Technology continues to impact and improve seemingly every facet of everyday life – from the way we teach future generations to the way we treat patients in hospitals – and now it’s improving the way our groceries are kept fresh. UK-based online grocer Ocado has taken the term “fresh” to an entirely new level with the introduction of SIM-card modules, microchip transmitters and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
The New York Times covered this interesting story over the weekend, explaining how the technology works to deliver refrigerated foods at the optimum temperature needed via heat sensors and a “fast-growing form of wireless communication.” Additionally, inside each Ocado delivery van is a SIM-card module no larger than a postage stamp which works to monitor air temperature, as well as send data to a computer used by fleet managers located at the company’s London-based headquarters every few minutes.
So how has the technology affected the online grocer?
Ocado’s Director of technology Paul Clarke said that “it has saved us time and given us more confidence in our real-time monitoring, as well as being a safety check for the driver.” Clarke additionally oversees and manages a 300-person department that develops software and hardware for the retailer.
Plum Voice, a leading speech recognition and IVR provider, tweeted about the news not even 24 hours ago, specifically emphasizing the machine to machine (M2M) communications aspect:
The low-density, quiet conversation between the company’s trucks and Hatfield-based HQ is merely one example of M2M communications, described by The Times as “a stream of consciousness based on semiconductors that is poised to reinvigorate the mobile industry.”
Furthermore, this “robotic chatter” is expected to soon exceed what human voice conversations can do on wireless grids. Miguel Blockstrand, director of the Stockholm division for Ericsson (News - Alert), the leading maker of wireless network equipment, said that this “is definitely possible within 10 years.”
“This is a ‘What if?’ kind of technology. People start to consider the potential, and the possibilities are endless,” Blockstrand added.
Machine-to-machine communications have been being utilized for move than 20 years and were originally run on landline connections to control industrial processes remotely. As technology continues to rapidly evolve and change, however, these same robotic conversations are now quickly shifting to wireless networks with the help of enhanced mobile broadband speeds and smartphone computing.
Achieving seamless machine-to-machine communication, however, is like every home or office window opening and closing automatically to control temperature and humidity. Needless to say, the developers of the modules and SIM cards associated with this equipment will have to settle on special technical standards to enable this specific kind of device communication and performance.
An analyst with London-based research firm Machina Research, Jim Morrish undoubtedly believes that this feat is not impossible. In fact, he strongly believes that engineers can accomplish this task in the future, saying, “I think by the time we reach 50 billion connected devices, we will be in such a different technological stage that those won’t be issues anymore.”
Want to learn more about M2M technologies? Then be sure to check out the M2M Evolution Conference, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. The M2M Evolution Conference is for industry professionals interested in capitalizing on a rapidly growing segment of the telecom industry. The M2M Evolution Conference embraces the any-to-any strategy of the Internet today. Co-sponsored by TMC (News - Alert) Partner Crossfire Media, it showcases the solutions, and examines the data strategies and technological requirements that enterprises and carriers need to capitalize on a market segment that is estimated to grow to $300 Billion in the year ahead. For more information on registering for the M2M Evolution Conference click here.
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Edited by Rich Steeves