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Application Spotlight: Crime fighting Laptops

Posted by Norman Miglietta on 02/02/2012

We’ve hinted in recent posts that we’re at a bit of an inflection point in the maturity of the market, where M2M is going to start showing how it can help organizations make money by enabling new services and providing enough implicit value that users are willing to pay more.

Earlier this year, the “backtalk” project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is ostensibly designed to track what happens to electronics devices once they are discarded by consumers, proved its mettle as a crime fighting solution in a rather unexpected way. A couple of bumbling thieves (I picture ne’er-do-wells that make Cruella de Vil’s henchmen seem like society men) decided it would be cool to pilfer some of the laptops used for the project. But things turned sharply when the devices reported back with the stolen devices’ exact locations — and even took pictures of the thieves’ faces as well as the logo on one of the suspect's shirts, which revealed his business’ address.

When we look at the “innovations” that made this possible, there really isn’t much to it. The computer has a thin-client, M2M-enabled device (or devices) embedded inside, designed to communicate location via GPS and cellular triangulation, as well as to take pictures of its surroundings and transmit this data back to a host server. In consumer terms, the iPhone’s "Find My iPhone" feature is analogous, as it makes use of the device's GPS to track its location on demand.

The implications for M2M-enabled security are significant. Computers can now be pre-loaded with a theft-deterrent component, one that goes so far as to say, “Don’t steal me, for I will identify you to the authorities.” In the wider context of premises security, M2M-connected devices enable better user interaction with home or business security systems. If the alarm gets triggered these new systems might send you a real-time picture of your home, to show you (and the authorities) that the back door's been opened or a window's been broken, or maybe the cat's just knocked over a flower pot. (In such an instance, the smartphone could be used to remotely reset the system).

Clearly, add-on theft deterrent and interactive alarm applications such as these open a new revenue source for computer manufacturers and after-market vendors. What consumer in his or her right mind would turn down such a service? We’re already seeing wireless home security make its way into the product set of cable providers. Talk about non-traditional revenue.

But no matter how sexy or high-value the application is, you cannot communicate with the necessary devices without broadly-based, fiscally-minded connectivity. This will be the factor that continues to push M2M onto everybody's radar screen, and we’re thankful that it is our bread and butter at KORE.

The most important lesson in all of this, however, is obvious: Don’t steal from MIT!

By Danny Thomas, VP Operations

Danny has over 23 years of experience in the wireless and telecommunications industry working in Asia, North America, and the U.K. He joined KORE in 2009 and was instrumental in driving the implementation of our state-of-the-art, fully redundant network architecture. Danny joined KORE after 14 years with AT&T Mobility as the Sr. Director of National Wireless Data Operations, where he worked on several state-of-the-art wireless projects including the launch of the first 2G, 2.5G, and 3G networks and the launch of the Apple I-Phone. 

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