The tendency to believe that great technological innovations burst into the mainstream all of a sudden and out of nowhere is an integral element of the narrative myths of our age . Such belief reduces the cognitive burden of having to look deeper into the quiet revolutions that these technologies characterised for many years before finding true expression and mainstream success.
Blockchain technology is one such revolution that has been in the making for many years now. The idea behind the blockchain is simple – reduce transaction processing times and improve security by maintaining an open source, distributed database to which records called “blocks” keep getting added over the time. Each of these blocks is chained to the next in a chronological and linear fashion and contains a hash of the previous block within itself. The transactions can be easily verified by any one to ascertain the exact exchange path and authenticity of the transaction while modifying any single “block” in the blockchain entails modifying the entire blockchain itself – a computationally super intensive task.
Different Stages in the Blockchain’s Evolution from Bitcoin
While most of the current use cases revolve around bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, the blockchain technology is finding a lot of traction in other industries as well.
Read on to know more about how the blockchain technology is being used to power innovative use cases in a variety of other industries across the world.
Digital Identity Management is a domain that is seeing lot of action from companies like Shocard, UniquID, Onename and Trustatom who have built excellent Proof-of-Concept solutions around increasing the robustness of DIM through the use of Blockchain Technology.
The principal appeal of Blockchain Technologies is their ability to allow two anonymous parties to transact with each other and exchange value without the need for an intermediary. Since the transactions happen virtually in cyberspace it becomes critical to develop a mechanism to facilitate, execute and enforce agreements between the two parties. Smart Contracts, thus enter the picture and ensure that none of the parties involved suffer any loss due to human malpractice.
Structurally, Smart Contracts are computer programs which act as agreements. The terms of these agreements can be pre-programmed and host the capability to self-execute and self-enforce in response to events.
Otonomos, Mirror, Symbiont and New System Technologies are examples of companies that have built innovative solutions around Smart Contracts Management to cater to a wide variety of business needs like incorporation, trading etc.
Blockchain in IoT
The Internet of Things is a networking paradigm that refers to the connection of disparate “things” to a network allowing intercommunication and data exchange. In laymans terms, we can connect different devices and objects to each other through the internet and then use the data these “things” generate to build a holistic picture. These devices could be as large as entire cities to as small as tiny sensors placed inside the human body to monitor vitals.
Blockchain based IoT solutions from companies like Filament and Chimera bring the benefits of this powerful technology like enhanced security, decentralised communications and greater visibility to organisations throughout the world.
Authentication and Authorization
From securing Supply Chains to remembering passwords to robust anti-counterfeiting solutions, Blockchain Technology has been used to improve the existing protocols.
Companies like Degree of Trust, Everpass and Blockverify have already set the ball rolling by building POC’s and actual solutions that address these issues effectively. This is one area where I believe we would see a lot of action in the near future.
Storage & Delivery of Digital Documents
Amongst the areas that have seen a large share of action, Blockchain Technology is being used for a variety of services related to digital content and documentation. Some of the prominent examples are:
- Bitproof – Notarise documents, protect your intellectual property and create frosted contracts
- Ascribe – Targeted at artists. Lets you protect your artwork by creating a permanent bond between you and your masterpiece. Also allows you to securely share and track your work on the internet
- Artplus – Another platform targeted at artists, galaries and collectors. Provides secure storage and risk free viewings secured with a blockchain based escrow service.
- Chainy – Permanent proof of existence of a document together with a link to access the file.
- Stampery – Blockchain based data certifications aimed at businesses
Real Estate, Precious Metals & Stones
Blockchains are also being used in industries with a heavy reliance on accurate and up-to-date documentation that needs to last for long durations. Innovative startups have been working on building Blockchain based solutions which can ensure transparency and security of things like property records, sale deeds, diamond procurement certificates etc.
Some of the prominent examples are:
- Factom – Blockchain based document management and smart contract solution for the Real Estate industry
- Everledger – Diamonds are forever and so should the records about each diamond. Digital Certification, Verification and Smart Contracts for the Diamond trade.
- Bitshares – Decentralised Asset Exchange platforms
- Real Asset Company – Offers “Goldbloc”, a gold backed cryptocurrency
Reputation Management & Customer Engagement
Some of the prominent examples in this space are:
- The World Table – Improve Engagement, Automate Moderation, Increase Revenue
- TRST.im – Blockchain based reputation management
The Blockchain development space is an extremely dynamic space with lots of innovative ideas being conceived and built every day. The companies and solutions listed in this document are at the forefront of innovation in their respective domains. While it is true that a lot of these ideas are in very early stages of development, it is nonetheless a very real possibility that we would see significant advancements in their functionality and utility to the end-user. I am quiet confident that we will see even more innovative use cases in the future for this exciting piece of technology.