Blockchain for the Internet of Things
One of the most ambitious ideas in recent times is using Blockchain technology for the Internet of Things. This would then enable not just people and businesses to conduct transactions, but it would also incorporate machines into the network to create one seamless transaction mechanism.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of devices, cars, homes, etc. which are embedded with chips that enable them to communicate through a network and exchange information with each other.
The concept of combining the IoT and Blockchain technology was actually birthed a few years ago, and the business implication of such a network are massive. Self-driving cars would be able to pay each other to cut ahead on a busy highway, or a fridge would be able to sense when you’re running low on – say – milk and send the local grocer a direct message to drop off a carton.
While these ideas sound wonderful, the debate that is raging in the industry is how to make this goal a reality. According to the CEO of Spherity, a company that is focused on the integration of IoT and Blockchain, there are massive challenges to be overcome before this project can become a reality.
Such an integration requires connections between hardware and software components that are not yet mature enough. Additionally, these components then need to be linked to cryptography and security processes to make the merge complete.
IoT is also a massive category, so it is difficult to decide where to start. At the high end of the spectrum, there are complex devices with high computational power that are difficult to integrate with a decentralized network and then there is the other end of the spectrum, where computationally simple devices can be more easily integrated with Blockchain technology.
This the debate is centered on the level of complexity of IoT devices and how they can be integrated with Blockchain. Amir Haleem, the CEO of Helium, which is developing wide-range wireless protocol gateways on a Blockchain to connect to edge IoT devices, adding complexity to IoT devices is a huge hurdle to actually building things. He feels the complexity should be in the Blockchain network and not in the IoT devices to ensure power and cost efficiencies.
Not everyone agrees with this point of view. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) states that data is majorly generated at the edge of the IoT and so these end devices should not be “dumb”. In fact, the company says that computing power should be increased to make these IoT devices more intelligent so that they can interact more effectively with the Blockchain network.
At the end of the day, the debate on how best to integrate two new technologies still rages on and there is no clear solution yet.