Blockchain: Beyond the Barcode
Bosch and other international companies set up a new alliance to make use of blockchain and related technologies.
Blockchain: Beyond the Barcode
Secure data exchange
More transparency, security, and efficiency: These are the aims of the Trusted IoT Alliance, a new alliance for blockchain and related technologies that Bosch has set up with international partners. The internet of things, or IoT, is a network comprising billions of web-enabled devices. Even now, these devices are everyday companions: cars help their drivers find a parking space, homes report to their owners if a window has been left open, and fields send farmers updates about soil temperature. With these devices becoming increasingly prevalent, it is all the more relevant to continuously improve the security of IoT devices (against hacking, for example) and increase users’ trust in IoT solutions. The alliance plans to develop uniform standards that help achieve these objectives.
“For us, blockchain and its related technologies are strategically very important,” said the Bosch CEO Dr Volkmar Denner at the official launch of the Trusted IoT Alliance on Tuesday. A blockchain is based on a kind of decentralised database, which distributes information entered into it across thousands of computers. This makes data and data exchange in general thus more secure. In addition, users are less dependent on computing centers of major platform providers.
Cars, machines, and drones securely exchange data.
Denner listed some of the opportunities provided by blockchain: “Without outside intervention, blockchain and technologically similar approaches allow data to be exchanged securely between online users, agreements and contracts to be concluded with enhanced privacy, and payments to be effected securely. Together with our partners, we at Bosch will make new solutions ready for the market, and in this way help the IoT become more successful.” The alliance believes the technology can be used to securely identify and connect objects – from cars, production lines, to packages and electricity meters. The automation of business processes also offers further potential.
From barcode to blockchain
The development of a standard blockchain protocols for the IoT can be seen as the next stage in the history of a technology that started with the barcode, the first digital product identifier. In retailing and manufacturing, the barcode led to huge improvements, such as faster payments at the checkout and the faster identification of goods. But the barcode also involves security risks. Today, there are counterfeit products worth trillions of dollars in circulation. As a secure identification system that is open and interoperable, blockchain will have a similar revolutionary effect as the barcode did.
How will Bosch use blockchain?
Bosch is already researching many possible applications. One project at an advanced stage concerns odometer fraud in motor vehicles. In this project, a car regularly sends its odometer reading to a secure distributed database that is accessible worldwide. A digital certificate verifies that the data is authentic. Only the vehicle owner can read the data, which is always encrypted before it is sent. In addition, it makes sense to use blockchain in the manufacturing industry, and above all in supply chain logistics, where cryptographic signatures can be used to confirm the identity of objects at every stage of the transport and after-sales process. The benefits are better quality and efficiency, and lower costs.
Alliance aims to increase its membership
The alliance’s current operating board also includes a Bosch representative in the shape of Dirk Slama, the chief alliance officer of Bosch Software Innovations. All in all, some 20 established companies and start-ups have joined together to set up the Trusted IoT Alliance. The alliance is open to new members. At its regular conferences, companies, software developers, and providers of blockchain and related technologies can meet to share insights. For a list of the founding members and other information, go to: https://www.trustediot.org/
- Bosch CEO Dr Volkmar Denner: “Blockchain and similar technological approaches are strategically very important”
- Dirk Slama, the chief alliance officer of Bosch Software Innovations.
- Blockchain can help detect odometer fraud in motor vehicles.
Fact sheet: Five questions about Blockchain
Blockchain – A distributed database for better transparency and security on the internet of things.
What does “blockchain” mean?
A blockchain comprises databases that store sets of transactional data. These allow private individuals and businesspeople to store sensitive data or figures (e.g. on sales transactions, deliveries, or money transfers) on many distributed computers, thus eliminating the need for a central server operated by, say, a bank. Interlocking chains ensure it is impossible to falsify data exchanged among manufacturers, logistics companies, repair specialists, and other users.
What is the principle behind blockchain?
Digital information is stored block by block. The type of information is secondary; a blockchain can store a contract, certificate, or will. Everybody in a blockchain network can check independently whether the other parties to an exchange of data are using the same blockchain version. In other words, all parties can access some or all information in a chain. As a result, manipulating data would require an unbelievable amount of effort – assuming it is even possible in the first place.
What are the benefits of blockchain?
Transparency, security, and efficiency are the three key advantages of blockchain. For example, a trusted third party is not required to vouch for money transfers. Users therefore have no need for banks, insurance providers, intermediaries, or auditors. Blockchain users can depend on each other, sealing the deal with a kind of virtual handshake. This innovation also makes financial transactions faster, less expensive, and more secure. In consequence, notaries and insurance brokers are being compelled to reduce their traditionally high fees for services rendered.
Where is blockchain used?
Blockchain technology is used primarily wherever data tracking is important. Postal services, for instance, can use blockchains to prove that a package has been delivered. Some hope to exploit this technology in the future for the authentication of digital documents. The blockchain principle can also be applied to the purchase or sale of vehicles, real estate, and stocks.
How does Bosch use blockchain?
Bosch is currently researching many possible applications. One project at an advanced stage concerns odometer fraud in motor vehicles. In this project, a connected test car regularly sends the current odometer reading to a secure distributed database that is accessible worldwide. A digital certificate verifies that the data is authentic. Only the vehicle owner can read the data, which is always encrypted before it is sent. This ensures compliance with data security requirements because no organisation can access the vehicle identification number and the vehicle’s odometer reading – neither the original equipment manufacturer, nor Bosch, nor its project partner TÜV Rheinland, a German certification authority. When the owner decides to sell their vehicle, they can choose whether or not to have a certificate issued to verify the authenticity of the data on record.