Blockchain joins IoT! Simply BIOT
Ever Heard about BIoT?
Many of you might have heard about IoT. Yet, BIoT might be an unfamiliar term because it comes from Future. Is it an expansion of IoT? This was a question that most of the tech enthusiasts had. Yes, it’s kind of an expansion. Simply BIoT is where blockchain joins IoT! But with time, security concerns limited the significance of IoT. Who can ever guaranty the security of our connected devices? This is the point where industry experts came up with the concept of combining block-chains with IoT!
What is IoT?
IoT is a concept which deals with a network of physical devices. A range of our devices such as mobile phones, computing devices, security devices etc will come with a set of smart sensors. Thereafter they will be connected together over the internet to a single platform, which enables generation of information through the data exchanged. This information is used by the smart system to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems and act accordingly.
A number of definitions for IoT exist, of which Ernst and Young (EY) describes it in the simplest terms:
“The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the connection of devices — any devices — to the internet using embedded software and sensors to communicate, collect and exchange data with one another.”
Such kind of an implementation looks really smart! Hence, most of the initiatives with the concept IoT came out with the term ‘smart’. Smart Home systems, smart parking systems are some mainstream attractions with the concept of IoT, which emerged within the business world. A massive crowd embraced them immensely with much excitement.
Research and advisory company Gartner estimates that the number of installed IoT devices will reach 20.4 billion by 2020, BI Intelligence predicts that it will be closer to 24 billion, while IDC, a global provider of market intelligence and advisory services, estimates there will be around 30 billion connected devices by 2020.
IDC also projects that IoT revenue will hit $357 billion by the end of 2019 and Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, expects it to increase to $450 billion by the end of 2020. McKinsey & Company, another international management consulting firm, estimates that IoT will have an $11.1 trillion impact on the global economy by 2025.
It is clear that it is an already large industry set to grow exponentially over the next decade and beyond.
How exactly does IoT work?
Communication devices or sensors are embedded in everyday objects, such as phones, TVs, indoor climate systems, electrical appliances, cars, traffic lights and industrial equipment. These sensors continuously emit data about the working status of connected devices and allow them to send and receive data from each other via the cloud (internet).
IoT platforms will then analyse the data to extract valuable information and share it with other devices to initiate specific commands or actions. The result is a better human experience, greater automation and improved efficiencies.
In manufacturing, for example, all the different components and machines in the factory could be fitted with sensors that continuously transmit system health data back to the mobile apps of operators. Potential problems can then be identified and fixed before a breakdown happens, saving companies time and money.
If we look at a direct-to-consumer product, such as air conditioners, units can be embedded with a sensor that emits data regarding the system health and temperature. Data will be continuously downloaded and analyzed in an IoT network. If an issue comes up, customer support can then be contacted for repair work before you even know there is a problem.
The use cases of IoT are near enough endless, from keeping medical devices in patients in good working order to fighting rapid deforestation in rainforests across the globe.
But IoT networks are not perfect. Devices are constantly sharing critical information back and forth over the internet, which makes it a prime target for hackers. Privacy and security are therefore major concerns.
Some of the more infamous IoT attacks include the Mirai Botnet which is a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack that affected internet service for nearly the entire East Coast of America, including Twitter, Netflix and Reddit.
There was also the planned hacking of a Jeep to expose some of the vulnerabilities in IoT devices in cars and the catastrophic consequences it could have when breached, along with the very real FDA recall of 500,000 IoT connected pacemakers in September 2017 because security loopholes were discovered that could allow hackers to tamper with the medical devices once implanted in patients.
What is this concept behind block-chain ?
It is a technology used in tracking billions of connected devices and enabling the process of transactions and coordination between devices in a more trustworthy manner. Each group of these transactions is a “block”. Each block contains a time-stamp and a link to the previous block, and that’s how this ‘block-chain’ is created. At the very basic level, decentralised approach and its trustworthy approach happen to be some key reasons for industry experts to merge block-chain with IoT.
What makes blockchain a trustworthy concept?
It can be simply explained like this. In a block-chain, all blocks are encrypted in a special way. Each participant might have access to all the information, but only a user who owns a special cryptographic key which is known as the Private Key is able to add a new record to a particular chain.Old blocks are preserved forever and new blocks are added to the ledger irreversibly, which makes it a non destructive way to track data changes over time. With regard to BIoT, it’s clear that if something goes wrong within the network, this trustworthy approach of block-chain, makes it simple to identify the weak link and, take remedial action.
Decentralised approach of a block-chain comes with the linkage each block has with its previous block and the block which comes after it within the chain. When a change is made, the entire chain is updated. 3rd persons are no longer needed to manage the process. With regard to a BIoT, sharing data across a network of key stakeholders will happen due to this decentralised approach. This will prevent unauthorised devices from disrupting a network of IoT connected devices.
Known blockchain IoT platforms
Several blockchain platforms focusing on IoT are emerging as the industry gets bigger.
One of the first blockchain IoT platforms is IOTA. It was designed specifically for the Internet of Things and provides a transaction settlement and data transfer layer for connected devices.
Some other IoT focussed blockchain platforms are,
VeChain , Waltonchain , Streamr
This is just a small sample of blockchain-based IoT platforms and the list keeps on growing as the industry evolves. Other projects include Ambrosus, IoT Chain, Atonomi, Chain of Things, IoTeX, OriginTrail, Slock.it, BlockMesh, Helium, Moeco, FOAM, Fysical, Grid+ and Power Ledger.
BIoT vs Future
Some time back, Blockchain and Internet of Things were two distinct topics, which impacted the industry separately. Today it’s amazing how they have been merged together as Blockchain based Internet of Things (BIoT), creating much excitement within the business world. It’s certain that these two trending technologies will become inseparable in the years to come.
This is just a simple explanation about this emerging technology. If you are interested don’t forget to read more about BIoT. Cheers!
Blockchain joins IoT ! Simply BIOT was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.