Today, blockchain networks exist across stationary computing devices. Advances in mobile technology will soon enable blockchain networks to be hosted across mobile devices. This post will explore the trends that have come together to produce the perfect environment for mobile blockchains to go mainstream.
Mobile devices are more powerful than personal computers were a decade ago. The performance of individual processors has increased 10,000 times over two decades, while power consumption has remained roughly the same. High-end Samsung and Apple devices already pack more computing power than many PCs.
Thanks to the race to develop Electrical Vehicles (EVs), the battery tech space is experiencing exponential growth. Innovations from the EV space will help create a new generation of batteries to power mobile devices more efficiently. New generation lithium-ion, lithium-sulfur, and solid-state batteries are set to significantly improve the safety and performance of batteries.
With 5G connectivity growing and 6G on the horizon, the rate at which mobile devices can send and receive data is higher than ever. Connectivity is improving all the time. Projects like Space X’s Starlink, which aims to move the internet connectivity race to space, will take mobile connectivity’s reach and speeds to the next level.
Blockchain technology, properly implemented, will put the control of data back in the hands of users. Every user will have more control over their digital footprints. Via anti-theft abilities, which allow users to use techniques such as social recovery, users will be able to access their data even if their devices are lost. They will also be able to block the IMEI (International Mobile station Equipment Identity number) for the lost device.
A range of “blockchain smartphones” are popping up online and in stores across the world, from companies like Sirin Labs, HTC, and Nokia. Some have apps that use blockchains as their database layer, while others offer low-level mining and cryptocurrency storage and trading abilities.
Consensus Mechanisms & Power Consumption
Consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work require users on the network to engage in mining, which uses significant computing power and electricity. Bitcoin runs on Proof Of Work. As Bitcoin exploded in popularity and more miners came online, people realized that the rising energy consumption of the network was becoming a problem. Entrepreneurs are exploring more eco-friendly consensus mechanisms that require very little energy to operate, such as Proof of Stake. Ethereum has been in the process of switching from Proof Of Work to Proof Of Stake for some time now. Users have taken the Proof of Stake philosophy further and created a consensus mechanism called Delegated Proof of Stake.
Developers are experimenting with and creating several new types of consensus mechanisms that approach how the community reaches consensus differently. A good consensus mechanism should incentivize the correct behavior and have proper checks and balances to maintain a healthy blockchain network. Most new consensus mechanisms are designed to be eco-friendly and have minimal energy consumption.
The Evolution of Mobile Blockchains
Improved battery life, superior connectivity, consensus mechanisms with low energy requirements, and more powerful phones and tablets will pave the way for blockchains to exist on mobile networks. These would be mobile blockchain networks, where each device would act as a node.
Each block in a blockchain database is timestamped. Mobile blockchains could also distribute capabilities amongst their users geographically. Along with a timestamp, mobile blockchain consensus mechanisms could also use a “location-stamp”. While it may be a privacy concern for some, adding locations to the mix could open up a new range of use cases in areas such as logistics, transportation, IoT, gaming, and augmented reality, among others.
Data Generation On The Move
We generate a lot of data while we go about our day. Apps track our locations and actions to map our behavior and determine trends. Mobile blockchains could be a paradigm shift for our daily transactions and interactions. Digital identities verified by location could help us access services and make purchases seamlessly throughout our day.
Leaving timestamps and location-stamps throughout our day sounds dystopian. Unfortunately, we already do it — this data exists on the private servers of the companies whose apps we’ve installed on our phones and granted permissions to track pretty much everything about us. A blockchain-based system would provide some security mechanisms and a layer of privacy to protect its users.
As toll roads and public transit systems get more intelligent, they track where users begin and end their journeys. As connected fleets of Smart cars from different companies and Swarm Robotics grow in popularity, they’ll need a way to communicate and transact with each other. Mobile blockchain platforms will provide the perfect solution to host these interactions securely.
Collaborating securely and anonymously while on the move will enable greater efficiencies and open up new opportunities. A couple of essential concepts that allow this are secure multiparty computation and fair multiparty computation. Multiparty computation enables multiple users or devices to compute in real-time securely without revealing their identities to each other and keeping their information private. Protocols like Zero-Knowledge Proofs could further help secure the identities of the interacting users.
AR VR MR
Companies are developing AR Clouds that aim to create constantly updated digital maps of the physical world. These clouds will then host a range of AR, VR, and MR games and applications overlaid on our physical surroundings. As users explore the digital experiences in these environments, new marketing, advertising, and sales opportunities will also occur. As mobile games and applications with location-based components grow in popularity, mobile blockchain networks may provide additional functionality, privacy, and security to users.
Advances in mobile technology and connectivity will soon allow blockchain networks to be hosted across mobile devices. Mobile blockchain networks will have significant implications for the internet of things, logistics, supply chain, security, autonomous vehicles, swarm robotics, track and trace solutions, emergency response, law enforcement, and precision agriculture. At the same time, they will potentially allow more user control of their data and more robust digital identity solutions.
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