How Does Decentralizing IoT Networks Through Blockchain Work?

Blockchain and IoT. How are they connected? Read more to know about the interconnection.

How Does Decentralizing IoT Networks Through Blockchain Work?

Blockchain And IoT

As many industries didn’t fit well with computers, they have been transformed by the billions of IoT devices that are connected to the internet as also other industries that follow suit as billions more enter the fray. With virtually countless possibilities, the power of IoT combined with other technologies such as machine learning there are some major hurdles that surface as billions of smart devices tend to interact amongst themselves along with their owners. These changes are not yet met with the current models that support IoT communications, as also the firms and researchers who greatly hope to deal with them through blockchain, the technology is considered to constitute the backbone of the famed Bitcoin. 

The Problem With The Centralized Model

As the current iot ecosystems rely on centralized, brokered communication models, it is otherwise known as the server/client paradigm. While all the identified, authenticated and connected devices sport huge processing and storage capacities, they come along with the connection that is between these devices and exclusively going through the internet even if they happen to be few feet apart. 

These kinds o connected generic computing devices are or decades and continuing to support the small-scale IoT networks as seen today, even though it is not able to respond to the ever-growing needs of the huge IoT ecosystems of the future.

As they come expensive because of the high infrastructure and maintenance costs associated with centralized clouds, these large server farms and networking equipment in the existing IoT solutions give the sheer amount of communication that can be handled when the devices grow to tens of billions increasing the costs substantially.  

Cloud servers remain a bottleneck and point of failure even if the unprecedented economical and engineering challenges are overcome, it disrupts the entire network. As human health and life will become dependent on IoT, it is especially important. No single platform connects all devices. 

Making machine-to-machine communications difficult, the diversity of ownership between devices and supporting cloud infrastructure is summed up as there’s no single platform connecting all devices with no guarantee that cloud services offered are interoperable and compatible.  

Decentralizing IoT Networks

A solution for many questions is a decentralized approach to IoT networking. This kind of approach involves adopting a standardized peer-to-peer communication model that process hundreds of billions of transactions between devices such that it should significantly reduce costs associated with installing and maintaining large and centralized data centers while also considering distributing computation and storage needs across the billions of devices forming IoT networks. All these help prevent failures in a single node in a network bringing an entire network to a halting collapse. 

Thus, this established peer-to-peer communication presents its own set of challenges, in which the chief is the issue of security. As the fact is that IoT security is much more than just about protecting sensitive data, the solution is to maintain privacy and security in huge iot networks offering some form of validation and consensus for transactions preventing spoofing and theft. 

The Blockchain Approach

Offering an elegant solution to peer-to-peer communication platform problem is the blockchain technology. Allowing the creation of distributed digital ledger of transactions that come shared among nodes of a network whereby instead of being stored on a central server. Those participants registered with blockchain can record transactions as the technology uses cryptography to authenticate and identify participating nodes allowing them to securely add transactions to the ledger. As the transactions come verified and confirmed, the other nodes participating in the network as also eliminating the need for a central authority. 

As it doesn’t exist in any single location, the ledger is tamper-proof and cannot be manipulated by malicious actors. The man-in-the-middle attacks cannot be staged as there is no single thread of communication that can be intercepted. Trustless, peer-to-peer messaging possible by blockchain has already proven its worth in the world of financial services through the cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and it provides guaranteed peer-to-peer payment services without the need for third-party brokers. 

As of now, tech firms are mulling over porting the usability of blockchain to the realm of IoT. Surely, the application of blockchain to IoT isn’t without flaws and shortcomings. 

Allowing billions of devices to share the same network, without need for additional resources is the concept directly ported to IoT networks dealing with the issue of scale. Addressing the issue of conflict of authority between different vendors blockchain provides a standard in which everyone has equal stakes and benefits.

Helping unlock M2M communications that’s practically impossible under previous models allows for the realization of totally new use cases. 

Concrete Uses Of Blockchain In IoT

As the combination of IoT and blockchain comes with the possibility of circular economy and liquefying capacity of assets these resources can be shared and reused as also instead of purchased once and disposed of after use. 

With a focus on industrial applications such as agriculture, manufacturing and oil and gas, another startup investing in IoT and blockchain is Filament, using wireless sensors called Taps to create low power autonomous mesh networks or data collection and asset monitoring requiring a cloud or central network authority. 

Another example is a consortium called Chain of Things, exploring the role of blockchain in dealing with scale and security issues in IoT. The group has demonstrated the use of blockchain and IoT in a case study that involves solar energy stack designed to provide reliable and verifiable renewable data speeding up incentive settlements reducing opportunities for fraud. The system displays how a solar panel connected to a data logger, tracks the amount of solar energy produced securely delivering that data to a node and records it on a distributed ledger synced across a broader global network of nodes. 

Concluding On The Caveats And Challenges

There are flaws and shortcomings in the application of blockchain to iot and also few hurdles need to be overcome, as there’s a dispute among Bitcoin developers over the architecture of underlying blockchain technology with roots in problems stemming from the growth of network and rise in the number of transactions. Applying these issues to the extension of blockchain to IoT, these challenges are acknowledged by tech firms, and several solutions include side-chains, tree-chains, and mini blockchain being tested to fix. 

The other concern in this technology is processing power and energy consumption that which is solved using encryption and verification of blockchain transactions that are computationally intensive operations requiring considerable horsepower to carry out that which is lacking in many IoT devices. It is similar to storage, as ledgers start to grow in size needing to be redundantly stored in network nodes. 

Even though it is too early to identify, blockchain will be the definite answer to problems, similar to the fast-evolving IoT industry, that’s not yet perfect nonetheless, it is a very promising combination for the future of IoT in which decentralized autonomous networks play a decisive role. 

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