Smart home technology has swiftly been taking over the lives of countless families across the world, most of whom might tell you it’s the best thing since sliced bread – but what about when it isn’t? The IoT – or Internet Of Things – is essentially the network of physical devices that are all connected over the internet, but like most things, it has it’s glitches. From fraudulent use of your smart technologies to hacking from an outside source, the need for something to smooth out the bumps in the proverbial road is clear. Enter blockchain. This technology is shaking up the financial industry as we know it simply by being the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. While many entrepreneurs may be watching the bitcoin chart to see where their investments are going, it’s the blockchain technology underneath the currency that could truly shake up a broad number of industries, but how does is help with our smart home technology? Read on to find out.
What Is A Smart Contract?
Blockchain can host smart contracts and it’s these contracts that can help when it comes to smart home technology. First, however, it’s important to understand what smart contracts are. Blockchain is essentially a decentralised system that cuts out any third parties or ‘middle men’ and so, as you might expect, contracts made within this system are entirely between the two parties involved in the contract without the interference of a lawyer or bank. Essentially, these contracts are snippets of data that are stored within a blockchain and are automatically activated if a certain condition is met. In other words, you could send a shipment, the contract would track this shipment, and once it was delivered, the contract would automatically be triggered to pay out the ‘resulting’ part of the contract, reducing the risk of fraud, human error and data manipulation considerably.
The Decentralisation Of IoT Networks
If the blockchain was applied to IoT, you could essentially decentralise your entire home from risk of hacking or fraud and improve speed and connectivity between devices. By taking your smart home technology away from the wider internet-based network and giving them all their very own to operate on, you’d be able to have a much faster and much more efficient smart home. There is technically no need for your technology to go through the internet, especially when considering that the blockchain could provide an alternate network instead. The connections would essentially become peer-to-peer and take your home away from the wider internet and any risks of fraud, intervention or hacking.
What Are The Challenges?
However, as you might expect, this technology and its incorporation into smart home technology is going to pose some challenges. Technically, the blockchain is still in its infancy and it’s constantly growing, developing and improving with every passing day. As a result, there are plenty of kinks and bumps that need to be smoothed out and concerns that have to be addressed, particularly around the processing power that could be required to have your smart home technology running alongside ensuring the data is encrypted. This processing power could work out expensive, especially in homes with a huge amount of smart home technology which might ultimately put people off of investing in the first place.
Similarly, storage capability could also prove a challenge, especially when considering that some smart devices don’t have much storage room at all. With the IoT, the data is usually stored on the internet, but with a decentralised network, this would need to be stored on the blockchain network itself. The issue here is that the network is your smart home technology. Each piece of technology is seen as a ‘node’ and the blockchain will not only operate on, but be stored across these nodes. So, when you have something as small as a smart sensor, for example, there isn’t much room for storage and therefore no room for the blockchain.
All in all, the future of the IoT and blockchain is something practically impossible to predict. While some companies could already be working towards decentralising their technology, plenty of work still needs to be done to ensure that it runs smoothly, securely and most importantly, efficiently.