Embedded devices, applications spill into the limelight - MWC 2012 preview issue

It should come as no surprise that connected devices and machine-to-machine services are key pillars in the GSMA's Mobile World Congress schedule. Indeed, according to Cisco, M2M traffic globally will grow 22-fold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 86 percent. Cisco predicts M2M will account for 5 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2016, compared with 4 percent at the end of 2011, and that the average M2M module will generate 266 MB of mobile data traffic per month in 2016, up from 71 MB per month in 2011.

Thus, it's clear that a significant section of the wireless industry is going to zero in on the opportunities presented by the intersection of machines and wireless technologies. And while definitions of the space can vary (the GSMA appears to have settled on "embedded" as the umbrella term), many expect notable advances in the areas of utility monitoring, smart grids, ereaders, connected homes, mobile healthcare services and other, similar areas.

Perhaps the best example of the growing importance of embedded, connected devices at this year's MWC is the scheduling of Ford's executive chairman in a primetime keynote slot. On Monday, Bill Ford will discuss "how Ford is working towards improving the motoring experience through technology innovation and ubiquitous connectivity," according to the GSMA.

But Ford isn't the only heavy hitter from the connected device space to pop up on the MWC schedule. On Wednesday, the "Embedded Mobile: State of the Market" session will feature executives from BMW, AT&T, Nokia Siemens Networks and others discussing how "e-readers and tablets, the automotive, healthcare and utilities sectors represent relatively untapped market opportunities for the mobile ecosystem." Separately, a pair of sessions on Thursday will also tackle connected services: The "Embedded Mobile: The Market Opportunity in the Automotive and Utilities Sectors" will feature executives from Ford, Nissan and other firms in the automotive space, while the "Embedded Mobile: Consumer Electronics - The Case for Embedding Mobile Connectivity" session will drill down into the opportunities possible between operators and consumer electronics companies.

One final piece of evidence highlighting the importance of the connected device space is the announcement of the GSMA's "Connected House." The house runs on technologies from the likes of AT&T, KT and Vodafone and their partners Accenture, Airbiquity, AQ Corporation, Cisco, Ericsson, Garmin, Herit, Intel, KTH, Modacom, Qualcomm, Rsupport, Sony and Zelitron. Specifically, the house will offer:

  • A "social media vending machine to offer you a sweeter Facebook experience," according to the GSMA (which did not provide details beyond that hint)
  • A health monitor for seniors and patients
  • The "Exmobaby Connected Baby Pajamas to keep tabs on sleeping babes" (wow)
  • And a robot that "teaches children to read, sing and speak in different languages."

But the connected house won't be the only place for MWC attendees to check out new embedded technologies. The GSMA lists more than 100 exhibitors that have business in the M2M space.

One example? Mobile security provider AdaptiveMobile, which projects that there will be 2.5 to 5 billion active M2M devices by 2020, up from around 160 million today. During MWC, AdaptiveMobile will release an "in-depth research on the current security flaws with M2M," which will also detail what immediate and long term fixes are needed to make M2M as secure as other mobile connections.

Another example?  Inrix will be at MWC; the company offers technology that gathers data from cellular and GPS mobile phones and transforms it into insight on real-time traffic conditions across the world's roads that navigation providers and manufacturers are using to make their apps and services more valuable.    

Embedded devices, applications spill into the limelight - MWC 2012 preview issue