Monday, September 21, 2015

IoT M2M Connectivity Insights from Patents

Patents can provide insights regarding the IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity technologies. M2M (Machine to Machine) communication or MTC (Machine Type Communication) technologies are the key enablers for emerging IoT connectivity.  Recently several telecom operators are deploying LTE based M2M (LTE-M) services as a new profit center.  Furthermore, several global standardization bodies including ETSI, 3GPP, oneM2M, Thread are actively working on the technical standard specifications of M2M communications.

The number of patent applications is a good measure of innovation activities. Thus, to evaluate the M2M technology innovation activities, more than 4000 issued patents and published applications in the USPTO as of 2Q 2015 obtained from keyword search are reviewed.  Patent disclosures in claims and detail description for each patent are analyzed as to whether the contents are within the scope of key technologies for the M2M communications. More than 850 issued patents and published applications are identified as the key patents for M2M technologies for the IoT connectivity. Among more than 60 IPR holders, LG Electronics is the leader followed by Ericsson, InterDigital, Samsung Electronics, ETRI, and Qualcomm.

Following patents illustrate the current status of the M2M technology development for the IoT connectivity: architecture, security, device connection & management and data management.


US8984113 (Internet of Things Service Architecture and Method for Realizing Internet of Things Service; ZTE) illustrates the IoT service architecture based on M2M connectivity. The IoT architecture includes multiple levels of M2M IoT service platforms, M2M IoT terminal, M2M IoT terminal gateway, subordinate M2M IoT service platform, special service platform and service gateway. The M2M service platform provides registration to the M2M terminal and M2M terminal gateway. The special service platform provides video service, audio service, streaming media service, large data volume service, high real time service and industry application. The service gateway is configured to converge data. The subordinate IoT service platform provides management functions such as registration, login, logout and data synchronization.

US20110213871 (Machine-to-machine gateway architecture and functionality; InterDigital) illustrates the M2M gateway architecture. The M2M gateway supports requests from M2M applications or other capabilities within the M2M gateway, and from a network and application. The M2M gateway includes the M2M device and M2M gateway management capability that receives management requests for an M2M device and functions as a network proxy.


US 20150106616 (Systems and Methods for "Machine-to-Machine" (M2M) Communications Between Modules, Servers, and an Application using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)) illustrates the system that can provided the efficient and secure M2M communications using a module, a server, and an application. A module can communicate with the server by accessing the Internet, and the module can include a sensor and/or an actuator. The module, server, and application can utilize public key infrastructure (PKI) such as public keys and private keys. The module can internally derive pairs of private/public keys using cryptographic algorithms and a first set of parameters. A server can authenticate the submission of derived public keys and an associated module identity. The server can use the first server private key and the second set of parameters to (i) send module data to the application and (ii) receive module instructions from the application. The server can use the second server private key and the first set of parameters to communicate with the module.

Device Connection & Management

6LoWPAN is an acronym of "Internet Protocol (IP) version 6 (IPv6) over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks" that defines a technology standardized in IEEE 802.15.4 where IPv6 packets may be sent and received in a network involving low-power radio devices. 6LoWPAN is adopted by Thread as the IoT connectivity standard for home automation. US20150245332 (SYSTEMS, METHODS, APPARATUSES, DEVICES AND ASSOCIATED COMPUTER-READABLE MEDIA FOR PROVIDING 6LOWPAN DATA ACCESS; Ericsson) illustrates s scheme for providing access to 6LoWPAN data in a wireless access network.

An M2M device has different characteristics from common terminals, and thus services optimized for MTC may be different from services optimized for human to human communication. M2M may be characterized in different market scenarios, data communication, small costs and efforts, a very large number of potential communication terminals, a wide service area, and low traffic per terminal, as compared with the present mobile network communication service. It is expected that the number of M2M devices supported by one base station will be much greater than the number of terminals. There is a high probability that communications will be performed for a plurality of MTC devices at the same time according to common Machine to Machine (M2M) service characteristics. US8811961 (Method and apparatus for MTC in a wireless communication system: LG) illustrates the LTE-based M2M communication system.

US20140242983 (HETEROGENEOUS DEVICE MANAGEMENT IN MACHINE TO MACHINE AREA NETWORK; KT) illustrates the method to manage heterogeneous M2M devices in the M2M area network. Various M2M devices to which new M2M area network technologies such as WiFi, Zigbee and/or Bluetooth are applied (i.e., M2M devices having various network interfaces) have been developed. Typically, when an existing M2M gateway cannot support new interfaces of the various M2M devices, it may be necessary to install and operate separate M2M gateways. However, in this case, additional cost may be involved in association with the installation of separate M2M gateways. Furthermore, it may be required to additionally implement interfaces for interworking among a plurality of M2M gateways.

Heterogeneous M2M devices not being supported in an M2M gateway can be efficiently supported by employing network interfaces of other M2M devices in an M2M area network. The method for performing the new M2M device attachment in an M2M area network includes searching for a connectable different M2M device, when a new M2M device is not connectable to an M2M gateway, transmitting an attachment request to a searched connectable different M2M device, performing a connection of the new M2M device and the searched connectable different M2M device, and performing a communication between the new M2M device and the M2M gateway, through the connected different M2M device

Data Management

IoT systems include IoT devices, such as sensors, and gateways to other networks. IoT systems typically perform: 1) data collection from the IoT devices to the back-end (e.g., gateways or networks); 2) data storage at the back-end (e.g., networks or gateways); 3) data processing at the back-end (e.g., networks or gateways); and 4) data querying from users or applications. The overall performance of an IoT system may be impacted by how data, such as sensory data for example, is handled during data collection, data storage, data processing, and data querying. Data aggregation in an IoT system refers generally to collecting data such that the data can be processed in a useful manner. US20140359035 (Data aggregation; Convida Wireless) illustrates the data aggregation at an application-protocol layer in the IoT systems.

US20120059903 (Method and apparatus for processing sensory information in wireless sensor network; Samsung) illustrates the method for processing sensory data. The method includes determining M2M gateways as a serving gateway to manage a target region in response to a sensory data request from a server, collecting the sensory data by means of IoT devices connected to the serving gateway, and transmitting the collected sensory data to the server.

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