Lightweight M2M: The Communicator in the Internet of Things

Back in February 2017, Gartner predicted there would be around 20.4 billion networked devices worldwide in the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2020. By the year 2025, that number should top 75 billion. But the exact number of devices and sensors isn’t really that important. It’s the trend that suggests companies need to engage with this subject and find their own strategies for a networked organization.

For a technology that gets its name from the internet, astonishingly, the internet only plays one role among several. Why? Because there are a growing number of IoT scenarios with devices that lack a constant internet connection—and even some without a power supply. This edge computing concept enables the intelligent use of data in remote areas that have little or no networking. Furthermore, it takes into consideration the fact that often the internet simply isn’t necessary for immediate actions. For instance, if a sensor detects an elevated temperature in a machine’s coolant fluid, then it can trigger an actuator to shut down the machine immediately. The cloud and thus the internet only come into play as a platform for transmitting data when the goal is to use this machine’s data to enable predictive maintenance or optimized operation through algorithmic evaluation.

Lightweight M2M creates connections

OMA Lightweight M2M (LWM2M) offers a protocol for data connections between machines and the cloud. The open-source protocol from the Open Mobile Alliance is specially designed for devices with limited processing power, consuming very little energy. Many telecom companies use LWM2M, and the lightweight protocol is becoming increasingly popular in the device management market.

LWM2M defines a common language for communication between the edge and IoT platforms in the cloud, such as Cumulocity IoT. The metadata, which describes the individual device functions needed to interpret the transmitted data, is stored in a central repository in the cloud. In this way, LWM2M reduces the data transmission by devices to a minimum. Saving bandwidth, in particular, accelerates data transmission for remote devices and makes it more cost-effective. Moreover, this metadata enables users to connect new device types with an IoT platform quickly and easily without any programming, just with configuration in the web interface. The user manual shows just how easy this is in Cumulocity IoT.

For a more detailed explanation of LWM2M, check out the Software AG Technology Radar.

Let’s look at two different industries showing what a real-world application of LWM2M could look like.

LWM2M in practical application: Smart logistics

Here’s a glance at the logistics industry playing an absolutely critical role in keeping global supply chains up and running. Fleets in particular seldom have a permanent internet connection—and actually, that’s needed only rarely. However, exchanging data between vehicles and the cloud is necessary to share traffic and weather data, for example, or data about routes and deliveries. Vehicle data becomes part of that for maintenance interval notifications. And all of it can be organized and managed with sensors, telematics, and solutions like Cumulocity IoT.

Smart agriculture and water management

Agriculture is another industry with entirely different requirements and challenges, including efficiency problems due to leakage, as it loses between 30% and 50% of the valuable water needed to irrigate livestock, pastures, and fields. With IoT technologies, farmers, as well as water and energy companies, can have real-time insights into the condition of their infrastructures and water supply via networked sensors—enabling them to act immediately when they need to. The networked sensors constantly capture data in the equipment but only send warnings about leaks in acute situations or regulate the water pressure if necessary.

LWM2M connected with sensors on one side and the cloud on the other is very easy to use and—when deploying ready-to-use platforms like Cumulocity IoT—is a highly integrated opportunity for connecting assets with the Internet of Things, making it a technology for the future.