BLOCKCHAIN AT CES: TAKING CARE OF IoT TRANSACTIONS
Beyond the platforms emerging with IoT….. uberizing the Uber
It was pretty difficult to find Blockchain startups at the CES or blockchain enables devices (the French startup Ledger was one of the few).
Therefore on Friday January 9th at the Venetian hotel, a full day of conferences was dedicated to Digital Money, sponsored by Mastercard. 9 conferences addressed a lot of topics related to digital money, cashless payments, virtual currency, etc…
Currency is the next step for connected objects.
Why currency is important in the electronic world, especially why should we speak of digital currency in a world of connected objects…? Because as they are now connected, the objects need to become transaction enabled. For instance, many connected objects are related to energy management. Some objects can share energy they produce, and should be able to get payment for that. In smart cities, some policy makers may be willing to automatically control and curb users’ behaviors (transportation, circulation, energy consumption, etc…). They utilize connected objects to reach their goals. These objects should be able to capture fees or deliver rewards depending on the users’ behavior…
Fog computing after cloud computing
Another reason is that many network experts (Cisco, IBM…) agree that security on the cloud is not manageable the way the cloud is architectured today. A new trend called “Fog Computing” (which was discussed during a conference at CES) is emerging and is supported by Alliances like OIC or All Seen. They are relying on a network architecture and networks protocols which are completely decentralized and distributed like Bit Torrent and interoperable, where the security would be managed at the edge of the network, instead of centralized deep inside in the cloud.
This kind of networks is very close to the blockchain, which is the underlying technology of Bitcoins. There is no central platform (no one can become a monopoly then ruling the entire network and collecting some extra fees) and the transaction is made securely through a peer to peer connection with a repository (ledger) which is openly accessible. The network is managed as an open network with clear rules.
The security is provided by what is called a smart contract, based on 2 mecanisms:
-encryption with a distributed processing of the encryption.
-a public ledger of all the transactions (contracts). All transactions are public, but each transaction is associated to a solid crypto-signature. No tampering is possible.
The value of the transaction is no longer caught (with fees) and controlled by any platform because no unique entity can control the platform.
Some user cases
These cases were mentionned by Vidal Chriqui, an expert and consultant in Blockchain who was part of the Mission CES 2016 with Xavier Dalloz. He made a presentation during the CES 2016 debriefing at the Medef in Paris in January.
Samsung has been showing washing machine controlled by a smartphone (smart washing machine) or able to be checked automatically from the smartphone (smartcheck) and order adequate replacement parts.
A company called Slock.it is able through blockchain to deliver a remote secure lock for houses, bikes, cars, etc… The secure lock can then be sent by mail form the owner of the apartment to a renter (airbnb).
A plug created by the Japanese startup Nayuta is connected to blockchain to enable businesses related to electricity and energy. The technology uses smart contracts and the blockchain technology to enable users of the power socket to use digital tokens to grant privileges to use the power socket. The owner can easily grant access to others to use his/her power socket during specific time frame. According to the company, the new power socket will be available for customers starting from early 2016. The company is also working on a product named “Nayuta board” that utilizes a blockchain form of public ledger for recording Copyright ownership.
A US startup called Filament has created a wireless network which goal is to create a repository of connected objects and facilitate the transactions between them through blockchain. This company is similar to Sigfox or LoRa, but utilizes blockchain to facilitate interoperability and transactions between objects.