For the majority of our customers, M2M is primarily a means to reduce costs and create value-added, revenue-generating services. In fact, I believe we are all guilty from time to time of focusing exclusively on these fiduciary benefits, to the point that we lose touch with the tangible ways in which M2M is improving society and, more importantly, fostering a higher quality of life. Let us take a quick walk through some key areas where M2M is moving the needle.
Perhaps the most visible life-driven application is that of telemedicine. Also referred to as telehealth, mHealth or mobile health, the common goal here is to enable wireless exchange of medical data between doctors and patients over geographic distances to deliver consultations, conduct exams or monitor real-time disease and wellness metrics. While many point to the economic savings that are made available with this technology, and rightly so, the fact is that telehealth is largely a means to improve patient quality of life, particularly those suffering from a chronic condition. With M2M-based monitoring in place, patients can go grocery shopping, visit relatives or even leave the country for vacation while still reporting critical monitoring data to their doctors. The classically homebound patient is now liberated!
mHealth is beginning to branch into other, non-critical areas such as wearable sports and exercise devices, but these are primarily reserved for informational and recreational purposes. These are designed for the curious consumer, if you will.
M2M is also accelerating consumer convenience. You may have noticed that you can now use your credit card in random, remote places. If you don't have that dime in your pocket to park for 20 minutes, just swipe your credit card on the meter. Does your tire need air and you don't have the quarters to start the machine…just use your credit card. The reason for this is that decreasing M2M data costs allow micro payments without having to add burdensome "minimum" charges to end consumers – so now a taxi can process that $5 cab fare without having to charge your card a minimum of $10.
Vehicle location, diagnostics and recovery is another area where M2M is improving lives. I recently installed a remote starter kit into the family mini-van. Wouldn't you know, the benefits go way beyond just remote start capabilities. First, there IS an app for that – I can find my mini-van in real-time on my Apple iPhone using Google maps and the embedded GPS in the car. I can get alerted if the battery is running low, or if the car has been in a fender bender via SMS text message. I can even set a geographic fence and driving speed notification for a teenage driver borrowing the car. The peace of mind this small advance in technology has delivered is awe inspiring.
Cash rewards for conscientious driving is another emerging trend improving lives and balance sheets. Today's insurance companies are using M2M to more accurately assess driver and vehicle behavior in real-time to support more accurate actuarial calculations. This means that consumers can turn safe driving habits into the instant gratification of "found" money. There's a more direct financial incentive to drive defensively.
Environmental safeguards are much tighter with M2M. Truth be told, time and cost considerations often limited the monitoring that could be accomplished in the past, with systems largely subjected to occasional inspections by humans. Wireless devices now produce more stringent measurement of air quality, water quality, pollutant levels and wastewater treatment methods so that necessary action can be taken within seconds, not hours or days. We can all take more comfort in that.
We'll look at more areas where M2M technology intersects positively and with life improving societal benefits in a future posts.
By Stein Soelberg, Director of Marketing
Stein leads a team whose responsibility is to own the branding, advertising, customer engagement, loyalty, partnership and public relations initiatives designed to propel KORE into the 21st century. With over 15 years of technology marketing experience in the business to business software, Internet services and telecommunications industries, Stein brings a proven track record of launching successful MVNOs and building those brands into leaders.