What is M2M technology?

By | 3 minute read | October 20, 2016

Machine to machine technology

Since the advent of the internet, technology has transformed the way that we communicate; not only with each other, but with the world around us too. Today, the world is more connected than ever, thanks to M2M communication and the Internet of Things.

M2M literally means ‘Machine to Machine’. It describes the interaction of billions of devices and machines that are connected to the internet and to each other. These physical objects integrate computing capabilities that enable them to capture data about the world around them and share this with other connected devices, creating an intelligent network of ‘things’ or systems.

What this means is that machines can communicate and share information without the need for human interaction. Some processes that are time-consuming or dull can be automated, leaving people free to get on with more useful or enjoyable activities.

M2M in everyday life

M2M technology is all around us. It’s in our homes, on the commute to work, in the way that we shop, exercise and entertain ourselves. Here are just a few examples of M2M, or IoT technology that you might come across on a daily basis:

  • Commuting: if your train is cancelled due to poor weather, a smart alarm clock would determine the extra time you’ll need to take a different route, and wake you up early enough so that you’re not late for work.
  • Smart homes: a connected thermostat can automatically switch the heating on when room temperature falls below a certain point. You might also have a remote-locking system enabling you to open the door to a visitor via your smart phone if you’re not at home.
  • Health and fitness: wearable devices can track the number of steps you take in a day, monitor your heart beat and count calories to determine dietary patterns and work out whether you’re missing vital nutrients.
  • Shopping: based on your location, previous shopping experiences and personal preferences, your local supermarket could ping you a voucher for your favourite groceries when you’re in the area.

M2M in business

M2M drives considerable benefits for businesses too. Connected devices collect information about every point of business – from product development, manufacturing, supply chain right through to point of sale – which can be used to identify and eliminate points of inefficiency. Here are some examples:

  • Smart asset tracking: embedded sensors and GPS capabilities keep track of your assets. A fleet of connected delivery trucks could share their location, contents and state of repair.
  • Predictive maintenance: sensors on your equipment detect faults, order replacement components and schedule repair before the equipment breaks and causes costly downtime.
  • Product development: with M2M technology, product development can continue beyond a point of sale. A connected product could feed back information about its state of repair, and how it responds to continued usage, identifying strengths and weaknesses to help influence future production.

M2M in city infrastructure

  • Adaptive traffic management: connected cars can sense their location on the road, understand proximity to obstacles or other vehicles, and even share data about available parking spaces with other vehicles and traffic management teams. Sensor nodes placed in each parking space could send data to a real-time application in drivers’ cars via the cloud, letting drivers know where to find available spaces – easing congestion, and saving time and fuel.
  • Connected weather insights: The Personal Weather Station Network, part of IBM’s Weather Company solutions, provides hyperlocal forecasts to millions of people around the world. Multiple sensors detect barometric pressure, temperature, wind speed, humidity, in order to help governments and communities anticipate and act on developing weather conditions before it’s too late. Weather
  • Connected buildings: smart buildings capture information such as which sections of a building are most frequently occupied, helping to determine where energy use (lighting and heating, for example) can be reduced without adversely affecting the building’s occupants.

These are just some of the ways that M2M technology and the Internet of Things affect our daily lives. For lots more examples, inspiration and thoughts for the future, take a look at IBM’s Internet of Things blog.