Around 27 million machine-to-machine (M2M) devices will be connected to mobile networks across Australia by 2018, driven largely by wearable computers, intelligent transportation systems, and smart city applications.
This was a key finding of Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Mobile Data Forecast. The research looks at mobile traffic and device trends between 2013 and 2018.
M2M connections will grow by five times during the period and one-fifth of these will be on 4G networks. This is not surprising given that the number of 4G connections in Australia will jump from 23 per cent in 2013 to 51 per cent in 2018, according to the index.
Robert Pepper, VP, global technology policy at Cisco, told CIO that we are beginning to see M2M devices, costs are coming down and standards are now in place.
He cited the Proteus ‘digital pill’, which alerts doctors when elderly patients have taken their medication, as a real world example of M2M communication.
A microprocessor the size of a grain of sand is embedded in the pill. When the patient swallows the medication, the chip communicates with a patch on the patient’s skin, which sends a message over a cellular network to the doctor’s smartphone indicating that the medication has been taken, Pepper said.
“These things are no longer theoretical, they are real,” he said.
He also spoke of how car manufacturer Volvo is collecting real-time data from embedded sensors in its cars worldwide back to its design centres in Sweden. The car maker uses this data to help improve manufacturing processes and make adjusts in car design.
“2014 is the tipping point for this internet-of-everything because it’s accepted in every industry vertical that we see whether it’s the electrical industry, the smart home or healthcare,” he said.
“The City of Barcelona has put sensors in parking places that will send you in your car information about where there are spots to park. They have smart trashcans that are connected [to determine] whether they need picking up or not,” said Pepper.
Wearable devices such as the Fitbit Force are also going to take off this year, he said.
“What I find interesting is that while wearables are going to grow 8-fold [to 2018], data from wearables is going to grow 36-fold so … we are going to be getting more and more data from the wearables. They are going to be built into athletic shoes – it’s going to be part of a training regime.
The average traffic per M2M device in 2013 is 61MB, jumping to 451MB by 2018, the index found.
“Since we are just at the beginning here – it’s similar to the early forecast on tablets – we were under-forecasting because you really don’t know in year 1 what this is going to look like,” he said.
Smartphones and M2M devices will dominate growth by device type, making up 40 per cent and 42 per cent of the market respectively in 2018, the index found.