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Merging Internet Of Things And Blockchain In Preparation For The Future

The ‘Big Four’ technologies of the future are beginning to force themselves to the fore as companies start to dabble in the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as Big Data. However, as these four spring from their embryonic stages, issues and concerns are being heeded about their growth.

It is for this reason that many people and companies are starting to wonder if the problems cannot be solved by combining the technologies. Big Data, as a cornerstone component, can be useful when combined with of both AI and Blockchain, but, perhaps the combination of IoT and blockchain can again help the advancement of these two technologies.

Blockchain has slowed in its adoption and growth, but its application is broad and comprehensive. Thus it can benefit, as well as help benefit, the likes of AI and IoT. However, Blockchain can also have a significant role to play in helping IoT along.

The growth of IoT is still moving along, but it too has slowed because many have realised that mastering this network of smart ‘things’ is far harder than they could have imagined. Issues of security and timelines of implementation have caused the hype around IoT to simmer down. In a similar vein, this has also happened in Blockchain.

It is because IoT and Blockchain find themselves in similar places when it comes to adoption that their combination may be able to help each other out and solve some of the significant concerns that have dogged them individually.

There are of course many different ways in which these technologies can blend and function together that are already being explored and tested, but as a combination, their ultimate and strongest use case is probably still to be discovered – but it is out there.

IoT is difficult

Much like in the blockchain space, where ICOs were popping up with new chains to solve every conceivable problem or niggle in today’s world, IoT had its hype cycle a few years back. Many saw the IoT as a way to revolutionise every little aspect of a person’s life.

However, in the resulting few years, a lot was learned the hard way, especially when it came to roll out time and the security of a network of smart devices.

Deployment of IoT networks has come back with substantial failure rates. In a survey, it was shown that companies implementing an IoT initiative had only a 26 percent success rate. The problems slowing this success include some common issues that often dog new technologies, such as the quality of the data, the internal expertise, and the unexpected increased time to completion.

On paper, these IoT initiatives look promising and straightforward, but they are far more complicated to enact as it stands today. Additionally, when they are enacted, they are often subject to significant threats and security attacks. One example of this is, in late 2016, was when the world witnessed the sheer disruptive power of Mirai, a powerful botnet strain fuelled by Internet of Things devices like DVRs and IP cameras that were put online with factory-default passwords and other poor security settings.

This lack of security in the IoT sphere of things has been described as ‘a Doomsday Scenario waiting to happen’, by Yotam Gutman in the RFID Journal.

Imad Labbadi, CEO of VeCap, a company aiming at securing IoT enabled Smart Homes, goes on to explain the current issues with IoT security.

“There is Insufficient protection, several devices from well-known companies and other vendors have serious breaches in their security systems: insufficient encryption, weak authentication requirements – for example, auto-login, possibility of external connections via VPN. All it takes is one unprotected device to compromise the security of your smart system or smart home. Hackers only need to find that one breaking point to bring down the whole network.”

“It takes hackers less than a minute to get access to smart home devices, from phones and TV´s to routers and consoles; all these machines are connected to the internet. Vast numbers of devices with zero-day vulnerabilities will be hacked as soon as the breaches become known before manufacturers will be able to update all vulnerable smart devices.

Short-term thinking compromises long-term security.”

Labbadi explains their own usage of blockchain to try and alleviate security issues, as well as tie together the two technologies.

“We use smart contract transactions to secure all internal communications within the home system. Every action on our platform is recorded on the blockchain, in an immutable database that is nearly impervious to corruption.”

Mostly, the hype of IoT has died down, but the technology holds a lot of promise and potential, but it is not ready to surge into the forefront of human lives just yet. It needs much sorting out, and a boost as well, probably from another burgeoning and nascent technology.

Sasha Ivanov, Founder and CEO of Waves Platform and Vostok, explains how the growth of IoT is heading for broader adoption; this is also down to its affiliation with other technologies.

“IoT is heading for wider adoption and a growing number of tangible use cases. So this will continue for many years to come,” Ivanov said. “IoT will be an important part of our work too, as it will merge with other new technologies – big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain – to form a platform solution. The major implementation and integration achievement will come thanks to Industrial IoT – loads of sensors collecting loads of data, especially in areas such as transportation, logistics, tracking and industrial processes.”

“If we take IoT and blockchain as separate technologies, they are restricted in their applications; however, both can benefit if you combine IoT with artificial intelligence and blockchain,” Ivanov adds. “AI will provide algorithms for analysing the data collected by IoT devices, identifying certain patterns, while blockchain will serve as a necessary layer for validating the data and guaranteeing its secure storage. I do not see how these technologies can achieve mass adoption and serious application and integration if they stay separated.”

In steps Blockchain

As explained at the top of the article, four technologies are looking to break out and become a driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but they have all pretty much reached a stage where they know they cannot go it alone. For this reason, we are now seeing many combinations of these technologies together.

“All three technologies IoT, AI & Blockchain have developed strongly in the last ten years. 
Moreover, the success of the ecosystem begins with Blockchain,” Labbadi adds.

“Blockchain technology rebuilds the foundation of the internet. 
One fundamental problem preventing the further connection of IoT and AI is the security vulnerability inherent on the Internet in its current form. Blockchain technologies can help to solve many of these problems by achieving three things:

“They allow users to trade directly by providing both a payment mechanism and a communication channel. 
Blockchain networks can be used to create indexed records,
which are linear and permanent so that others can reference them globally without censorship. The third thing Blockchain technologies allow its users to do, is act as their certification authority. 
Individuals who can control their data can achieve this.”

Of course, for Labbadi, the security aspect is critical, and because blockchain offers this added layer of security or ‘the third generation of security’ as Frank Gens put it in IDC’s 2017 worldwide IT technology FutureScape webcast

Additionally, Dan Bieler, an analyst at Forrester, also chimes in as to how these two technologies make sense together:

“As Internet of Things applications are by definition distributed it is only normal that the distributed ledger technology, which blockchain is, will play a role in how devices will communicate directly between each other. Keeping a ledger and thus trail of not just devices but also how they interact and, potentially, in which state they are and how they are ‘handled’ in the case of tagged goods,” Bieler summarised.

“Blockchain is designed as a basis for applications that involve transaction and interactions. These can include smart contracts or other smart applications that support specific Internet of Things processes. This way blockchain technology can improve not just compliance in the IoT but also IoT features and cost-efficiency.”

The potential of these two technologies interacting have not only been hypothesised, but they are starting to be tested and implemented. IBM, a big user and patenter of blockchain solutions, has already started extending private blockchain into cognitive Internet of Things. Ultimately they will be looking to the combination of AI, IoT and blockchain.

Tying in for future growth

Companies, users of IoT and Blockchain, as well as prominent figures in these futuristic technologies are all starting to come around to the idea that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will not just be built on one, but rather an amalgamation of all of them in different facets.

If IoT has issues with security and corruption, it makes sense that Blockchain come to its aid and help secure the data with its immutable ledger. At the same time, if AI is struggling with its recording of data and a record of the AI, a distributed ledger can help with that too.

So, as AI and IoT, for example, gain an edge in their previous issues with the integration of blockchain, so does the blockchain become more ingrained and useful going forward, making it indispensable in some sectors. Adoption like this always has been the hope for the distributed ledger technology.

It is probably time for blockchain builders and implementers to stop worrying about disrupting current and past sectors with the use of a single blockchain, and instead look to how they can use blockchain in alliance with IoT, Big Data, AI, and others. to build that Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Source: forbes

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