You're not alone if you've never heard of the Internet of Things or M2M technology, but both probably play a significant role in your day-to-day life nonetheless. So, what exactly are IOT and M2M? And how is M2M specifically revolutionizing the world? By Jessica Salt (Writer, @thejessicasalt)
Although the Internet of Things, or IOT, sounds like a fairly new term, it's actually been in use since the late '90s. In a technological nutshell, IOT refers to the virtual representation of objects outside the digital world. In other words, IOT is a complex system that not only encompasses the technology, but also the physical objects that use this technology (for example, heart monitors, cars, stop lights etc.) and how data gathered from those objects is signified in a virtual space. Much of this involves, but is not limited to, using miniscule digital tags and other signifiers like QR codes, digital watermarking and even the humble barcode. If we all had a tag in reality, computers would be able to identify us and categorise us according to those tags. This, in essence, is what we mean by IOT.
The Scope of M2M
Closely related to the IOT is Machine-to-Machine technology (otherwise known as M2M), which relies completely on the digital world in terms of how it functions. M2M is basically what makes the wireless world turn by allowing both wireless and wired devices to communicate with one another. A perfect example of this is cellular phone technology. M2M is what makes smartphones "smart", giving them the ability to directly connect with one another without getting their signals crossed. The ease of access provided by ISPs like Clear Internet are changing the wireless landscape while also helping M2M revolutionize the way the world communicates.
M2M and the IOT: A Game Changer
Technology is all about making lives easier and more efficient, and that's exactly what M2M has been busily doing for at least two decades now. And nowhere are the positive effects of M2M more prevalent than in the realms of consumer products and healthcare. Here are three key ways that M2M technology is revolutionizing our world:
The Cutting-Edge Car Industry
Nobody likes getting into a fender bender, but with M2M technology, traffic accident response times are much quicker and a lot more accurate than they used to be. Think of machine number one as a car, and machine number two as the emergency response center's computer. When machine number one is in an accident, it instantaneously sends data to the machine number two describing the location and severity of the incident. This means that, thanks to M2M technology, police, paramedics and even insurance claims agents are called to the scene of an accident before it's even been reported. Without a doubt, M2M-ready cars will be commonplace in the not-so-distant future, heralding a safer future for all of us.
When M2M and the medical field join forces, the possibilities are endless. Outpatient heart monitors, pacemakers and even daily diabetes-testing devices are able to relay patient information directly to hospitals in real-time with M2M, saving a whole lot of time as well as the risk of human error. This means that not only can doctors keep more thorough records of their patients, but also that if an emergency does arise, the hospital will know about it as soon as the patient does and can act immediately to help.
M2M for the Home
Growing in popularity are home smart meters which use M2M technology to relay utilities information directly from the home to the utility company. Not only has this proven more efficient with electricity usage, but it also calls for less man-hours as well. Of course, these three examples are but a drop in the ocean when it comes to the scope of M2M and IOT. With the increasing interdependence of virtual and physical worlds, life and the way people live it are already that much easier.
Women 2.0 readers: What other uses do you think M2M could have in the future?
About the guest blogger: Jessica Salt is a dedicated young writer with big dreams. She obtained a Masters in Liberal Arts from UNC Asheville and now, after too many years of sub-par jobs, she's a full time writer. When not glued to her computer, you can find her outside riding her bike or playing with her Great Dane. Follow her @thejessicasalt.