In an effort to build a standard for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), Chronicled is open sourcing a tool for registering connected devices on the ethereum blockchain.
Described as a “cross between Wikipedia and Carfax” for consumer goods, the platform will register the identities of near-field communication (NFC) and bluetooth low energy (BLE) chips, components of IoT that today allow smartphones to “talk” with other devices.
While the IoT has been hailed as an inevitability, technology experts ague that a fragmentation of standards have held back its adoption. Today, industry companies are each developing their own way for devices to communicate, but Chronicled’s founders want to use the ethereum blockchain to make private IoT database registries interoperable.
Chronicled CEO Ryan Orr told CoinDesk:
“What’s missing is interoperability for all those chips so that when a consumer is out in the world, they can interact with their world in a ubiquitous, seamless way. Right now it’s completely broken.”
So far, Chronicled has deployed 10,000 NFC and BLE chips, most of which are embedded in limited edition sneakers or other apparel, and each device is matched with a record of identity on the ethereum blockchain to reduce counterfeiting of luxury items.
Sneakers are the company’s first use case, but the team’s goal from day “zero”, according to Orr, was to transition to other consumer goods and to expand to a public blockchain database.
To achieve this, Chronicled is also collaborating with existing IoT companies, including semiconductor company Silicon Labs and Blue Bite, a New York-based BLE firm.
As with other startups in the industry, Orr said he sees blockchains as a way to enable a machine-to-machine economy by which devices can more easily, and safely, interact.
“Machines need to have identities so that machines can come to a decision on whether or not to trust the other machine or to understand where it’s from, which services it might be able to offer,” Orr argued.
He offered the example whereby an Amazon drone would deliver a package through the window of a home. Using IoT devices, he said, the window could verify instantly whether or not the drone is safe, potentially with public information off of the Amazon website, and enable the drone to drop off real-world goods.
“Verifying the identity of a device in a secure and public way is the first step to doing hundreds of different things on top of it,” Orr said.
A key attribute that makes blockchains primed for such use cases, according to the team, is that anyone can use it to register a device.
This is something that third-party developers are more likely to want to build on, Orr asserted.
With the announcement, the company is releasing tools for developers, including starter kits, SDKs and an “Open Registry Explorer” so that any developer can use the platform to tag devices themselves. But a key component will also be ethereum, a public blockchain platform.
Despite recent setbacks, Orr said that there were multiple “dimensions” to Chronicled’s decision to use ethereum over other blockchains. In particular, he pointed to its flexibility and transparency, which he said helps with the company’s goal of building an interoperable standard.
“The ethereum project is at a critical mass globally. It could become a global standard in respect to product authentication,” he said.
It’s also worth noting that ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin is on board with the idea. “Consumer IoT has always been one of the areas of blockchain adoption that I have been most bullish about,” Buterin said in a statement.
Other companies are also experimenting with combining the two budding technologies. Filament, for example, raised $5 in Series A funding last year to enable connected devices to communicate.
Orr said that Chronicled eventually hopes to partner with other companies, such as 21 Inc, to continue its work toward this goal.
Internet of Things via Shutterstock