In 2007, there were 500 million devices connected to the Internet. By 2020, that could reach 50 billion, according to networking giant Cisco. This is the so-called “Internet of things”. A web where machines dominate. Strictly speaking, the Internet of things is a subset of a much bigger phenomenon: A machine-to-machine (M2M) net of sensors, actuators and processors.
M2M communications uses a device, such as a sensor or meter, to capture information – like temperatures, inventory levels or location status. This is then relayed through a network to an application, which translates the captured event into meaningful information. For example: a security breach, or when items need to be restocked or an accident has occurred.
CapGemini estimates that the world M2M market will be worth €27.4 billion ($39.3 billion) by 2013. According to Vodafone, just the wireless traffic alone will be worth €8.9 billion. Many of these nets of sensors and processors already exist in closed loops, such as in cars. Connecting these nets to the broader internet using conventional internet protocol inspires new business models.
Take, for example, San Francisco-based company, Streetline, which uses sensors in parking bays to allow citizens to find inexpensive parking, fast. This technology helps cities manage their parking resources more efficiently, while simultaneously helping to reduce carbon emissions.
Barcelona-based WorldSensing, uses a similar technology. The firm developed the technology to form a vast network of tens of thousands of geophones to allow cheap and continuous monitoring of carbon capture fields or conduct oil exploration.
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