Machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity is one of those great technologies that most companies use, whether they know it or not. Any company that uses smart devices, utility meters, or even a weather app is relying on M2M connectivity. That said, few people understand exactly how M2M connectivity works. 

Let’s take a look at the meaning of M2M connectivity and this amazing technology’s influence on modern applications like the Internet of Things (IoT). 

What is M2M connectivity?

Many people confuse IoT with M2M. The main reason is that both involve different machines/devices communicating data with each other. But M2M is just one part of what makes IoT and many other technologies work. 

An IoT architecture relies on different layers or parts in order to collect, transmit, and act on data. The first layer is the device layer. You’d likely be most familiar with this layer in terms of smart devices like a smart watch or a smart energy meter outside your home. Smart devices contain sensors that collect information. Your smart watch might collect information about your exercise and sleep patterns, and your energy meter collects data on your energy usage. Many devices also contain actuators that perform an action based on the data collected by sensors. An example would be a smart humidifier that turns on or off automatically depending on humidity levels in the room.

The next layer is a transport/connectivity layer, which moves the data around an IoT system. This layer is where M2M does its work. M2M connectivity is a principle of communication. Machine-to-machine means that devices can communicate automatically, without any human interference. This communication could occur through a variety of means, including radio, cellular, and, in the case of IoT, the internet. In an M2M system, data could travel from sensors straight to actuators, which can then automatically act on that data. 

The third layer of an IoT system is usually the cloud layer. Historically, in a perfect M2M system, all communication is peer-to-peer (P2P), meaning that it bypasses the cloud layer and devices communicate with each other directly. However, the definition of M2M has expanded to include devices that communicate through the cloud layer. 

The fourth layer of IoT architecture is the user interface layer layer. A user interface in IoT usually looks like your computer or your smartphone, through which you can control your smart devices and view and respond to the data collected by IoT sensors. Since humans are involved at this point, this layer isn’t part of M2M. 

How is M2M Connectivity Used?

What is an example of an M2M connection? M2M isn’t limited to IoT, but smart devices are probably the best-known application today and have brought us innumerable benefits, so that’s what we’ll focus on. 

1. Utility Meters

You may have had a meter reader come around your home at some point in order to report your energy usage to the supplier. But M2M/smart meters go one step further by automatically communicating energy usage data directly to the provider. Besides eliminating the element of human error, automatic communication is much more efficient and cost-effective than sending out a bunch of human meter readers. 

2. Wearable Smart Devices

These days, most people are familiar with the concept of a smart watch. But wearable smart devices also include smart jewelry and even smart eyeglasses that can automatically unlock your smart door or communicate with health apps, for example. Some wearable medical devices can also automatically communicate your heart rate and other vital signs to your personal physician for analysis. 

3. Smart Home Technologies

When any of your smart home devices communicate automatically, they’re using M2M connectivity. For example, let’s say you have a smart watering system that can change your yard watering schedule automatically based on the weather. Such systems have been very effective at saving water and energy over time. Or if you have a smart security system that automatically notifies the authorities when your alarm gets triggered and you’re not home, you can ensure a quick and appropriate response. Traditional M2M can use peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to bypass the cloud layer and reduce latency to ensure an even faster response.

M2M and Nabto

M2M and P2P are inextricably linked. While P2P isn’t an essential component of IoT, it is one method of data communication that tends to increase security and reduce latency, since there’s no detour through the cloud. 

Nabto’s M2M IoT connectivity platform provides a method for your IoT devices to communicate directly with each other instead of through the cloud. This in turn allows you to reap the full benefits of M2M connectivity.

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