Tag Archives: wireless

Presence Orb uses Wi-Fi to detect if buses and bars are full

A Renew London recycling binRenew London


By listening to the signal your phone broadcasts as it searches for Wi-Fi networks, Presence Orb wants to provide an anonymised data stream showing where everyone is in real-time

“When you go to [Facebook] Places and it says ‘x’ people were here? That’s a useless statistic,” says Thomas Sheppard, co-founder of Presence Orb. “I don’t care how many people have been there, I want to know how many people are there now.”


The world has seen a variety of location-based services and almost all have failed to gain widespread use or to be uniquely useful. Facebook check-ins have languished, the vast majority of Twitter users keep  location information disabled on their tweets and Foursquare remains the preserve of Silicon Valley.

Presence Orb could have the potential to finally give location-based services the kick they have been waiting for. By listening to the signal your smartphone broadcasts as it searches for Wi-Fi networks, the hope is that it will provide an anonymised and aggregated open data stream showing, effectively, where everyone is in real-time.

Imagine  Citymapper not only telling you when your bus will arrive, but how full it is and the likelihood of enough people getting off at your stop to allow you to squeeze on. With Presence Orb’s software installed on the ever-increasing number of public Wi-Fi hotspots, you could know exactly how busy a bar will be before you and your date arrive.

That’s the future Sheppard and his co-founder Alan Graham envisage. The challenge they face,  particularly after a baptism of fire last summer over recycling bins in the City of London, is persuading consumers that the benefits outweigh the privacy concerns.

Online shops are already able to access a wealth of information about their consumers. When you a visit a website, cookies can provide that site with information about what sites you previously visited, what items you have been viewing on Amazon and what you like on Facebook. The smartphone itself is fast becoming a huge opportunity for brick and mortar retailers too though.

Innovations like Apple’s iBeacon, and the businesses taking advantage of it, are helping highstreet stores level the playing the field. Now when you walk into a physical shop, your phone has the power to give the retailer a similar amount of information as they would receive if you visited online: when you last visited, how long you spend in the store, and targeted product advertising, for example.

In the United States, Swirl is one of the companies leading innovation in this area. In February, the jewellery store Alex and Ani announced  it would be rolling out Swirl’s iBeacon technology in all 40 of its US stores. But making sure consumers are comfortable with the pace of innovation is crucial.

“Privacy is significant concern for consumers,” Swirl CEO Hilmi Ozguz tells Wired.co.uk via email. “But we’ve found that 77 percent of consumers would willingly share their location information with a retailer if they received clear value in return.”

 Before moving into the retail industry, Presence Orb started out as a home security system. If an unfamiliar smartphone entered your home, presumably in the pocket of a burglar, Presence Orb would detect it and alert you to the intruder. The “clear value” in this case was obvious, but there was a serious flaw.
Presence Orb founders Thomas Sheppard (left) and Alan Graham (right)

“The minute that a robber got wind of this, they’re just going to switch off their phone,” says Sheppard.

The team soon re-engineered their idea for advertising and retail, joining a string of companies working in the space, including Swirl,  shopkick and inMarket. One US advertiser, RedPost, is using Presence Orb to improve the sale of newspapers.

“There was 500 people footfall in the store, and they knew 30 newspapers were purchased. They didn’t know there was 500 footfall previously. We’re now showing them what the potential market is,” says Sheppard.

Their relationship with another client, Renew London, which operated recycling bins featuring advertising screens in the City of London, was to prove controversial.

Renew London outfitted their bins with Presence Orb’s technology and  over the space of two weeks in May and June 2013 recorded over 530,000 smartphones passing by, giving Renew an anonymised picture of footfall around their bins. The data was invaluable for understanding how many people were viewing Renew London’s advertising.

But it also sparked public outrage. First reported by Quartz in August, the news quickly went global, receiving mentions in New York Magazine and ABC News, as well as British media outlets. At the time, Renew London’s CEO Kaveh Memari, who could not be reached for this article, admitted  “some of the technology we will be testing will be on the boundaries of what is regulated” and said he wanted to collaborate with privacy groups. But the City of London soon stepped in, referring the issue to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and  ordering Renew to cease the data collection.

In October,  Renew London fell into administration. After investigating, the ICO found that “no further action” needed to be taken and said that Renew London’s data collection was “a proof-of-concept trial which used aggregate data” and therefore didn’t involve any personal data.


During the controversy, Sheppard declined to comment and Presence Orb largely stayed out of the spotlight. Now, speaking publically on the issue for the first time, he strikes a humble tone.

“Once bitten twice shy is a phrase that comes to mind,” says Sheppard. “Consumers will dictate how this technology advances.”

Soon after the outrage subsided, Presence Orb’s six-month residency at Cisco’s accelerator lab in London wrapped up. The company returned to its base in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and went back to the drawing board. The Renew London debacle convinced them they needed to make their technology as anonymous as possible. Today, it says, it’s “extremely difficult” if not impossible to recover individual data after it has been aggregated and anonymised soon after being recorded. It’s also dropped its old tagline, “A Cookie For The Real World”, explaining that it gave the wrong impression that Presence Orb was saving a file on people’s phones.

There is understandable scepticism about any service that records personal information. On the security side,  the Heartbleed bug has reminded the public that there is no such thing as a completely secure computer system. When it comes to anonymous information,  the Care.data debacle has shown the potential for information to be deanonymised when compared with other data sets.

Sheppard says Presence Orb records the bare minimum amount of data in order to provide an aggregate picture of groups, not individuals, and that the identification of specific devices would only ever be with the explicit consent of the owner in an opt-in model.

Over in the US, Swirl’s CEO Hilmi Ozguz is clear that consumer consent is vital. “Consumers also want control when it comes to sharing their information, so gaining explicit opt-in permission upfront is key to maintaining trust.”

If we can get used to the idea that our smartphones can be passively detected, the impact on society of technology like Presence Orb could be transformative. Companies like Waze have used the aggregate data of the crowd to improve city traffic with huge economic benefits. An open data stream showing the location of crowds in cities could change how we make decisions about where to eat, drink and travel.


And if you want to opt-out, it is as easy as turning off the Wi-Fi on your phone.

Source: Wired

The Opportunities and Possibilities of 4G

In a special article for Mobile News Magazine 02 business director Ben Dowd explains the opportunities 4G brings and how it can dramatically change our lives.

4G is the next logical step in the evolutionary world that is mobile technology.

It has businesses asking questions about the possibilities of 4G’s speed, and if this can really change how they work.

Looking back over this evolution, the first iteration of a new generation of connectivity came in the form of 2G, allowing us to call and message each other wirelessly. This dramatically changed the way we communicated.

However, at this stage sharing media required setting up Bluetooth, finding the other person’s device, and then singularly choosing what you wanted to send with painstaking waiting times.

Then 3G came along and once again revolutionised the mobile industry. It allowed us to get the internet on a device on the go, enabling employees to disregard the conventional fixed workspace and gave businesses more flexibility and connectivity.

However, we are living in a world where speed can always be faster and reach can always be further, so it was only a matter of time until the need for 4G arose.

Why do I need 4G?
While it is well documented that the speed of 4G is its differentiator, the question businesses have been asking us is, “What can 4G do for me?” Indeed, it provides up to five times faster communication speeds, but understanding the potential behind the 4G revolution as a result of these speeds is the real key to unlocking its benefits.

And one of the most amazing aspects of 4G is that it won’t just benefit larger enterprises, but small businesses from start-ups to one-man bands which rely on the internet will also be able to take advantage of 4G’s speed.

4G has the potential to guarantee limitless ways of working. There will be no more dashing to the office to log on to the Wi-Fi, just to download large documents to another device before a meeting; or returning to the office after meeting with a client, to simply add notes to a current presentation. Employees are able to edit directly on a device in the meeting room, and can therefore instantly send the updated version within minutes.

A contractor can make a video call to a structural engineer on a 4G-enabled tablet in a crisis situation and do a walk around of the building. This allows the structural engineer to make site assessments without leaving their desk, in turn enabling them to assist with more queries in a day’s work. Reports can be submitted instantly and wirelessly, and digital photo and video capture will simplify processes and reduce paperwork.

Healthcare is also no exception. Nurses out on their daily rounds are able to access up to date patient information in a heartbeat, even in homes which have no internet connection whatsoever. They would be able to update their records in an instant, meaning faster treatment for more patients. If there is a problem, they can then video conference in a specialist in order to assess a situation; thus allowing the specialist to assist with more cases per day as it will permit better remote management and monitoring, with a more accurate diagnosis.

Emergency services will also be able to find real value in using 4G. The police are enabled to use wireless video cameras on their person to record any problems and occurrences at huge events. 4G means seamless video streaming to a control room where police can have a better overview of the event, without any disruption in connectivity at crucial moments. GPS tracking allows them to oversee the event with real time tactical monitoring, allowing officers to arrive at a location faster, meaning better even mobility and preventative deployment.

Return on investment
Even small businesses can save on costs by using 4G. They will be able to purchase 4G dongles for their small team of employees, instead of using an expensive broadband service that eats in to their monthly allowance. The reality of the potential for retail businesses will be difficult to ignore, as the online shopping via mobile devices industry will experience a significant increase as customers have faster and more reliable internet speeds from which they can get their shopping satisfaction. An increase of £300 worth of sales per month would match their 4G solution investment, thus increasing profits by £60 a month. Multiply these figures for huge retail companies and the outcome and benefits as a result could be huge.

Technology will continue to change the world. Businesses are all connected because of the impact on productivity and flexibility the internet has had on our daily working lives. Take these same possibilities wirelessly, and the potential is impossible to ignore. With the technology coming in to place imminently, the responsibility now lies with businesses to ensure they are 4G ready and able to immediately capitalise on the opportunities it is already providing. The ultimate outcome is flexibility.

It is important that businesses really capitalise on this development, and don’t ignore the benefits and new capabilities that could make their organisation’s and, in turn, their customers’ lives easier. In a broader sense, and via the possibilities given, companies will see the productivity of their staff improve. This will then enable the business to progress at a faster rate as there will be an increase in products and services being offered and created as a result. Progressing ahead of their competitors will be the ultimate gain in having a 4G-enabled business, and the 4G world will be a better and more productive place as a result.

Source: Mobile News










Rural homes to get broadband internet access via 4G mobile network

4G can become an affordable alternative to fixed broadband for web access in countryside areas, claims EE telecoms company

  • Rural homes stranded without broadband will soon be able to plug into the web via the 4G mobile network – by planting an antenna on the roof or simply switching on a router in the living room.

EE, Britain’s largest mobile operator, is planning to throw down the gauntlet to BT on 11 November by launching what it says will be the UK’s first commercially available 4G home broadband service.

Initially available in Cumbria, the offer will roll out to other hard-to-reach areas over the coming months.

“We think 4G can become an affordable alternative to fixed broadband in rural areas,” said EE’s chief executive, Olaf Swantee. “The government is fixated on fixed, but mobile can provide a solution economically.”

As with Wi-Fi, several devices, including laptops, tablets and phones, will be able to connect to the internet wirelessly via a router placed in the home. The only difference is that the router will be connected to EE’s 4G mobile network, rather than a fixed broadband line.

EE has been trialling home broadband over the airwaves in a pilot project in the Northern Fells district of Cumbria since 2012. EE will announce prices next month, but those participating in the trial were charged from £15.99 a month for a connection of 8-12 megabits a second. The speed is equivalent to a typical copper wire broadband service.

With an area of over 100 square miles and a population of 2,600, the Northern Fells is one of the most poorly connected areas of the country. Local MP Rory Stewart has been at the forefront of the debate over rural broadband, and nearly 900 out of the 1,400 premises have signed up for the service when it launches.

The government has come under fire for its management of the publicly funded project to bring broadband to the countryside. Delays mean the deadline to reach 95% of UK premises has now been extended to 2017, with no target for 100% coverage beyond then.

Mobile firms are lobbying now for a share of the £250m in public funds set aside to reach the most remote 10% of homes, saying 4G may offer a cheaper solution than digging cables over long distances.

Source: Juliette Garside The Guardian

Paws for thought with canine WiFi search video link

Canine search is enhanced with the PAWS (Portable All-terrain Wireless Systems) WiFi which Wood Douglas is showing at DSEI 2013.

Wireless communications specialist, Wood & Douglas, is showing its lower cost, lightweight, WiFi-enabled variant of its PAWS live video link worn by military and search-trained dogs.

WiFi has been developed to provide security forces with a low-cost entry system for training and field deployment where search dogs are expected to be in close contact with the handler, such as urban search, drug and explosives detection.

Dogs in training can gain rapid confidence when wearing the live video system. A head-mounted video camera enables a dog to operate without any discomfort, beaming real-time video to its handler for search and rescue, military operations support, explosives and drugs detection.

The camera supports low light, high resolution and IR ‘day for night’ vision options and can be used to search buildings and difficult to traverse terrain; locate and then positively identify suspect packages, devices, or individuals.

Once familiarised with the system, canine teams operations rapidly adapt, says the company. The full PAWS system offers enhanced link performance in any environment with full CofDM video and a two-way audio link. The CofDM video extends the transmission range into buildings or underground, enabling dogs to provide live intelligence from areas otherwise inaccessible to the handler. The audio link allows the handler to instruct the dog remotely and communicate with those caught on camera.

Arqiva’s high speed WiFi is a hit for Heathrow

Heathrow Airport is reaping the benefits of high-speed WiFi from Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company. Europe’s biggest airport is now able to provide the fast, free internet access that its visitors expect – and it’s proving extremely popular with over 30,000 users per day!

During July, there were over one million sessions to Heathrow’s WiFi network, with over 30,000 passengers and visitors logging onto the service each day. Launched on 1 June, the WiFi service is available across all terminals and is free to the public for 45 minutes per day Heathrow Rewards members are given additional free access, being able to use the service for 90 minutes free per day. This compares favourably with Heathrow’s European hub competitors, Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Schiphol who each offer between 15 and 60 minutes free WiFi.

“Providing free WiFi is very much about enhancing the experience for the 200,000 passengers who travel through Heathrow every day and almost two months in, we have certainly achieved that,” said Max Vialou-Clark, Retail Services Director, Heathrow. “We have had really positive feedback on Arqiva’s WiFi service. It means that we can keep passengers happy with great connectivity across the airport.

Max continued:

“We chose to work with Arqiva, due to their record of providing WiFi in airports, retail environments and hotels that is user-friendly, fast and reliable and we’ve been very impressed with the service and Arqiva’s flexible approach.”

Nicolas Ott, Managing Director, Telecoms at Arqiva, said: “Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports and we are thrilled to be delivering a world class WiFi service to its passengers and visitors. Everyone expects easy access to fast and reliable WiFi. We’ve used our previous experience at high footfall locations– airports, hotels and shopping centres – around the UK to provide the best possible experience throughout Heathrow’s five terminals.”

The roll-out of WiFi at Heathrow last month means that Arqiva now provides wireless internet services to over 158 million passengers (c.71% of passengers’ traffic) at the UK’s largest airports, cementing the company’s reputation as the market leader in the provision of airport WiFi, with services in operation at 32 UK airports and 56 airline lounges.

Source: Arqiva

Faster broadband coming to planes, trains and ships as UK eyes spectrum changes

The UK is looking to open up spectrum currently used by satellite Earth stations for vehicle-mounted stations that could boost broadband capacity in aircraft, ships and trains.

The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom is hoping to spur innovation in mobile broadband services by making it easier for satellite operators to use ‘Earth stations on mobile platforms’ (ESOMPs) to deliver passenger broadband.

Ofcom has proposed (PDF) three frequency bands that operators could apply for to support mobile Earth stations mounted on aircraft, ships or other land-based vehicles.

While alternative technologies are already used to provide wi-fi on board in transport, the regulator believes the spectrum could be used to provide links with higher capacity and spur a new market for mobile communications.

Several satellite operators are planning to launch commercial satellite networks in 2013 and 2014 that support the use of mobile earth stations transmitting in the 27.5GHz to 30GHz range, according to Ofcom.

Ofcom also points out that recent advances in stabilised antenna technology make it possible for earth station antennas to track a satellite in orbit even when it’s mounted on a fast moving platform.

While there was a risk the mobile Earth stations could cause interference to other fixed site satellite networks, Ofcom considered that risk “very low”. With the appropriate controls, the mobile stations would cause no more interference than fixed-site earth stations, it said.

It also notes that the aircraft and ship-mounted Earth stations can already operate in international airspace and waters, but that parts of these frequency ranges are used by terrestrial radio systems in some countries. That’s why Ofcom was proposing frequency ranges that are already authorised for satellite Earth station applications, such as the permanent Earth stations and high density fixed-satellite services.

Key proposals Ofcom is seeking feedback on under a public consultation are:

  • Radio equipment for land-based ESOMPs should be exempted from the need to have a Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 licence
  • Radio equipment for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs should be licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 rather than licence-exempt
  • Licensing of aircraft-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the aircraft radio licence issued on Ofcom’s behalf by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with no additional fee
  • Licensing of ship-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the ship radio licence with no additional fee.

The deadline for stakeholders to respond to the proposal is 10 October 2013 and Ofcom expects to release a statement on the consultation in December.

Source: Liam Tung ZDnet

Topics: Broadband, United Kingdom, Wi-Fi

Brave New Nano Flexible Phones and Shrinking Gadgets

Soon people will be able to shop in a store and leave without checking out. Ubiquitous “scan your own items” checkout lines will disappear and remote wireless RFID readers will tally up the items in your cart and charge your cellphone for the items you’ve selected. Soon the cash and coins you keep in your pocket will become trinkets you pull out at holiday time to show incredulous grandchildren how you did things in your day.

Researchers at Mikron, Russia’s leading nanotechnology company, are creating a nanotechnology future for Russia and the world by developing the technical capacity to work at the nano-level, creating nano sized components and churning out nano-products.

Bar Codes To The Dustbin Of History, Enter Billions Of RFID Chips

Through nanotechnology’s use in the creation of Russian identity cards and subway train passes Mikron believes it will spark innovation and growth across Russia’s many industries. By way of example, barcodes currently on every item we buy, must be scanned by hand, and will soon be replaced by RFID chips that can be read remotely in real time as items are stocked, moved, sold, etc. The days of carpal tunnel syndrome from product scanning are nearly over!

According to Mikron, nanotechnology is already allowing researchers, scientists and engineers to:

custom engineer urban environments
affect what we eat and how we grow it
revolutionize medical technologies making once difficult procedures easy and routine, faster and less invasive
createbetter touch screen technology that will affect all machines and devices
miniaturization of everything
revolutionize industrial production
allow for multi functional chips that will bring data to devices and products in new ways
make RFID chips and smart cards upbiquitous
manufacturemore functional and securebank cards, subway cards, etc.
improve the protection of documents such as contracts, proprietary information, and identification cards and documents
replace multiple cards with one secure card which will be capable of holding all information about a person’s life
make smart cards with antenna for wireless radio transmission
build 90 and 180 namtechnology to build digital television sets and navigation systems
use micro-structured protective coatings to protect surfaces from where or deterioration from mechanical processes, whether, etc. The new surface is impenetrable. Corrosion resistant coatings are another advance.
make space ship materials stronger

Source: David Schilling/Industry Tap

EU continues eCall trials

The EU continues to trial its eCall initiative across Europe before it is due to be fully functional in 2015. Tim Clayton looks at some of the opportunities the scheme will present

The European eCall initiative to bring faster help to motorists after accidents is looking increasingly like that rare beast: a successful Europe wide cooperation. Based on early trials, the European Commission estimated that eCall initiative could reduce emergency response times by 50 per cent in rural areas and 40 per cent in urban areas, saving countless lives as well as up to €14 billion in the EU 25 annually. Beyond this, it also represents a fantastic opportunity, creating completely new markets for telematics devices and services, and adding rocket fuel to the already fast-expanding M2M space.


The eCall program

The European Commission introduced eCall, a groundbreaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in an incident anywhere in the European Union (EU), several years ago. To meet the challenge of developing an interoperable Pan-European eCall program, ERTICO and its member organisations launched a pilot programme, known as HeERO. The scheme has developed interoperable eCall programmes in participating EU regions and it will synchronise systems across country and network borders. The HeERO pilot, which began in 2011 and is continuing through 2013, has already been successfully pre-deployed in several regions using 112 as the pan-European Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) emergency call number.

This is probably the world’s biggest deployment of M2M technology, and though the participants in the trial and rollout, because of its scale and strategic importance, will be major blue chip businesses, it will bring wider opportunities. The aftermarket for retrofitting these devices will be huge – Cinterion estimates 100 million vehicles. In addition, the availability of a standard telematics platform in a significant proportion of European vehicles could drive a thriving market in third party applications. The European market alone is big enough to achieve this, but globally, the adoption of a single, standard eCall platform in Europe is likely to influence the adoption of a very similar platform in the US and Asia. Drivers can be offered other telematics services such as route advisories and traffic information, and the location of anything from the nearest service station to the nearest pizza parlour can be conveyed. With drivers’ permission, vehicle location data can be used to monitor traffic conditions even more accurately than at present. Whilst these services are already available on proprietary satnavs, a universal telematics platform in every European vehicle will take this market to a completely different level.

Finally, with the automotive supply chain absorbing millions of M2M modules, volumes on the components they contain will rise significantly, with a corresponding reduction in manufacturing cost. This will benefit every single application that relies on these technologies.


Module support

The first two of these opportunities require access to an eCall-compliant module, and Cinterion was first out with an eCall compliant M2M wireless platform.  The AGS2 is prepared to meet the comprehensive requirements of the European eCall initiative. Its eCall compliant AH3 module and development kit were used and became essential to achieving the successful upgrade of the PSAP system in the first full trial in Romania.

Simultaneous to Romania’s PSAP infrastructure upgrade, Civitronic also collaborated with Cinterion to design and launch the “ubiq eCall IVS Solution”, an In-Vehicle Solution (IVS) that provides the minimum set of data compliant to the EU norm as well as advanced fleet management services. Civitronic’s ubiq eCall IVS integrates Cinterion’s automotive-grade AH3 that provides cellular voice, data and Internet connectivity, GPS capabilities and eCall functionality from one component.

The Cinterion AH3 delivers reliable always-on communications across global 2G and 3G cellular networks for automatic eCall and emergency roadside assistance as well as onboard vehicle computing, Internet access, fleet management, integrated hands free calling and many more. The module’s SIM Access Profile enables easy integration of additional wireless devices, connection with smartphones and software applications, while analogue audio processing and advanced voice support provide superior hands-free capabilities. Its three antennas allow always-on communications with simultaneous voice, data and continuous GPS tracking for true multi-tasking. In short, it is ideal for the creation of a future-proof telematics solution.



Wireless M2M-powered public safety and eCall solutions provide peace of mind for consumers while better enabling emergency service personnel to respond to life’s dangerous moments – but the benefits it will bring are much wider. Anyone designing in-vehicle telematics should be looking at the opportunities it presents, and even beyond this major market, the sheer scale of eCall will create new opportunities.

Source: Land Mobile

The Business Benefits of Machine to Machine (M2M) Technology

Machine to machine (M2M), the automated communication of data between connected devices, has begun to increasingly capture the attention of CIOs across the globe.

The technology is moving beyond its decades of use in utilities, transport, and heavy industry into the mainstream, empowering CIOs to deliver real value, cost savings, and innovation to management and their wider organisations.

Now that networking equipment — a simple SIM card or RFID chip, in the case of M2M — and wireless carriage have dramatically decreased in cost, and wireless coverage, speed, and capacity have increased, we can now embed connectivity into the “things” we use in our day-to-day lives. That translates to new business intelligence (BI), operational efficiencies, and revenue-generating opportunities.

In the transport and logistics sector, this means that pallets and packages are able to communicate their location, allowing for real-time parcel tracking. The same application of M2M also allows the public to gain real-time updates on how far away their train, ferry, or bus is.

In the healthcare sector, M2M devices worn by patients enable real-time monitoring of vital statistics or the dispensing of medication. In retail, M2M provides better point-of-sale data, as well as better shopping experiences through personalised digital signage.

In the utilities sector, too, M2M powers innovation through smart meters in homes that provide near-real-time data to consumers on their usage. M2M devices are also deployed throughout power, gas, and water networks, which allow for better visibility on outages, spikes in demand, and supply routing.

With this communication, machines can be set to act against existing business rules or parameters, or to feed data through to humans, empowering them with greater awareness and insight into business and systems operations.

Because of the improved visibility, they only need to go where the attention is needed. That has a hard ROI for operations.

Just ask Michael Klausen, co-CEO at Brasserie Bread and an M2M convert. Until early 2011, the company — which bakes and supplies artisan bread and pastries to more than 500 restaurants daily — was reliant on labour-intensive and “100 percent unreliable” paper-based processes to meet its temperature-based food-safety compliance requirements.

Faced with the potential loss of health accreditation and the ability to supply specific shops, hospitals, schools, and airlines, Brasserie Bread turned to M2M. The project combines kit, carriage, management tools, software, and services from cold-chain specialist Cooltrax and Telstra. With it, the company has automated temperature readings and compliance reporting, and can now access real-time alerts in the advent of a cool-room unit failing — saving the potential loss of the next day’s bake.

“I can now sleep at night,” Klausen said of the benefits of the project. “I can sit at the airport and quickly run a check on where temperatures are at in the two bakeries. From a management point of view, that is a lot of time saved for me.”

There’s also the saving of a staff member whose sole role is to manage and monitor food temperatures.

M2M: The value

It’s not just management that’s beginning to realise the benefits of M2M; it’s CIOs, too. Telsyte senior analyst, Rodney Gedda, said that this is because M2M can, in many instances, be tied back to a hard return on investment (ROI), as well as helping to deliver back to the business stronger BI, driving customer engagement, cost saving, business process efficiencies, innovation, and potential new revenue streams.

“If a machine or device can report back that it has broken down or that it needs refilling, then that saves, for example, a field-force employee driving around checking on these things,” he said. “Because of the improved visibility, they only need to go where the attention is needed. That has a hard ROI for operations.”

The combination of M2M and big data, as automotive company Ford pointed out, could produce excellent everyday benefits in the not-too-distant future. Collecting data — from a small-scale fleet of repair trucks through to a million-strong network of smart meters — then feeding that data through a processing system to deliver detailed business information is another major benefit of M2M.

“That could be used by an electricity provider to gain very detailed information on when spikes in electricity demand occur, and what usage patterns are, whether there are more optimal distribution paths, whether there is or has been an outage in a certain area, whether there is maintenance needed,” Gedda said. “That kind of information is delivered through M2M, and has a powerful effect on how well your business operates.”

It is really about a better user experience, and, for the service provider, it is a deeper service and relationship.

King Yew Foong, research vice president, communications service provider (CSP) strategy at Gartner, said that M2M is also being used to drive closer customer relations. Through enabling new cars with M2M, automotive manufacturers and dealers are able to actively inform customers of when tire wear is occurring, or when engines or other components are failing or due to be changed.

Similarly, office equipment that’s outfitted with M2M — such as a multi-function printer (MFP) — can keep track of component wear and ink-cartridge use. When the time is right, it can automatically order a new cartridge, or request that a technician be dispatched to give it a service.

The result is that M2M can help deliver a painless service, or create the sensation that the service supplier is actively engaged in the customer relationship. “It is really about a better user experience, and, for the service provider, it is a deeper service and relationship,” Foong said.

Source: ZDNET