Projects that Augment IoT with the Blockchain are Timely

MXC’s Prototype of a Smart City IoT Standard. Image courtesy MXC.

The announcement by the team at the MXC Foundation late last year about their elaborate and rather ambitious Internet of Things (IoT) project may have gone unnoticed. In a world with more than 1500 circulating cryptocurrencies, missing such news is hardly unusual.

What is interesting, however, and one that blockchain enthusiasts should train their eyes on, is the prospect of combining the firing power of the blockchain and allied technology such as IoT.

Bringing together these technologies to build even better use cases, I think, is a thrilling prospect. The blockchain space is witnessing many such collaborations emerge that promise better, more robust, increasingly significant, and a lot more practical applications.

The collision path between blockchain and IoT that practitioners now call the Blockchain of Things is an exciting premise. Both technologies show great possibilities with world-changing proportions.

At this point, it probably is best to define them some for the benefit of everyone.

IoT refers to the connectivity among ordinary, day-to-day objects. These connections are facilitated by the internet-enabled computing devices embedded in these objects. Blockchain, on the other hand, refers to the encrypted, distributed, and public computer filing system that allows users to create real-time records that are both indestructible and tamper-proof.

The definitions alone speak of great promise and so putting these two aspects together, in theory, you are envisioning a network of smart machines. The kind that creates secure, verifiable, and permanent records and that interacts with their environment to make life-changing decisions even without human input.

Present Challenges and Opportunities in the IoT Space

By 2017, the world already had about 8.4 billion IoT enabled devices. According to projections, the devices could increase to 20 billion in 2020 and 500 billion a decade later in 2030. The envisioned increase in these devices will lead to a smart and extremely interconnected world. Besides, this revolution may extend far and broader out of the realms of smartphones and internet-enabled devices in residences; it points to industrial-scale applications.

As it is now, there only downside is that IoT devices are still insecure and very vulnerable. The world’s most devastating DDoS attack that affected CNN, Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, and The Guardian was attributed to a vulnerability in an IoT botnet. Besides, hackers can access, and control devices implanted in patients or disable cars remotely. The thought of such attacks is disturbing! Also, that situation highlights the need to bring in the blockchain muscle.

The Blockchain Connection

(I) Security

A blockchain-powered IoT network is secure. The current failures of IoT that I have spelled out here above expose the networks, the multiple devices therein and numerous yottabytes of sensitive data conveyed in these systems to crooks that can use them however they want. Using blockchain to manage access to data within an IoT network introduces an additional layer of security. Such a system has improved authentication, connection, and transaction processes. Besides, the decentralized nature that the blockchain eliminates the vulnerabilities associated with a single point of failure.

(II) Oversight

The premise of the IoT rests on its ability to facilitate data transaction among multiple networks that belong to different entities. Where such transactions open the system to manipulation, the permanent and immutable nature of blockchain records safeguards the network’s data sequence.

Besides, in such a network, machines record information between themselves and hold the keys that grant access to the blockchain. The systems, as such, deflect any human interaction whose intention is to overwrite the network’s records with false or inaccurate information.

(III) Frictionless Communication

The encoded logic of smart contracts presents a possibility for IoT ecosystems to create agreements that are enforceable only if certain conditions are met. This feature alone eliminates most of the weaknesses we perceive in IoT systems. For instance, a system that adopts smart contracts can authorize payment upon delivery of a product or service to the intended recipient.

Smart contracts eliminate the confusion in the IoT networks and allow for transparent, tamperproof, and frictionless communication between machines.

“Unusual” Use Case — Disaster Management

An IoT startup is spearheading the use of these combined technologies, and not for something mainly financial, rather, disaster management. MXC is leveraging its blockchain integration capabilities for LPWAN technology. LPWAN is wireless telecommunication enabled over a wide area to allow long-range data exchange among connected devices.

Through MXC’s Smart City IoT Standard and the hardware that Enlink is providing, MXC is providing the decentralized data exchanged hedged on LPWAN. Launched in South Korea, the platform allows South Koreans to use their devices to send data to the LPWAN gateways. The valuable data collected through this installation helps improve earthquake detection, environmental monitoring, and power management.

A similar partnership is in New York where MXC is partnering with the tech firm MatchX. The two are deploying a combination of numerous LPWAN Gateways and Smart Sensors. The New York project collects data to help optimize waste management.

These examples are just two of the many possibilities that the combined potential of blockchain and IoT can deliver. A further look at the space reveals many novel and disrupting solutions.

The combo of IoT and Blockchain, therefore, is a segment that blockchain enthusiasts want to look at keenly because it is poised to define many future developments. Besides, such developments improve the clout of the blockchain and hasten the society’s blanket acceptance of the technology. They show why the crypto revolution is not only about money, and thus should be conventionally adopted.

📝 Read this story later in Journal.

👩‍💻 Wake up every Sunday morning to the week’s most noteworthy stories in Tech waiting in your inbox. Read the Noteworthy in Tech newsletter.

A Kenyan who writes about disruptive technology; mainly the Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Just like pandas, Daniel is huge in China, or so he hears! ;)