Submitted by Larry Bellehumeur on 

M2M - The Industry

I remember the old joke well....”What does PCMCIA, as in PCMCIA cards, stand for?”  The joke was that it stood for “People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms”, and there was a lot of truth to that.  While it is not quite as bad in the world of M2M (with the number of acronyms, at least), it can be daunting to keep up with this growing market’s new terminology.

While I have done various engineering roles over the years, I am far from an engineer, and like many people, I need to break down much of the “nerdiness” into simple to understand examples and language.  I also find that this is one of the reasons for Novotech’s success.....making the complex simple is a commonly used phrase at our company.

Here are a few key terms, broken down into my “down-homesy” way of thinking (yes, that term of endearment does come from you, Hobbs)....


Ok, let’s start with the big one.  Standing for Machine to Machine (and not the Warner Music band from Norway), M2M is a term that I have yet to hear perfectly defined.  The reason is that the definition can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be.  For some people, tablet based applications that a user inputs data on and the data is logged may be M2M.

For me, I circle back to the SCADA definition, so there are basically two parts to it.  The first part is the “SC”, which stands for Supervisory Control.  In layman’s terms, this means being able to make a remote device do something over the air.  So, it may mean that you want to open a door, lift a security gate or open a valve to release pressure.  The 2nd part is “DA”, which is Data Acquisition.  Like it sounds, this means gathering data from remote many cans of Coca-Cola were sold in a vending machine, how warm is my swimming pool or being told that I left the garage door open via an app on my smartphone.

M2M doesn’t have to be complicated....It tends to get that way when we have to put the data into big systems, which brings me on to my next term....

Big Data

While Big Data has a lot of other ways that information can be created, M2M and Big Data seem to becoming more and more linked together.  Basically, Big Data refers to the gathering of huge amounts of data that is created in every day life (this can be from monitoring how you buy stuff online, to monitoring how many cars go past a certain intersection daily to what web pages you browse).  However, that is only half of the battle, as if you can’t make that information useful, it is just a big amount of useless data.  So, Big Data is really taking that information (such as the traffic/shopping patterns in your store for all women 29-49) and being able to do something with it (such as arranging your store to optimize their routes or offering coupons that will be specifically appealing to them). I wrote an interesting blog post about M2M and shopping patterns. Read M2M in Daily Life and Related Big Brother Concerns now…


For the most part, I would say, “see above answer for M2M”, as I don’t see a lot of difference.  However, IoT does seem to encompass a wider “net” for application potential, as M2M didn’t usually refer to consumer-based applications.

Dual-band, Tri-band, etc

Dual-band refers to a device that is capable of working on more than one frequency.  A good example is your WiFi router at home.  There is a trade-off to using one band versus another.  Lower bands tend to travel through “things” (walls, buildings, etc) better, but they tend not to “throw” signals as far, so it might be as good to reach your garage at the back of your property.  In the world of cellular, the carriers are starting to use lower bands more, as they have found ways to overcome one of the issues that lower bands had in that they generally don’t have as much capacity.

Tri-Band is just works on 3 different bands.  In the world of antennas, this usually referred to being able to work on both bands that your cellular carrier uses, and the ability to receive a GPS signal, all on the same antenna.  This was usual for in-vehicle applications, such as in police cars or transit buses.

In future blogs, we will look at terms such as:

  • Active vs. Passive antennas
  • 2G/3G/4G
  • SCADA protocols
  • OTA
  • Input/Outputs
  • Sensors/Nodes
  • RSSI

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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