Machine to machine
Machine to machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type. M2M is a broad term as it does not pinpoint specific wireless or wired networking, information and communications technology. This broad term is particularly used by business executives. M2M is considered an integral part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and brings several benefits to industry and business  in general as it has a wide range of applications such as industrial automation, logistics, Smart Grid, Smart Cities, health, defence etc. mostly for monitoring but also for control purposes.
M2M can include the case of industrial instrumentation - comprising a device (such as a sensor or meter) to capture an event (such as temperature, inventory level, etc.) that is relayed through a network (wireless, wired or hybrid) to an application (software program) that translates the captured event into meaningful information (for example, items need to be restocked). Such communication was originally accomplished by having a remote network of machines relay information back to a central hub for analysis, which would then be rerouted into a system like a personal computer.
However, modern M2M communication has expanded beyond a one-to-one connection and changed into a system of networks that transmits data to personal appliances. The expansion of IP networks across the world has made it far easier for M2M communication to take place and has lessened the amount of power and time necessary for information to be communicated between machines. These networks also allow an array of new business opportunities and connections between consumers and producers in terms of the products being sold.
M2M was originally used for automation and instrumentation but now has been also used to refer to telematics applications.
M2M has existed in different forms since the advent of computer networking automation and predates cellular communication. It has been utilized in applications such as telemetry, industrial, automation, SCADA.
While cellular is becoming more common, sizable numbers of machines still use land lines (POTS, DSL, cable) to connect to the IP network. The cellular M2M communications industry emerged in 1995 when Siemens set up a dedicated department inside its mobile phones business unit to develop and launch a GSM data module called “M1” based on the Siemens mobile phone S6 for M2M industrial applications, enabling machines to communicate over wireless networks. In October 2000, the modules department formed a separate business unit inside Siemens called "Wireless Modules" which in June 2008 became a standalone company called Cinterion Wireless Modules. The first M1 module was used for early point of sale (POS) terminals, in vehicle telematics, remote monitoring and tracking and tracing applications. M2M technology was first embraced by early implementers such as GM and Hughes Electronics Corporation who realized the benefits and future potential of the technology. By 1997, M2M wireless technology became more prevalent and sophisticated as ruggedized modules were developed and launched for the specific needs of different vertical markets such as automotive telematics. Today, M2M data modules are extremely sophisticated and come with an array of features and capabilities such as onboard global positioning (GPS) technology, flexible land grid array surface mounting, embedded M2M optimized smart cards (like phone SIMs) known as MIMs or M2M identification modules, and embedded Java, an important enabling technology to accelerate the Internet of Things (IOT). Another example of an early use is OnStar's system of communication.
The hardware components of a machine to machine network are manufactured by a few key players. In 1998, Quake Global started designing and manufacturing M2M satellite and terrestrial modems. Initially relying heavily on ORBCOMM network for its satellite communication services, Quake Global expanded its telecommunication product offerings by engaging both satellite and terrestrial networks, which gave Quake Global an edge in offering network agnostic products.
In 2004, Digi International began producing wireless gateways and routers. Shortly after in 2006, Digi purchased Max Stream, the manufacturer of XBee radios. These hardware components allowed users to connect machines no matter how remote their location. Since then, Digi has partnered with several companies to connect hundreds of thousands of devices around the world.
In 2009, AT&T and Jasper Wireless entered into an agreement to support the creation of M2M devices jointly. They have stated that they will be trying to drive further connectivity between consumer electronics and M2M wireless networks, which would create a boost in speed and overall power of such devices. 2009 also saw the introduction of real-time management of GSM and CDMA network services for M2M applications with the launch of the PRiSMPro™ Platform from M2M network provider KORE Telematics. The platform focused on making multi-network management a critical component for efficiency improvements and cost-savings in M2M device and network usage. Also in 2009, the Norwegian incumbent Telenor concluded ten years of M2M research by setting up two entities serving the upper (services) and lower (connectivity) parts of the value-chain. Telenor Connexion in Sweden draws on Vodafone's former research capabilities in subsidy Europolitan and is a market leader in Europe's market for services across such typical markets as logistics, fleet management, car safety, healthcare, and smart metering of electricity consumption. Telenor Objects has a similar role supplying connectivity to M2M networks across Europe. Telefonica set up a business branch of Telefónica Digital specialized in M2M with global solutions for managed connectivity, transport and utilities and sustainability  In the UK, Business MVNO Abica, commenced trials with Telehealth and Telecare applications which required secure data transit via Private APN and HSPA+ connectivity.
In early 2010 in the U.S., AT&T, KPN, Rogers, Telcel / America Movil and Jasper Wireless began to work together in the creation of a M2M site, which will serve as a hub for developers in the field of M2M communication electronics. In February 2010, Vodafone, Verizon Wireless and nPhase (a joint partnership of Qualcomm and Verizon) announced their strategic alliance to provide global M2M solutions that would offer their customers an easy way to roll out M2M solutions across Europe and the US. In March 2010, Sprint and Axeda Corporation announced their strategic alliance for global M2M solutions. In January 2011, Aeris Communications, Inc. announced that it is providing M2M telematics services for Hyundai Motor Corporation. Partnerships like these make it easier, faster and more cost-efficient for businesses to use M2M. In June 2010, mobile messaging operator tyntec announced the availability of its high-reliability SMS services for M2M applications.
In March 2011, M2M network service provider KORE Wireless teamed with Vodafone Group and Iridium Communications Inc., respectively, to make KORE Global Connect network services available via cellular and satellite connectivity in more than 180 countries, with a single point for billing, support, logistics and relationship management. Later that year, KORE acquired Australia-based Mach Communications Pty Ltd. in response to increased M2M demand within Asia-Pacific markets.
In April 2011, Ericsson Acquires M2M Platform Telenor Connexion's machine-to-machine (M2M) platform, in an effort to get more technology and know-how in the growing sector. 
In August 2011, Ericsson announced that they have successfully completed the asset purchase agreement to acquire Telenor Connexion’s M2M (machine-to-machine) technology platform. 
Cloud connectivity is becoming a significant piece of the M2M Solution as cellular and wireless connection speeds increase. M2M solutions providers now offer Platforms as a Service (PaaS), which simplify machine networks by allowing users to manage deployments remotely. Device Cloud by Etherios is a PaaS that can integrated into the Salesforce platform and offers API's that can be used to develop a custom application.
According to the independent wireless analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of cellular network connections worldwide used for M2M communication was 47.7 million in 2008. The company forecasts that the number of M2M connections will grow to 187 million by 2014.
A research study from the E-Plus Group shows that in 2010 2.3 million M2M smart cards will be in the German market. According to the study, this figure will rise in 2013 to over 5 million smart cards. The main growth driver is segment “tracking and tracing” with an expected average growth rate of 30 percent. The fastest growing M2M segment in Germany, with an average annual growth of 47 percent, will be the consumer electronics segment.
In May 2013, M2M network service providers KORE Telematics, Oracle, Deutsche Telekom, Digi International, ORBCOMM and Telit formed the International M2M Council (IMC). The first trade organization to service the entire M2M ecosystem, the IMC aims at making M2M ubiquitous by helping companies instill and manage the communication between machines.
Wireless networks that are all interconnected can serve to improve production and efficiency in various areas, including machinery that works on building cars and on letting the developers of products know when certain products need to be taken in for maintenance and for what reason. Such information serves to streamline products that consumers buy and works to keep them all working at highest efficiency.
Another application is to use wireless technology to monitor systems, such as utility meters. This would allow the owner of the meter to know if certain elements have been tampered with, which serves as a quality method to stop fraud. In Quebec, Rogers will connect Hydro Quebec's central system with up to 600 Smart Meter collectors, which aggregate data relayed from the province's 3.8-million Smart Meters. In the UK, Telefonica won on a €1.78 billion ($2.4 billion) smart-meter contract to provide connectivity services over a period of 15 years in the central and southern regions of the country. The contract is the industry’s biggest deal yet.
A third application is to use wireless networks to update digital billboards. This allows advertisers to display different messages based on time of day or day-of-week, and allows quick global changes for messages, such as pricing changes for gasoline.
Telematics and in-vehicle entertainment is an area of focus for M2M developers. Recent examples include Ford Motor Company, which has teamed with AT&T to wirelessly connect Ford Focus Electric with an embedded wireless connection and dedicated app that includes the ability for the owner to monitor and control vehicle charge settings, plan single- or multiple-stop journeys, locate charging stations, pre-heat or cool the car. In 2011, Audi partnered with T-Mobile and RACO Wireless to offer Audi Connect. Audi Connect allows users access to news, weather, and fuel prices while turning the vehicle into a secure mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing passengers access to the Internet.
Open M2M initiatives
- Eclipse M2M Industry Working Group (open communication protocols, tools, and frameworks), the umbrella of various projects:
- ITU-T Focus Group M2M (global standardization initiative for a common M2M service layer)
- TIA TR-50 Engineering Committee (convergence layer standardization initiative)
- BITXML (protocol)
- M2MXML (protocol)
- COOS Project (connectivity initiative)
- Weightless (wireless communications) - standard group focusing on using TV 'white space' for M2M
- XMPP (Jabber) protocol
- SMIP by UK Govt
- Process Driven Messaging Service
- Universal gateway
- Protocol converter
- Plant floor communication
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- M2M World News - World news from the Machine-to-Machine industry, updated every day
- White Space Networks and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Services at Oxford University
- M2M Telefônica - M2M from Communication Service Provider perspective
- All about M2M - Blog from Deutsche Telekom about M2M
- M2M Now Magazine - Machine-to-Machine blog and expert opinions