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Intel seeks connected home for Atom

Vodafone to provide the needed connectivity

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Vodafone and Intel have banded together to push Atom chips, and Vodafone connectivity, into cars, fridges and toasters – the humans already being adequately equipped.

The two companies reckon it is the complexity of development that is stopping manufacturers connecting up our washing machines and cookers, and will thus release an easy-to-use Atom-based developers' kit to spur development in the machine-to-machine industry.

"Take-up has been partly held back by the complexity of installing and managing the technology," according to Vodafone's head of M2M, who promises greater simplicity though wireless connectivity.

It is not just Vodafone and Intel who reckon we're about to start connecting up all our appliances – last week France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom started working out how to ensure cross-border compatibility for M2M services, so a manufacturer can just drop in a module and ship it anywhere in the world with confidence that it will find an internet connection when it gets there.

This is the same problem that Qualcomm reckons its Gobi technology can solve, and a solution has to be found if all in-home connectivity isn't going to end up using Wi-Fi by default.

The great thing about Wi-Fi, for manufacturers of white goods, is the ability to drop in a chip and antenna without worrying about where in the world the product gets shipped. The problem with Wi-Fi is the need for a user interface, and a user capable of interacting with it, and the associated support issues.

Mobile operators reckon they can connect up all those low-traffic devices by simply providing a SIM slot, or perhaps not even that if the management of embedded SIMs can be agreed on. It might seem counterintuitive for your dishwasher to have its own mobile phone when you've got a perfectly good ADSL connection locally, but if it means that the least technically literate individual can use it, then manufacturers might be interested ... once they've thought of a reason to network your dishwasher, that is. ®

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