If you ask 100 people today, the technologies that would change the way things work over the next decade, their answers would definitely include the two: Blockchain and IoT. While IoT has been here for a while and the society is pretty serious about it, it’s Blockchain that is slowly gaining momentum over the past couple of years and more and more people realize its positives.
Internet Of Things: What we have and what is held back
Gartner defines IoT as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” Today IoT is omnipresent. Although it has been around for a while now, IoT is steadily growing in popularity and capability to become one of the most popular technologies. And it’s not just what people see it’s the research that backs it. The IoT market is projected to grow from over $170 billion in 2017 to over $560 billion by 2022 according to Markets And Markets. Gartner itself estimated that there will be upwards of 20 billion connected devices by the end of 2020.
Today we stay in a world which has so many devices connected around us that collect information with a much higher granularity from the physical world and environment. As IoT, as a subject, has evolved from the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems, the devices that use it, are getting smarter every day using pillars of each of these domains. These devices, every day, are becoming more and more capable of capturing data’s of various variations and sizes. These variety and detailed data set are playing a critical role in improving efficiencies and delivering advanced services in a wide range of application domains including pervasive healthcare and smart city services.
Image via: SAP
While these sophisticated datasets are the positives of IoT, the same thing has a negative side as well which in a way is scary. The increasingly invisible, dense and pervasive collection, processing and dissemination of data in the midst of people’s private lives gives rise to serious security and privacy concerns. This is where IoT has faced prominent criticism and has exposed several vulnerabilities in the ecosystem.
Blockchain: A possible solution for IoT problems
While IoT is everywhere and is full of vulnerabilities concerning privacy and security, it’s been receiving a lot of attention and researchers are hunting for solutions that can fill in these vulnerabilities. With the advent of blockchain, many of these researchers believe this new tech on the block could be the answer to the gaps that surface in IoT.
One of the reasons blockchain is seen as a solution because of its inherent advantages. The blockchain eliminates the need for a third party between two entities that are willing to exchange something. It reduces the risk of tampering, fraud, and cybercrime due to its immutable nature. There is no need to trust a third party now as the records are stored in distributed ledgers. The critical features that fill in the privacy and security gaps of IoT are-
- Decentralization: The lack of central control ensures scalability and robustness by using resources of all participating nodes and eliminating many-to-one traffic flows, which in turn decreases delay and overcomes the problem of a single point of failure.
- Anonymity: The inherent anonymity afforded is well-suited for most IoT use cases where the identity of the users can be kept private.
- Security: Blockchain realizes a secure network over untrusted parties which is desirable in IoT with numerous and heterogeneous devices.
The way things are positioned right now with respect to IoT and blockchain it clearly looks like, that a blockchain-based architecture is a perfect solution for IoT that delivers lightweight and decentralized security and privacy.
Blockchain and IoT are rapidly growing hand in hand. Their convergence could change the face of technology forever.