Deep-Dive: Blockchain and the IoT
According to CB Insights, ICOs raised over $5 billion across nearly 800 deals in 2017. This trend has pretty much continued in 2018, with dozens of cryptocurrency projects raising funds and closing their ICOs month after month. The trend is so strong, in fact, that we have a weekly post dedicated to the top ICOs to watch each week right here on Cryptos.
Despite the funding and all the attention, however, the question still remains: where does all that money go, and where are all the life-improving products and solutions that these projects have promised to deliver?
In this new weekly segment, we will take a deep-dive into actual real-world applications of blockchain and decentralized technologies. Across the healthcare, finance, and manufacturing industries, all the way to entertainment, transportation, and everything in between, blockchain and crypto projects are revolutionizing the way the world does business.
IoT – The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of home appliances, vehicles, machines, and other physical items that come with software, sensors, and connectivity devices that enable them to connect and exchange data between them. The internet connects computers and servers; the Internet of Things connects pretty much everything else.
It would be difficult, if not outright impossible, for companies today to be competitive without having an online presence. Similarly, the companies of tomorrow will find it hard to compete in the marketplace of the future if they do not embrace the opportunities that IoT offer for better integration of automated systems and applications physical tools and machines.
The proliferation of electronic devices in every imaginable industry is an undeniable fact. Advancements in data collection, monitoring, storing, and analysis have allowed us to take the next step in the evolution of technology, and we can now benefit from interconnected devices in new and creative ways like never before.
Not all of the IoT applications below run exclusively on the blockchain, but they are a useful case in point of just how much potential and how many synergies exist when it comes to deploying new, creative, and innovative technologies that benefit people beyond the bounds of industry, line of business, or nature of work.
Amazon Echo and the Nest thermostat are two examples of hundreds of products on the market that connect users and devices in useful and meaningful ways. As an example, Alexa, Amazon Echo’s voice assistant, can be instructed to perform a wide range of functions, such as playing music, providing weather reports, fetching sports scores, calling an Uber, and more.
Another interesting IoT application is the Hue lighting range from Philips. These are web-enabled lights that can be used as data displays. They can even be programmed, for example, to glow red when your ride is a few minutes away. Other applications include reducing electricity consumption (since they can automatically turn on or off depending on whether or not someone is in the room) and in home security (by turning lights on and off based on a pre-set schedule or sequence).
Do you own a Fitbit or Jawbone device? These devices revolutionized the world of fitness by providing users with data on their workouts. (Although technically defunct, Jawbone was still part of the new wave of wearable IoT devices and helped the field gain popularity). These devices help you track steps, count floors climbed, and track calories burned, while also being able to wirelessly sync with your computer or smartphone to save your health data for better monitoring.
Large-scale city challenges such as traffic congestion, noise pollution, and crime will be tackled in the future using large-scale data and technology applications. Here are a few ways how:
SmartBelly produces IoT-connected garbage bins that use real-time data to inform city officials when a trash can needs to be emptied. This type of information considerably lowers the trips and pick-ups that workers have to make, translating into real fuel and monetary savings for communities and civic departments.
ParkSight uses sensors and mobile apps to help drivers find parking around the city more quickly, helping them to save on fuel costs while reducing their carbon footprints in the process.
AirCasting records, maps, and shares environmental data on sound, temperature, humidity, and gas concentrations to create an accurate map of real-life living conditions in different parts of cities or neighborhoods. This type of data can be extensively used by urban planning departments.
IoT in Construction, Energy, and Utilities
IoT in construction can help optimize supply chains, improve site safety, track plant equipment, reduce billing errors, improve data collection, and transmit critical data on issues such as line faults and pipeline leaks, and reducing the time it takes to identify the source or location of a specific problem so that viable remedies can be deployed.
Other examples of IoT in construction, energy, and utilities include:
SightMachine uses sensors installed inside construction equipment to monitor if any working parts have exceeded their design thresholds. These sensors can automatically send reports to owners and manufacturers in the event of a fault or malfunction, helping project planners to better manage equipment ordering and scheduling.
SmartPile uses wireless sensors embedded inside concrete foundation piles. The sensors measure and gauge the structure’s quality and integrity over time, providing load and event monitoring data that can be used both during as well as after the completion of the project.
Self checkout counters are already in common use all over the world and are standard in stores such as Walmart and Target. They can even be used in different ways, such as at airport self check-in desks and for order-taking at restaurants.
Warehouses are now more highly automated than they were 10 years ago. Amazon warehouses fully automate 60 to 70 percent of their warehouse tasks using robots that can transfer packages, stack shelves, and even pack transportation vehicles.
Marketing now uses billboards that can provide custom content depending on the passers-by, such as that those developed by OfferMoments.
The final word
We have just begun to scratch the surface of what blockchain, IoT, interconnected devices, and interconnected industries can do for us. Next week, we’ll take another deep-dive into another specialty tech area to discuss how things are changing and what the future holds.