Just a few years ago the nerds and tech-heads of yesteryear were comparing the number of devices they had connected to their iPv4 home networks in a somewhat childish attempt to validate their technological evolution.
As router and switch ports quickly got used up, and network address translation (NAT) soon proved to be more of a bottleneck than a solution regardless of how powerful one’s WiFi was.
The end of an era was signalling a new revolution of technology, one made possible by the relatively quick adoption of iPv6, widespread 4G networks, and the public’s undying appetite for technological novelty. The internet of things was born.
IoT while still a novelty for many, is actually one of the most natural byproducts of the modern internet and Moore’s law. It is the result of increasingly cheap and small electronics in an almost entirely interconnected world, and a society that welcomes and demands increasingly intelligent devices in their everyday lives.
For most of the world, talking to Alexa, Siri, Cortana or Google has become as natural as talking to a human being, regardless whether it’s in the shape of a speaker, car’s dashboard, phone, watch, coffee-machine, teddy-bear or bathroom mirror.
We have created in less than half a decade a market that’s predicted to reach $267 billion by 2020, and that number may very well be much higher by the time these predictions are reviewed. With these kinds of optimistic predictions it is no surprise that the effects of IoT mass-adoption — at this point, regardless of whether we’re prepared for it or not— will touch people’s lives in many ways including the exponential popularisation of digital currencies through a faster than initially expected growth of blockchain computing nodes.
IoT Development Boom
While some might argue that at this point a lot involving blockchain and IoT is highly speculative, tech companies, such as Amazon for instance who are among the leaders in flooding the market with IoT devices, seem to have a different and more positive view on the matter.
So positive in fact, they ended up purchasing cryptocurrency domains and those familiar with bitcoin, ethereum and the likes, know very well, there is no cryptocurrency without blockchain. Plus, the more computing nodes a company releases into the wild, the higher the distributed computing and mining power, and thus higher profits in the long run.
Indeed, playing the long game is what makes IoT and blockchain make more sense, a whole lot more than just looking at these devices as often fairly inexpensive gadgets or a novelty integration into one’s new car.
They are to be part of a bigger picture, the blockchain, creating a symbiotic relationship where the device becomes the computing node contributing to an entirely different and decentralised internet.
Looking at the IoT market from this perspective, it feels a lot more incentivised and a lot less naive than betting entirely on its cool-factor, which while is undeniably there, would make it exponentially less profitable, and its pace of development a lot slower.
The prospects of blockchain is without a doubt a highly contributing factor to the blazing speed of IoT development, and we can only expect this to shift into higher gear.
Boom Tends to Precede the Crash
Just like the Y2K crash of the dot-com bubble in 2000, or the recent 2007 financial crisis caused largely by the housing bubble, history has shown us that nothing happens overnight without at least a few things going haywire here and there. The same applies to IoT and blockchain.
While blockchain and IoT is based on a technology that has proven robust enough to last over three decades, anyone with a degree or professional qualification in computer networks knows very well just how overstated that robustness can be.
At its core, the IP protocol itself is notoriously unreliable. Every time someone sends or receives data over the internet, it travels in tiny data packets, out of which many get lost on the way, and get requested again until the final payload can be reassembled. That, if it is TCP traffic — an email or downloaded file for instance. If it is UDP, then you can forget the lost packets, and expect to have dropouts on your WhatsApp call, or pixelated video on Skype.
The bottom line is, if your postal service would be as “robust” as the internet, most of your friends would often have to rewrite and resend the same letter, or you might even just get half of it.
Equipped with the above knowledge and not so random facts of internet technology, the very next thing that comes to one’s mind is security. Security, while everyone expects it, assumes it, and takes it for granted, is something that far too few people are involved in or actively enforce. Companies often don’t have a security culture, allowing individuals to bring their own shady security habits from home, most of which are dangerous and create massive and expensive vulnerability points nearly everywhere.
Security thus becomes a major concern, one that if left unchecked could bring down not only blockchain, IoT, but the entire IT industry like a house of cards. However, it isn’t all bad news. If the rapid growth of the internet has taught us anything, it’s the fact that digital technological growth requires better and better security protocols and tougher to crack encryption algorithms.
We can thus, safely conclude that blockchain will have a major positive contributing effect to online and intrinsically so on IoT. The more devices out there are connected to the cloud, the more of those are part of the blockchain, the more crucial the necessity of solid security protocols and implementations will be in the IoT.