Not sure about you, but I find that I do some of my best thinking trying to kill time during all of the tedious steps involved in flying. I wonder how much faster Edison would have discovered the light bulb if he had to stand in line to board planes a couple of times a month?
During this inevitable time of boredom, I started to think.....As the costs of all aspects of M2M continue to fall (from airtime to hardware), and the level of usability picks up (some consumer-based M2M solutions are about as easy to set up as a tablet), how much COULD our space grow? .... How many aspects of our life could M2M finds its way into?
Rather than speculating what things M2M might monitor in the future (not sure I want to speculate if a diaper will generate a message to signify a weight change anytime soon), I wanted to look at what pieces needed to fall in place for M2M's growth to truly go ballistic.....I don't mean growing by a couple of billion connections, I mean what would need to take place for us to meet Ericsson's wild projection of 50B connections in the near future.
Sensors need to continue to get better
For M2M to truly be used in all areas of a home (such as in the garden for irrigation needs, in the attic to detect wind and yes, even in the little one's diaper), they need to improve in a few ways:
They need to get smaller, cheaper and lighter Right now, most consumer grade sensors (especially the ones that require a power source) are too expensive for very wide mass adoption. We need to find ways to reduce the size, and continue to reduce the weight (so that they may be used in a greater amount of applications).
They need to become easier to work with Today, most available sensors are pretty smart, and they really have come a long way in terms of how difficult they are to install and setup. However, they have to continue to improve, even going as far as to self-calibrate and automatically detect connections.
They need to become less expensive Like most technologies, the cost of sensors has fallen dramatically. However, they will need to fall much more for us to see them in as many devices as we could see them in. With the cost of a toaster falling under $15, reliable sensors costing more than pennies may be too much of a burden to the COGS.
We need to get a gateway-like product in everyone's home, car and office
Most offices have some sort of routing appliance, and that is also true for many homes now. However, these devices specialize in providing an IP-based connection for devices, not so much in interacting/managing them. Using the toaster as an example, the toaster will be able to easily send a notification saying that you are about to burn your treasured morning blueberry bagel, but who generates that message to your phone (or some other notification method)? Today, there are some great gateway products that can do this, but for the market to truly grow, this functionality needs to be built into commonly used routers that people would likely buy anyways. As for the car, there is a lot of intelligence built into today's automobiles. It wouldn't take a lot to tie in notifications from your home to your car, if you chose not to have your phone take the message.
We need to standardize
Ok, I will keep this short. You only need to read a few of my blog posts to know where I stand on this. However, if a common platform/protocol is required for business applications, it will be many times more important in the world of consumer electronics.
We need more consumer-based M2M cloud services
For most consumers, they are bombarded by information being sent to and from the cloud, and you may not even know it. From email services like Gmail to social media sites like Facebook to free online storage/file sharing sites like DropBox, consumers are using Cloud-based services more than ever. We need to start seeing a proliferation of M2M services......Need to monitor the temperature of your prized wine cellar, no problem, here are 10 sites that specialize in this particular application.
Companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Apple to step it up
Imagine....As part of your Apple iCloud service, you can monitor up to 5 sensors for no charge, and it costs $5/month for an additional 20 devices. The idea would be great for them and would really boost our industry. I could even see them selling sensors in the Apple Store, both online and in the malls. This makes a lot of sense, Mr. Cook.
Same goes for Google....imagine if they used their G-mail service, combined with their Android platforms to be able to easily set up and monitor the temperature of your second home...
Microsoft had a ton of available "tools" in the average home, and a wide slate of other services to really make this happen. From XBox to the majority of computers in homes, virtually everyone has one piece of hardware powered by Microsoft. Combine that with the widespread use of Microsoft's email products (both consumer and corporate) and its growing cloud business.....well, you have the makings of a whole new line of business, Mr. Ballmer.
Finally, the one company that has the best upside in this space has to be Cisco. And, I think they know that.....why else would they have started the IoT craze and spend hundreds of millions in IoT-based R&D? Cisco has it all....the presence in most homes and business through their router products, the expertise to handle large scales of data and a growing online-based cloud business. We just need them to pick up the pace!
When these companies step up to the M2M plate, expect to see this marketplace really explode. And, based on the size of these companies, they likely need the growth that M2M can deliver to keep their shareholders happy.
It goes without saying that the simple value offered by M2M will continue to fuel its current growth, even if we don't see any of these things happen in the immediate future. However, if we continue to see rapid movement in the "3-C" (Lowering of Cost of sensors, industry-wide collaboration on a common set of M2M protocols and speedier movement into M2M by a few IT Colossal companies), we are in steeper growth curve.....maybe even steep enough to make me apologize to Ericsson for the teasing!
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection. Browse our website @ 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 follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).