Internet of Things and the power of Text Messaging

Text messaging or SMS(Short Message Service) is well known for alerts and notifications. Be it in a crisis or a marketing campaign. It is actually the most powerful medium for quick and effective dissemination of messages.

This is for good reason. In 2013, every 97 out of 100 citizens used a mobile phone. That is about  7 billion users. Compare this to the fact that 40 out 100 citizens are internet users.

SMS does have its shortcomings such as unreliable delivery or spoofing but it still remains the most ubiquitous of communication technologies which fed the frenzy of a USD 100 Billion global market in 2014.

Impressive statistics aside, SMS comes with its inherent power of simplicity and availability. It is native to every mobile phone, smart or otherwise. It works from day one of the service, and everyone knows how to use it. 7 Billion of them!

But, we have a new phenomenon growing and that is the Internet of Things(IoT). Essentially IoT consists of sensors(they see and hear), actuators(they do things) managed by a controller. A control system with internet thrown into the mix.

Experts estimate Billions of devices(sensors and actuators) will be connected. The most popular device in this fray is the mobile phone. Use of SMS now takes IoT to another level. Every mobile phone with SMS becomes a sensor and an actuator.

This is akin to using SMS for online banking authentication. A authentication code is received via SMS(sensor) and the user enters the code when prompted(actuator).

Using SMS allows IoT to reach users around the world and not only in developed cities and countries. A rice farmer in a developing part of the world would appreciate control over his crops via IoT if he could use a technology like SMS. Expecting him to watch dashboards or install apps on smart phones is not feasible.

The world is catching up to this concept, I think. No wonder the Global (application to person) A2P SMS market is expected to reach USD 70.32 Billion in 2020.

Companies like Nexmo, Twilio, Tropo and others are doing a fantastic job of bringing SMS to the doorstep of every app developer.

At the end everyone should be able to benefit from IoT, all 7 billion of them. SMS is one way.

In this regard posts by Tropo (Controlling the Internet of Things with Tropo ) and Mosaic NetworX(SMS and the Internet of Things: Text Messaging Between Connected Devices) are worth a read.