All about Blockchain

Blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. In simple terms, it is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Outside of the widely known ‘Bitcoin’ application, Blockchain as a technology has lots to offer for several industries. Appearition’s Developers Simon Galanakis and Sujanth Sebamalaithasan talk about the technology, its application and the future:

1. Blockchain – as a technology seems scalable. What are the sectors that can adapt to it?

Blockchain as a technology is useful when you keep an open and transparent record and history of data. This is so that people can look at the history and trust it if it is true. No one can manipulate it if that is the case.

Blockchain will benefit sectors that require large data set to be stored with high-level of encryption. Some industries include:

–    Banking and Finance

–    Medical sectors – patients medical records

–    Industries using Copyrighted content or sectors like film or software where patent plays an important role.

–    Law firms where client details need to be stored securely

–    Property ownership and management

2. Blockchain and AR – do you see a plausible future? If so, how?

I think there is a future (for Blockchain and AR). There is a number of areas that we need explore where Blockchain could work with AR. If an AR is treated as an object or a commodity, for example, an AR experience in a bottle, where you scan for a promotional video, if you consider that to be one package/entity, something that people want to share or retain ownership and for that to be genuine, you can employ Blockchain. You can record the particular details (who created it, when it was created etc) that make up an AR experience in that Blockchain.

Let’s call this block an AR commodity. One might want to maintain a record or a history of that commodity and when it is being used.

3. AR and Blockchain – is it possible to keep the AR data/commodity, private/free from misuse?

Yes, yes, it is possible. Conceptually it is a block – and if the block used to play a video (An AR experience) and suddenly shows only a picture – It is a change in experience. If someone tries to tamper with the history of this block saying it was originally designed to showcase a picture – that’s a situation when Blockchain can come into the picture and vouch for what was originally planned.

I don’t think Blockchain is very useful when used privately. It will gain value when people start creating Augmented Reality (AR) products and begin to own them, share them and want to track its usage.

For instance, people create and upload videos on YouTube, which only YouTube can control and view the analytics and claim its accuracy. Whereas, if you want to de-centralise a control – it can be done by allowing every AR experience to be posted into the Blockchain record. This is potentially a way in which we can track it. The concept of Blockchain application needs to be considered here. Its power is very useful when you want to ensure that records are not tampered with; especially publicly visible record, that is available to people.

An expanding ledger

The idea of the blockchain is that it is an ever-growing ledger. Conceptually, think of it as one big file, which continues to grow as blocks. The data is out into the blocks. In the example of Bitcoins, it is close to 160 gigabytes now. It is how big the blockchain is. As more and more transactions occur, it is going to have problems as it continues to grow. So, I think it is going to become a technological issue that needs to be solved.  There are some solutions being proposed currently. Like, Hard Fork – decentralised ledgers, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – digitised version of cryptocurrency rather than the crypto version.

Right now, the scalability for Blockchain with all the services around the world (for bitcoins), when a new node/server wants to come on board, they must download 160 gigabytes of data for the first code. Then on, it is going to work on just partial data received all over the internet. The rise of the internet and email system in the 90s, people could only send a few emails and can only have a few contacts or a few hundred megabytes in their inbox. Whereas these days, some people offer unlimited storage for these data. I think technology role is evolving to keep up the demands of Blockchain. And again, it needs to be seen as not really the kind of one-stop solution kind of tool. It is just another tool in the tool world that can potentially solve a particular business problem.

4. What are some things one need to be cautious about when using this technology?

If an individual or an organisation tries to build their own Blockchain, then they need to create their own node/service. Because the idea of the system or its integrity is the fact that you have more than 51% of all nodes of the network belonging to a particular chain or block is valid or correct. If you’re constructing your own blockchain, you need to manage your own nodes. Again, that kind of defeats the purpose of de-centralised responsibility. You’ll still own the blockchain, you’ll still manage the nodes, so it kind of defeats the purpose. I’d question whether it is useful. When many people acknowledge this technology and start to use this in their day to day life then Blockchain technology will become more stable.

5. Business IPO and Blockchain – Can you please elaborate?

Business IPO means initial public offerings, companies who need capital to expand their business, usually do the IPO and distribute the company’s shares to public likewise in Cryptocurrency environment, companies who involved in this technology use ICO (initial coin offerings) methods to collect their capital before starting the project. The public who backed these projects will get cryptocurrencies and some useful benefits if that project successfully implemented

6. How do you see Blockchain aiding Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is driven by four main factors, Internet of Things, Big data, Business platform models and collaborations between businesses. Using blockchain technology we can easily improve the above factors, blockchain is increasing the trust between the unknown participants which can give a more collaborative environment to businesses, it helps to secure data and protect from anonymous access. Securing information is the major challenge in the digital world so Blockchain will take a major role in the digital transformation in the near future.