Being woken up by a screaming alarm clock is hardly a pleasant experience early in the morning, especially as you know for sure about the upcoming hour stuck in traffic jams on the way to work.
But what if instead it’s the caress of the warm spring sunlight that wakes you up precisely 45 minutes after the center star of the Solar System rises from the horizon. Would you prefer that?
Oh, you wish.
However, as Marvel fans might remember, there is a scene in Iron Man where the reporter lady wakes up finding herself bathed in the bright California sunshine, amazed by the view out of the French window which is revealed through the opening smart curtains.
It might be the least futuristic part of the sci-fi movie, especially compared to Tony Stark’s suit. But still, such smart curtains are not yet available for mass adoption, nor is the microwave oven that makes you breakfast by itself, or the fridge that can tell a food’s expiration date.
Nevertheless, the world is heading to an evolution of lifestyle, which I believe is founded on a new version of network — the Internet of Things (IoT).
We regular people might have not yet sensed the trend, but the money definitely has and it is catching up fast.
Xiaomi — the well-known Chinese smart device manufacturer, Huawei — the recently-risen arch enemy of Apple, and a bunch of other Chinese digital and appliance product makers have announced their plans of investment into IoT in succession since the beginning of this year.
Deep-pocketed Chinese investors might be reckless, but would their sophisticated western counterparts be so rash?
A Forbes article predicts that, in the year 2022, the total technology spending on IoT across the globe would reach $1.2 trillion, while the market scale would top $500 billion from 2018’s $151 billion.
The industrial prosperity of IoT is meant to come. Yes, yes, easy for you to say.
The bad news is that we can easily spot at least three chokepoints along this bumpy road ahead. The good news is that we can count on blockchain technology.
Mass data. According to a Chinese research body, in the first half of 2018, about 16 million fridges were sold in mainland China, leading to an estimated annual volume of 32 million.
Assuming the Top 10 brands together take most of the market share and that we are now in the era of smart fridge mass adoption, each manufacturer, on average, would have data from over 3 million devices to deal with.
And that number is just from one market.
From collecting the data efficiently, to computing it precisely, delivering it properly, and finally storing it safely, it would be hard for a centralized server not to be overloaded or even collapse given the physical strain on its bandwidth.
However, with blockchain, this problem will be properly addressed. The data will be distributed to every device (node or miner) in the network, which is well incentivized to utilize its idle computing power to implement the above-mentioned process.
Security. This feature is not difficult to read either. For a centralized server in which all data is stored, it would be a catastrophe to experience a system failure or a hack. The impact would affect millions of end-user devices.
The fridge may power itself off, giving you thawed ice-cream and rotten tomatoes, while the microwave may power itself on, causing an egg explosion or worse — a house fire.
We might sometimes enjoy watching horror movies like “Final Destination”, but just for killing time, not killing ourselves.
But, with blockchain, the degree of difficulty in breaking down the whole network — leading to these dangers — is much higher, as the data is separately computed and stored in thousands of nodes. It would usually (within Proof-of-Work consensus for instance) require system failures of more than 50% of all the “servers” — the end computers, in plain words.
Cost. Well, with a decentralized system, for starters, there are fewer overheating CPUs, which helps to lower the hardware costs.
Secondly, the extra electricity fees for running giant coolers would be reduced, which is also more environmentally friendly.
Last but not least, the computing process would be done in seconds, which is obviously more economically efficient.
See, am I exaggerating in the headline? Come on, what else can we ask for?