The whole world is captivated by the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), and rightly so. But most people are not aware of the fact that communication between devices in the form of machine-to-machine (M2M) systems is not a new phenomenon. This technology has existed for more than a century now and is an integral part of our workplace and personal lives.
Evolution of machine-to-machine solutions has been steady and staggering at the same time. Starting with telemetry solutions in mid 1800s, M2M technology has made a massive leap into the IoT solutions of today. Here is a summary of the evolution phases of M2M systems.
Lifestyle of M2M technology
Telemetry (1845 to 1990s)
The history of M2M systems began with use of data transmission systems by the Russian army in 1845. It was the most basic form of a wired data transfer network. It was followed by the invention of two-way radio networks in the 1900s. The technology fast moved from telephone lines to weather balloons to aerospace telemetry through the mid-90s. In 1973, IBM released its first main frame computers (IBM 3650 and 3660). This brought about a technology wave that gave us innovations like caller Ids (1968), electrical power consumption meters (1977), and single computer processing chips (1978).
M2M systems (1990s to 2010)
Next generation of M2M technology was highlighted with the introduction of GSM data connectivity on mobile phones in 1995 (by Siemens). By 1997, wireless connectivity became mature and found countless applications varying from vending machines to telemedicine. RFID technology also became mainstream in the mid 1990s (although it had been in beta phase since 1970s). Evolution of machine-to-machine solutions based on analog connectivity had reached its prime by 2010 and the technology was ready for a digital revolution.
Internet of Things (2010 to present)
The latest chapter in the history of M2M systems is what we have termed as the Internet of Things (IoT). The basic device connectivity principles remain the same but the technology is a lot more evolved. Cloud computing became prime time in 2012, which contributed significantly to the feasibility of today’s IoT solutions. 2013 and 2014 were the launch years for sensor-based IoT devices like thermostats and home lighting. With technology giants like Apple (introduced Homekit in 2014), Google, and Microsoft putting their weight behind the Internet of things, the future of M2M systems looks very bright.
M2M systems are predicted to contribute up to 40% of the total data generated by the year 2020. And we are expecting a whopping 40-fold (50 billion to 2 trillion) increase in the numbers of machine sensors in the next few years. The limelight might be taken by the new-age term (Internet of Things) but M2M solutions will continue serving as the hardworking backbone of this technology.