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Machine-To-Machine Communication: Challenges And Future Opportunities

With the advent of machine-to-machine communication, the autonomous communication of smart devices will likely be a part of the human ecosystem/society in the coming years. Specifically, machines will interact to make a “smarter society,” where they can intelligently send messages for the actualization of various operations under our very eyes.

This has interesting implications. Among others, doctors can get updates about patients’ wellbeing in terms of blood pressure and body temperature through smart gadgets which send timely information for a required medical checkup. Real-time monitoring and actuation could be facilitated using this technology in chronic cases. In industry, mechanical devices have a niche within the manufacturing process where they transmit necessary information for required monitoring and control. In homes, machines could intelligently improve our prudence with electricity through smart meters, thereby saving energy and money.

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It is even more exciting when we take the entire picture of a smart grid into account. City lights automatically switch ON and OFF depending on environmental conditions. Smart traffic information can also help to reduce traffic congestion on the road and much more. These machines can make our environment/society more secured as intruders begin to realize that though there are no humans watching their sneaky moves, a machine might just be watching them in real-time and sending live updates to the police or a news agency.

Realizing these few examples of the practical applications of machine-to-machine communications, we understand why researchers in academia and industry have spent so much time looking into how to make this technology a ubiquitous reality. Much work has gone into the standardization of the narrowband internet of things which aims to gracefully accommodate the massive number of machine devices within the network. Further look into technical literature reveals that there are various concerns related to the integration of these devices which would most likely outnumber humans. These include:

  • How do we accommodate these machines considering the current limitations of existing wireless technologies?
  • How do we design highly scalable and efficient protocols and architectures that will cater for this technology at diverse layers of the protocol stack?
  • Since many networking vendors will invest in this technology, how do we ensure the interoperability of standards and service platforms?
  • Considering the role of wireless communication devices in affecting the level of C02 in the atmosphere and the massive number of machines to be deployed, how do we make the society greener with the presence of these devices?
  • For critical applications requiring ultra-high reliability, how do we ensure that the challenges/setbacks of existing technologies are circumvented to cater for real-time applications, such as real-time traffic monitoring and autonomous vehicular communication?
  • How do we tackle interference in the future ultra-dense framework considering the massive number of machine devices will further coexist with the dense deployment of small cells and other network components?
  • What are the new technologies that would likely impact the machine-to-machine communication landscape in years to come?

These findings are described in the article entitled Machine-to-Machine Communication: An Overview of Opportunities, recently published in the journal Computer Networks. This work was conducted by Oluwatosin Ahmed Amodu and Mohamed Othman from the Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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