Category: Internet of things(IOT)

All About Blockchain

Blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied’. It’s 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 be able to benefit sectors that require large data sets to be stored with a high-level of encryption. Some industries include:

Banks 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

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

There is definitely a future (for blockchain and AR). There are a number of areas that we need to explore where blockchain could work with AR. If AR is treated as an object or a commodity, for example, an AR experience in a bottle – in which you can 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. It is possible to record the particular details (eg. who created it, when it was created) that make up an AR experience in that blockchain.

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

Yes, it is possible. Conceptually it is a block – and if the block is 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.

When used privately blockchain is not very useful. 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 records, that are available to others.

The idea of the blockchain is that it is an ever-growing ledger. Think of it as one big file, which continues to grow as blocks. The data is out into the blocks. In the example of Bitcoin, 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 Bitcoin), when a new node/server wants to come on board, they must download 160 gigabytes of data for the first code. Then 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, meant people could only send a few emails and can only have a few contacts or a few hundred megabytes in their inbox. These days, some email servers offer unlimited storage for these data. I think the role of technology is evolving to keep up the demands of blockchain. 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.

  1. What are some things one needs 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. 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 decentralised 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.

  1. 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 the public. Likewise, in the Cryptocurrency environment, companies who are involved in this technology use ICO (initial coin offerings) 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

  1. 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 digital transformation in the near future.

Learn More About Blockchain

Want to learn more about blockchain? Check out this TED Talk by Bettina Warburg

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The Internet of Things – Augmented Reality’s role

The digital world is moving increasingly into the physical and ideas, which at one time seemed futuristic and revolutionary are now possible. But with the benefits come new issues.

Technology Growth

Technology is a fast growing market, with many people now owning multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices. 1 billion new smartphones were shipped in 2013[1], and there will be more than 7 billion new Wi-Fi enabled devices in the next 3 years [2]. Research reports[3] have estimated that the number of devices connected to the Internet of Everything by 2020 will be between 26-30 billion.

With this increase user habits and expectations are changing, the amount of information consumed and shared by individuals during their day-to-day life has increased exponentially, in addition to new location service platforms being developed. Take the increase in geographical information. Users globally are sharing, tagging and creating points of interest on a day-to-day basis. People, places, maps and buildings are being pin pointed by location-based services.

One of the first examples of added-value location services was the Semapedia Project, created in 2005 with the goal of connecting objects and locations in the physical world to their respective Wikipedia entries using QR codes. More recently location-based services have grown in popularity with platforms such as Foursquare, creating a competitive element to location sharing, and Facebook’s location tagging function. These services provide us with an interesting perspective into the life and behaviours of users, and the way they are incorporating environments together.

Ubiquitous Computing and the Internet of Things

Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) is the idea of a constant presence of technology in the world, unrestrained like desktop computing and therefore able to appear in any number of devices and formats from washing machines and fridges, to glasses.
The advancement of Ubicomp means that the Internet of Things (the interconnecting web of these computer-like devices) is technologically possible. While feasible, there is still a lack of any effective, unquestionable solution on how to help successfully link smart environments and individuals, as such circumstances demand a greater level of accessibility for each device without compromising functionality.

Ubiquitous Computing and its recognition via the Internet of Things brings with it an enormous flow of geography-based information. Ubiquitous Computing allows inanimate objects to become smart devices themselves. These ‘smart devices’ therefore become sources of potential services for users close to them. This new progress is adding large amounts of geographical data to that currently handled by users daily.

Interaction Challenges

With the growth of interaction technology also comes the problem of an information overload. The complex, global geographically referenced information is already proving to be a strain on the current system, and with a growing numbers of users connecting, this problem will only increase.

Gartner [4] predicted that by the end of 2012 machine to machine communication would account for 20% of non-video Internet traffic – a huge amount of networked data being sent via the Internet. For such information to be delivered efficiently, on a proper interfacing framework, location-services must become more powerful.

The key linking these may lie within augmented reality; to develop user interfaces with the specific interaction requirements of the Internet of Everything.

The Introducing of Augmented Reality

An obvious collaborator to this increase in geographical technology and popularity is Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality has been gaining traction as one of the most promising uses of the concept known as ‘Computer-mediated reality’. Although this concept also contains the already well-known Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality (AR) is rapidly becoming the hottest technology growth area. Augmented Reality is a combination of systems and experiences where the physical environment is an essential element of the experience. With AR a direct or indirect view of a real world situation is overlaid by computer-generated elements, rather than computer generated entirely.

The interaction capabilities of Augmented Reality interfaces provide a possible solution to the previously mentioned problems. The transition from Graphical to Tangible User interfaces will improve Human-Computer interaction in Smart Environments, and this is aided by the Augmented Reality approach with the physical world providing the environment and technology adding the relevant information by creating layers.

Further assets such as data mining, inference engines, multimodal interaction and a standardised approach (such as HTML5) will allow Augmented Reality interfacing to perform at its full potential.

References
[1] IDC
[2] Sys-Con
[3] Gartner – 26 billion, ABI Research – 30 billion.
[4] Gartner

 

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