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article imageOp-Ed: Rogers backs M2M tech, MIT shows big picture

By Dan Verhaeghe     Jun 20, 2011 in Technology
If Research In Motion's freefall in mobile is any indication of how months are light-years in the always fast-moving telecom industry, let's look at what is likely coming in the next little while.
M2M Might Be The Hottest Trend In Telecom
One of the big takeaways from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few months ago in February was that machine-to-machine (M2M) applications were going to take off.
At Canada 3.0 in early May, Ericsson’s Head of Technology and Network Strategy Bob Gessel, said that there could be 50 million connected devices in the next three to five years.
A recent article by National Post writer Jamie Sturgeon quotes Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed in an interview: “The next [opportunity], for sure is going to be machine to machine”.
While Rogers announced a six-year deal with Hydro-Quebec to provide wireless monitoring of electricity usage, connecting up to 600 data-collection points, this is just one example of how a rapidly expanding machine to machine market will be used.
While the article concludes in saying that Mohamed expects the machine to machine market to generate meaningful revenue in the next three to five years, machine to machine technology goes well beyond just the telecom industry.
Machine to Product, Product to Product Communication
I recently highlighted Sifteo in my conference recap of InPlay2011 held by Interactive Ontario, but IGN writer Dana Jongewaard had the opportunity to interview Co-Founder and President David Merrill in an April article.
She explains how machine to machine technology in gaming works: “Sifteo software is hosted on your PC or Mac, and the computer then communicates with the cubes through a 2.4GHz dongle that you plug into your USB port. Games support anywhere from three to six cubes, and each of the individual cubes has a screen and contains a motion sensor and accelerometer. They communicate with each other wirelessly and can sense each other as well, so they'll react when you push them right up against each other versus just being in the vicinity of each other".
While Jongewaard dreams up more ideas such as virtual versions of games, she concludes in her feature:
“Sifteo cubes are an amazing idea, but the game industry has demonstrated time and again that interesting hardware without truly great software to capitalize on its uniqueness has a hard time moving beyond the gimmick phase. (Hi EyeToy, Kinect, Wii remote, PlayStation Move, and maybe 3DS!) Will Sifteo achieve its potential? I sure hope so”.
Perhaps Sifteo will achieve its potential as the telecom industry backs machine-to-machine communication, leaving for other visionaries to dream up ideas for their respective industries.
Back in the National Post article, Sturgeon continues: “The size of the M2M market in Canada is difficult to estimate, he says, but in Europe where its evolution is further along, $13-billion will be spent on hardware, services and network usage by the end of this year”.
Further Applications
Wouldn’t product to product and product to device communication open up a consumer marketplace where we run household objects off our smartphones and tablets?
We can already sync our iPads to our televisions to watch our favourite shows while we’re on the train or on a long road trip or just in the other room, as a recent Canadian radio campaign suggests that I’ve heard countless times.
That’s why interconnected devices and devices connected to products is such an amazing prospect with so much potential- except we have to think in terms of which wireless communication technology is best suited for the task at hand.
For example, near-field communication only has a three centimeter range, making it a touch-based technology most popularly for mobile payments, however Starbucks uses barcodes for payments as explained in a Mashable article. MIT's Technology Review suggests that since not every phone has NFC chips, that payments could be achieved through sounds.
Bluetooth communications have a much longer range of a few hundred metres, which would make some applications possible such as a smartphone or tablet controlled home in the power of the everyday consumer. The speed is increasing with new Bluetooth technologies like low-energy Bluetooth but consumers will also be able to use their in-home wireless Wi-Fi connection.
The big picture according to MIT’s Technology Review‘s June 2011 edition is phones that rule everything.
David Talbot says: “Of course, smart phones can also do things like load vehicle entertainment and navigation systems and control PCs, televisions, and printers in homes and offices. And with more than 450 million smart phones expected to reach consumers in 2011, these devices’ applications could evolve in ways we haven’t yet imagined”.
That of course, is the big question- what can we come up with next that’s beyond what’s already out there in these newer areas of interest?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about m2m tech, MIT perspective, Rogers, Mobile, machine to machine
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