Could blockchain transform the Internet of Things?
At Integrity, our team of experts is always exploring cutting edge technology solutions for our clients. Blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two topics that have been generating their fair share of buzz not only among technophiles like us, but also across the wider business and technology industries as a whole.
We’ve been closely following the progress of each of these applications, both through constant research and actual implementation in our projects. In 2017, Integrity completed an effort to discover and map out a total product lifecycle for the purpose of architecting a traceability solution using blockchain. Every day, we work with clients to help build digital versions of their companies and often explore ways their products can join the global IoT market.
We know that these applications are each advancing rapidly in use. One blockchain study predicted that the technology would add $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030, and another forecasted that the global IoT market will grow from $157B in 2016 to $457B by 2020. Separately, blockchain and IoT are incredibly powerful, capable of transforming entire industries. So, what can they do together?
Blockchain and IoT: A Match Made in Digital Heaven
Twenty years ago, the idea of everyday items like your thermostat, car, or even your kids’ toys collecting your personal information and sharing data on your actions and preferences would have seemed like something from a science fiction movie. But with around 8.4 billion IoT devices in use in 2017, it’s now our reality.
Naturally, the invasive nature of IoT devices gives rise to security concerns. The IoT ecosystem being exposed to data breaches has been a blocker to its advancement across industries like healthcare, where patient data needs to be highly secure. On top of this, storing the massive amounts of data IoT devices collect presents a challenge in and of itself. As the number of devices increases, so does the amount of data, leading to bloated systems. Here is where blockchain comes in to save the day.
Blockchain is a type of distributed database - a “distributed general ledger technology” that maintains an always growing list of ordered records. It provides a permanent record of data grouped into unalterable blocks that are stored across a decentralized network of computers and devices.
How is this helpful for the Internet of Things?
In theory, blockchain can solve its two biggest problems - lack of security and the challenge of storing data.
If you have even a passing knowledge of blockchain, you know that security and traceability issues are what it is designed to correct. Its permanent, immutable record allows for tracking as data moves between points in the supply chain. Anyone with access to the network can track and analyze the records, so when a data leak or hack occurs, the source can be identified immediately and corrective action can be taken.
When it comes to the issue of storing data, blockchain’s decentralized nature might be the solution. Eliminating the need for expensive centralized data centers, the data collected by IoT devices can be stored across the hundreds, thousands or millions of computers and devices making up the network. Thanks to all this redundancy, data will be easily accessible when needed. Transfer times are cut down and should a server fail, it won’t interrupt business activity.
Blockchain and the Internet of Things are both already being rapidly adopted across many industries, but combining the capabilities of these two technologies could result in something greater than the sum of their parts. Whatever happens next, you can bet Integrity will be keeping a close watch, ready to identify groundbreaking applications of these exciting technologies!
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