The M2M World Congress 2015 was held in the Grand Hall of the Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London on 28-29 April, featuring exciting keynote speakers from prominent industry stalwarts, albeit across a range of core and peripheral “embedded” industries, unavoidably heavily influenced by the exponential growth of IoT and M2M technology we’re seeing today.
Now entering its fifth year, the conference pulls together international organisations developing and innovating in M2M applications, covering both M2M communications network infrastructure providers and end users of M2M services/products, both commercial and industrial.
The conference not only considers the technological opportunities M2M technology brings, it also encompasses the impact and challenges of deploying M2M technology across the globe.
The possibilities of M2M technology in emerging markets was the key focus for Angel David Garcia Barrio, VP of M2M at the ETISALAT Group. Presenting the stark contrast in M2M supporting infrastructure between two developed and developing world extremes. Evidently, the challenges in deploying such technology to developing world locations are invariably not about upgrading the infrastructure, often it’s building it from scratch simultaneous to any kind of connected deployment. Clearly the developed world’s pricing mantra (we charge what people will pay) will need serious reconsideration.
Adapting developed world connected services to developing countries is of course key. Support for multiple languages even within relatively small locales and adherence to often wildly different regulation is unavoidable and is a challenge many in the developed world are not au fait with.
Beyond devices connecting to each other, Neil Postlethwaite, PLM of IoT at IBM is primarily concerned with how they connect to the cloud and the future of the cloud connectivity methodology. IBM recently launched a separate business unit specifically dedicated to the deployment of IoT technology, including Asset Management, Continuous Integration and Predictive Maintenance. He described how today, flights (on average) suffer from far less turbulence due to connected weather monitoring equipment in the cabin that enables the pilot to dynamically alter course to ensure the optimum flight path to avoid unattractive atmospheric conditions – a real world example that is quite literally in the cloud!
IBM’s IoT foundation service is designed simply to get devices connected, without massive cost overhead at the conceptual and proof of concept stages. Their BlueMix portal combines protocol and software services, all with a free tier – to act as a marketplace to support developers at both ends of the spectrum.
As Neil appropriately closed with “Nobody can deploy IoT by themselves”, subsequent keynote speakers describes those challenges and opportunities through mutual collaborations that are taking shape. Global partnerships of prominent technology companies, particularly in the telecommunications space, are driving infrastructure forward. Notably in the Asian market, predictions state the majority of IoT type connected device will exist and infrastructure varies between that significantly ahead of the UK (South Korea has 92 percent 4G coverage compared to 20 percent in the UK) versus vast areas in Asia far away from cities where the connected infrastructure is practically non-existent.
When we talk about infrastructure, particularly where it is lacking in remote areas, we tend to consider physically connected communications. The possibilities with LTE, offering near 100 Mbps bandwidth with 5 ms latency allow such locations to skip the wired connected phase and make this huge connectivity leap relatively overnight. Though the hurdle of local tax authorities, where mass deployments of such connected devices can be met with litigation threats due to local sim card taxes, can stifle such innovation and prevent bringing this technology to those who will benefit most.
50 billion connected devices is now the prediction for 2020, the exponential rise a consequence of the beginning of the end of “phase 1″ thinking (connecting existing electronic devices) and thought-leading in how currently non-electronic and mechanical devices can benefit from the connected future.
The emerging “smart” home of course cannot be ignored; the key question remains “By what interface does the human control these elements?” Controlling by smartphone seemed ingenious, but the reality is the inconvenience of locating, unlocking, and navigating to the appropriate app is untenable to replace functions currently instant, e.g., a light switch. Consumer hesitance based on perception of high costs and poorly defined standards preventing central control are challenges the industry must address.
Expect the M2M World Congress to gain popularity rapidly year on year as the true value of this technology is appreciated by a wider audience than ever before.