Machine to machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been used interchangeably to refer to systems that appear to operate in a similar processes. However, there are fundamental differences between the two, which makes the interchangeable use erroneous. M2M communications, true to its name, refers to interactions between machines, with operators having access to inputs for re-configuring machines. IoT refers to machines that are connected to the internet, which will offer data to customers or clients which can be used for monitoring purposes and for making decisions with the shared information.
Role of data in the different ecosystems of M2M and IoT
M2M is more of a vertical application which meets internal demands, whereas IoT can be considered as one with overarching results or one with open-ended capabilities. Consequently, data is different and its use is different in IoT application development from M2M. The information that moves between machines has evolved considerably and with its convergence with AI, is bound to offer higher value to users. Data in IoT applications will find a more excellent use of analytics in the future, as developments make it possible for video analytics to empower machines to trigger responses and event-driven actions. The role of data has grown exponentially and as a proportion to the large volumes of data that is now being exchanged over networks. One of enables of this evolved communication is the ability of machines and devices to communicate across different communication standards. This ability to transfer information across different spectrum/connectivity options has reduced the latency levels, which permit real-time actions and responses.
Collation of data from virtually unlimited numbers of connected devices
At present, it is possible for IoT networks to collate data from almost unlimited amounts of connected devices across remote locations. One of the most common and immensely useful examples of use cases are GPS enabled navigation with inputs on traffic congestion. It is hard to imagine getting to some new place without a GPS navigation system that offers data on traffic congestion and re-routes the user through an alternate destination. This makes use of inputs from multiple devices and intelligent analytics of the speed of the vehicular movement to understand if the congestion is normal or highly abnormal. Similarly, usage of products to predict requirements and understand customer behavior is being used effectively to boost sales and trigger actions in supply chains. The use cases are growing by the minute as IoT application development are gradually spreading to various domains.
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Data used for industrial automation in combination with other technologies
IoT is a natural bedfellow with multiple technologies. Consequently, it finds widespread use as a combination with other techniques to offer solutions in the industry. Automation in the sector is one such area where data through IoT platforms helps unify communication across assembly lines. The exchange of data between machines and over the internet helps automate processes. Depending on the requirement, assembly lines will either speed up or slow down the processes or change the presentation of products.
The health of machines/assets can be monitored on a real-time basis. For instance, tractors on the field can communicate with the services centers and update technicians about the working condition or efficiency and the need for replacement of parts before the end of the duty cycle. This prevents the need for users to experience downtime as a result of a component failure. This combination has found widespread use to promote preventive maintenance.
Data exchange for elder care through wearable technology
IoT in healthcare has been touted as one of the most significant areas of change that IoT can bring about. Care for the elderly through wearable technology is just one of the many different uses that can be experienced. The use of wearable devices gives real-time updates on health/condition of patients by monitoring vital signs or other parameters to identify a potential risk or manifestation. This offers specific healthcare operations the ability to intervene in the shortest possible time that provides better outcomes. Remote monitoring of the health of patients will change the face of healthcare in developing countries, where a considerable gap exists between specialist medical professionals, facilities, and populations in remote locations. Connected diagnostics where data transmits parameters at predetermined times or when threshold values are crossed offer the hope to patients globally.
IoT and M2M will continue to change the quality of life and the workplace. As organizations take the plunge into operations that are automated, with repetitive tasks being taken over by machines, it will be all the more critical for IoT to work as a grid to connect all aspects seamlessly. Data will play the single most significant role in effectively communicating between devices and the internet or machines, transmitting crucial information. Without data, IoT and M2M will find no purpose, as the devices are a conduit for the data which is part of the solution.