The basic need to monitor and surveil autonomously has been recognized for many years: As far back as 1992, an early MVNO carrier, Cellemetry, used excess control channel capacity on existing analog networks to monitor elements of the natural gas supply system.
Fast forward to today. M2M is now a much-anticipated set of products and applications with two key attributes:
1. Technology: Chip set-based sensors, ranging from simple low bandwidth devices to multiprocessors with high ( video scale) bandwidth demands. Key requirements include:
- Internet protocol addressable
- Terrestrial standard and/or WIFI/UMTS “XG” links
- Low power; a watt to milliwatts
- Environmentally stable (Temperature, humidity, vibration, magnetic field)
All of the above are now achievable in a low two digit cost package.
2. The application and Market: The M2M world is verticalized and the target addressable market is, even among the developed nations, measured in the 100s of millions. The following description of the markets and the required information processing need for M2M applications makes clear why the mobile cloud and overall cloud infrastructure are necessary for enabling M2M success.
Key verticals ones include:
These applications are driven by a number of factors, including the car manufacturers’ own business and legal regulatory compliance models. In addition there is the interest of the auto insurance industry in monitoring driver behavior, as well as the interests of a number of parties in sharing in the in-car infotainment market, as well as the perceived potential of driverless cars. In the case of North America and Europe alone this results in a mobility sensor market in excess of 22 million newly equipped vehicles by 2017. These are all mobile sensors with GPS. This is not even considering the global market leaders in Asia and non-EU eastern Europe.
Residential: Home security
AT&T has targeted the home security application as a key target market; they are one of dozens of players who are approaching home security, not from the old wired home model using telephone, or now VoIP lines, but with a multi-protocol, heterogeneous sensor model, with both wireless and terrestrial backhaul.
Health care: Multiple applications
We clearly identified the sensor and BANs (body area networks) in our commentary on “Patient Monitoring Mobile Cloud Apps and MBANs.” Once again, the applications/users are greater than the census in potential.
Government: security – Federal State local and private
While this area may be thought of as well-developed, the most pressing new development is the concept of large scale, pervasive robust (video, environment-aware, LBS-based) portable monitoring.
Utilities and critical infrastructure
This involves the implementation, per smart grid plans, of millions of wireless smart meters across the retail and wholesale grid and customer structure.
There are other large markets for M2M applications such as retail, POS and financial sectors as well.
M2M: The Mobile Cloud Imperative
The enabling aspect of cloud computing, and the mobile cloud, is understood by looking at what do these sensor networks and their users need:
A fourfold hierarchy will help in understanding.
A. These sensors generate a flow of raw data and depending on the sophistication of the sensor this can range from a simple – on/off – to a continuous with sound and location information, color video.
B. In all situations this raw data must be collected, or gathered. In addition it may need to be transcoded or mapped as the protocols or rules for its next stage on this journey
C. This collected data now needs some level of processing and or analysis
D. Finally, what inferences can we make from this analysis.
Step “A” is the work of the sensor; after that stage we require for these millions of devices and situations, the “Cloud”
Amazingly enough since adding GPS to these devices is a single digit cost, under 10 dollars, it is very likely cheaper to have a portable or mobile device – which you know where it is at all times, and can account for – than a non-portable one.
We expect a vast proliferation of applications/services for managing, analyzing and distributing data, including video, from M2M devices.
We estimate that there could be over 1 billion devices operating by 2017. These devices could range from under $20 in cost to over $1,000, depending on the criticality and value of the application. As the M2M market broadens out, we expect that what were viewed as industrial type products, will progress to becoming mass consumer electronics products over time.