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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Why Blockchain and IoT Belong Together Tyler Wojciechowicz

Blockchain and IoT Theme Image

(Source: Symmetry Electronics)

The Internet of Things (IoT) grabs headlines for its use in business and industrial applications. An International Data Corporation (IDC) study predicts IoT spending to reach $6 trillion between 2015 and 2020 as more industries continue to incorporate IoT into their everyday applications. Meanwhile, the blockchain is having its own surge in popularity, as more industrial manufacturers are beginning to recognize the benefits that it can have on their businesses. According to a Gartner study, blockchain technology will add $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030. The most exciting development is how these two technologies come together. Because of the nature of blockchain and IoT, the two are an obvious match. Combining them unlocks a series of possibilities that could propel the next big thing. Read along to learn the benefits of combining the two technologies together.

What Is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity that enables these objects to connect and exchange data with each other. Each “thing” is uniquely identifiable through an embedded computing system and can interoperate with the existing internet structure. A few examples of IoT applications include smart home devices such as the Amazon Echo, wearables such as fitness trackers, patient tracking in healthcare, self-driving cars, and the thousands of connected devices in manufacturing, agriculture, and asset tracking that help industries operate more efficiently.

What Is Blockchain?

When many people think of blockchain, they often associate it with bitcoin. However, blockchain is disrupting a number of diverse industries; including the financial sector, trading, shipping, healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, industrial, agricultural, and building automation. The blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called “blocks”, which are linked together and secured from tampering or revision through cryptography. Each block links to the previous block and contains a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently resistant to data modification. A blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.

Blockchain Enhances the Capabilities of IoT

The surge of new IoT devices available on the market prompted an increase in demand for data security. As a standalone system, many IoT devices lack the authentication required to protect data effectively. In fact, when multiple IoT devices are introduced into an ecosystem, the risk for cyberattacks increases exponentially because there are now many more points of vulnerability. Attempting to add extra layers of security can become a costly and resource-heavy task, with the need for gateways and middlemen. Additionally, if processes and security are managed by internal leadership, the entire system runs the risk of collusion.

Fortunately, the blockchain takes care of a number of these issues while offering a scalable, reliable, and secure infrastructure to do business in the following ways:

  • Blockchain can track and log sensor data measurements while preventing unauthorized duplication of malicious data.
  • IoT device identification, authentication, and data transfer are all seamless within a distributed ledger architecture.
  • IoT devices exchange data through a secure and trusted blockchain rather than a third-party governing entity.
  • IoT devices are protected from data tampering because of the blockchain’s native cryptographic processes.
  • Initial deployment and operation costs of IoT devices are reduced because of the elimination of an intermediary.
  • Blockchain smart contracts automatically activate when a specific condition is met, enabling device autonomy that removes technical bottlenecks and inefficiencies without the need for human intervention.
  • IoT devices are directly addressable within the blockchain, providing a history of connected devices and their data for troubleshooting and analytical purposes.

Equipment Operations and Maintenance

From heavy agricultural machinery to elevators, the blockchain provides operational data and maintenance records that are highly resistant to tampering or forgery. With IoT devices, businesses can effectively track the state of safety-critical machinery and their maintenance records by relying on third-party workers to monitor preventive maintenance and update records on the blockchain. Operational records can then be shared with governing entities to verify compliance.

Logistics and Transportation

Freight transportation is a complex process that involves different parties with varying priorities. An IoT-enabled blockchain allows freight to be tracked by all entities to ensure transparent and timely delivery. Positioning can be monitored to facilitate arrival times and status of cargo, while temperature, orientation and vibration sensors can ensure that proper handling procedures have been maintained throughout the process.

Solar Energy

A community in Brooklyn, N.Y., is experimenting with the blockchain to record the production of solar energy to allow locals to purchase excess renewable energy credits for use. The connected network, known as a microgrid, distributes energy resources to improve electrical grid resilience and efficiency. Best of all, the microgrid can operate independently from the larger grid during power outages and emergencies.

With this connected solar grid, people can aggregate purchasing power, share the burden of maintenance, and trust that devices are recording actual solar production that can be viewed on the blockchain.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, blockchain and IoT represent the largest technological disruption since the integration of computing and transaction processing systems. The applications of the two technologies will soon be so impactful in our society, it will be hard to imagine life without them.

The Why Blockchain and IoT Belong Together blog was written by Tyler Wojciechowicz and was first published on www.semiconductorstore.com.



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Tyler WojciechowiczTyler Wojciechowicz is an Applications Engineer at Symmetry Electronics. He has his Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering and 8 years of hands-on experience as an Electrical Engineer. He specializes in IoT applications, microcontrollers, embedded programming, timing, sensors, and power management. In his current role, he works closely with field sales to advise on optimal part substitutions, product suggestions, and sales tools. He is adept in developing instruction manuals, reference designs, tutorials, product comparison matrices, and marketing campaigns for reputable suppliers across multiple markets. Throughout his career, he has also been involved in new product development, prototyping, engineering consultancy, schematic and board design, 3D modeling and mechanical design. He is highly involved in the electronics manufacturing community and is constantly seeking out the latest innovations that are going to propel the next big thing.

About Symmetry Electronics

In July 2017, Symmetry Electronics was acquired by TTI, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company. As an authorized global semiconductor distributor offering technical support, sales and distribution of wireless and video technologies, Symmetry has been selling electronic components since 1998. Symmetry serves customers with a worldwide sales and engineering team delivering technical services alongside an e-commerce experience. With its focused line card, growing inventory and unsurpassed technical support, Symmetry strives to support design engineers and buyers throughout the design cycle and into production. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles with international offices in Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and China.


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