The Internet of Things+Blockchain

I’m a hippy. In fact, I’m almost Amish. I would prefer to have a 1960’s Volkswagen with a simple engine I can repair, rather than a car with a computer in it. Even better would be a 2 wheeled machine that doesn’t require an engine but can be human powered. You know…a bicycle. But as technology advances exponentially, the ability for a car to drive itself is already here and soon to be released on a mass scale.

Almost every “thing” is or will be connected to the internet. The internet of things is extremely exciting and scary at the same time. Now our business and personal machines can leverage the power of the internet to evolve to our every need. But with these devices connected and controlled under a centralized model, security is a major concern. In walks blockchain with a sexy swagger. Oh you can’t open that pickle jar? Hand it to me.

Under the current model, IoT devices can be hijacked and used as weapons in cyber wars such as during the 10/16 DDoS attack.

Blockchain solves a lot of the security and privacy problems inherent in the IoT infrastructure. According to IBM, a decentralized IoT solution should have these abilities:

Trustless peer-to-peer messaging
Secure distributed data sharing
A robust and scalable form of device coordination

Psssst. Blockchain! Open this pickle jar!

IBM is taking the lead. They have the Watson IoT Platform which integrates into the IBM Blockchain powered by Hyperledger. Chronicled is another company which claims to be the first company to leverage IoT, AI, and Blockchain technologies to power end-to-end smart supply chain solutions.

Blockchain secures and privatizes or makes transparent the IoT infrastructure.

So what does it look like when these technologies converge? We are just starting to conceive of the countless ways they can be applied. For business, the entire supply chain can become smarter. Production of products, identifying and tracking products, shipping, delivering, and returning of products can be done with every machine communicating and coordinating in a secure way, maximizing efficiency, speed, quality, and profits.

For example, a hypothetical hoolahoop is created in a smart factory, where every machine knows what to do because it communicates with the last. The factory takes in orders from the internet, hits a trigger point and orders more plastic because supplies are running low. It gets the best price on the market through a market evaluation application. The plastic is purchased without any human being involved. The hoolahoop is manufactured by IoT machines and given a unique identifier, which is lightyears ahead of the barcode and supplies every person/company/government who interacts with a product authentic layers of information. The fleet maintains themselves and automatically ships hoolahoops to their destinations.

As you can see, when IoT and Blockchain get married, their babies are autonomy, automation, efficiency, and security.

Companies like Grid+ are making smart-home use-cases a reality. For example, your dirty smarthome starts to clean itself. But they take into account the price of electricity at various hours of the day. Thanks to Grid+’s blockchain and cryptocurrency tech, smart contracts will execute automatically to buy and sell power to the grid automatically if your home has solar or other energy production (in a way much more sophisticated/flexible than current schemes).

Now all of your energy using or producing devices can talk to each other and you don’t have to watch the electricity market like a day-trader to save money.

Maybe big institutions which normally mediate these processes can be removed. I like the idea of the energy/pollution problem being solved. These solutions really cut out the administrative costs, which saves even more money and energy. But the elephant in the room is that with all of this automation, what will humans do when robots can design and maintain smart devices? Maybe, just maybe…they will leave their smart home and get on a 2 wheeled, human-powered machine…you know… ride a bicycle.

April 26, 2018

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