Telecoms and technology firms are looking to tap an expected surge in demand for so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications - or using the internet to get products from cars and washing machines, to turbines and medical equipment to carry out more tasks more efficiently.
Cars are at the forefront of the new industry, as manufacturers strive to add new features such as streaming music, playing audio books, navigation aids and security improvements to their vehicles. Only about 10 percent of vehicles have built-in connectivity to the internet, but that number is expected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2020, according to British consulting firm
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Other mobile operators are also investing in the M2M industry - also known as "the internet of things" - looking for new sources of income as stiff competition and regulation slow growth in their core market.
Earlier this year, Apple unveiled its CarPlay technology, which integrates its iPhone with a car and allows drivers to use certain apps on the dashboard with Siri, the voice-enabled assistant, to view maps, make calls, listen to music, and send and receive text messages.
In other industries, examples of M2M technology already in use include smart meters that monitor |energy usage at homes, or devices in offices that tell an owner when a coffee machine needs re-stocking.
The GSMA, the trade body for mobile operators, estimates there were 195 million M2M connections last year, with the highest usage in the car and consumer electronics industries.
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