While blockchain technology and Bitcoin are still being considered, discussed, and subject to regulations in 2019, there is a sister-sector to that of distributed ledgers, which has already passed that stage and is already being used by large hi-tech corporations all over the globe.
That industrial sector would be no other than the famous Internet Of Things (IoT). A unique network of nodes, able to support smart machinery of all kinds, including smart cars, watches, lamps, drones, and even your refrigerator.
Essentially, the internet of things is a parallel internet to the internet we’re using as human consumers, only tailored for the machine era.
Put simply, imagine your electric smart vehicle leaving its parking spot to charge itself, pay for the service itself, and return back to its original position on its own accord, while you’re sleeping, without your permission or any other interference.
This type of “movements”, alongside other use-cases, in the network, is made possible by the Internet Of Things, a global machine-to-machine communications protocol firstly introduced in the early ’90s.
IoT in Blockchain?
Now, what happens when you combine something as revolutionary as the Internet of Things, with blockchain technology, one of the most important innovations of our time?
In this article, we’ll be covering some popular distributed ledgers that are piercing their way into the market offering decentralized networking, management, micro-payments, and tracking solutions to the already established Internet of Things sector.
Note that just because of the fact blockchain technology is mainly being used as an alternative monetary system, we won’t only be focusing on micro-payments related projects, but we’ll try to give you a broad view of the applications possible with the combination of these two technologies.
As its name suggests, IOTA is clearly involved in the IoT sector, and for a good reason. The Berlin-based foundation that managed to create its own unique distributed ledger using a directed acyclic graph (DAG) protocol, has one simple but ambitious vision: Create the backbone of the upcoming machine economy.
IOTA’s network the Tangle is not a blockchain, allowing it to pass-by mining operations, transaction fees, and all the burdens that come with traditional blockchain platforms such as Bitcoin.
IOTA is tailored to serve the machines, allowing them to perform an infinitely scalable number of transactions, whether it comes to monetary transfers, encrypted messages, or simply reports carrying crucial information regarding a machine’s operating status.
IOTA’s native currency can be exchanged with literally 0 transaction fees using the Tangle, and not a third-party cryptocurrency exchange, where some fees are practically unavoidable.
The project is trusted and supported by various IoT-focused enterprises such as Volkswagen, BOSCH, Porsche, Orange, Fujitsu, just to name a few, as the big-tech scene already sees the mass-potential, offered by a frictionless machine-to-machine micropayments enabler such as IOTA.
Many of these firms are already producing IoT consumer electronics including smart-home-appliances and devices such as fridges, lamps, autonomous vacuum cleaners, and more.
In 2018, Waltonchain, was voted as China’s most innovative blockchain project despite the country’s strict policy on cryptocurrencies. The coin that is only second to IOTA when it comes to IoT-related projects’ market capitalization, uses the Ethereum’s network, being an ERC-20 token itself.
Walton used to be a silent and hard to understand coin until late 2017, where it had its rebranding and launched a series of marketing campaigns that led to the token’s rise up to $50 apiece in early 2018.
Essentially, Waltonchain offers a network of RFID chips to help secure, monitor, and track physical goods including hi-end clothing, handbags, and other materials that are subject to the network’s transparency.
Currently trading at $1.4 per unit, WTC seems to be out of shape like most other cryptocurrencies, but it is definitely a working coin with a real-life solution that should not be under-considered.
FOAM is an American hi-tech startup that utilizes blockchain technology to provide decentralized geolocation and object tracking solutions for the Internet of Things.
A crowdsourced map and location service enables users to submit their physical assets, real estate, vehicles or whatever else with a digital footprint to FOAM’s network, where you can watch all subjects to the Internet Of Things, interact with each other, indicating coordinates data, distance between two predetermined assets, speed, and direction of an asset and more.
FOAM solves the problem of location verification with an alternative, fault-tolerant system provided through an open network of terrestrial radios that anyone can operate, eliminating the need for GPS and other satellite-oriented tracking services that are often subject to hacking and/or are centralized to begin with.
FOAM is also an Ethereum-powered ERC-20 token and it’s being currently traded at less than $0.03 per unit.
Weeve is an ERC-20 project running on Ethereum, that aims to do what IOTA has been working on during the last years. It is a well-connected project that has close ties with academia, local and international tech industry, and businesses that are already utilizing IoT in some way.
Weeve’s goal is to help companies better understand their data generated by a respective IoT infrastructure while making sure the storage, distribution, and exchange of the data are all under an encrypted blockchain-powered wing.
Weeve is currently developing solutions for the automotive industry, logistics, supply chain, and public mobility sectors. While Weeve has not yet hit the markets, it is expected to be used in a private manner, similar to IBM’s blockchain solutions.
5. IoT Chain
Another Chinese project called IoT Chain is notably active in the blockchain-IoT cross-scene, where it aims to offer impenetrable security to IoT networks by using blockchain technology while at the same time making sure all the data subject to an IoT network are collected and distributed to their respective owners.
Furthermore, ITC seeks to offer unparalleled stability and speed for data transfers within their own IoT network, as well as train future AI projects run on ITC utilizing user’s data.
Despite Weeve being the closer European competitor to IOTA, many believe that ITC is the real threat for IOTA, as it has a similar passion, expertise, and already developed projects for the Internet of Things.
ITC is currently being traded at around $0.19.
While the Internet of Things is a well-funded industry on its own, there are very few blockchain projects that are involved in this sector, due to its high requirements and technical understanding necessary to promise security and operations integrity in a machine-only oriented network.
Here’s some notable DLT projects that are either directly or indirectly involved with the IoT sphere: