The Internet of Things is perhaps most easily understood regarding beacons, meters and static location-based services. However, as miniaturized technology becomes more of a commonplace, the opportunities for creating even more connected devices are increasing.
However, with that potential comes a dichotomy: IoT devices are only as good as their connectivity. Without a stable, reliable data connection, many existing IoT devices are mostly useless, and with the trend for data-based on-demand services, it’s a challenge that needs addressing.
The good news is that keeping the IoT connected doesn’t require the same sort of infrastructural commitment as cable-based networks, which means the cost of maintaining devices connected is much lower.
The bad news is that the connectivity which is currently providing for the IOT is focusing on stationary objects. Due to that the connected devices that do move (smart collars for pets, automotive tools, etc.), currently have a patchy network of roaming agreements that aren’t fit for use.
Connectivity Is Key
The Internet of Things regardless of the device, service or sensor is about one thing: being connected. It follows then that the reliability and stability of those connections are paramount.
While it presents a problem for current technologies, blockchain could hold the answer to solving this particular riddle.
For example, Moeco, a company that lets anyone become an IoT connectivity provider, has solutions for both a massive range of applications that allow individuals or businesses to earn revenue for each connected device.
For tasks that don’t require a dedicated access point, smartphones with Bluetooth Low Energy connections could be used as a cost-effective mobile gateway. For applications that need a dedicated access point, Lora-Wan gateways can be installed to provide coverage of up to 15 kilometers.
So far that’s pretty familiar, but the difference is the way in which network connectivity is formed – by design, blockchain technology enables secure environments that don’t require a trusted central party. The result for Moeco is the ability to build ad-hoc ‘smart contracts’ with devices and users that allow connections without the need for primary authentication and management.
By creating a ‘mesh’ of connectivity in this way, it avoids the potential for bottlenecks as the number of IoT devices continues to grow, and with realistic estimates at around 20 – 30 billion connected IoT devices by 2020, that’s quite a significant potential bottleneck.
All About The Money
The benefit of a distributed approach such as this is that it results in far lower deployment costs and enables the formation of small-scale operators that all contribute to the overall connectivity puzzle. Of course, in exchange for providing that service, they also earn revenue.
A dual-prong distributed approach also brings other benefits, like being fully scalable regardless of whether city-wide connectivity is required, or whether it’s just providing a connection to retail space or a warehouse.
Most importantly, however, is that projects like Moeco hold the potential to unleash a genuinely global scale network that doesn’t require roaming agreements between each party – the result, in a best-case scenario, would be a roaming-free environment for end users, corporate customers, device makers, and service providers.
One thing that people unflinchingly accept are services that help them to make money – all the better if they’re also simple to setup and manage, which would be the case for something as simple as installing a mobile app or dedicated gateway.
Right now, that might feel a bit too much of a hopeful view of the future, but there’s appetite to deploy technology in this way from industry backers, as well as potential network operators. Most recently, The Bitfury Group announced a $5,000,000 investment in Moeco to get ahead of the IoT connectivity curve before the number of connected devices passes the tens of billions mark.
And that point’s getting closer every day.
Low deployment costs coupled with an explicit monetization model brings the real potential to create an environment in which a large number of small-scale operators and a rapidly scalable ecosystem provide the necessary connections for the IoT without the need for brokered relationships.