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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Cummins

How Blockchain can change the future of Internet of Things

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly expanding, with more and more devices being added to the digital landscape daily. Organizations of all sizes recognize IoT's potential to improve business processes and accelerate growth. However, as the IoT grows, it introduces various challenges, such as identifying, connecting, securing, and managing devices. The current infrastructure and architecture underlying the Internet and online services may struggle to support such large IoT ecosystems. This is where blockchain technology comes into play.

One significant advantage of blockchain is its public nature. Everyone participating in the network can see the blocks and transactions recorded on the blockchain. However, the actual content is protected by a private key, ensuring data security. This feature makes blockchain a suitable technology for implementing IoT solutions.

The decentralized nature of a blockchain means that no single authority can approve transactions or set specific rules for accepting them. Instead, all participants in the network must reach a consensus to validate transactions. This creates a higher level of trust among participants.

According to Gartner, the number of connected devices globally will exceed 20 billion by 2020, with the IoT market estimated to be worth over $3 trillion. The potential for IoT to transform various sectors, including homes, cities, farms, and factories, is immense. However, the uncontrolled growth of IoT can pose challenges to infrastructure and security.

One of the challenges is the reliance on centralized cloud servers for device identification and authentication. As IoT devices grow, the computational requirements and costs associated with maintaining centralized servers increase exponentially. Moreover, centralized networks become vulnerable to Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS) attacks, where servers are overwhelmed with traffic from compromised devices. This vulnerability was evident in the first DDoS attack in October 2016, which targeted popular online services and used compromised IoT devices.

Blockchain technology can address these challenges by enabling the creation of secure and decentralized mesh networks. In a blockchain-powered IoT ecosystem, devices can identify and authenticate each other without relying on central servers. Each participating node's unique identity is stored on the blockchain, ensuring secure device interactions. This approach not only improves security but also enables scalability to support billions of devices without the need for additional resources.

Several companies are already leveraging blockchain for IoT networks. Filament, a startup, provides IoT hardware and software for industrial applications. Their wireless sensors create low-power autonomous mesh networks that do not rely on centralized cloud alternatives.

Telstra, an Australian telecommunication giant, is another example of using blockchain for IoT. They add biometric information to blockchain hashes to tie user identity to smart home devices and prevent compromised mobile devices from taking over the network. This approach ensures both device integrity and secure user interaction.

The potential of blockchain extends beyond traditional IoT applications. It can support machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, enabling a shared economy. Initiatives like ADEPT, created by IBM and Samsung, explore decentralized IoT systems that allow devices to interact and make autonomous decisions. Blockchain ensures a secure and democratized platform where all parties can participate equally.

Blockchain also enables data monetization, where owners of IoT devices can share their generated data in exchange for micropayments. Platforms like Tilepay offer secure online marketplaces where users can sell their IoT data in real time for digital currency.

Additionally, blockchain and IoT can revolutionize renewable energy. The energy generated by IoT solar panels can be registered on the blockchain, creating cryptocurrency value. This opens opportunities for anyone to invest in renewable energy technology, making it mainstream.

While there are still challenges to overcome, such as consensus models and computational costs, blockchain presents promising possibilities for the future of IoT. As we continue to develop blockchain technology, these hurdles will be addressed, opening new doors for innovation and growth in the IoT landscape.


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