T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom has launched the first online marketplace for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technologies, providing manufacturers and dealers with a global distribution channel for their hardware, software and industry apps.
M2M enables devices to communicate with each other directly and without human intervention, using wireless sensors and the internet. Often referred to as the "Internet of Things," it is used to automate management, monitoring and data collection, as well as to provide services through devices.
Utility companies, for instance, have started using smart meters to keep track of the electricity their customers are using and bill them accordingly. Telemedicine offers another use for M2M - for example, some heart patients wear monitors that record their heart rate and send data to implanted devices that deliver a shock to correct an erratic rhythm.
Deutsche Telekom said the various potential applications of M2M in a broad range of industries means that many different partners have to work together to create individual solutions. The new portal will allow customers to compare offers on an international scale and find solutions that are best suited to their individual M2M needs.
"The marketplace brings together global supply and demand for M2M solutions in a straightforward way, thereby lending greater dynamism to M2M business." said Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom.
Vendors can upload detailed descriptions of their products, together with pictures and technical documentation, to one of nine categories: Energy, Healthcare, Transport & Logistics, Automotive, Consumer Electronics, Retail, Industrial Automation, Public Sector and Security.
The M2M Marketplace will be launched in English, with other languages to follow. Products can be offered free of charge until 2 July 2012. After that, the "usual fees" for online sales platforms will be chargeable, varying in accordance with the type of solution being sold, said Deutsche Telekom.
David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the UK's Technology Strategy Board said earlier this year that the Internet of Things has the potential to stimulate large scale investment, create jobs and bring substantial economic growth.
"The number of connected objects is estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020, and the potential added value of services using the Internet of Things is likely to be in the range of hundreds of billions of pounds a year, with new business models, applications and services across different sectors of the economy," he said.