Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the Internet of Things are often talked about as a vision for the future. Imagine a future where billions of devices and machines of all kinds will communicate with each other, automate tasks, enrich our lives, and create big-time business benefits. The Internet of Things is actually more of a reality today than you may realize and is already improving lives in important ways – and in ways that you might not expect.
The Internet of Things is already helping to thwart illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. M2M technology, paired with local cellular networks, notifies authorities of illegal logging activity through M2M sensors placed in the trees within protected areas. If a tree is cut and moved, the sensor sends a text message notifying law enforcement of its GPS location, allowing officials to remotely track the loggers to a sawmill. Brazilian environmental protection agency IBAMA agents can respond in real time, preventing the sale and profit from illegally harvested lumber.
Another interesting example of how the Internet of Things is making a difference for those in need today is our secure program that uses M2M technology to locate patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In this case, M2M powers a GPS Personal Locator Device (PLD) found inside a very easy-to-wear wristwatch. The device helps caregivers locate and safeguard people with special needs while minimizing the need for constant physical supervision.
What about staying connected anywhere, all the time – from your car? Today Audi is doing just that with its enhanced M2M “Audi connect” services. The embedded LTE infotainment system allows both drivers and passengers to connect as many as eight phones, laptop and/or tablets at extremely high speeds while on the go, simultaneously use voice and data services, use improved navigation features, and even stream video content.
With various industry experts predicting as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020, these examples provide only a glimpse at the opportunities that M2M and the Internet of Things can provide. One thing is for sure – the Internet of Things is here to stay, as are the positive impacts it is having on our lives, our planet, and our relationships with others.