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Telematics is Just Mobile Networking

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Signals from Space!

Telematics starts with exotic signals from space, GPS. In the mid-1990s, the two dozen satellites zooming around the earth could guide any person through the most remote settings the wild world might throw their way, granted they had a GPS receiver to divine their way across strange lands. (Radio Electronics) Telematics devices use GPS to locate themselves, but then beam their location to the servers using cellular towers just like a cell phone. All the same triumphs and perils of cell phones and smart phones are shared by telematics. Additionally, other components common to cell phones are used by telematics devices. A chief example is the accelerometer, which is an instrument used to measure the titular property of acceleration and vibration. Telematics devices can measure when a vehicle accelerates and brakes quickly. In recent years, devices can sense when a vehicle has been in an accident and measure the severity.

What else is just like a cell phone?

The ubiquity of cell phones in daily life and deep integration in the modern experience makes them a wonderfully illustrative tool. Many IoT (Internet of Things) devices are just like cell phones, sending and receiving communications; and using small sensors to perform tasks. Drones can utilize all the same technologies as a cell phone. Any drone that is out of range of a remote control is likely to use cell towers to receive commands and use GPS to determine its location. Also, it will use small cameras and accelerometers to gather data about its surroundings and make decisions. Smart parking meters (the kind that take credit cards) that have replaced traditional parking meters will need to transmit data. Historically, devices like this were networked with ethernet cables and required professional installation, A.K.A. they were expensive to implement. Batteries powered by small solar panels and cellular communication made implementing smart meters with modern features a viable solution. Lastly, smart vending machines will likely use no other smart phone technologies but cellular communication. However, without the ability to send and receive data wirelessly such devices would be too expensive because of thin profit margins on each unit and the high cost of wiring internet onsite. Vending machines are likely to move locations every few years meaning that a high reimplementation cost would make the entire concept of a smart vending machine a no-go for most businesses and more of a novelty for others. Telematics has started to become more common and it has already moved from being a luxury to being a real necessity.

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