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Machine to Machine Communication and Connected Reali
Technology - July 10, 2020
The term Connected Reality is used in popular culture to talk about a future where machines and humans are tightly integrated. In fact, the extent and depth of coexistence between human and machines is becoming greater every day. Machines augment, simplify and enhance our daily lives and they do that through a variety of ways. We are not going to cover all such areas in this blog; instead we are going to focus on one very specific domain which is actually driving the innovation in the field of connected reality. Before we unveil that specific domain, let us understand the role of communication.
Communication: The key to innovation
If we were to identify one area where machines have transformed our lives the most, then that area would be communication. There are three aspects of this communication. Let us look at them below:
1) How we communicate with one another
Our workplace, personal and societal productivity is greatly dependent on our communication i.e. how effectively we can communicate with one another. In old days when communication mediums were primitive and few, it used to take a lot of time to get even the simple things done. Wars were lost because a messenger was not able to deliver the commander's order on time and even simple day-to-day activities which we now take for granted were impossible during those days. With time, machines, driven by technology gave us tools such as computers and telephones and rapid advancements in these tools simplified our day to day lives. They did that by allowing us to better communicate with one another, irrespective of where we were in the world.
2) How we communicate with machines
We communicate with machines in a number of ways. In fact, we work with machines in getting our every day job done. Take computers as an example; almost every business in the world is run by computer applications and their efficacy is dependent on how we efficiently we communicate with these computer applications. Another example is Uber which allows us to call a cab to our home by communicating with our mobile phones.
3) How machines communicate with one another.
Machine to Machine communication (M2M) is a very interesting field of study. There are three key components involved in M2M technology-Wireless sensors, Internet and Personal computers. All these three components need to seamlessly integrate and work together to create an efficient M2M function. The core idea of M2M is to create a function with minimum or zero human intervention. One example is in automobiles where a car's microchip communicates with the engine of the car and lays down the procedure to operate under optimum fuel economy conditions. Another example is Formula 1 where race engineers use M2M communication to measure and monitor a car's performance during the race.
The third aspect of communication, M2M is the field of our discussion of this blog.
In this century, there has been great advancements in M2M technologies and this is slowly changing the way we live and the way we work. This interdependence is driving innovation and this innovation is spanned across various technological domains. Let us cover them one by one:
1) Sensors: The biggest area of innovation in Sensors is in the field of miniaturization. Advanced sensors are being used in more and more applications and industries, and they are being modeled to consume less and less power. This is enhancing the sensor complexities while at the same time reducing the power requirements. The second area is digitization i.e. the functionality of sensors is expanding from just collecting the data to interpreting the data. This is achieved by integrating advanced analytics into sensor technologies. The third area is sensor fusion which involves the need to capture multiple types of measurements in small packages. This is driving the development of multi-sensing elements.
2) Mobile Edge Computing: Mobile edge computing is developing as an alternative to Cloud computing. It is a decentralized form of computing infrastructure where computing, storage, control and networking applications are distributed in a more efficient manner between the Cloud and data source. Mobile Edge computing reduces the end to end delay. Juniper Research in its 2019 report estimated that by 2024, the total investment in Mobile Edge computing would reach $11.2 Billion from the present day $1.3 Billion. The growth will be driven by a demand to acquire real-time analysis of critical data for Edge computing, especially for industries such as manufacturing, asset tracking and transportation. The research also cited that developments in 5G technology will play a key part in Mobile Edge computing developments. This will be achieved by better connectivity with 5G technology. Innovations in Edge computing will also be driven by advancements in machine learning and AI-derived technologies.
3) 5G connectivity: 5G connectivity will greatly reduce the mobile latency by delivering super-fast wireless connectivity across devices and the paradigm of devices will expand aggressively as smart cities become a reality.
4) Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence is finally gaining rapid grounds with significant advancements in the field of machine learning (a branch of AI which is used to design predictive mathematical models). Now AI is used in used in all things, from chat bots to self-driving cars and AI is penetrating in every software application we develop and every device we use. The next decade is surely is going to be the age of AI.
5) Extended Reality: Extended reality too has been seeing new innovations lately. Extended reality combines display and wearable technologies to create breathtaking media experiences. The technology is not just confined to video gaming, it is seeing rapid adoption in sectors such as healthcare, tourism and real estate where technology is enabling people to make better decisions. In fact, in Healthcare alone, revenue from Extended reality is poised to reach $5B billion by 2025.
Applications of M2M technology
Machine to Machine communication (M2M) is the core technology driving automation and machinal efficiency. Some of the areas where we are already seeing application are factories, Identity and access industry, transportation payment system etc. Let us look at the key industries and the applications of M2M technologies in them:
a. Utility companies: M2M technology help utility companies to extract greater energy products such as oil, gas etc. For e.g. the remote sensors attached to the oil drilling plants can collect real time data about the volume of oil at a particular field and transmit that data back to the operating computer.
b. Traffic control: Modern Traffic control is another area which heavily relies on M2M technology. It collects data from sensors which determine the speed and volume of traffic and transmits the data to the traffic signal sites which helps in better traffic management.
c. Telemedicine: Wearables are becoming an essential part of medical technology and M2M is enabling better diagnosis and treatment from the data which is sent from these wearables to the medical professionals.
d. Inventory management: M2M technology can put active tags on products and in case of any theft, the real time data can alert the authorities.
e. Banking: Mobile payment is one of the definite applications of the M2M technology. M2M connects mobile system to the banking system and enables a secure and fast payment. In addition, by using M2M, banks can better monitor the cash available in the ATM's and refill when required.
Advantages of M2M technology
In order to understand the changes M2M is already bringing to our daily lives, let us look at the beverage vending machines. Earlier, vendors had to manually check the stock and then fill it accordingly. With M2M, the beverage machine gives a stock of its situation directly to the inventory management system. This is groundbreaking for logistics sector as a greater efficiency is achieved and manual intervention is reduced.
The driving force behind M2M technology is the low-cost, compact sensors which is making M2M more agile. In addition, these sensors run on considerably less power as compared to their predecessors.
Below are the key benefits we can realize from M2M technology:
1) Better control of machines
M2M facilitates complex workloads without the need of human hands. It not only enhances the operational efficiency but also reduces the probability of accidents caused due to human error.
2) Prevents Machine failures
Advanced sensors, placed in industrial plants can help detect any device or service failures. They can easily determine the condition of the machine and send appropriate reports that maintenance is required. This would prevent machine failures. In addition, these sensors can do predictive analysis and give a clearer picture on the health of the machine(s).
3) Continuous monitoring
M2M brings real time data to the picture and this enhances the productivity of both the device and the process running the operation. Real time data reduces human intervention and production costs.
The future with Machine to Machine communication
The advancements in M2M technology has been rapid. According to analysts, low powered, wide-area network connections is expected to reach 5 billion by 2022. 5G will be the biggest enabler of this transformation as it will greatly enhance device to device connectivity. Companies such as Verizon and AT&T are already working on their M2M platforms and firms such as Intel, Wipro and PCT are leading in terms of product innovation.
With time, the cost of M2M communication will decrease considerably and this will create an opportunity for both businesses and customers. Smart applications, driven by M2M and which are harnessing IoT to assimilate Big Data will drive our future.