Bitcoin was the hottest topic of discussion in 2017. It has made headlines for almost a decade now and has enjoyed strong support from loyal proponents and users. While Bitcoin is still interesting and appealing to the masses, the blockchain technology could be more revolutionary than the pioneering cryptocurrency. Blockchain development offers a wider range of applications in the internet of things (IoT), security, payment processing, and other fields.
Blockchain technology promises a lot of potential applications, especially now that IoT continues to proliferate. Several devices and gadgets are now being connected to the internet, which allows for remote control and increased data gathering. The challenge has, however, been on the management of these IoT devices and the massive data they generate. Blockchain could be quite useful in streamlining the management of IoT data.
Understanding the value of blockchain and IoT integration
The integration between blockchain and IoT promises different use cases in asset tracking. For example, when shipping various pharmaceutical products and food items, it’s critical to refrigerate them at specific temperature levels. The conditions must be maintained until the time that the final retail customer receives the shipment. Many vendors and organizations are already working on potential use cases of blockchain technology to implement immutable transactions and transparent shared visibility.
Today, SAP is aiding pharmaceutical companies to track the shipment of drugs on a blockchain network. Soon, this process could integrate with IoT devices to ensure safe maintenance of temperatures when the drugs are on transit. IMB, on the other hand, announced their plan to launch the IMB Food Trust solution that seeks to track leafy greens on transit from the farm to the consumer. Walmart is already utilizing the solution. IoT sensors could soon integrate with this solution to ensure that the lettuce reaches the market at the right temperature and freshness. IoT provides the monitoring and tracking infrastructure while blockchain provides a trusted platform to audit the compliance of the movement if goods with the laid down policies.
The entire process of integration will be production ready when the issues of infrastructure, governance, and technology are addressed. For example, the blockchain technology must be scaled up to support hyper-scale tracking of detailed supply chain events. On the IoT side, you must add sensors and ingest detailed monitoring and tracking of data via IoT. Overall, there is no doubt that the marriage between blockchain and IoT will come to life.
The blockchain in the wild
The blockchain is a brilliant technology for tracking thousands of transactions. Bitcoin alone registers more than 400,000 transactions every day. It would take a major bank, central monetary authority, or a credit processing company to manage and track these transactions. However, blockchain allows for seamless execution of these transactions without the need for a centralized authority.
So, how does blockchain achieve all that in a transparent manner? Blockchain supports distributed processing by rewarding miners for sharing their processing power. The distributed processing is quite vital and efficient in today’s digitized world. With the enormous growth if IoT, massive amounts of data are pouring in from millions of sensors. The processing power will be distributed across numerous IoT devices.
In the IoT ecosystem, flexible sharing of processing powers could prove vital. A blockchain could be created with a ledger for the enormous data. When someone requires processing power, other parties that support the blockchain could donate their processing power. This helps in powering the blockchain network in exchange for a reward. The arrangement makes a lot of economic sense. Instead of end users switching off their computers during the night, they can loan out the processing power to the network and earn some revenue.
Today, many IoT devices are fitted with processors. Even tiny devices like security cameras now come equipped with embedded chips. The onboard processing, however, may not be adequate to handle every need around the clock. With blockchain, the processing power for IoT data could be significantly improved through redistribution.
Blockchain could be critical for IoT security
The Internet provides an amazing tool for information sharing and knowledge spreading. However, it comes with multiple risks, especially when it comes to privacy and security. Email scams, hacking, and viruses are just a few examples of security issues. As the internet of things grows, security risks will increase. Today, many regular devices like phones, refrigerators, and wearables are fitted with sensors. Unscrupulous parties could easily hack into these devices and spy on your personal information.
Many security experts are of the opinion that blockchain could address the security concerns with IoT. Since blockchain has been proven to be efficient in tracking and verifying data, it could easily secure the IoT data. Blockchain is equipped with encryption methods and verification keys that make it immensely secure. With a distributed ledger and shared processing powers, hacking a blockchain is merely impossible. In the IoT space, blockchain could be used to verify identities and determine control.
The blockchain and IoT integration still pose some risks and challenges, though. For instance, blockchain works more like a voting mechanism. Multiple computers process data, compare and compile the data into a single acceptable record. Theoretically, if a hacker can take over 51% or more of the blockchain processing power, they could easily hijack the whole blockchain.
The best solution to this challenge is to distribute processing power to a much wider community. It makes it difficult or nearly impossible for hackers to secure more than 51% of processing power. Bitcoin, for instance, is utilizing this strategy to make the platform secure.
The bottom line
Many organizations are currently exploring blockchain IoT applications. Since blockchain is a relatively new technology, major companies are just beginning to fully understand its potential and invest in it. The enormous growth of IoT and blockchain’s ability to manage huge amounts of data and to allocate processing power is encouraging. The two concepts are a perfect match for each other. In the near future, the integration between blockchain and IoT may prove revolutionary.
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