It's almost a cliché to say that everything is going wireless. And I suppose that's true enough if you're talking about person-to-person communicationor applications that are in the direct service of human beings such as wireless PC peripherals and hands-free headsets and entertainment systems.
True machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, on the other hand, is still in its infancy. It's been there, crawling around in diapers more or less, for quite some time.
This is especially true if you consider the incredible range of opportunities. I've heard a lot over the years about wireless this and that, including meter reading, vending machines, payment terminals, alarms, controls and automobiles communicating vital information to other machines wirelesslybut I don't see a whole lot of evidence of it in everyday life.
The basic technologies are available. The problem seems to lie in the value proposition for companies that want to implement a wireless system.
The wireless module is probably the easiest partjust drop it into the system, box, or vehicle. But then comes the hard part. How do you develop the application? How do you upgrade and maintain the hardware and the application? How do you get information from the end pointlet's say it's a vending machine that is out of Diet Cokeonto the transport network and into a database? How do you act on the vending machine's request in a cost-efficient fashion?
Truth be known, that takes a lot of expertise from maybe a half-dozen knowledge domains. Clearly, a job for a system integratoras long as you have multiple millions of dollars to invest.
And yet, it really shouldn't be so hard, particularly if the R&D and infrastructure investment is spread over a number of companies, or, customers, or, partners.
The most interesting approach to the broken M2M value chain I've heard comes from the French company Wavecom.
Wavecom has been building GSM, GPRS and CDMA modules for M2M applications for quite some time. It also offers an application-development environment. Most interesting of all in terms of the value chain, it has developed partnerships and relationships that help a company implement its M2M project from end to end.
If this sort of vision succeeds, I can see how M2M wireless might actually get out of diapers and into high gear.