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Is M2M hype or the future of our information society? What does it take to turn the M2M vision into reality? In this article we discuss the business motivations and technology challenges for machine-to-machine communications. We highlight key M2M application requirements and major technology gaps. We analyze the future directions of air interface technology improvements and network architectures evolution to enable the mass deployment of M2M services. In particular, we consider the salient features of M2M traffic that may not be supported efficiently by present standards, and provide an overview of potential enhancements. Finally, we discuss standards development for M2M.