The Way IoT and Blockchain Change the World
The Internet of things has long ago ceased being a mere concept; nowadays, it is an interesting and promising technological trend that gradually comes to life. The IoT concept was introduced for the first time in 1999, and it took roughly 10 years to commence implementation thereof. We are not going to provide a technical comparison of the project’s development during that period; what we are going to do is cover some prospects of the IoT and blockchain technology.
Internet of Things 101
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. – Wikipedia
The ‘thing’ in that concept may be a person with a cardiac pacemaker control system, a cow with embedded bio-chip, or a driver-less bus running along a predetermined route. In other words, it may be any physical object that can be attributed with an IP, and that is capable of broadcasting data into the network. Of course, in order to make an IP available for any cat, any human being, and any thing, we will have to use IPv6, as IPv4 addresses are running low.
IoT Right Here and Right Now
Any enthusiast having a sufficient technical experience is capable of assembling a small IoT device. It takes some knowledge of microcontrollers and networks, and some basic skills of dealing with electrial appliances. If you have ready-made robot kits from Arduino or Lego, the process becomes twice as easy.
An option that is easily-implemented and useful in practical terms is to assemble a control scheme for several household appliances like a kettle, air conditioner, and a bitcoin miner acting as a heater. Connect it all to a controller managed from your browser, and when the days are dark and cold, you will be able to warm your feet by the miner, and remotely turn on the kettle with a single click.
However, many companies release smart devices capable of connecting to the IoT. One may recall ‘smart houses’ which are in fact the tiniest link in the unified IoT chain. Let us see an example of the IoT architecture to have a better idea of the IoT hierarchy and issues related to implementation of the concept.
One of the biggest problems for the IoT is not in making appliances smart or adjusting the interaction between a smart home system and the user’s smartphone; the problem is integration of all those micro-systems into one. It is necessary in order gto make the interaction global, safe, scalable, and fast. Nobody wants to wait for six transactions to be confirmed just to turn a kettle on.
The IoT and Blockchain
The IoT implementation via centralized technologies is a very labor-intensive issue which is hardly scalable and safe. For that reasons companies and specialists involved in such activties think that blockchain technology has a great potential in that relation – to say nothing about simple single-range protocols like BitTorrent.
Corporations like IBM and Samsung frequently call blockchain the technology capable of solving the main logical problems hindering the IoT implementation. Bitcoin company 21 Inc., which is also involved in smart contract activities, mining, and the IoT, thinks that rapid development of the IoT is impossible without bitcoin’s mass adoption.
Main problems faced by the IoT today are as listed hereunder:
1. Where to store the data circulating within the network?
2. How to maintain safe storage of data?
3. How will particular pieces of data sensibly interact?
4. How to maintain continuity and integrity of data?
5. The information entropy issue.
6. What is more important: fast and scalable protocol or data privacy?
Blockchain technology may be of use for the IoT via tracking of a particular device’s history in the network. All data related to interaction of the device with people, the network, the outer world, and other devices will be recorded in an individual blockchain.
This may be both an open and totally public blockchain and a closed and private ledger; it depends on the device’s type and appropriation. The blockchain technology may also allow the device to act as an autonomous / independent agent operating in autonomous mode. But it mostly covers the issue of DAO / DAC (decentralized autonomous organizations / companies).
Just imagine: your coffee maker is adjusted to make a strong Americano at 8 a.m. on working days, but on the weeked it makes you latte at least at noon. Moreover, the coffee maker would obtain data on your health, current phase of sleep, maximum admissible dose of caffeine etc. from your house’s blockchain.
Of course, the house collects those data from the blockchain which gets it from your pillow and, maybe, a chip placed in your body. This series of musings may go very far to comprise a sci-fi novel in the end; however, that novel may soon become a description of a person’s routine.
ll those small blockchains interact via sidechains. Your appartment doesn’t have to use a unified blockchain. If tomorrow you buy a new smartphone, why would you want its history in your house’s ledger?
To summarize it all, let us return to coverage of problems hindering the IoT’s implementation. Blockchain covers the issue of data storage, continuity, integrity, and safety. Sidechains provide interaction of devices and data, as well as scalability and operation speed without significant breach of data privacy.
The IoT’s implementation with blockchain opens the door to automation of household and routine tasks, or labor robotization. IoT-based solutions may be used on a global level, including those for making management decisions and establishment of autonomous economic models.
Bitcoin made the blockchain technology known to the masses, and acted as a fuel stage for its rising. Nowadays, we have every justification for a cautious optimism to believe that modern civilization has a very attractive tool to rearrange and optimize the world.
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