One strange example that I wrote about a few months ago was a bathroom scale that would wirelessly tweet your body weight to your Twitter list every time you weighed yourself. The scale, a machine, was collecting data and sending it automatically via a wireless connection to another machine (server).
A recent example that I found particularly interesting was Redbox. These are the DVD rental kiosks that we see everywhere now days. Did you know that Redbox machines are M2M enabled? You can go to the Redbox website, find a kiosk near you that has a movie you want and reserve it online. You can also use their micro-app for iPhones to find a movie in a kiosk near you and rent it.
A quick digression – look for a large number of new mobile micro-apps to be announced at SAP’s Sapphire event in May. Companies like Vivido Labs and Sky Technologies, and many others, will be releasing many new mobile micro-apps for iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android and other OSs. These are typically small, one purpose or business process, mobile apps that are integrated with SAP.
Here in Boise, Idaho there is a local success story involving M2M with a company called Telemetric. Here is their description: Telemetric provides wireless remote monitoring and control of equipment and machinery using cellular networks. We provide solutions that enable electric, water and gas utilities and their customers to measure, monitor and control usage of valuable resources. Our solutions improve system efficiency, asset management, speed up responses to service interruptions and equipment problems, and automate reporting functions resulting in lower operating costs and more reliable service.
Telemetric develops monitoring equipment that measures and reports wirelessly to other machines. Managers can watch dashboards and see the measurements from remote equipment.
The bottom line is that field data collection does not always require a person with a ruggedized handheld computer to be traveling around collecting data. High value assets and equipment can be set-up with monitoring devices that report their status to other machines and servers that can be programmed to do certain things based upon the data coming in. I am now writing a new analyst report on M2M to be released in June 2010.