Sweet Spots for that Ledger in the Sky

The world is rightfully excited about the potential of blockchain — the development of which some have compared to the advent of the internet. This decentralized, immutable record will soon allow us to safely conduct a variety of different transactions from virtually anywhere in the world — like a digital ledger in the sky.

A Gartner report by Nick Jones, VP and Distinguished Analyst, entitled “Top Applications for Blockchain for IoT in 2018 and 2019” caught my eye recently because of its pragmatic assessment that blockchain isn’t ready to be the solution for every IoT problem, while also noting that blockchain is poised for immediate use in some key IoT scenarios.

However, the Gartner report didn’t discount the significance of blockchain, it merely posited that the technology is so new that it will take time before its value proposition will be fully realized in the IoT space.

The part that really caught my attention, though, was Gartner’s identification of four technological opportunities that are ripe for blockchain IoT implementation today:

  • Opportunity 1: Product Authentication and Provenance

  • Opportunity 2: Warranty and Usage Recording

  • Opportunity 3: Sharing Trusted Information

  • Opportunity 4: Product Activation and Commissioning

From my perspective, Gartner really hit the mark with this prediction, because our Atonomi Network will make use of blockchain technology to implement three of these opportunities (1, 3, and 4) and could certainly secure a system addressing opportunity number 2.

Here’s a quick look at how we are building our solution to take advantage of three of the four areas identified by Gartner as being the technological sweet spots for IoT and blockchain opportunities:

  • Product Authentication and Provenance. Atonomi provides product authentication and validates provenance through our blockchain-based Identity Registry. The Identity Registry combines a blockchain-based white list of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original device manufacturers (ODMs) to create a unique record for each device that’s validated onto the Atonomi Network. Through this process, we can establish an immutable digital identity for devices on our network using a decentralized architecture and consensus mechanism.

  • Product Activation and Commissioning. When a new Atonomi-enabled IoT device is activated, whether by an industrial plant manager, a home consumer, a healthcare technician, or by any other device user, our blockchain-based solution kicks into gear to facilitate secure activation and commissioning. The Atonomi code embedded into each device initiates a “wake-up” function which directs the device to the Atonomi Network, where its identity and secure credentials are matched against the blockchain-based OEM and ODM white list data. Once the device identity is validated, it’s written onto the blockchain as a permanent record.

  • Sharing Trusted Information. The blockchain-based Atonomi Network is being created as a secure environment that enables participating devices to share trusted information with other validated devices. As an additional layer of security, The Atonomi Network, will encrypt (and compress) all data at the point of collection. We believe it is critical to encrypt data at the point of capture — rather than rely solely on network-based solutions such as transport layer security (TLS). While TLS can be used to protect data as it moves between two points, it is by definition a transport protection, meaning that the data on either side is largely unprotected. In addition, as data is moved, it is exposed at a number of points along the way (e.g., from the device, through gateways, and onto the server). By encrypting data upon capture and decrypting it only after it reaches an application server, those transition points are protected as well.

And what about that other opportunity identified in the Gartner report, “Warranty and Usage Recording”? Glad you asked. The Atonomi Network would be an ideal security solution for the future viability of warranty and usage apps. Because blockchain is immutable and can be accessed remotely on any server, it holds tremendous potential for documenting these services. Through the Atonomi Network, we will be able to provide better security to the IoT devices that are involved in capturing and recording such data.

We believe that IoT can never reach its full potential without robust security that’s precisely crafted for the resource-constrained devices of the IoT. This is why we are creating Atonomi.

Thanks for reading,

Vaughan