M2M: Smartening Up the Grid

M2M: Smartening Up the Grid

Imagine coming home one evening and finding your fridge and television in an intense conversation about your refrigerator’s contents. It is scary and exciting at the same time, isn’t it? Machines communicate all the time. The only difference between us and machines is the nature of communication.

M2M, which means machine-to-machine, is set to grow by up to 165% by the year 2024, according to Juniper Research (1). If you don’t know much about the meaning of M2M, now is the time to start learning.

What Is M2M?

M2M refers to the communication between electronic devices through wireless local area networks, cellular networks, and fiber optic networks without regular human interaction(2). Do you need a more straightforward M2M definition? M2M technologies refer to two or more machines communicating over a network without a human being.

Traditionally, M2M was reserved for embedded systems that exchanged data. These embedded systems could refer to vending machines to send inventory or even ATMs to authorize cash transactions.

Owing to the limitless applications of M2M, it has allowed technology to evolve, allowing devices to “talk to each other” in what has come to be referred to as the “internet of things”(3). While internet of things devices and M2M are often used interchangeably to refer to communication between devices, there is a small difference between the two terms. Internet of things usually relates to communication over a wireless network, while M2M refers to communication over any medium. Most applications of M2M have also been commercial while internet of things applies to even the domestic front.

Related: Transactive Energy: The Next Big Deal for The Smart Grid?

How It Works

M2M communication is one of the fastest-growing device-to-device communications thanks to its ability to connect millions of devices within the same network. It is what mainly facilitates the internet of things. M2M connects a lot of things. It can range from small sensors to vehicles and whole buildings.

An M2M network operates using a similar principle as LAN or Wireless Networks. It allows different devices connected to it to send data between the devices or a smart agent that can interpret or process it. The communication can happen between sensors within a single component or machines in different spaces. The processed data is then retransmitted back to the individual devices in the M2M smart grid.

Applications of M2M

There are so many different applications of M2M both commercially and for the domestic market. Here are four examples:

1. Home appliances

Although there are some internet of things applications on home appliances by platforms such as Nest, mainstream manufacturers such as Samsung and LG are already at the forefront of M2M communication of smart home appliances.

An example of a smart appliance is where a fridge automatically orders groceries once it notices they are running out. An intelligent heating system could warm the house right before the owner arrives.

2. Manufacturing

Many processes in manufacturing have been automated. And many machines work without regular human input. M2M could be applied in smart machines to automatically self-diagnose system failures and order parts from the manufacturer.

3. Healthcare

M2M could potentially benefit healthcare and even help save lives. Smart systems could help administer first aid in emergencies while awaiting the arrival of a healthcare professional. Patients could also enjoy in-home monitoring instead of staying in a hospital.

4. Smart utilities

The internet of things M2M revolution has seen an improvement in the management of utilities. Companies with smart meters no longer need people to manually read utility consumption. The meters send the bill to both the consumer and the manufacturer. The dynamic pricing model will also improve the overall experience of consumers.

Conclusion: The M2M Smart Grid and Tomorrow

While the M2M smart grid’s investments and growth have increased, a lot of work is needed to create value for the M2M technologies. Most of the industries have already implemented intelligent systems for their manufacturing processes.

The consumer side is still a mile behind.But privacy concerns existabout M2M.

“M2M technology is all around us. It’s in our homes, on the commute to work, in the way that we shop, exercise and entertain ourselves,” says IBM (4).

Until this is worked out, user adoption may take some time. However, the future of M2M is still very bright. Read more about M2M technology (4).

Learn more about energy conservation here.

  1. https://www.juniperresearch.com/resources/infographics/M2M -statistics

  2. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/machine-to-machine-M2M -communications
  3. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/internet-of-things-what-is-explained-iot
  4. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/what-is-m2m-technology/

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Mohammadreza Golzari

Mohammadreza Golzari

Electrical Engineering PHD student at Tehran University
Mohammadreza is a real computer geek and also energy efficiency lover. His favorite hobby is coding on MATLAB. 🙂
Mohammadreza Golzari
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