editor's blog
Subscribe Now

IoT or M2M or Connected Device?

In various places where people track and discuss progress in the world of interconnected things, there is a surprising amount of debate over the meanings of terms that might otherwise be taken for granted.

Most often, you see a debate over the “internet of things” (IoT) as compared to “machine to machine” (M2M). And, in fact, M2M technology has been around for a long time, so some of the tone can be annoyance: “Hey folks, we’ve been doing this for a long time, there’s nothing new, and it’s got a name already : M2M, not IoT. Quit hijacking and hyping our technology.”

Well, I’m going to join the fray here with my opinion, and you can flay me if you disagree. (Just be gentle.) I’m going to toss in one other phrase that I saw included in one of the debates: the seemingly innocuous “connected device” (it’s the innocuous ones that all too often end up being not quite so innocent).

Let’s start with that one. A “connected device,” in my eyes, is simply one that can access the Internet. I suppose it doesn’t have to be the internet – it could be some private server or something else. But… probably the Internet. The thing is, the device isn’t really talking to any other device; it’s just providing you access to information that resides somewhere outside itself.

The other two terms deal with devices that go online to interact with other devices. This is where most of the debate is. Much of the technology used for the IoT could well be the same as that used for M2M, so there’s room for lots of overlap there.

I think that if the IoT were really only about things talking to things, then you could argue that it was more or less the same as M2M. But in its more typical use cases, the IoT tends to involve people more than M2M does. The IoT is more like person-to-cloud-to-machine. It’s the person and cloud that feel different to me.

Of course, M2M must, in the limit, involve people. But a more classic industrial implementation of M2M would seem to consist primarily of machines and a local or private server (or server farm – and, despite that fact that such farms have been around forever, you’ll even see them being rebranded as “private clouds”). A factory or other industrial process can hum along nicely, with the Grand Algorithm keeping things optimal, all under the watchful eye of a Homer Simpson (or a more suitably qualified person).

That feels very machine-centric to me, as opposed to the refrigerator that can detect when it’s out of something so that some company can send you an ad on your phone. The IoT model feels to me like it’s more human-centric (or should be).

So:

  • Connected device: just a device with access to outside information
  • M2M: machine-centric network where the endpoints are mostly machines
  • IoT: mixture of machines and public cloud and people doing things that serve the needs of people more than they serve the needs of machines.

OK… bash away. Heck, you’d wonder if it even matters, but it’s amazing how much energy people can devote to this. I’m gonna go put on my flak jacket now.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jul 3, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at CNNs for vision as well as other neural networks for other applications.] We'€™re going to take a quick detour into math today. For those of you that have done advanced math, this may be a review, or it might even seem to be talking down...
Jul 2, 2020
Using the bitwise operators in general, and employing them to perform masking operations in particular, can be extremely efficacious....
Jul 2, 2020
In June, we continued to upgrade several key pieces of content across the website, including more interactive product explorers on several pages and a homepage refresh. We also made a significant update to our product pages which allows logged-in users to see customer-specifi...

Featured Video

Product Update: Advances in DesignWare Die-to-Die PHY IP

Sponsored by Synopsys

Hear the latest about Synopsys' DesignWare Die-to-Die PHY IP for SerDes-based 112G USR/XSR and parallel-based HBI interfaces. The IP, available in advanced FinFET processes, addresses the power, bandwidth, and latency requirements of high-performance computing SoCs targeting hyperscale data center, AI, and networking applications.

Click here for more information about DesignWare Die-to-Die PHY IP Solutions

Featured Paper

Cryptography: A Closer Look at the Algorithms

Sponsored by Maxim Integrated

Get more details about how cryptographic algorithms are implemented and how an asymmetric key algorithm can be used to exchange a shared private key.

Click here to download the whitepaper

Featured Chalk Talk

Maxim's Himalaya uSLIC Portfolio

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Maxim Integrated

With form factors continuing to shrink, most engineers are working hard to reduce the number of discrete components in their designs. Power supplies, in particular, are problematic - often requiring a number of large components. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with John Woodward of Maxim Integrated about how power modules can save board space, improve performance, and help reliability.

Click here for more information about Maxim Integrated Himalaya uSLIC™ MAXM1546x Step-Down Power Modules