When good technology is used to do terrible things

When I wrote my original Explaining M2M at Dinner Parties blog post, I did it partly as a way to explain to my own family what I did for a living.  Many of them never really could comprehend it (even after over 15 years of doing this), and it seemed to help keep them from asking me questions about what cell phone to use: C'mon, you work in the phone space – what should I use, a Samsung or a Motorola Android?"  For the record, I have no idea which one is better!

What I did not expect was the popularity of that post.  With 125+ shares from the post itself, it was also picked up by a number of different technology services resulting in a big traffic spike to our blog.  It also sparked more emails than any other post with people telling them how it helped them explain what they do to family and friends, and I am glad to have helped. The original post listed the following examples:

- Power meters at your home
- Police cars
- Oil well monitoring
- Point of Sale backup

One of the requests that I received was to list more examples.....so, by request, here are a few more examples that you can use to explain M2M at dinner parties.

Unlocking your car

As most know, it’s now quite common for vehicles to be equipped with cellular and/or satellite technology. This M2M technology allows for on-board diagnostic information to be sent to your dealership or automobile manufacturer.  It’s also how they can keep track of your specific usage and in some cases, alert you regarding ideal service scheduling based on real-time usage.  As well, they use this data to be able to properly assess the design of their vehicles (many recalls are done prior to a large amount of failures as companies can see trends happening before major failures happen).  All in all, this has resulted in better built cars with less long-term issues.

The cool magic trick that one reader referenced is the ability to unlock a car door remotely. I have actually had this done with a rental car and it saved my day. Despite the fact that my Dad calls it magical, it really is only an output sensor that sends an alert to unlock the door. 

Traffic pattern monitoring

Whether it’s done using wired or wireless technology, M2M solutions are changing your commute to work in the morning (well, maybe not my commute since I work at home....maybe they can get the cat to move off the stairs so I don't have to go around her with a hot coffee in my hands). It’s really quite simple – sensors are used to monitor the traffic through a variety of parameters (such as speed of the average vehicle, volume of traffic past certain points and even the type of vehicles that are using the road based on the number of axles per vehicle).  This information is fed into complex systems that allow for such optimization as the changing of traffic light patterns and the frequency that cars are let onto the highway from on-ramps in real time.  These systems use real-time data combined with historical data. That data can then be combined with special event data (such as parade routes, extra traffic from events like baseball games as well as planned or unplanned road closures) to help optimize traffic flow.  They are also used to provide better real-time information for radio stations, as well as billboard signs to help you avoid unnecessary traffic jams.  Maybe one day, they will do something about that cat....

Automated parking alerts

Again, my Dad thinks this is magic...."How do they know exactly how many spots are available?"  Well, while it is kind of cool, it definitely isn't magic.  Once again, it’s sensors to the rescue as they are used to monitor the usage of parking spots.  This can be through a variety of ways, from weight sensors to proximity sensors to infrared sensors.  Regardless of how it is done, the sensors are able to detect the difference between a shopping cart versus a car. This means they are accurately able to tell you how many spots are being used and how many are available.  To prevent you from unnecessarily going down a row that has no available spots, they are also offering visual indicators such as an "X" when the spot is occupied and a "checkmark" where they are not. In fact, Audi just announced a software update that equips Connect-enabled cars with parking recommendations. Now, if someone can just figure out a way to keep shopping carts from dinging my car, I will be truly happy!

Keeping the BBQ tank full

On my BBQ tank, there is an indicator as to how full the tank is, based on 1/4 increments.  While this basic gauge on its own doesn't necessarily make up an M2M solution, many storage tanks around the world are using gauges such as these in combination with a cellular or radio device to transmit the levels of fluids inside.  By having a more accurate guide as to the level inside of all remote tanks, companies can optimize the fill-up of tanks.  This enables them to better respond to changes in usage patterns (eliminating both empty tanks and the unnecessary cost of visiting a location where the tank is still full).  It’s ultimately changing the fields of propane delivery, chemical storage, remote water tanks, diesel delivery and much more.  Now, maybe I should look at an M2M solution to prevent me from burning my salmon on the BBQ....

Bottom line

M2M solutions are all around us and this trend is likely for a long time.  Feel free to drop me a note with any other great examples that you may use. 

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection.  You can visit our website at www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@) novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).