Orange is launching its M2M Connect platform. This is a combined network and data platform that the company says will make machine-to-machine solutions more cost-effective, and easier to implement and use. Intended for local, national or pan European usage, the M2M Connect platform is today available in the UK, France and Belgium and will be extended to other countries during 2004.
Machine-to-machine, or telemetry, is the automatic or programmed transfer of data between two machines across a wireless network that facilitates remote monitoring and controlling. Machines such as fire alarms, parking meters, vehicles and vending units can communicate with a central computer, returning data that can be used in a number of ways such as in usage monitoring and temperature control. In addition, businesses can analyse buying patterns and personal preferences though the analysis of real time stock control.
Other more basic machine-to-machine solutions currently available simply offer a SIM card and a telemetry tariff. The M2M Connect platform combines these with a data gateway based on an internet interface, on which vertical applications can be developed and supported. It is the first and only combined network and data platform for machine-to-machine solutions. To date, building even a simple machine-to-machine solution has been a difficult and complex task, involving a variety of different partners. The M2M Connect platform removes that complexity, and makes the whole process of building and managing machine-to-machine solutions simpler, quicker and cheaper.
Machine-to-machine, is a growth market; Frost and Sullivan suggests that as many as 13 billion devices across Europe have the potential to communicate. A wide range of vertical market sectors is being seen as driving uptake: transport, vending, utilities, home security, and commercial equipment (such as photocopiers and franking machines).
These are some examples of vertical applications that can be achieved through the M2M Connect platform:
Vehicles: Keep track of a fleet; inform customers of where their delivery is; receive alerts when vehicles need servicing or cross country borders
Office equipment: Copiers, coffee machines and air-conditioning units call out their own engineers; broken or stolen machines trigger an alarm
Meters: Cut the cost of home visits out completely by getting electricity and gas meters to read themselves, get ticket machines to reveal when the cash needs emptying.