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Making M2M “sexy” for the Mass Market…or at least relevant

by Andrew Brown | Jan 20, 2010

Every year at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), a multitude of new devices emerge to a lot of hype and excitement. This year it was Google’s Nexus One. But something was different this year. For the first time, M2M (Machine-to-Machine) solutions like in-home energy management solutions, home automation and security systems, were just some of the connected technology applications got plenty of attention.

As someone covering the M2M market, I get used to hearing that M2M is primarily a B2B, industrial business, and while integrated fleet management, POS terminals, security alarms, vending machines and supply chain solutions are still a core part of M2M, there is no doubt that M2M is ready for a leap into the mass market.

Following AT&T’s partnership with Jasper last year to provision and deliver and manage consumer devices  http://www.strategyanalytics.com/default.aspx?mod=ReportAbstractViewer&a0=4750 a host of new consumer solutions are now out there and CES was a great platform for showcasing them:

Whirlpool (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/whirlpool-plans-to-make-1m-smart-dryers-by-2011/) demonstrated its new smart clothes dryer on display to demonstrate how a dryer compatible with the smart grid can help consumers to reduce their energy consumption.

These dryers will have the ability to communicate with the smart grid to determine when to run based on peak demand, which will in turn help consumers save money on their energy bills and Whirlpool has committed to producing a total of 1 million of these appliances by the end of 2011.

Schlage http://link.schlage.com made energy management news by showing how consumers can integrate their system with thermostats giving them the ability to remotely adjust the temperature in their home via Schlage’s online portal.

On the security side, Schlage has also partnered with Alarm.com,www.alarm.com,  This collaboration enables users to connect to Alarm.com’s system with Schlage devices through Z-Wave technology, giving them access to realtime footage from cameras installed throughout their homes.

Control4 (http://www.control4.com/) introduced a display for viewing and controlling lighting and climate as well as access music, videos, and online services such as weather

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As the combination of regulatory burden, disruptive technologies and maturing markets challenge telcos, expansion into adjacent markets such as M2M is one potential avenue for exploration. Maybe calling it sexy is a bit much, but with green issues high on the agenda, governments ploughing money into energy saving, consumers trying to save on utility bills and industry heavyweights like Google (http://www.google.org/powermeter/) getting in on the energy saving business, the role of M2M in our lives looks set for a bright future!

Andrew Brown

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