When machines talk, smart companies listen. M2M, or machine-to-machine communication, is fast becoming a market-changing force for a wide spectrum of entrepreneurial businesses.
Since launching its Emerging Solutions Group in October 2009, Sprint (NYSE: S) has worked with solutions partners to help a growing number of businesses serve customers -- and in some cases outflank their competitors -- with M2M innovation.
M2M is about connecting people, devices and systems in new and transforming ways.
With M2M, devices "talk" to each other over wired or wireless connections and share data without direct human intervention. In this way, devices as diverse as utility meters, signboards, cameras, remote sensors, laptops, appliances and other consumer devices can be connected to support a variety new uses and achieve increased efficiencies.
"M2M is shattering conventional notions about what a business can deliver for its customers," said Danny Bowman, president-Sprint Integrated Solutions Group. "Business opportunities that were once technically infeasible or too capital-intensive are now both doable and profitable in a short period of time. Sprint's early entry as a provider of comprehensive M2M solutions is already producing results for businesses and their customers, including ingenious applications that make life safer, more productive and more entertaining."
Device-to-device connections are bringing a new way for a restaurant to serve diners with digital interaction and easier directions through major airports with digital signage. In addition, M2M enables such benefits as rapid emergency alerts in a West Coast hospital, a new level of peace of mind for people living with Alzheimer's and their families, entertainment and Wi-Fi access for train passengers, and the chance for fans to post tweets on an NFL stadium scoreboard, to name a few benefits.
Among the companies and organizations that use M2M solutions from Sprint and its partners are:
Alzheimer's Association: Working with strategic partner Omnilink, Sprint helped the Alzheimer's Association put remote monitoring M2M technology to work for Alzheimer's patients. The Alzheimer's Association Comfort Zone is the first comprehensive location management system designed specifically to give people with Alzheimer's more independence while providing their caregivers options, including the type of device or network connection.
Amtrak: Riders on select Amtrak East and West Coast lines are now cruising with an enhanced traveling experience that includes a revolutionary new digital signage offering. This solution brings passengers breaking news and weather updates, sitcoms and feature films, along with Wi-Fi service to keep them always connected. The services are enabled through applications from Internet Connectivity Group Inc. (I.C.G.) and 3G broadband from Sprint.
Continental Airlines: Continental's employees and passengers at the busy Houston and Newark airports are better able to navigate arrivals and departures with the help of cellular digital signs deployed at passenger gates, terminal ramps, aircraft maintenance areas and corporate training areas. The M2M solution provided by MediaTile and supported by Sprint wireless broadband has helped Continental realize:
- significant improvement in bag handling efficiencies
- reduction of safety incidents
- dramatic improvement in awareness of policies and procedures among staff
- faster deployment and understanding of new policies
- overall improvement in customer satisfaction
Dominican Hospital: Caregivers and patients at this comprehensive care facility serving the Monterey Bay area get the timely, sometimes urgent, information they need through digital signs located throughout the hospital's numerous buildings. The cellular solution is provided by MediaTile and uses Sprint wireless broadband. For more information, visit www.mediatile.com/nopain.
RedBull and 504 Restaurant: With the help of Sprint and Internet Connectivity Group Inc. (I.C.G.), RedBull and 504 Restaurant are taking digital signage to a whole new level of customer interaction. Hollywood Designer Kris Keith's Spacecraft group has blended I.C.G.'s interactive digital signage applications and Sprint 3G into a dynamic customer experience that keeps patrons engaged at the New Orleans-style bar and restaurant called 504. RedBull is using the interactive solutions to transform patrons into a community of followers while eliminating the expense of print advertising.
Washington Redskins FedEx Field: Fans of the Washington Redskins are part of the action like never before with the real-time display of fan tweets on digital displays throughout the Club Level at FedEx Field. The Redskins organization provides the M2M-based service using Internet Connectivity Group Inc.'s (I.C.G.) ICtweedia interactive application, powered by Sprint's 3G network.
2010 Maloof Money Cup Brings Together an Interactive Community: Founded by Sacramento Kings and Palms Casino Resort owner Joe Maloof, the Maloof Money Cup is a premier showcase for professional skateboarding. Organizers of the 2010 Money Cup event were looking for interactive solutions to bring fans closer to the fast-paced action. I.C.G. (Internet Connectivity Group Inc.) addressed the need with their wireless interactive digital media infrastructure, powered by Sprint's 3G network along with I.C.G.'s ICMedia content and content management software. The onsite experience involved three Jumbotrons placed front and center in the skating arena and Festival Village, where fans enjoyed unprecedented access to their favorite competitor performances. Dozens of high definition LCDs were mounted throughout the venue, wirelessly displaying a streaming feed of the competition. The screens also displayed tweets, competitor stats, and photo streams in real time. Sponsor logos were constantly displayed in all applications, ensuring the best exposure for their brands and increasing the placement value to Maloof.
Each time fans engage with I.C.G.'s social networking applications I.C.G. captures user profile information (such as e-mail address, phone numbers and Twitter/Facebook account) for marketing purposes. This information can be accessed via the ICMedia Web application anytime, anywhere, building captive communities with their fans, patrons, customers and others. The Maloof organization was able to provide fans a next-generation venue experience incorporating wireless video and social networking applications into one seamless reliable network.
"Companies in a growing variety of industries are discovering that device-to-device connectivity is a potent enabler of innovative services that can generate rapid revenue growth and an accelerated return on investment," said Wayne Ward, vice president-Sprint Emerging Solutions Group. "Sprint has mobilized its resources to become the premier partner for business customers as they develop, implement and support transformative M2M business models."
With the launch of its Emerging Solutions Group in October 2009, Sprint established an industry standard for M2M services, featuring Sprint's unique combination of 3G and 4G capabilities, more than 10 years experience in providing connectivity for non-Sprint-branded devices, and an expanding ecosystem of M2M partners, including device manufacturers, aggregators and OEMs.
Sprint Emerging Solutions is distinguished by its comprehensive and open approach to M2M services. The Sprint M2M philosophy emphasizes several wireless provider characteristics that are key to successful M2M deployment for customers, including the following:
Network agnostic capabilities: Sprint brings customers the ability to connect over a variety of networking options, including CDMA, iDEN, 3G and 4G, along with a secure and reliable Tier 1 IP network. These are supported by specialized industry solutions and solutions engineering teams, including the Custom Network Solutions (CNS) team dedicated to in-building and campus wireless coverage solutions.
These capabilities allow M2M customers to tap the nearly endless possibilities of Sprint's Now Network. No one has a more reliable network than Sprint, according to a 13-city 3G test conducted by PC World.* The Now Network is the culmination of ultra-fast networks, cutting-edge devices, game-changing price plans and a portfolio of products and capabilities that enable customers to do what they want, simply and immediately. With Sprint, customers can truly celebrate the simplicity and instant gratification of Now.
Broad selection of devices and applications: Sprint can accommodate a wide range of needs with an extensive selection of devices, including 3G and 4G broadband devices and smartphones (including Android), specialized devices and a host of applications.
Open approach: Sprint is committed to an open approach to both devices and applications. Sprint's partners benefit from the ability to certify devices on the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network through the company's Open Device Initiative.
Expansive M2M partner ecosystem: Sprint's expanding ecosystem of M2M partners includes Aeris, Axeda, Digi, DriveCam, Ford Motor Company (Ford Work Solutions), Lenovo, M2M DataSmart, Internet Connectivity Group (I.C.G.), MediaTile, Multi-Tech, Omnilink, Qualcomm, Numerex, Sierra, Sixnet, Skiff, Top Global, Walsh Wireless, XATA and ZTE USA.
Distribution channel availability: Sprint can support M2M business customers with regional and nationwide distribution capabilities, along with branding, billing and customer care services, depending on the need.