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Blockchain and IoT: Beyond the hype

February 25, 2020

IoT - the Internet of Things - refers to the system of countless devices around the world that are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data as an established part of our everyday life. But this is only the beginning.

Blockchain technology could enhance IoT, allowing devices to send data to private blockchain ledgers with tamper-resistant records for further analysis.

Beside securely collecting data, blockchain can also be used to automate some actions, triggered by certain live IoT information. This process starts with the implementation of a  “smart contract” (a piece of code describing the event to detect and the corresponding action to take), a concept that is inherently integrated into the blockchain technology.

These smart contracts allow any operation to be securely performed once the specified data-based criteria are met. These contracts can be used to increase reaction time in response to a particular trigger, raise alerts when a certain threshold is exceeded, or even speed up financial transactions by activating a payment when there is a proof of delivery accepted by the trusted blockchain infrastructure.

The aim of the Blockstart project is to help SMEs strengthen their competitive positions using blockchain technology. Combining IoT and blockchain is one way the project can help develop new digital solutions.

Several Blockstart partners have performed state-of-the-art analyses, “proof of concept” implementation and further research on this topic in order to find the best technology (Hyperledger, Ethereum, Corda...) and structure (public, private, or permissioned) for SME use cases. As the number of IoT devices increases, so does the rate at which data needs to be processed. It is important that potential solutions take into account the time needed for secure data storage and treatment (as with smart contracts for example).

Besides a “pure” blockchain solution, some partners are also evaluating closely related technologies and ideas. There's IOTA - a distributed ledger that is not based on transactions grouped into blocks and stored in sequential chains, but rather as a stream of individual transactions entangled together. While still in a development phase, IOTA is potentially very efficient for dealing with the large amount (and rate) of IoT data. Tests and benchmarks of this possible solution are currently being performed by our partners.

When it comes to developing the solution, it is not simply a question of which technologies to integrate and how. The key concerns remain, including security, data privacy, performance requirements, storage and scalability as well as legal and GDPR issues. All this is, of course, analysed by taking into account the size and technical or financial limitations of SMEs (compared to larger organisations who tend to have more resources at their disposal).

Blockstart partners have compiled many of these opportunities, developments and challenges, and are now able to help any SME potentially interested in such kind of implementation. For more information about our blockchain-IoT integration, do not hesitate to contact us! To make sure you don't miss project updates, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

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