The internet of things (IoT) is already here and, according to Vodafone’s Lauren Morris, the telecoms giant has already activated 17m machine-to-machine (M2M) devices worldwide, including 200,000 in Ireland.
Morris was speaking with Siliconrepublic.com following the recent news that Vodafone and EMC were jointly investing €2m in a new IoT industrial test platform.
The new testbed will provide facilities for the testing and exploration of technologies like M2M communications.
The IoT Innovation platform is spread across three data centres in Cork: EMC, Vodafone, and data centre and cloud provider Cork Internet eXchange (CIX).
Businesses will be able to use the platform to test solutions for IoT, in manufacturing, fleet management, machinery, household appliances, and even clothing that contains sensors and that can communicate with other machines.
IoT will unleash a plethora of new business models for industry
Morris, who is M2M country sales manager at Vodafone Global Enterprise, said that the key opportunity for businesses via IoT is the potential to come up with new business models.
“This new testbed will let them test out their prototypes, come up with new ideas and bring them to market.
“We have a team locally as well as globally that can give guidance around best practice for deploying these solutions.”
In Ireland, Vodafone has 200,000 M2M devices connected to its network, which pales beside the 17m it has activated worldwide. These are effectively machines that have SIMs inside that allow them to do their job and communicate back to the cloud. They could be anything from vending machines to sensors measuring pollution or traffic control or machines that allow farmers to feed animals in the field.
“Vodafone has 17m M2M devices connected globally and in Ireland we have 200,000 already connected.”
Morris said she anticipates the IoT and M2M opportunity will lead to advances in medical devices, agriculture and industry.
She highlighted the example of farm equipment manufacturer Keenans, which has connected its animal feed machines via M2M to the cloud to help farmers better manage feeding cattle to ensure good quality meat and dairy products when they reach the supermarket.
“We also believe that the home is going to be one of the biggest markets for internet of things in terms of energy services.”
Other areas where she sees opportunity for IoT include connected appliances such as fridges that can tell you if you are out of milk and other goods, as well as smart connected solutions that boost home care and reduce the amount of patient stays in hospitals.