“Neither blockchain nor IoT are simple technologies, but the growing credibility of managed platform services makes the technical aspects less daunting.”—ZDNet
Using the internet is as ubiquitous as using an ATM machine, or one’s smart phone to look up the weather, show time for a favorite movie, or simply to find a business location and how to get there with Google map.
Connecting to the internet gives one access to so much. I was amazed to be able to use the internet from my smartphone to talk to my girlfriend in Seoul while driving on the 405 Freeway in Southern California. After landing in Los Angeles I was able to video chat with her on an app called Kakao Talk, for free.
With your internet connected smart phone, you can call and text. You can also read books, watch movies, or listen to your favorite tunes or your favorite motivational speaker. Think of all the things you can do on the internet and how you access the internet: you are using the Internet of Things, or IoT.
IoT is much like connecting all the things in the world to the internet. According to Calum McClelland IoT has three broad categories:
- Things that collect information and then send it.
- Things that receive information and then act on it.
- Things that do both.
All three have enormous benefits that feed on each other. The following is an example of IoT that collects data, and then acts on it.
Collecting and Sending Information
Sensors are perhaps the best example of collecting and sending data. Every time I drive on the 110 Freeway Metro Express Lane in Los Angeles with my FastTrack transponder—a sensor above the lanes notes when I drive by. Depending on the time of the day my account is billed at the going rate. Of course anytime from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. is the most expensive time of the day. Thus it is collecting information: my FastTrack transponder ID, vehicle ID, time of day, etc. sending it to the Metro Express data center.
Many other examples exist for temperature sensors, motion sensors, moisture sensors, air quality sensors, light sensors, and whatever data you may need to collect. “These sensors, along with a connection, allow us to automatically collect information from the environment which, in turn, allows us to make more intelligent decisions.” (McClelland)
Receiving and Acting on Information
Now, Metro Express receives data about my travel along the 110 Freeway. One additional data collection device employed is the camera. Thus—in addition to determining if my vehicle’s has a FastTrack transponder, Metro Express can determine if there are two or more passengers.
Based on the collected data, Metro Express can then act on it. If the driver doesn’t have a registered transponder, the registered vehicle owner will get a bill in the mail a few weeks later. If there are two or more occupants in the vehicle, the driver will get a discount for the time of use.
Blockchain and IoT
IoT is one system, and blockchain another. Taken together, they can be integrated and leveraged. Rohan Pinto says in Forbes: “As for the integration of these two technologies, it can be said that in many ways, IoT and blockchain are a perfect pair.”
There are many applications in industry for integrating blockchain and IoT in farming, manufacturing, or in any industry that uses sensors and data collecting devices. Blockchain secures data from IoT sensors. Blockchain based IoT can connect products and appliances such as cars, refrigerators, washing machines and nearly anything else—reliably and securely.
When one considers all the IoT applications in existence today, a natural question may arise: Is there a blockchain use case application for IoT? What are the key benefits of this natural integration? Pinto offers a brief review of how blockchain and IoT can work together.
Having fun – @MattQuinn @TIBCO & @tmravi @HiveData at tonight's @Meetup
Join us for the next one in ur town: https://t.co/VuYKbe5KDD#innovation #Analytics #IoT #Blockchain #Integration pic.twitter.com/PlcTSpQMTA
— erin moeller (@erinmoe3) August 23, 2019
Security—The application provides additional security that blockchain adds to the data collected by IoT. Data in the blockchain is immutable and cannot be altered—critical for scientific studies, or for decisions that have life and death outcomes, are a two that we can consider.
Data encryption—With blockchain’s data encryption and distributed storage—data can be securely recorded in IoT devices. Thus, all the details of a transaction can be completed without any manual interference, thereby preserving data integrity and ensuring that it can be trusted by all interested parties.
Communication—With a smart contract enabled blockchain, IoT devices can securely communicate and transact with each other with a very high assurance that the transaction will be processed—following predefined rules. With smart contracts, the terms can automatically be fulfilled.
An IoT device can provide data that satisfies a conditional requirement of the contract. As an example, an IoT device on a home owner’s solar power generator could automatically sell extra power it generated back to the grid when the price of power meets a predetermined threshold.
Tracking—By integrating IoT to blockchain, the blockchain can record an historical and immutable record of data received from the IoT device. As a result, blockchain can open the door for a lot of possibilities for an IoT system to act on it.
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There are many possibilities with blockchain use case for IoT integration. Industry can benefit by accurately capturing data and securely storing data on the blockchain. As hackers continue to maliciously, or intentionally intend to corrupt data, the immutability and security of an integrated blockchain and IoT creates a significant contribution to society and industry.