Here at Newconomy, we’ve already examined The Future of Cryptocurrency, and The Future Of Cryptocurrency: Part 2, exploring the most likely effects of what widespread cryptocurrency adoption will look like with retail payments and fundraising. Today we’ll be looking at the Internet of Things, and what hybrid-technology products could arrive as a result.
The Internet of Things. What is that again?
Simply, the connection, or interconnection, of computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data. Think smart televisions, fridges, kettles, toasters and even whole smart houses. Owners are able to pre-program/operate everything from lighting through to heating and even the oven or coffee machine, making it technically possible for your house to be the perfect temperature in each room, at any given time, with your dinner cooked and ready by the time you get home. It really is a case of ‘the sky’s the limit’.
Fancy. But how does Cryptocurrency get involved?
Here’s the thing. At the moment all these IoT devices are talking to each other, doing their thing, but they’re still all fairly limited. A good example is a smart fridge, able to detect it’s temperature, but most importantly understand when it’s low on food. It is already possible for such a device to order food from your selected shop, and have it delivered when convenient.
The problem with a smart fridge, or more accurately limitation, is that interoperability – of how you pay, and where you shop, is constrained. For these deliveries to work, payment vendor partners such as Mastercard need to sign up with shops, sharing their centralized, encrypted user details to validate card transactions. Whilst a step in the right direction, the homeowner isn’t able to automatically propagate, say, the cheapest shop. Or indeed switch effortlessly between any chosen shop on any chosen day or week. Or collect loyalty points.
One of the defining consequences of the evolution of the internet has been the democratization of price points and data for consumers able to see and choose the best value provider, whether that was a bank product, supermarket or package holiday. Narrowing that choice again, with all of the data available on the internet, seems almost perverse.
Cryptocurrency technology, specifically from projects such as IOTA, Waltonchain, and IoTeX, aim to address exactly this problem. By decentralizing and cryptographically encrypting transactions, wallets are freed from the constraints of fixed-rail, centralized financial payment systems, and ledgers. Moreover, connected devices are given a common language and way in which to transact value. This can be a cryptocurrency or token coin, used to purchase such things as bandwidth, storage, data or even more electricity.
The Machines are coming
What this all really means is that the concept of value transference, combined with a decentralized, machine-to-machine, peer-to-peer driven internet, will drastically change. Smart technology today will seem ‘dumb’ in as little as 18 months, with your car will be able to automatically pay for petrol from any pump, and even its service and road tax (which could be divisible by micropayments, a pay-as-you-go type charge).
Your fridge will not only be able to order food but rent bandwidth and part-pay its ‘own’ electricity bill, which is also nano-settled. And eventually, in a borderline scary dystopian future, your car will measure your hunger levels, communicating with your fridge to instruct the oven and coffee machine to create a drink and meal ready for your arrival, settling all necessary monetary and data costs automatically. And we haven’t begun with what happens when you combine all of the above with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
So, the Matrix and destruction of mankind?
We’re a bit more positive, but who really knows. What we can be certain of is that the explosion of apps and services that have resulted from the advent of the internet will likely pale in significance when compared to the wealth of opportunity and ability that truly interconnected machines will create in combination with cryptocurrency technology. Incredible.