Featherweight Software Empowers the Internet of Things Industry
The world’s first mobile game to calculate 100% of its logic on the blockchain — KOGS — is inching closer to alpha testing. Last week, the official alpha gameplay trailer went live on YouTube.
And, as we continue to experiment with the game’s interoperable tech from Komodo Platform , we’re catching glimpses of what the future holds.
You see, KOGS signifies uncharted territory not only for us but for the entire ecosystem wielding distributed ledger technology — and beyond. In other words, tying together a series of interlocking blockchain modules opens doors to innovations outside of the DLT industry.
Specific industries and business models are ripe for disruption — something deeply rooted in our project’s DNA. For example, the current pandemic unveiled atrocious inefficiencies in national healthcare systems. But in most cases, it didn’t take a viral event to reveal chinks in the armor.
Systems operating in silos, where the general public isn’t privy to essential details, are prone to corruption, fraud, and greed. Does 2008’s subprime mortgage industry come to mind? How about the U.S. now hearing its printing presses go “brrr” all the way to infinity?
Now, we’re not here to complain about the current situation. Instead, we remain focused on creating solutions. We admit that not every application can benefit from AI or running a blockchain network. Sometimes, a simple database is sufficient.
But today, we’ll discuss a field that’s very accomodating of AI as well as blockchain tech. One that’s delivering an unprecedented dose of automation to vastly simplify our lives. And in case you skimmed the subtitle above, we’re referring to the Internet of Things, or IoT.
So, how does a video game relate to ink-sensing printers able to automatically place an online order when its cartridges run low? Well, like most everything in the modern world, it all boils down to information.
More specifically, the link resides in how a new piece of tech — one of three Antara Modules composing KOGS — upgrades the transmission and storage of info. In the case of IoT devices, both categories face tough challenges.
In addition, data security, or lack thereof, poses a severe threat to the IoT industry at large. This article examines how folding blockchain tech into IoT devices can mitigate security risks while improving data flow.
Smart by Design
Before we get into how state-of-the-art tech can improve IoT networks, we’ll define the term itself.
The Internet of Things fuses digital and physical realms by adding sensory intelligence to otherwise mundane objects.
As the name implies, the Internet of Things is a network of Internet-connected devices that collect and exchange data. Put another way, the IoT is a collection of things that gather and transmit data to the Internet for other things to access.
Just how many IoT devices are operating around the world? Estimates vary, but current assumptions believe 127 new devices join the IoT every second of the day. Overall, according to tech powerhouse, Intel, IoT hardware may reach 200 billion by the end of 2020.
To put that into perspective, there are now about seven billion people on Earth. So, 200B devices equate to 26 smart objects for every human on the planet.
You may remember when every television was a ‘dumb’ device. But that constraint is well in the past. Thanks to falling prices and shrinking sizes of microchips and sensors, we can digitally ‘smarten’ nearly every corner of the globe.
Nowadays, it’s not very difficult or expensive to grant ordinary objects the ability to communicate live data. Better still, there’s often minimal human interaction once the initial device setup concludes.
However, the IoT’s almost magical capability isn’t without a few drawbacks.
Because most industries now require online connectivity, more devices are linking to the Internet than ever before. That said, all those connections equate to increasing bandwidth demands. Multiple devices must compete with each other to access network pathways.
Too many devices or too much data and, like a tight highway, network traffic either crawls or halts. Plus, the bigger the vehicle — think software or data packet — the more network lanes they occupy.
In addition to bandwidth, each IoT device requires data storage. Current solutions send data from the device to a centralized cloud for processing.
Optimizing on-device processing solutions can broaden IoT applications. In other words, boosting an IoT device’s ability to collect data increases its in-field potential.
Significant IoT device hurdles include cybersecurity threats, the need for sustainable energy, latency, and limited in-field processing abilities.
For the sake of price implications, IoT organizations consistently strike a balance between the amount as well as the frequency of data transmission. Those casting wide nets with 1,000’s of IoT devices continuously seek methods to trim costs while boosting efficiencies.
After all, no matter if collected data is on a device or in the cloud, storage and processing cost money. And the bigger the file, the more costly to store and transmit. For example, an IoT device snapping high-definition images requires high capacities for bandwidth as well as storage.
Therefore, in addition to hardware considerations, it’s in IoT device operators’ best interest to run ultralight software. As hardware shrinks — many IoT devices now fit in the palm of your hand — the code they run needs to decrease in tandem. Coincidentally, that’s precisely where KOGS fits into the formula.
Accelerating IoT Payment Devices
Okay, here’s another acronym for you to digest. Before we continue, it’s important that you know how SPV relates to IoT.
Blending blockchain with IoT offers a host of benefits to methods of capturing data. Chain-based data is cryptographically encrypted, immutable, time-stamped, transparent, and, in most instances, publicly verifiable.
But if you’ve ever tried to buy something with bitcoin, you know that it’s anything but instant. Moreover, if you’re buying groceries with a smartwatch’s digital wallet, and the payment doesn’t settle quickly and securely, the use-case fails.
Wearable IoT devices lose the luxury of space devoted to power and data processing.
And, in the case of security, blockchain provides a distinct edge to the IoT industry: decentralization.
A distributed network of IoT devices operating on a public ledger cancels the need for centralized locations to facilitate machine-to-machine communication. IoT devices can directly communicate — automatically updating software, hunting bugs, monitoring energy usage, and more.
So how does SPV relate? Originally appearing in 2008’s Bitcoin whitepaper, SPV — Simple Payment Verification — is a method for quickening payment settlement.
Rather than house copies of an entire network — the Bitcoin blockchain is close to 273 GB at the time of writing — SPV clients tie into specific nodes, syncing with their block headers (smaller files) only.
SPV clients allow apps to transact on a blockchain network without downloading the entire ledger. Instead, apps need only sync with the chain’s headers.
Although SPV provides a lightweight alternative to syncing an entire chain — no small feat for IoT devices — the tech inside KOGS is far lighter.
While SPV requires clients to download every header of every block in a chain, nSPV — notarized SPV — requires only 20–30 block headers to validate transactions.
Komodo’s nSPV module not only reduces download sizes from gigabytes to kilobytes but also interacts with self-executing smart contracts.
Small form-factor IoT devices include those made by Arduino, as well as the ubiquitous Raspberry Pi. And, because nSPV is so light, the tech is how KOGS calculates its gaming logic. On the blockchain. On a mobile phone. In real-time!
Occupying only 500kb of RAM, nSPV is up to 1,000x smaller than comparable SPV clients.
In addition to its tiny footprint, the nSPV client uses the C programming language. The big C is general-purpose and widely adopted. In other words, it’s an ideal match for IoT devices and can run on nearly any piece of hardware.
In essence, nSPV is the 3rd generation of distributed payment settlement. Necessary info shrank from full blockchain to blockchain headers to a small subset of headers.
However, nSPV’s possibilities extend farther than mere payments. Substitute payments with data, and nSPV sparks a new spectrum of use cases.
The Internet of Smart Contracts
IoT devices running nSPV require fewer resources — energy, hard drive space, and RAM — to function. That said, nSPV’s main benefit is its ability to coincide with self-executing programs.
With KOGS, we’re proving the concept of secure, transparent, on-chain data processing in real-time. KOGS is also a stunning example of a modular, uncongested, autonomous Smart Chain providing the ability to set predetermined parameters.
For example, when Player 1 wins a match, the game will execute a smart contract that pushes tokens to the winner’s wallet. On top of that, unlike traditional digital payment systems dealing with a single currency, KOGS game pieces are non-fungible tokens — NFTs for short.
This level of customization is why we chose Komodo’s Antara framework to help build our game. One module calculates each game’s outcome, then nSPV facilitates lightning-fast, wallet-to-wallet transactions. Best of all, unlike any other mobile app in existence, everything happens on a blockchain.
IoT ecosystems are complicated because of the broad diversity between device hardware and software. Introducing customized software modules into an IoT network can unify machine-to-machine transactions.
Think of devices containing Antara-powered digital wallets used for buying services from other devices. Now imagine a connected car paying for parking or power at a charging station. Or how about swapping energy between smart grids and smarter homes.
Any of these devices running nSPV and Smart Chains can transact quickly and securely. Plus, the ability to safeguard private information presents another opportunity for digital assets to shape the future. Taking privacy a step further is an Antara module offering quantum security, which creates uncopiable data .
NFTs Can Be Good for Your Health
Let’s look at healthcare as another use-case. Imagine owning a unique, immutable, digitally verifiable, one-of-a-kind, token containing your health records.
Rather than residing in a hackable, centralized database — like our records do now — this NFT stays inside a digital wallet protected by a private key only you possess.
Seeing a new doctor for a checkup? How about an unexpected visit to an out-of-country facility? An example of a pioneering solution is an encrypted app on your phone or smartwatch. A quick scan at the medical facility reveals your entire health history.
Once the exam is complete, the app automatically updates your health token. That way, it’s current for your next visit to a medical professional.
NFTs allow you to take full ownership of digital assets. But instead of in-game items, the asset is private medical data. In other words, payments don’t necessarily need to enter the equation. Because, at its core, nSPV is a versatile method for blockchain-based verification.
Unintentionally, KOGS is accelerating the convergence of blockchain and the Internet of Things. The IoT makes ordinary objects smarter, while blockchain vastly enhances device security.
Also, blockchain shifts trust from third-party intermediaries — think incentivized car salesman — to decentralized computer networks. Put another way, blockchain technology is reliant upon math instead of people.
By working together, blockchain tech and the Internet of Things can set standards for the future’s automated societies. On a micro level, wearables and household objects now collect and transmit precious data. Taking the macro view, we’ll eventually live in smart cities where everyday value exchanges occur machine-to-machine.
For us, KOGS is a proof-of-concept game. But it’s nonetheless a testament to the possibilities of distributed ledgers combined with smart contracts. If KOGS can instantaneously zap unique, non-interchangeable tokens between smartphones, so can the world’s billions of IoT devices.
Blockchain’s lack of scalability is the culprit behind its shunning by some IoT practitioners. But nSPV, coupled with customizable blockchain solutions, can give rise to sweeping reconsideration.
RedFOX Labs is thrilled about KOGS and its blend of technologies! Moreover, we’re anxious to see how the rest of the world — especially the IoT industry — applies our futuristic bundle of open-source tech.
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