M2M market could find a niche in home monitoring systems

Cellular machine-to-machine connectivity is an oddity--an awkward fit for the business models established for voice, messaging or high-speed mobile data. What M2M does call for, and require, is fresh and radical thinking, together with a high degree of perseverance.

One novel example of M2M is that seen with pump manufacturers that want to offer an innovative pricing plan other than a simple purchase.

Some of the more progressive vendors are installing M2M modules within their pumps and then offering the unit as a service. The customer is then charged depending how much volume is driven by the pump over a defined time.

This is probably not a huge market for M2M companies or operators, but itis an illustration of what can happen when a device is connected to the network, and it provides the manufacturer with an opportunity to move up the value chain.

A second example, recently highlighted by a study from Berg Insight, is the adoption of cellular connectivity by the intrusion alarm systems industry.

Berg Insight estimates there will be 4.3 million alarm systems connected to cellular networks in Europe by 2016, helped along by insurance companies that increasingly want to see alarm systems using both fixed and wireless connectivity to monitor alarms.

The research study also notes that the number of tracking devices and wireless alarm systems monitored from alarm receiving centres and similar facilities will grow from 9.1 million in 2011 to 39.7 million by the end of 2016.

Since only around 2 per cent of all households in Europe have a monitored alarm system, the revenues are presumably low. However, Berg Insight claims that the recurring revenues from alarm monitoring services for existing clients have proven relatively resilient despite the economic downturn, a major factor in several European countries.

Of interest, those involved with developing and installing these M2M alarm systems are looking to expand the scope to include the detection of fire, gas and water leaks, or even home automation functionality.

Could this monitoring be developed in a smartphone app? If it hasn't, then it surely will be, albeit that any alert flashed to a homeowner that they've got a burglar, gas leak or flood will be most unwelcomed.--Paul