By Tu Le
Some call it the "Internet of Things" others call it "Machine-to-Machine" and some simply call it the convergence of smart enabled devices with the Internet—whatever you call it—we are at a new inflection point of connected devices. Based on Analysys Mason forecasts (http://www.analysysmason.com/about-us/news/insight/M2M_forecast_Jan2011), within the next few years, literally billions of Internet-enabled microprocessors will provide digital intelligence and connectivity for almost every commercial and industrial product or appliance, even baby clothes (Baby clothes go high-tech: Pyjamas to monitor heart beat, temperature, movement), extending the Internet into most aspects of our lives. This reminds me of how Skynet was created. For some wondering what Skynet is – it is a fictional computer systems, part of the Terminator movie series, with highly advanced artificial intelligence built by Cyberdyne Systems to automate the first national defense network that is capable of processing information at billion or perhaps trillion of operations per seconds. In these fictional movies, everything from embedded devices to computer systems to everyday machinery that humans are dependent on are interconnected and are controlled by Skynet making itself an entity with massive power by the data that it has in its possession to control and destroy anything how it see fit.
Traditionally, old world engineered systems like appliances, vehicles, energy meters, and vending machine were not connected to anything internet or internet-like. But, these same redesigned systems are now entering into the Internet. Expanding rapidly and globally due to the growing advancements in hardware and software components, these smart appliances and devices are becoming the "Internet of Things" and the "Machine-to-Machine Evolution". Initially and implicitly, it is not the consumers that will have the most to gain from smart enabled device networking — it's the businesses that support them. The intelligent device manufacturer of your washing machine should be interested in its operating and usage patterns. Perhaps when it breaks down it will let them know, so that they can call pro-actively to let you know that they can provide immediate service. This may sound only slightly interesting for consumers, but for business and industrial automation applications it yields several major advantages. Intelligent device manufacturers can use their connected products to develop customer service relationships that can ultimately recreate the basis of customer management and generate new software + service offerings that enable recurring software licensing revenue streams. They can use device-networking technology to reduce the hassles of product ownership, while at the same time helping their own business to reduce costs and pursue new revenue growth opportunities.
As operators and service providers upgrade their infrastructure to support the ongoing demand for bandwidth, smart enabled devices will become ubiquitous and will play a bigger role in our life – from navigation systems in our cars and phone, to remote diagnostic machines to monitor our vital signs. Smart enabled devices or machines of tomorrow will have the capabilities to communicate with each other and process real time information that will lead to more efficient business transactions and conversely making our lives easier and subsequently ever so more dependent on these devices. As more and more machines are connected to each other and are part of the central fabric of our life, one day a spark of phenomenon might eventually happen and will give life to Skynet.