M2M: What is it?

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What is M2M? According to Wikipedia, machine to machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same ability. M2M uses a device (such as a sensor or meter) to capture an event (such as temperature, inventory level) which 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 that need to be restocked).

With the expansion of IP networks across the globe such as Verizon’s global IP network, it is now easier than ever to transmit data between machines, and with this, comes a whole new world of business opportunities and connections for consumers that will help enhance their lifestyles.

In fact, experts predict that M2M applications will grow from tens of millions of connections today to more than 50 billion by 2020, further transforming business and changing lives in unimaginable ways.

So what does this actually mean in the real world? It could mean a lot of different things. Take, for example, how M2M is used today by Verizon. Whether helping healthcare providers monitor vital signs of patients remotely to improve healthcare management through our agreement with IDEAL LIFE and delivery or monitoring biometrics of athletes on the playing field through connected sports gear, Verizon is accelerating new forms of healthcare options and solving age-old industry challenges through this whole new world of M2M.

Another example, Verizon’s machine-to-machine connections play a key role in a sustainability initiative in Charlotte, N.C., called Envision Charlotte. The M2M connectivity over Verizon’s 4G LTE network helps gather water usage data from a network of devices to provide near real-time information to kiosks that allow building occupants to track the city’s conservation efforts.

Through the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass, Verizon is working with companies like Golden-i to develop capabilities for first responders. With a Golden-i device, Verizon’s M2M connections can help first responders to see through smoke, while letting command and control stations also see what’s happening on the front lines in an emergency situation.

And, through our acquisition of Hughes Telematics Inc. (HTI), Verizon will be at the forefront of the smart car transformation. With the HTI platform, cloud-based services – including video – can be delivered to the car. More than that, the car is also becoming integrated with a customer’s home security system, social networks, work calendar and mobile wallet – connecting them all into a seamless digital experience.

Over time, device intelligence and connectivity will continue to advance from mainframes to mobile devices like PDAs, cell phones, and cameras. This same intelligence and connectivity (M2M) in everyday machines is the next sensible step.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Verizon is currently presenting the Connected Technology Tour. This nationwide series of interactive seminars showcases the compelling benefits of M2M solutions. To see if it’s coming to a city near you, visit http://www.verizonenterprise.com/us/solutions/connected-machines/.

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