Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology is set to transform the face of the automotive industry. The inclusion of in-car wireless connectivity will open up a host of innovative services to drivers. Imagine, for example, owning a car that immediately sends an emergency message in the event of an accident or that is equipped with technology that can offer real-time advice remotely on any mechanical problem. These services are just the tip of the iceberg for what's around the corner.
It is no wonder then that recent EU regulations stipulate that all new cars must incorporate M2M-enabled connectivity in the form of emergency 'e-call' messages. The technology is expected to save a large number of lives, particularly when serious accidents occur in remote areas or late at night.
Machine-to-machine communications, commonly known as M2M or telemetry, has been around for more than 20 years. It is well-established in providing connectivity across a wide range of different sectors, including utilities, security, fleet management and the automotive industry.
Over the past decade, individual car manufacturers such as Hyundai, for example, have developed integrated in-car telephony systems. These typically incorporate emergency call functionality in response to an accident or breakdown, together with remote diagnostics and vehicle tracking.
In offering buyers enhanced safety protection and reliability, such value-adds also provide a competitive differentiator within a manufacturer's broader product offering.
Yet the market now looks set to take off as organisations realise the untapped potential of M2M. They have recognised how its ability to control devices, minimise downtime through advanced diagnostics and stimulate innovative product development can deliver benefits for all - in terms of increased efficiency, cost reduction, new services and increased customer satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, analyst firm Analysys predicts that the global market for M2M device connections will grow from 62 million devices in 2010 to 2.1 billion devices in 2020. In the automotive and transport sector, the firm estimates 446 million connections by 2020.
The potential for creative M2M development appears almost limitless. Though at this early stage, the automotive supply industry has yet to determine which areas have the greatest development potential. One area which may well prove especially attractive is that of in-car Internet services. Here, M2M-based services could connect to other IT platforms, providing car owners with an integrated range of personalised radio and other entertainment applications. Value added services also include the utilisation of data to provide products like 'Pay as You Drive' or 'Pay How you Drive' based insurance policies. Early adopters like Hyundai have been quick to tap on the benefits of this technology.
Hyundai Motor Group introduced its BlueLink telematics system at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year. BlueLink is a form of M2M technology that involves a variety of hands-free safety applications, including automatic crash notifications, SOS help calls and even a stolen vehicle recovery plan. At the same time, BlueLink integrates these safety features with entertainment, allowing drivers to easily navigate their radio and music collections without fuss.
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