What Is M2M & IoT?

By Eric Hamilton , Mar 31, 2020 01:40 PM EDT

While IoT and M2M technologies do have some elements in common, they are, in fact, two distinct concepts. M2M applications differ from what IoT is intended for and mostly cover the industrial field. IoT connected objects, on the other hand, pertain more to everyday life and apply to the general public.

So, what is M2M & IoT, exactly? Let us delve deeper into the world of wireless communication to better understand what these promising technologies have to offer.

The main differences between M2M and IoT

Many have a tendency to use these acronyms interchangeably when referring to an architecture made up of connected sensors through which data is gathered and sent to various hubs over a network without human interaction. The confusion stems from the fact that, in both cases, data exchange is at the heart of connected solutions which endeavour to automatize it.

What Is IoT?

Acronym for Internet of Things, IoT is a peer-to-peer solution whose aim is to integrate highly personalised services for the end user thanks to a network of connected devices. The data itself has no dedicated use and is instead made available in the form of feeds which lend themselves to countless applications. IoT is particularly suited to wireless networks and, as the name indicates, relies on the Internet to collect data from physical devices and make it accessible to other objects.

Smartphones are a good example of what IoT can put at the end user's disposal. If you wish to check what the weather will be like tomorrow, your phone will be able to give you some accurate information thanks to a dedicated app. This doesn't mean that the phone itself has the ability to gather and interpret weather-related data. What it can do, however, is receive this information from a source of authority in real time. If your device, identified by its IP address, has opted in and wants to access the weather feed, then relevant information will be sent through directly. If you decide to opt out, it will remain operational so that an infinite number of users can still access it.

What Is M2M?

Also known as machine to machine, M2M constitutes a slightly different type of communication. Rather than being based on an open network system, machine to machine communication operates within a self-contained architecture where data feeds are not freely accessible. As such, it meets other needs.

Particularly useful in the context of the supply chain, for instance, M2M communication relies on a dedicated network of sensors and hubs operating on an if/then basis. If a management platform receives the information that critical temperature has been reached in a heat-sensitive space, cooling measures will be implemented automatically. This type of vertical application is well suited for companies looking to take human input out of the equation.

When asking 'What is M2M & IoT?" it is therefore interesting to not that, while they have similarities, the two technologies don't address the same issues.

What Are Some Applications of M2M & IoT?

Now that we have answered the question 'What is M2M & IoT?" we are left wondering just how much exchanging data through such systems can deliver.

What is M2M & IoT if not a means of making our lives easier? Here are a few examples of how these technologies can be applied to various fields.

Companies such as Matooma offer M2M connectivity solutions to fit a wide array of professional applications. For instance, instead of sending out thousands of technicians to carry out meter readings manually, utility companies can take advantage for M2M technology. In this case, smart meters are installed in customers' homes and collect data in real time. Thanks to this solution, no human input is required, and bills are edited automatically, all while minimising the risk of error.

Oil drilling sites can also make use of M2M devices in the field by connecting them to a hub where information about flow rates, pressure, fuel levels or temperatures can be interpreted to ensure maximum safety and efficiency.

Individuals can also benefit from closed-loop technologies in the field of medicine. Some heart patients, for instance, can wear heart-monitoring equipment set to deliver a shock if their heartbeat shows signs of needing to be corrected.

Security is yet another area where M2M truly shines, a building equipped with motion detectors can trigger silent alarms, disable engines to prevent theft and more. Even after the fact, tracking solutions help ensure vehicles can be located in real time.

As far as IoT is concerned, smart home applications immediately stand out as one of the most prominent real-world examples of how this technology may be used. Many have already fitted their home with smart devices such as connected thermostats, lighting, televisions... even smartphones fall under this category as they play a crucial role in a smart home system. Internet-bound devices use an online connection to interact. For instance, your smartphone's GPS capability will monitor your location to inform your home that you are one you way back from work. The smart thermostat will then turn the temperature up so the house is nice and warm at the moment you arrive without having wasted any energy over the course of the day.

Smart cities go a step beyond by collecting data about traffic, car parks, hospitals, public libraries and more to make it available to the public who is given access to real-time information. This allows someone looking to park their car to see exactly where a spot is available instead of driving around to find it, thus saving time and resources.

Wearables constitute another example. Fitness trackers gather data about how you exercise and update an app from which you can monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, see how many steps you have taken within a given period of time, etc. All progress is tracked and helps users make decisions as to their fitness routine.

Thanks to NFC, smart devices are used to replace common items such as credit cards, plane tickets or other transportation passes, etc.

What is M2M & IoT going to bring us in the future?

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