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Once devices are connected, the next problem is getting them to talk to each other, and making sense of what they're saying. ABI's Shey says this is the real business opportunity in M2M, more valuable than making the modems or providing the wireless connections. He believes that's driving a behind-the-scenes scramble of deal-making at the show, as companies like AT&T seek to bolster their ability to support M2M by acquiring companies that provide a "middle layer" of software between the devices and their owners.
For connections between devices in the home, like that remote-controlled coffee-pot, Qualcomm touts its AllJoyn project, which it seeks to make an industry standard. Currently, the main ways for devices to connect to each other and figure out what they can do, like Bluetooth and DLNA, are too limited and difficult to use, said Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Innovation Center.
With AllJoyn, "there's nothing to stop you from making a speaker that listens for notifications and turns them into speech, so you hear, `Hey, you left the refrigerator door open!'" Chandhok said. "You take very simple things and connect them, and people build experiences on top of them. That's what we're trying to do."
Jose Maria Figueres, the former president of Costa Rica, is now the president of the Carbon War Room, an organization co-founded by billionaire Richard Branson to promote cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions through smart private enterprise . Figueres believes M2M has huge potential to wring efficiency out of energy-guzzling activities, and could reduce emissions equivalent to 9.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2020 -- roughly equal to the combined emissions of India and the U.S. today.
Vodafone provided one example of how this might be done. The city of Groningen in the Netherlands has put sensors in the trash containers that serve public-housing units. They alert trash haulers when they need to be emptied, saving on unnecessary trips and reducing fuel use by 18 percent. (continued...)
© 2013 Associated Press under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.
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