Blockchain: Democratizing Access to IoT


August 31, 2019

Blockchain: Democratizing Access to IoT

We live in an amazing time new smart devices, buildings, vehicles, and factories are gradually forming a global Internet of Things (IoT). The future will consist of trillions of devices that are Internet-connected, intelligent, and interoperable. As we push forward, it will be crucial to provide permissionless access to IoT and investing in infrastructure with built-in security and privacy. The next evolution of IoT is coming, and it will be powered by blockchain technology.

Open Access to IoT

Today’s IoT is closed and proprietary, largely dominated by telecom/networking corporations that offer IoT services to small and medium-sized enterprises and individual consumers. As the de facto gatekeepers to IoT, corporations make it simple to onboard devices/data, but very difficult to exit or interoperate with other networks. As a result, the frenzy of competition amongst corporations trying to “lock-in” their customers has created centralized and vertically integrated networks that control how IoT networks are used. Access is guarded, not open. Data is hoarded, not shared. Corporations have control, not consumers.

This is not how IoT will reach its full potential. Instead of being centralized and vertically integrated, IoT must be decentralized and horizontally scaled, allowing anyone to join, contribute, and leave as they wish. The evolution of IoT will come when corporations, smaller enterprises, and consumers can openly collaborate on a level playing field. To get there, a platform capable of permissionless access, interoperability, high security, and data privacy is needed.

Blockchain & IoT

Blockchain and IoT are a perfect technological match. If IoT is the technology that generates data, then blockchain is the technology that adds trust and secure access to data. As a permissionless (i.e. anyone can join) system, blockchain is an ideal candidate to drive horizontal scalability in IoT. In a blockchain network, all parties share a “single version of the truth” and operate under standardized protocols. These features promote interoperability and trusted exchange of data/value between blockchain nodes, which can include humans, machines, or businesses.

Blockchain-IoT platforms like IoTeX are also deploying privacy and trusted computing technologies on the blockchain. Trusted execution environments (TEEs), which guarantee data confidentiality and integrity, introduce attestable, real-world data to the blockchain. Soon, new business models at the intersection of blockchain, IoT, and privacy will emerge, enabling IoT  data to be exchanged and trusted, even across untrusted parties.

What’s Next?

According to market research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global blockchain-IoT market will be worth US$3.1 billion by 2024. In the next year, expect blockchain to complement IoT networks by providing trusted data for automated decision-making and workflow management. Within five years, we hope to see decentralized energy and logistics networks emerge on the blockchain. In the long-term, blockchain will enable true interoperability across heterogeneous IoT devices, companies, and industries. Join the blockchain & IoT revolution!

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Our goal is to cultivate and encourage a collaborative community for our members to gather, share their experiences and endeavors in the blockchain space, and brainstorm the potential uses of blockchain technology.

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About the author

Contributing Author

IoTeX was founded in 2017 to build the Internet of Trusted Things, where all physical and virtual “things” — humans, machines, businesses, and dApps — can efficiently exchange information and value at global scale. Backed by a global team of research scientists and top engineers, IoTeX combines blockchain, trusted hardware, and edge computing to realize the full potential of IoT.

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