IBM Working to Bring IoT to Blockchain

Big Blue has recently filed a patent for a special blockchain configuration that would tailor the PoW protocol in order to address potential security issues in IoT networks.

IoT blockchain by IBM

IBM is betting big on the future of blockchain and decentralized computing, having invested a ton of money in development of its own solutions. And guess what, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain can “work together” and even enable — or at least streamline — some functionalities that are not possible in a centralized environment.

That being said, we have…

IBM filing for an IoT-focused blockchain patent

Big Blue’s patent envisions a special blockchain configuration that would tailor the proof-of-work (PoW) protocol in order to address potential security issues in IoT networks.

From the filing:

A method, comprising: determining a proof-of-work via an [IOT compatible] device; using a predefined set of nonce values when determining the proof-of-work; storing the proof-of-work on a blockchain; and broadcasting the proof-of-work as a broadcast message.

Proof of work uses so called “nonces” — which stand for “numbers that can only be used once” — to vary the input to a cryptographic hash function so as to obtain a hash that fulfills certain conditions. IBM’s idea to restrict a nonce to a predetermined range so that IoT devices could also be able to solve PoW algorithms and execute smart contracts.

Without predefined ranges that effectively reduce the complexity of blockchain puzzles, IoT devices would not be able to solve them as they typically lack computing power of bigger computers and machines dedicated to solving blockchain puzzles (ASIC miners).

Most IoT devices are constrained in the amount of energy they can consume. To enable such low-power devices to compute proof-of-work for smart contracts, the complexity of a crypto-effort or crypto-puzzle should be reduced. However, reduction in the complexity of the crypto-puzzle can enable malicious participants to manipulate the smart contracts.

IBM goes to envision the applications of IoT smart contracts that could extend to “peer to peer (P2P) energy networks, logistic networks, crowd-sourced weather networks, and the like.”

IBM is also working with Samsung on IoT and blockchain

Previously, the company had teamed-up with Samsung to consult on Adept, a protocol which will be used to overcome various problems associated with Internet of Things.

According to IBM’s head of mobile and internet Paul Brody, there’s way too much overhead in operating a cloud platform, especially for devices that are designed to live in people’s homes for a decade or longer.

“Building a cloud back end to support your dishwasher when not that many devices will realistically want to talk to your dishwasher seems impractical,” he recently told Gigaom.

Brody went on to suggest that blockchain could provide a solution that is practical and intuitive. Though it is unclear whether Adept applications will be built on top of the Bitcoin protocol, as a separate framework, or as a “side chain” which could have a two-way relationship with the blockchain…

But that’s a tech thing, and it shouldn’t be something we care that much at this point. Chances are we’ll be hearing more about IoT and blockchain in the days and weeks to come. And obviously, we expect IBM to play an important role in this sector. Stay tuned as we bring you more…

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