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M2M no longer a pipe dream

Innovations in mobile tech has opened new opportunities in the machine-to-machine industry, with providers offering SIM and fleet management services to smart meters and CCTVs.
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Topic: Networking
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1 of 4 Liau Yun Qing/ZDNet

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication has been in existence in some form or another for a long time, but many of the recent innovations in this field revolve around mobile technology. 

Devices that were previously operating offline can now be connected using a wireless networking module, opening up new use cases and, with it, new business models and opportunities.

Manufacturers can now include Web-enabled features by bundling their products with built-in networking capabilities, making Internet connections that much easier. For example, a blood pressure machine for use at home can be connected online so it can send the patient's medical information to an online Health portal for better management, a SingTel spokesperson noted.

The Singapore telco is one that is capitalizing on the new opportunities provided by M2M by offering a M2M portal, enabling companies deploying M2M to manage the SIM cards in areas such as activation and data transfer and troubleshooting functionalities. Besides SIM control platform, SingTel also provides M2M solutions that enable energy management for Green buildings, Surveillance solutions for secuirty and more.

ZDNet Asia also spoke to other tech vendors to see how M2M communication is becoming a reality, and the different ways the technology is being used in real-life applications.

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2 of 4 Liau Yun Qing/ZDNet

M2M-connected CCTV

Through the use of a SIM card, SingTel also provides connectivity to closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) which are mounted at locations without fixed Internet connection. 

This means video footage from these devices can be streamed back to the main system, the spokesperson said. If the mobile network is congested, users can adjust the video bitrate accordingly to ensure continuous streaming. The low bitrate images can later be enhanced for clearer viewing, he noted.

 

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3 of 4 Liau Yun Qing/ZDNet

NUS smart meter

Both Gemalto and Singapore company Power Automation also worked together to implement M2M-enabled power meters at the National University of Singapore's UTown Residence. 

See Gim Kerk, director of engineering at Power Automation, explained the smart meter tracks the use of electricity in the hostel and, by doing so, is equipped to offer residents to purchase electricity credits for air conditioners in their rooms.

The meters display residents' remaining credits, send messages for them to buy more credits when it is running low, as well as display real-time loading and warnings for impending electrical trips, See said.

Lakhi Baug, M2M sales manager for Asia at Gemalto, added the smart meters are embedded with mobile connectivity so they can connect to a server which collects the usage data, enable real-time feedback to the service provider and control parameters to facilitate the efficient distribution of electricity.

Besides efficient power management, the smart meters reduce manpower cost as they eliminate the need for staff to visit the hostel to take physical meter reading.

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4 of 4 NUS Engineering

NUS electric vehicle

NUS is also the home of the single-seater, micro-electric vehicle. The university has partnered Toyota Tsusho Asia-Pacific to research the viability of such vehicles for short travel distances.

Richard Lee, general manager for the IT and Electronics Department at Toyota Tsusho Asia-Pacific, explained that M2M is used in this research project to manage the fleet of vehicles as part of a car-sharing scheme. The data transmitted to backend servers helps track and monitor the performance and location of these vehicles, he said. 

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