Machine-to-machine (M2M) is a broad label that can be used to describe any technology that enables automated wired or wireless communication between mechanical or electronic devices.
M2M allows networked machines to exchange information and perform actions without the manual assistance of humans. M2M communication is often used for remote monitoring. In product restocking,for example, a vending machine can message the distributor when a particular item is running low. M2M communication is an important aspect of telemetry, warehouse management, remote control, robotics, traffic control, logistic services, supply chain management, fleet management and even telemedicine.
The most well-known type of M2M communication is telemetry, which has been used since the early part of the last century to transmit operational data. Pioneers in telemetrics first used telephone lines -- and later, on radio waves -- to transmit performance measurements gathered from monitoring instruments in remote locations. The Internet and the growth of public cellular networks have expanded the role of telemetry from pure science, engineering and manufacturing to everyday use in products like home heating units, electric meters and Internet-connected appliances. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often marketed to end users as being “smart.”
Currently, M2M does not have a standardized connected device platform and many M2M systems are built to be task- or device-specific. It is expected that as M2M becomes more pervasive, vendors will need to agree upon standards for device-to-device communications.