refers to data communications between
machines. M2M is most commonly translated as Machine-to-Machine but
has sometimes been translated as Man-to-Machine, Machine-to-Man,
Machine-to-Mobile and Mobile-to-Machine. Among cellular telephone
service providers, M2M means Mobile-to-Mobile, and is used to
describe calls that do not involve land lines. Like all evolving
technologies, its definition continues to evolve, but it generally
refers to telemetry
that is accomplished using networks,
especially public wireless networks.
In the past, telemetry systems were the exclusive domain of very
large well financed organizations. NASA used
telemetry extensively from the very beginning of the space program
and which was probably one of the first applications.
oil and gas companies and electric utilities, through the use of
extensive customer built dedicated data networks, were a couple of
the first private organizations to use telemetry.
M2M can also mean the family of sensors, middleware, software and
applications that help improve efficiency and quality by tying
together a myriad of sensors with mission critical applications
like asset management, ERP, and CRM.
In recent years, the cost of access to public wireless data
, etc.) has been dropping while the
capabilities of these networks continue to increase. M2M generally
refers to technology that leverages these networks to bring
telemetry to a much wider audience. In addition, M2M sometimes
refers to similar leveraging of the internet. In this case, the
term is more or less equivalent to another term, Pervasive Internet
As the scope of M2M has evolved, other terms like Machine to Human
(M2H) and Machine to Enterprise (M2E) are starting to emerge to
segment the pervasive nature of the M2M term. The M2M device,
software, network, and service market is expected to grow rapidly
world wide between now and 2010. Some estimates suggest the 2010
world market may exceed $300B in annual revenue. Where as there are
some half billion computers in the world and over one and a half
billion cell phones & PDAs, it is estimated there are more than
38 billion other electronic devices that have information perhaps
relevant to improving an enterprises operation. The M2M market
strives to connect these devices to corporations, governments and
The key pieces of a typical M2M system include:
- A device or group of devices capable of replying to requests
for data contained within those devices or capable of transmitting
data contained within those devices autonomously.
- A communications link to connect the device or group of devices
to a computer server or another device.
- A software agent, process, or interface by which the data can
be analyzed, reported, and/or acted upon.
- Software Intelligence.
Often, M2M systems are task-specific, meaning, a given system is
purpose-built for just one specific device, or a very restricted
class of devices in an industry. This is one of the indicators of
the M2M market still being in its infancy, as a unified
intercommunication standard has yet to evolve. Functions are
duplicated -- each purpose-built system repeats many functions
already implemented in similar systems.
For business applications, the M2M (or M2E) marketplace does not
yet enjoy a unifying set of standards or even a dominant vendor,
limiting the scale and breadth of such applications. In most recent
times wireless operators such as Vodafone 
have incorporated M2M offerings to the
industry. Applications of this technology using wireless networks
can offer broader flexibility over other types of connection.
Enterprise Infrastructure Management
- Ability of the M2M solution to interoperate with existing
management systems as well as the entire M2M value chain.
- Increase data center reliability by connecting all the IT and
building automation system assets. Integrate them into a single
universal data log. Leverage data log to evaluate trouble
conditions that are interrelated between disparate subsystems.
- Assure COBIT/ITIL
compliance by tying data center operational process with the
specific IT and non IT devices that are managed by the process.
Validate that employees are meeting service level agreements by
responding in a timely and effective manner.
Oil and gas
- A manufacturer of instrumentation for producing well sites may
use M2M to enable its customers to remotely collect data on flow
rates, pressures, temperatures, tank levels and equipment status as
an alternative to manual, on-site data collection.
- A manufacturer of injection pumps for producing wells may use
M2M to give its customers a means to adjust the pump operation
remotely in response to well and weather conditions as an
alternative to on-site adjustment.
- A manufacturer of machinery for preparing shipping packages may
use M2M to remotely monitor its equipment to detect problems before
they result in failures, to schedule optimal preventive
maintenance, and to track consumption of packaging chemicals as an
alternative to manual inspection by its field service technicians
or the customer's equipment operators.
- A building operator can use M2M to monitor equipment operation,
energy use and maintenance. This data can then be used to optimize
operations and reduce energy costs.
- Wirelessly monitor the status of portable fire extinguishers
throughout a campus. Eliminate the need to manually verify pressure
gauge, while also being alerted if the extinguisher is
- A system integrator may use M2M as part of a system to retrofit
roadside signs with a means to remotely add federally mandated
emergency alerts and Amber Alerts to multiple signs at the same
time as an alternative to manually programming signs on-site.
- A classic example of this is the OnStar
system provided by General Motors. An
onboard sensor will notify OnStar when there is a problem with the
vehicle - e.g. an accident, a system failure. These systems are
becoming common in most high end cars.
- Supply chain - On board sensors in the cold chain (supply chain
for frozen foods) can monitor the
temperature of produce/frozen goods as it is being transported. The
onboard M2M sensors send in the temperature data and notify the
user when they go out of bound.
- A system integrator may use M2M to collect data from remote
diagnostic equipment in a patient's home (i.e., blood pressure, weight, glucose level) or using a mobile device as an
alternative to the patient visiting a medical facility or a medical
paraprofessional visiting the patient in his home.
- Increasingly used as an early warning mechanism to monitor
larger medical devices such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging units and
- A manufacturer of security systems may use a network of
interconnected sensors to generate alarms to
notify proper authority of system breach. Such verifiable systems
may help insurers to provide competitive policies.
- Car insurance are using GPS and the wireless network to
determine the actual position of the car and to offer a
- M2M systems can be used to control embedded vehicle controllers
wirelessly. For example, they could be used for monitoring the
vehicle fleet conducting ground operations at an airport, giving
the control tower advanced monitoring and GIS capabilities,
including remote shut-down of vehicles in case of emergency.
Time and Attendance
- M2M systems can be used for a large, distributed Time and
Attendance System. An entire chain of stores could easily integrate
data from all of its retail locations, warehouses and management HQ
to produce payroll reports and analyze employee efficiency.
- Another possible use is to deploy a large grid of sensors.
Instead of working with each sensor as a stand-alone component, an
M2M system would allow the operators to perform complex batch
polling operations and analyze physical conditions on a wider
scale, and within a shorter time frame.
- "Smart" vending machines are
gradually appearing. These are vending machines which accept credit
cards, and report back to their operations center with their
current stock and any malfunctions. Since vending machines are so
widely distributed, creating an M2M network of such machines vastly
increases operator efficiency.
- A "Smart Home" is a building in which computerized HVAC, access
control and other system has been installed. M2M allows such a home
to work as one concerted "machine", rather than a collection of
- In a further take on the sensor network scenario, an M2M system
could be used for a comprehensive security system. Not only could
you locate activity in a specific sensor, but the system could
trigger a business rule as a result, and direct a camera towards
the location of that sensor.
Due to the duplication of functions in many such M2M systems, a
unifying trend has recently started taking shape. Some systems have
been created which are aimed at reducing the duplication of
functions across similar systems. This can be seen as an attempt to
standardize the burgeoning M2M market by introducing open
Open M2M Protocols