Back in 2000 “Any 2 Any” was a catch phrase coined by e-business consulting firms to market technologies and solutions for innovative device to device communications. It was supposed to be a big driver for the “new economy” – if you remember that phrase. Just one problem: the Internet bubble bust and the any 2 any stuff didn’t happen. As usual it was too early and the hype did not live to the expectation. However I was reminded of the recent technology improvements by an article in Economist (When everything connects – The coming wireless revolution) which provides a good overview of machine to machine communication.

The article talks about the new wireless technologies – wireless sensor networks, RFID (tags). Lets see if the Fridge is ready to talk with the cattle?

Here are a few key points from the article:

In coming years wireless will vanish entirely from view, as communications chips are embedded in a host of everyday objects. Such chips, and the networks that link them together, could yet prove to be the most potent wireless of them all. Example: Tags will certify the origins and distribution of food and the authenticity of medicines. But we are stil far from the

The wireless-communications revolution is about making digital information about anything available anywhere at almost no cost. No longer tied down by wires and cables, more information about more things will get to the place where it is most valuable.

For the moment, the mobile phone is stealing the show. It is evolving from a simple phone into a wallet, keychain, health monitor and navigation device. But as mobile-phone technology matures, even more innovation is taking place in areas of wireless that link things only metres or millimetres apart.

Etched into silicon, the radio is starting to benefit from the dramatic decreases in size and cost and the huge increase in
performance that have recently propelled computing. Satellite-navigation chips today cost as little as a dollar apiece.

The decrease in cost of chips will drive the adoption of these technologies. Developed economies will use it for commercial purposes. Develping countries will have to focus on critical issues first.

Security and privacy will be of primary concern.

Standards, spectrum availability and government regulations will be important for all this to happen.

This post has barely scratched the surface of these topics. A few additional resources are presented. Here’s a link to a related Economist audio interview file in mp3. Also see this DRITTE link about a technical book on Wireless Networking in the Developing World. And here’s a blog about RFID.