Robots and artificial intelligence haven’t taken over — yet. But machines still have human-like needs, needs that, when fulfilled, can improve payments and commerce and, according to some, usher in what’s sometimes being called in smart circles a new industrial revolution.
The key to that future is emerging 5G mobile network technology.
Sure, retailers, healthcare providers and other operations with firm footing in the digital economy are seeking, finding and crafting use cases for 5G, which, above all, promises speedier and more robust information flows among people and businesses. But machine-to-machine communication promises to play as great a role or even greater in 5G, at least according to some observers and studies.
5G Machine-to-Machine Trends
In fact, “the most transformative use cases in the US will be in mass machine communications (50 percent), ultra-reliable and low latency services (48 percent), and enhanced mobile or cellular broadband (41 percent),” according to TechRepublic and Infosys. “As for the top benefits, US respondents cited connected cars (62 percent), connected secure homes (42 percent), emergency services (42 percent), smart buildings (41 percent), and translation or linguistic services (41 percent). Mobile office (35 percent) was further down on the list.”
A scholarly research paper on the subject summed up the issue.
“Machine to Machine communication will be a market changing asset in the near future. It will open doors for new architectures, ideas and services that will accompany us in our daily lives. The capacity of mobile networks used by M2M-Technologies needs to be able to handle billions of nodes that are expected to soar,” according to that paper. And as that happens, according to one estimate, the market for what is called the machine-to-machine connections market will become much more valuable — to some $23 billion by 2023, though that estimate doesn’t likely take into account all the machine-to-machine value that will be boosted by 5G mobile network technology.
More Connected Devices
As might be imagined, machines have a variety of reasons to talk to each other, and in a faster manner than is the case now. Devices within and without certain factories will be able to talk to each other in ways that are speedier, including more information and provide time-critical functions, according to experts. Automation promises to significantly increase, and machines can be commissioned and put into service faster, according to some analytical reports. “Experts estimate that there will be up to 70 billion connected devices worldwide by 2025,” according to Aftermarket News. “Many of them will be in manufacturing, meaning that 5G will become a competitive factor.”
That report goes into even more detail about what the 5G machine-to-machine proposition really means.
“The new communications standard will enable applications that require high-power, extremely reliable wireless connections to be integrated securely and efficiently into manufacturing facilities,” it said. “These include mobile robotics, autonomous transport vehicles and human-machine interactions. For instance, workers wearing augmented reality glasses can access additional information in their field of vision, optimizing how they monitor and maintain machinery.”
Amazon is trying to play a bigger role in this area and trying to set itself up for the 5G industrial and machine-to-machine future. News emerged on Tuesday (Dec. 3) that Amazon, via is Amazon Web Services operation, is working with Verizon on what the two companies are “working to bring the power of the world’s leading cloud closer to mobile and connected devices at the edge of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network.”
Such a project can lead to multiple new use cases for 5G, according to Amazon and Verizon, including “latency-sensitive use cases like machine learning inference at the edge, autonomous industrial equipment, smart cars and cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented and virtual reality.” Indeed, it’s not just industry that requires better machine-to-machine communication to thrive well into the 2020s and beyond. The rise of the so-called smart homes and the Internet of Things — included connected vehicles and eventually self-driving cars and trucks — will use the increased speed of 5G, at least according to current plans.
5G Machine Payments
Payments, too, are going to benefit from 5G and how it will improve machine-to-machine communications. As the DXC.Technology blog recently explained, the emerging 5G mobile network technology promises to increase the ability of machines to basically pay each other, and via what amounts to their own version of digital wallets. “Autonomous vehicles — such as cars, forklifts, trucks or any industrial machine — could pay for their own energy or fuel, maintenance and insurance,” according to that analysis. “Moreover, in a shared economy, vehicles (or industrial machines) could earn money by renting themselves to other machines and being paid by those machines based on usage.”
That’s not all, either, when it comes to 5G, machine-to-machine communication and relevant payments, according to that blog. For one, blockchain technology might come into play when governing those payments, according to that blog and other sources. And the use cases could be pretty varied. “Potential uses for M2M wallets include: power and energy trading between smart grids and homes, connected vehicles paying for parking, and industrial machines paying 3D printers to print replacement parts,” the report said. “These are entirely new business models that weren’t possible with traditional financial systems.”
So much is still yet to come with 5G, but it seems clear that machine-to-machine communication will play a big part in the new mobile technology — and will have massiv impacts on payments and commerce.