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The Machine-2-Machine technology

Machine-2-Machine communication makes use of mobile phone networks to exchange informations between two non-physically connected remote electronic devices, using the SMS protocol.
Because mobile signal coverage is nowadays equal if not superior compared to landline networks, this allows positioning devices in places where they would be hardly reachable by the Internet, while not depending even on GPRS/UMTS coverage (somewhere not available, and generally less reliable).
Message text will represent a piece of information using a well-defined encoding, to be properly interpreted by the receiving device (such as a series of numbers separated by spaces and preceeded by a keyword).
Messages exchange is mainly accomplished in two ways:
  • monodirectional (push): the device will be programmed to send a SMS message every time a particular condition is verified (such as an alert) or at predefined time intervals (for instance every night)
  • bidirectional (pull): a request message is sent to the device (on user request, or automatically at predefined time intervals) which answers with a message containing desired piece of information.

Which are the practical applications of the system?

There are many possible fields the system can be used on, such as:
  • remote control and supervision of industrial appliances
  • remote control of automated vending machines
  • lift malfunctionings alerts
  • immediate notifications of intrusion attempts
  • tracing positioning of a moving vehicle (GPS required)
Some examples:
  • a series of water pumps can send daily the number of times they went in function, to store this in a web-viewable database, and forward an alert to a list of mobile phone numbers in case of troubles
  • an automated vending machine can send every night a message containing a list of slot numbers which enclosed product was sold, to store these data into a database and visually represent the machine slots contents on a reserved web-based interface, to effectively proceed with recharge and never remain with an empty machine without products to be sold (see our Vending Machines Monitoring application)
  • in case of a lift malfunctioning, an alert device will immediately send a message by SMS to the technical assistance central, which will send a technician for prompt repairment
  • in case of a property intrusion attempt, an alert message will be forwarded to a list of recipients (which can be defined on the web) in a way that at least one will follow and take action
  • a transport company will keep track in real time of the position of trucks carrying goods, using coordinates gathered through GPS and periodically sent with a series of SMS, stored in a database and visually represented on the web on a dynamically generated map

Case study: M2M for Vending Machines management

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