Douglas Adams, the Writer (capitals intended) and inventor of the Hitch Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, was interviewed in 2000. During the interview, he said that we had made computers to fit into rooms, then we made them to fit on desks, then in briefcases, then in pockets and soon “they’ll be as plentiful as dust – you can sprinkle computers all over the place. Gradually the whole environment will become something far more responsive and smart.” He also conceived the wireless internet while lying on his back in a field just outside Innsbruck a long time ago, but that is another story. Twelve years after the interview, his M2M predictions now seem possible, if not nearly here.
As we have argued before, the ‘M2M’ market that we talk about now will evaporate into vertical markets, just as PCs did. Before that happens, though, major advances will need to happen in those verticals. The car industry is at the forefront of these advances and, oddly perhaps, stories about cars are coming from large telecoms companies.
The first was from Telefonica, highlighting that, from 2015, all European cars must be fitted with eCall, a system that sends data to the nearest emergency centre in the event of a crash. This will reduce emergency response times by up to half and, when it comes to emergency response times, time is life. Verizon’s news concentrated on the connected car from a comfort point of view. LTE in your car will provide you with almost unlimited options; from entertainment, to safety, home security and comfort, to a much better sense of your car’s surroundings.
Cars, at the moment, seem to be the playthings of telecoms companies, with announcements of driverless cars from Google, balanced, it seems by plans from Ford to put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your phone if you become stressed, thus letting you deal with the situation at hand.
All this sounds exciting and new and futuristic, and we hope that the beta testing works out without too many ‘emergency shut downs’ or ‘restarts’. Meanwhile in the background, service agreements and billing for cars that roam will need to be thought through, as well as a heap of different business models. And, of course, before Mr Adams’ computers are scattered like dust upon the earth, or at least the highways, the world will need to move completely to IPv6, otherwise the dust will run out of addresses.