Blockchain and the Internet of Things

If creating smart contracts are the key to facilitating all sorts of value trade on “blockchain 2.0”, what are then the next big evolution, or “blockchain 3.0”?

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/multimedia/GBE03620USEN.pdf
IBM whitepaper

As it turns out, there are various ideas for blockchain applications for IoT and smart systems. When applied to Internet of Things, the concept of blockchain can open up the possibilities of new innovations. Blockchain technology can be used in tracking the history of individual devices. It can enable the processing of transactions and coordination between devices that are involved. The technology will make the IoT devices independent by keeping a record of the ledger of data exchanges between the device and other devices, services and human users, and by enabling them to conduct transactions.

IBM seems to think that the blockchain is the ideal solution for underpinning the Internet of Things. After all, many of the future Things needs to transact with each other, so why shouldn’t virtual entitites interact with virtual currency? In the future, your fridge will order more groceries when it’s running low, and the blockchain will be the ultimate way for your your fridge to create your order and pay for it. That’s why Richard Brown, former head of IBM financial services, created the meme: “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a fridge”.

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/multimedia/GBE03620USEN.pdf
IBM whitepaper

IBM has been one of the earliest companies to announce their plans of exploring blockchain. It started with a report stating that blockchain could be an elegant solution for the IoT. In January 2015, it revealed a proof-of-concept for ADEPT, a research project for IoT using P2P blockchain technology. The system will be based on IBM’S ADEPT (Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry). The ADEPT platform consists of three elements: Etherum, Telehash and BitTorrent. With the platform, both the companies hope to bring in a set of devices which can automatically signal operational problems and are able to retrieve software updated on their own without any human interference. These devices will also be able to communicate with other nearby devices in order to facilitate battery powering and energy efficiency.

This is just the first of many applications that IBM are currently looking into. Arving Krishna, VP of IBM research, wrote a blogpost to SmarterPlanet “We believe blockchain is an extraordinarily important phenomenon, which is why IBM is deeply engaged in moving it forward […] We’re committed to help make blockchain real for our clients and for business. As always, we will explore these technologies with clients — with the goal of building a new generation of powerful platform technologies and applications that will shape the next era of business.”

I believe that mr. Krishna makes a very good argument in his article. Even though blockchain applications and tools are not ready yet for mainstream adoption, it is imperative that established corporations such as IBM, Microsoft, etc (and EVRY) takes a active role in shaping this technology for the future. There is a strong likelihood that the disruptive potential of blockchain technology will make many of today’s business processes and incumbents irrelevant in the future, but only those who are not willing to adapt and innovate.

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