Whether you want to call it the Internet of Things or machine-to-machine communications or shorten those buzz phrases to IoT or M2M, the application in this way of what are now the relatively mainstream technologies of IP addresses and wireless communication will change the world forever.
The ability of many – or even most – objects to be embedded in the 'cloud' is going to change the nature of those objects and their derivatives. And the M2M dialogs will be done in a stealthy way, which many have disquieting echoes of the cell phone key tracking incident that is playing out as I write.
It would be easy to oversimplify the situation to: humans good, machines bad. Or more realistically to: some humans bad, machines neutral. But it would still be a simplification and before we do it must be remembered that machine-to-machine communications have the potential to do almost unlimitless good in the world, if harnessed up appropriately.
Freescale Semiconductor, recently held a one-day conference on the topic in East Kilbride, Scotland, attended by executives from Oracle, IBM, Google and others. It is trying to get close to the multidisciplinary teams that will be needed to create beneficial, reliable and secure M2M/IoT applications.
For example, Freescale estimates there are 1.2 million road deaths a year around the world. Imagine the benefit of car-to-car communications that could apply brakes faster than drivers behind the steering wheel and apply them closer to the ABS optimum to shorten stopping distances and avoid collisions.
Considerations of this and many other potential applications lead to the inescapable conclusion that an M2M revolution, if it is to come, will be based squarely on developments in wireless networks and security.