Merging Blockchain and IoT Technologies: Changing the Foundation and Fabric of the Internet

“As the internet evolves, what will be the impact of the convergence of the current IoT infrastructure with blockchain and artificial intelligence?”—Jayshree Pandya

Data is the lifeblood of business success. Businesses are engaged in collecting data every day: from small retail shops to restaurants, to major corporations engaged in high volume production plants. One technology that has become critical is the Internet of Things (IoT). It has the ability to collect data using the Internet. IoT is emerging as a significant AI technology and has attracted the attention of the blockchain community.

Agriculture is using soil and weather sensors to take daily readings of farming conditions so they can maximize their farming practices. Home owners can monitor and set their thermostats through their cell phones using Internet apps. The HealthPatch is yet another example of an IoT that monitors one’s “ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature, body posture, fall detection, and activity readings remotely.”  (Beebom)

Wikipedia defines IoT as “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

IoT has merged technical advances to the user and businesses. It has the ability to collect and harvest large amounts of data in real time. When paired with analytic tools, businesses can then use this data to monitor, adjust, and maximize observations–to make decisions with little to no human intervention.

Businesses can get insight into their operations “creating new revenue opportunities and increasing efficiency,” writes Linda Rhodes and Charles King III for RFID Journal.  Global spending on IoT is expected to reach $745 billion in 2019, and exceed $25 billion by 2021—says Rhodes and King III.

With the potential for billions of sensors to collect data from the many points of entry—the temptation for bad actors to penetrate IoT sensors to collect and harvest data for their own reasons is a real concern. Vulnerability in one node of a network may impact an entire system. “Bad actors that exploit deficient IoT security measures can cause numerous harms, including business delays, breaches of security and privacy, and even physical injury.” (Rhodes and King III)

Image Source: i-scoop.eu – 3 key examples as to how the convergence of these two technologies can benefit companies and the consumers.

The Convergence of Blockchain, the IoT, and AI

As technology moves forward and evolves, it’s not surprising to see the convergence of technologies of the IoT with blockchain technologies. Jayshree Pandya, a Forbes contributor, offers her thoughts: “The evolution of the internet is happening at many levels considering artificial intelligence (AI) can now take the petabytes of data they have from a distributed network and extract meaningful information from it.”

She notes that blockchain and distributed ledger technology provide the ability to automate intelligent man-to-machine networks “that could shape the intelligent systems at all levels for nations.” This includes its application for government, businesses, academia and more.

The result? IoTs may well be on their way to changing the very “foundation and fabric of the internet,” Pandya continues. IoT is defining intelligent systems at all levels. It is connecting them, they are smart, efficient, and affordable—a game changer for how we use and integrate the Internet.

Blockchain Overcoming Centralized Bottlenecks

IoT is often dependent on centralized data centers.  Data is collected and stored in data centers such as data farms owned by the enterprise, or it is stored in the cloud. Data from IoT devices is sent from the device to the data center where it is processed and analyzed and then sent back to the IoT device.

Chrisjan Pauw in Cointelegraph highlights critical issues with traditional IoT: “With billions of devices set to join IoT networks in the coming years, this type of centralized system has very limited scalability, exposes billions of weak points that compromise network security.”

Blockchain with its distributed ledger technology is cryptographically secured. Its distributed ledger technology allows for secure transfer of data. Moreover—blockchain can use smart contracts. Devices can then function securely and create agreements that can be executed when specific requirements have been met. The smart contract provides for “greater automation, scalability and cheaper transfers” in a secure manner, preventing penetration of the data.

Overall, blockchain’s decentralized network reduces the risk of the billions of nodes transferring data every day.

Blockchain IoT Platforms

A number of platforms are developing use case applications for blockchain IoT—and continues to grow as the industry grows. Pauw highlighted IOTA, one of the first blockchain IoT platforms. It “provides a transaction settlement and data transfer layer for connected devices.” A few of the partnerships that IOTA has entered into include the following. These clearly represent the degree and level of interest among corporations to pursue blockchain IoT.

Bosch—the Bosch XDK (Cross Domain Development Kit) is a programmable sensor device and IoT prototyping platform used to collect specific, real-time data which can then be sold via the IOTA Data Marketplace.

Fujitsu—is using the IOTA protocol in a proof-of-concept, immutable data storage medium for audit trails across industrial production environments and supply chains.

Volkswagen—is working with IOTA on a project called “Digital CarPass,” which is essentially a report card for cards stored on a distributed ledger that ensures critical factors — such as mileage — are reliable and accurate.
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Source:  cointelegraph.com/news/how-significant-is-blockchain-in-internet-of-things, December 2018.

Conclusion

Clearly—IoT is a technology that has significantly contributed to humanity. From health data monitoring devices that can save the lives of people with heart disease, to the ability of residences to efficiently monitor their home environment to reduce carbon emissions—IoT is making a positive contribution to society.

With blockchain IoT, businesses can now use IoT to operate more securely, efficiently and economically. The promise of blockchain to integrate IoT and smart contracts clearly is disruptive and may well take the internet to an entirely new level.

If you liked this article about Iot and Blockchain be sure to read a similar one by clicking here ——> Leveraging Blockchain and IoT—A Use Case Application for Industry

Samuel H. is an author, writer and speaker with over twenty years in the educational technology sector.

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