Blockchain and the IoT
In the recent years, the Internet has found its new match, Blockchain, and together they are taking the world on a new path of transparency, efficiency and more importantly trust. This collaboration has and will promote economic and social development of various industries. It has created a potential for connecting anything and everything to each other through technology. This is often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is not a new technology and has been around for a few years however it is commonly known that it has issues,. The most notable is it’s reliance on third parties (centralisation) and their databases. This issue is where Waltonchain comes into it’s own.
What Is Waltonchain?
Waltonchain in brief, is the only fully decentralised platform combining Blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT) via their own developed and patented RFID technology. Their Blockchain is implemented, through their unique RFID chips, which are able to read/write directly to the Blockchain via various methods (NFC, Bluetooth.) This creates a trustworthy, and traceable business ecosystem, which allows for complete data sharing and absolute information transparency which cannot be achieved by current centralised systems.
Waltonchain aim is to create an ecosystem which enables all objects and information to be interconnected, even ones with independent functions. The CEO Mo Bing’s vision for Walton is best described by a quote from a recent interview:
“Waltonchain will be the Qualcomm + Cisco in the blockchain industry. Based on this, Waltonchain will become the ‘Google search engine’ of blockchain”- Waltonchain CEO Mo Bing
A more detailed description of their ambition can be found in their Whitepaper (worth a read)
“Through radio frequency identification (RFID), infrared sensors, global positioning systems, laser scanners and other information sensing equipment, it connects any item to the Internet to carry out information exchange and communication according to the agreement, to achieve intelligent identification, positioning , tracking, monitoring and management. As an extension of the Internet, the Internet of Things further promotes the connections between machine and machine, human and machine and achieves the full life cycle circulation management of data in the information world”
What industries are Waltonchain targeting?
The most common misconception about Walton chain is that it is solely based on solving problems in the retail industry due to how most people got exposed to them via Box Mining’s YouTube channel (video 1 and video 2.) However, anyone familiar with Walton’s Whitepaper knows that the clothing industry solution is just one several uses cases in their ‘initial project phase’. The application and scope of their ambition is much, much greater, and we will start to see some truly revolutionary ideas become reality in the years to come. Here are some examples of what Walton chain’s ecosystem can be used for.
Logistics and Supply Chain Management for the Retail Industry
Waltonchain has found itself with the assumption that it is soley focused on supply chain management solutions for retail industry. While this is only one of the use cases of what Walton Blockchain, it is important still important. The development of a retail system integration program based on Walton’s unique RFID+blockchain technology will play a integral part in the industry. This is because it solves multiple problems with warehousing, logistics, stores and after market merchandise procurement, distribution/ delivery, stock-in, stock-out, stores, inventory on shelves, sales, customer purchase, customer evaluation, after-sales service, marketing, analytics data, automated business management, payment processing, product evaluation etc.
The above list of use cases in the retail industry alone can go on and on. However, the most important thing to understand is that it possesses the capacity of changing the way retail has worked so far. In recent years, eCommerce and online sales channels have been growing exponentially, hurting the growth rate of physical ‘Brick and mortar’ stores and resulting in domestic markets losing momentum and ultimately sales. In the UK many well know high street names have disappeared such as Maplin, Toys R US and BHS.
Waltonchain provides key critical benefits for companies looking to automate and make business operations more efficient, it will re innovate and elevate customer experience in physical stores to a whole new level – something that has been failing to compete with digital sales so far. This is a critical factor in bringing excitement back to physical shopping and ultimately re-sparking a resurgent growth in high street shopping. Additionally, aside from potentially revitalising physical shops, Waltonchain also offers solutions for online retailers looking to improve their efficiency in both storage and logistics.
The attempt to implement smart contracts outside of Blockchain is nothing new. It has become evident that earlier technologies are failing to create an effective automated connection between the virtual network and the real world. Even a leading platform such as Ethereum can’t do it alone, and requires additional technology to create smart contract executions. Smart contracts can be automatically executed when agreed conditions are reached, but the difficulty is how we can automate the verification of a completed condition. How do we make it so that the smart contract knows if a specific requirement was met, even more so when the requirement is complex. How do you complete this without requiring human entry which is always a potential point of disruption? This is where real limitation exists and what many IoT businesses are struggling to resolve.
It is true to say that Waltonchain has the solution. By applying their Blockchain to IoT and smart ecosystems, Waltonchain can connect the item and identity tags in the real world via its patented RFID technology. This will successfully achieve the interconnection of all things and create an era of true smart economy and a step away from human error. The potentially countless use cases for such technology is what is most exciting. The world will be able to operate seamlessly by bridging smart contracts with RFID and blockchain, the industrial revolution 4.0 is truly upon us.
Automated Data Collection and Analytics
‘Big data is the new oil.’ – This quote is often loosely thrown around the technology industry but it couldn’t more true. Whereas the logistics and supply side of things can be more exciting to realise; the automated analytics hat will become available for every company utilising Waltonchain technology and their chips is another huge potential use case.
It is know that businesses pay millions a year for data, and it is the single most valuable digital asset in the world of business, marketing and sales. Therefore creating the ability for any business to be able to passively collect data in physical locations, by tracking everything related to their business, is potentially ground-breaking. Data is invaluable to businesses so it is hard to fathom how much a mutli-national corporation might pay for the data collected by Waltonchain. The key point to note though is that this data is collected passively. As the RFID’s interact through their journey from manufacturing to shop shelf data can be collected at each point in the background. Taking the quote earlier from CEO Mo Bing, “Waltonchain will become the ‘Google search engine’ of blockchain.”
Case Study: ZARA
An example of the type of business this passive data collection could benefit is a highly reactive company such as ZARA (Clothing.) They often promote their ability to react to changes in fashion trends with a lead time of 6 weeks. If they were to collect all the data from manufacturing to store delivery to be putting on a shelf they will be able to identify potential bottlenecks that can be resolved and reduce this time even more. Currently for this to be done would require multiple centralised systems from the different supplier/ manufactures to their warehouse. Whereas with the Walton Ecosystem it would all be visible in a single source.
Waltonchain has won numerous awards already for their involvement in the theory and operations behind smart cities. We are yet to see any of it in action however their ideas such as Smart Waste Management system, which uses embedded sensors and live data which can be collected by a combination of bin lorry mounted and handheld RFID scanners (Developed by Walton themselves.) This creates noticeable improvements over traditional waste system by providing cities a way to monitor waste levels. This enables efficiency improvements in numerous areas such as fuel savings and ‘smart route’ optimisations. By broadcasting this data to Walton’s blockchain makes sure it is decentralised, trusted and open for all to see.
This kind of work does not benefit the parties directly involved (Walton, Local Gov.) Collecting this data means it can provides access to information for anyone without relying on third-parties of FOI requests. As this information is now publicly available non profits organisations can use this data to generate potential solutions faster as they no longer have the costly and time-consuming task of collecting data themselves.
This allows the potential of creating a more efficient economy where data is not monopolised by big corporations at an advantage due to big budgets. The information collected through smart cities will be readily available to startups, university students, research and development teams of nonprofits, teachers and even governments.
Concern To Consider
Garbage in Garbage out
Another issue that is not just specific to WaltonChain but any Blockchain is where you have garbage going in, you’ll have garbage coming out. This is regardless of the many innovative qualities of the thing into which you input garbage. The proverbial GIGO.
This has been true for any transformative technology over history such as the printing press , and Blockchain is no different. Although it’s true to say with previous technologies, you could go in after the event and fix/ improve on the input to increase the quality of the output. Due to its immutable property, with blockchain that is not possible. Immutability is among blockchain’s most valuable feature.
However Walton Chain is uniquely positioned Small, cheap resilient sensors — more and more ubiquitous in even the cheapest phones — are a great source of data. Payment events. Pictures of things, geo-tagged and time-stamped. Unique QR codes. Spatial/ weather data.
Now that stuff we should put on the blockchain. In fact, we should build entire blockchain platforms around such events — payment tokens; insurance. I also think that we can use such events as a way to evolve proof-of-work frameworks to more sustainable models.
What thinks? Know someone doing this already?
Costs and Development Needs
While the technology and concept are revolutionary, there is also a prevalent issue with RFID – the cost. To achieve large-scale application, the price of manufacturing RFID tags needs to decrease by a significant margin. While applying RFID tags to expensive products and valuable operations is viable, it is currently too costly to integrate them with cheaper products (such as packaging for food products, etc.).
Furthermore, there are also limitations in regards to development. In short, the passive UHF market is still in its early stage, meaning that real breakthroughs might take time. We might not even fully grasp the extent of what improved RFID tags can do, and only real-world application will bring new ideas and innovation. While there are already significant benefits and use cases, the full potential is yet to be realized and put in practise, which requires patience and time (as with all great technology).
Cost and development needs are something new technology always faces at its early stages. However, there is no doubt in my mind that in time those issues will become void.
Since all great technological developments historically have been exploited to some extent, there are some privacy concerns when it comes to RFID technology. Once we achieve the ideal world where everything is interconnected, it also means that everything can be tracked and verified. While this is great when it’s used for good, it also poses huge threats and security holes for malicious things under centralised control, meaning that the technology should be treated with caution.
I can obviously do no justice to Waltonchain in such a short article, because the scope of the applications their solutions have is unparalleled in the world of blockchain. If the project is able to overcome the concerns outlined in this article and successfully implement even some of their ideas, it can become one of the giants in the world of future technology, paving the path and changing the way businesses operate.
What I find truly staggering is that Waltonchain does not just provide a product, but a whole ecosystem consisting of RFID chips, Readers, Mother- and Child-chains. To even consider that we can achieve automated data collection and analytics, automated smart contracts and full interconnection between everything, while maintaining full transparency and decentralization, is still a little mind-blowing.
All in all, I believe Waltonchain can potentially create a future to look forward to, and it represents the exact ideals that were instilled in us with blockchain. The only question remaining, though, is whether all of this is feasible and achievable, and whether the obstacles on the path, such as attempts of centralization and privacy concerns, do not undermine the end goal.