05 Mar What Is The Internet Of Things And Machine To Machine Technology?
The internet revolutionized the way we live and work on a daily basis. From the moment we get up, to right before we go to sleep, and almost everything in between – we are rarely offline. Now, a new type of internet is about to revolutionize the way our machines work for us. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) technology is an emerging field where everyday objects are interconnected, creating the ability to send and receive data between objects without the need of human interaction. With such enormous potential in terms of efficiency gains, Norscan has been focusing their research efforts on coming up with solutions for a wide arrange of applications. We caught up with Yolande Cates, who’s leading Norscan’s IoT/M2M research efforts, to learn more.
What is Machine to Machine technology?
In its most basic form, Machine to Machine (M2M) Technology is simply devices sending information between each other either in wired or wireless fashion. M2M has a long history in industrial automation in things like SCADA systems. Within the M2M/IoT world, this is generally an end device, such as a sensor, that autonomously sends information to another device that allows either a more complex system to take an action or the data is made available to a user who can then use that information.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is used to describe devices that gather information and then use the internet to make that information available to others. Wearable technology, remotely programmable thermostats, and smart meters are examples of relatively sophisticated consumer devices in the IoT.
What can be done with this technology?
If you can measure it, it can be monitored in the IoT. Some common types of things being monitored are temperature, humidity, location, and energy use, but its potential is seemingly endless!
In the medical field, the IoT is being used with heartbeat sensors, blood sugar monitoring, blood pressure, weight scales, and smart pill boxes; the data from each of these is pushed to the cloud and stored securely on a server. The data can then be accessed by authorized users. In many ways it is simply adding the communication layer to existing technologies. The idea is to make information flow more quickly to those who need it.
For logistics, barcode scanners, RFID tags, and smart containers can work together to provide a real-time view of where everything is. In theory this should make things like just in time (jit) delivery smoother and more efficient.
In agriculture, sensors can be used to monitor the temperature and humidity of grain bins, the level of fertilizer or fuel in a tank and even the soil composition. With this information available remotely, farmers can see trends over time and feel more secure leaving for a period of time.
In addition to monitoring, a connected device can take action based on the information it is given. In the logistics and inventory example, the system could be programmed to automatically order more stock once inventory starts running low.
What is Norscan researching and developing within this field?
Norscan has a long history in the development of sensors and in wired communication in the telecoms sector. That expertise is being applied to new sensor types in different industries. Norscan’s has historically allowed users to access their sensor data remotely over an Ethernet connection or a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) phone line – this is the earlier version of the IoT. Bringing that same level of availability to a browser or mobile device is the next step in the evolution of Norscan’s product line.
Why does it matter?
For businesses, the IoT leads to the possibility of improved efficiency and potential new business models. The average consumer is beginning to see more and more IoT devices – smart thermostats and fitness monitoring being the first two that come to mind.
As the IoT grows it is expected to impact people beginning in the home through home automation and throughout society. Cities are beginning to use IoT devices to dynamically adjust parking fees to maintain an availability level, for example.