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How IBM wants to build the “Internet of Things” on Blockchain technologies

A “draft copy” of a work document from IBM explains the vision of the company on a possible architecture for the forthcoming “Internet of things” (IoT). The document, named “ADEPT: An IoT Practitioner Perspective” and shared on Evernote on January 7, 2015, provides many details on how IBM envisions to build a widely used architecture based on blockchain technologies, the same technologies currently used by most crypto-currencies.

“Our ADEPT platform – Autonomous Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Telemetry is an effort to prove the foundational concepts around a decentralized approach, one that will offer greater scalability and security for the IoT,” begins the document.

For IBM, the IoT is not a mere idea of objects communicating with each others, but will create a new financial and economical paradigm. “We believe the IoT will create an Economy of Things. Every device, every system can be a point of transaction and economic value creation for owners and users. Every device should be able to engage in multiple markets, both financial and non-financial and should be able to autonomously react to changes in markets. These capabilities will be crucial to everything from the sharing economy to energy efficiency and distributed storage.”, explains the draft.

Some of the “key components” to achieve this vision are “Peer-to-peer decentralized networks, P2P messaging and distributed file transfers, and Autonomous Device Coordination.” And to integrate these components into a working architecture, the blockchain is a perfect solution. “Applying the blockchain concept to the world of Internet of Things offers fascinating possibilities.”, states IBM.

According to the draft, the blockchain could even become an inherent part of any available product: “Right from the time a product completes final assembly, it can be registered by the manufacturer into a universal blockchain representing its beginning of life. Once sold, a dealer or end customer can register it to a regional blockchain (a community, city or a state). Once registered, the product remains a unique entity within the blockchain throughout its life. So in a blockchain based IoT, the possibility of maintaining product information, its history, product revisions, warranty details and end of life in the blockchain means the blockchain itself can become the trusted product database.”

An example: “Imagine a world where a smart washer is able to detect a component failing, can check from the blockchain if the component is in warranty, place a service order with a contracted service provider, and the service provider can independently verify the warranty claim – again from the blockchain – and all this, autonomously.”

The document provides several other use cases, ranging from a washing-machine able to reorder itself some detergent, to power bartering between electronic devices (a washer “talking” to the TV in order to optimize power consumption…) or advertising with automatically placed ads on a network of digital displays. In all these examples, all transactions, payments and messaging would happen autonomously through the blockchain.

In this vision, most electronic products or home devices should be able to store blockchain data. “In the next few years, we expect the processing power and storage capabilities of most products to increase as the cost of manufacturing high performing semiconductor chips declines. […] So the washer of the future or the refrigerator would be equipped with higher storage and processing capabilities that makes it possible for these products to meet blockchain requirements.”

For IBM, if the blockchain is clearly the best choice to implement the IoT, the Bitcoin blockchain is not satisfactory and the Ethereum approach has been chosen instead. Ethereum is a much talked about alternative to Bitcoin, largely based on decentralized distributed applications.

“While BitCoin contains an escalating difficulty in the mining process to restrict the issuance of currency, no such restriction is necessary in our vision of the world. We need sufficient Proof of Stake and Proof of Work to ensure network integrity and cryptographic security but without the need to impose an arbitrarily increasing computation cost and carbon footprint on the process.”, explains the document, which later reads: “Ethereum’s improvements to the traditional blockchain approach of Bitcoin and the Turing complete scripting languages they introduced were extremely compelling. The ability to create binding contracts and potentially Decentralized Autonomous Organizations led us to pick Ethereum as our Proof of Concept’s blockchain technology.”

“The blockchain based decentralized IoT can become a truly revolutionary approach to transaction processing among devices.”, concludes IBM, adding that “it is now possible to bring transaction processing, marketplaces, and intelligence to every device everywhere.”


Bitreserve raised $9.7M after massive crowdfunding campaign

Bitreserve has announced the official end of its crowdfunding efforts, with $9.6M raised via Crowdcube and Venovate. According to the company, the result is “the second largest crowdfunding effort in the digital currency sector ever”.

Founded by Halsey Minor, previously founder of CNET Network, and based in San Francisco, Bitreserve intends to make using Bitcoin easy, by “providing people a way to access and move their money from any device without any of the costs and delays of traditional banking”.

“By helping to remove billions of dollars in fees and commissions charged by banks, credit cards and money transfer businesses, we are creating a more fair and equitable world.”, explains the company, whose main product allows to hold bitcoins, converted in stable, real-world money. The user fills an account with bitcoins and can later flip back and forth from Bitcoin to any of six currencies (U.S. gold, Dollar, Euro, Pound, Yen, and Yuan), send or receive bitcoins, or spend them where Bitcoin is accepted.


Bitstamp reopened and fully operational again

Bitstamp, one of the major crypto-currencies exchanges, has just resumed its operations.

The service was temporary suspended on January 5, due to a security breach that had some of the exchange’s wallets compromised. The company had previously announced that the breach resulted in a loss of 19,000 BTC, which “represents a small fraction of Bitstamp’s total bitcoin reserves”, and assured the customers that “their balances held prior to the temporary suspension of services will not be affected and will be honored in full”.

“We are back, open for business with a newly redeployed website and backend systems that are safer and more secure than ever”, stated Nejc Kodrič, CEO, who described today “a number of key improvements” brought to the service.


The most influential Bitcoin advocates

Digital Currency Council (DCC), a private consulting firm focusing on crypto-currencies and offering training, certification, and marketing support, has established a list of “The 30 Most Influential Bitcoiners on Social Media“.

Based on Peer Index, Klout Scores, and Twitter followers to reflect a variety of factors (including social footprint, engagement frequency, amplification, and citations by influential writers, with weights assigned to each factor to derive the final data), the list intends to “measure influence outside the Bitcoin community”“Central to the broad adoption of Bitcoin is consistent, clear, and factual communication to individuals who are not yet familiar with the technology”, underlined DCC.

According to the DCC list, the three most influential bitcoiners on social media are:

  • Marc Andreessen, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (early investor in Coinbase and Ripple, among others)
  • Chris Dixon, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
  • Tammy Camp, founder and CEO of Action Factory (involved in Stellar)

Twitter users can follow the entire list by using this link.


Coinbase launched redesigned mobile Bitcoin wallets

The two new Coinbase mobile apps, for Android and for iOS, have been “rebuilt from the ground up”. Along with additional security features, the apps allow users to “instantly buy and sell bitcoins in 19 countries, send and request money by Bitcoin address, email, and QR code, or shop with merchants who accept Bitcoin”.


Ocupy wants to bridge the gap between activism and crypto-currencies has just opened, with the intent to become “the new home of digital currencies”. The website consists of a learning platform (not opened yet), a forum with dedicated sections for many major Altcoins, and a social network centered on crypto-currencies.

The project intends to “close the gap between the activism community and digital currencies” and includes the creation of a new coin with its own blockchain, the development of specific privacy protocols and donations to the Occupy community.


Coin Center officially launched

Coin Center’s official website opened today. Announced a few months ago and backed by prominent private investors and public donations, Coin Center is an educational and research institution focused on the public policy issues facing crypto currency technologies.

“Think of us as a think tank for blockchain technology”, said Jerry Brito, Executive director, adding that “our mission is to build a better understanding of the technology in order to promote a regulatory climate that preserves maximum freedom of action for digital currency innovation”.

This mission includes explaining crypto-currencies to policymakers, to the media, and to the general public, and a set of explanatory articles on crypto-technologies have already been published online (Smart Contracts, Multi-Sig, Colored Coins, for instance).


Circle enables touchless Bitcoin payments

Circle has just announced that NFC (Near-Field Communication) has been enabled in the new version of its mobile Bitcoin wallet. The Circle Android app is probably the first Bitcoin wallet to allow users to “tap to pay” when checking out at any physical store where Bitcoin is accepted.


ChangeTip allows people to send bitcoins via a simple link

ChangeTip, the leading online tipping platform, is not limited to social media users anymore: anybody can now send tips in Bitcoin or fiat currencies via a simple link. This “One Time Tip link” can be included in emails, chat messages or SMS texts. The user just needs to type in the amount to send, copy the link and send it to the intended recipient.


Bitnation will implement a Basic Income application

Bitnation announced it will host the decentralized application on its core platform. The application is described as “a first experimental attempt to provide a system for a crypto based Universal Basic Income (UBI), entirely based on voluntary ‘taxes’ (e.g. transaction fees)”.

Bitnation is a collaborative platform for “do-it-yourself governance”, “providing borderless, decentralized and voluntary type of blockchain-based governance applications”. The upcoming pilot projects of the organization include the release of family contracts using smart contract technology, such as birth certificates on the blockchain, as well as corporate incorporation in the blockchain.


US Federal Reserve releases Bitcoin data analysis

The U.S. Federal Reserve has released today a study providing “the necessary technical background to understand basic Bitcoin operations” and documenting “a set of empirical regularities related to Bitcoin usage”.

Entitled “Bitcoin: Technical Background and Data Analysis“, the document, dated October 7, 2014, studied publicly available data in transactions for the past two years. Acknowledging the fact that the number of Bitcoin users follows an exponential growth, the study concludes that actual usage of Bitcoin is still very low:

“While the number of daily users may have doubled every eight months, the transaction volume is negligible compared to the domestic volume of U.S. payment systems. Our analysis of data from the Bitcoin system further suggests that Bitcoin is still barely used for payments for goods and services. In addition, the patterns of circulations of bitcoins and the dynamics of the bitcoin exchange rate are consistent with low usage of Bitcoin for retail payment transactions.”