Gartner believes the average family home will contain 500 smart devices by 2022. This drive to put machine-to-machine (M2M) intelligence inside everything means we’re experiencing a wave of interesting and unusual applications that hint at the disruptive effect of M2M.
Apple invested in fashion industry expertise to help development of the Apple Watch, but fashion isn’t blind to the M2M opportunity. Ralph Lauren recently introduced its range of Polo Tech shirts, which carry sensors to transmit biometric data to a mobile device. He’s not alone, Tory Burch recently introduced a range of designer jewelry equipped with Fitbit technology to track steps, calories and sleep cycles. As clothes become smarter the nature of M2M becomes increasingly personal.
M2M is not confined to consumer markets: health, agriculture, fleet management and industry are all feeling the effect. Those TetraPak containers you get your food in are manufactured in factories equipped with M2M monitoring systems that assess product quality. Equipment builder M.W. Waldrop told Washington Post: "Almost every piece of equipment we build has data-gathering capabilities from the plant floor to the engineering desk.” M2M is improving cost, efficiency and quality control as it is deployed in industry.
Newark Liberty International Airport has a smart LED lighting system, but the lights aren’t just for illumination, but also for airport management security and control. They form part of a Sensity Systems designed wireless sensor network monitoring events at the terminal. The system will spot queues, recognize license plates and identify suspicious behavior. In future the tech will be able to pinpoint gunshots, warn of earthquakes or spot attempted car thefts. Such systems are emerging in smart cities worldwide, with huge implications on urban environments.
let there be light
The connected Alba by Stack LED light is more than just an adjustable lamp you can control with your smartphone, it’s also a system that autonomously learns what you do and how much light you need. Eventually the system will be able to predict when you want the lights to be bright or dimmed. Presence detection means the lights will illuminate when you enter the room and the bulbs are also equipped with Bluetooth, Zigbee and iBeacon sensors. M2M means home or office lighting systems will autonomously respond to events and learn to deliver exactly what you need when you need them too.
Winner of the CES 2014 Innovation Award and designed in France, the Sense Mother uses sensors (called Cookies) and a hub to help keep your home life under control. Mother is equipped to monitor certain things – where people are, how long they brush their teeth, and to advise on desired behavior: tracking exercise, water and/or calorie intake, or whether you’ve taken your pills. You control the system using a mobile app and the sensors, which adapt to each new use you require. This is the secret of M2M in one product – disparate products and services that work together to positively augment your existence.
Jon Evans is highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men’s interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.