The growing proliferation of connected devices provides new business opportunities for telecoms operators, should they choose to take them. And one European operator in particular is looking ahead to the role it could play as people increasingly opt for a connected life.

"You may well be buying washing-as-a-service," in future, as manufacturers add connectivity into a growing number of household devices, said Max Croot, M2M client delivery director at KPN, speaking at Total Telecom's Network Management Show in London on Wednesday.

"We are actually working with Samsung on that sort of thing," he said.

A connected washing machine would add intelligence into the process of washing clothes; it could programme itself based on energy and water consumption and even on how dirty the clothes are.

"[It's going to be] hard for Samsung to control when my children get dirty," added Terry Norman, session moderator and principal consultant at InterConnect Communications.

Joking aside, the new revenue opportunities facilitated by M2M are not too far away. But as with other segments of the machine-to-machine space, the scope of the role operators will be able to play is still up for debate.

"[There will be] massive diversity of commercial models," Croot predicted. In addition to operators and vendors working together, white goods retailers will have business models of their own, while multinationals like Unilever, whose products include laundry detergents, could get involved in the market through partnerships, he suggested.

"[You will see] different businesses springing up," Croot said. "It's going to be a very different value chain that you see."