation of a sentient artificial life form – if we ever get there.

At the LX Group we have 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 you – within your required time-frame and your budget. For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design. https://lx-group.com.au

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

LX GroupShould We Be Worried About Machine to Machine Communication?

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