An essential element of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the digital networking of all physical smart objects via smart services. The aim is to improve the quality of the interaction between man and machine or machine to machine. Since a central coordination of the Internet of Things would probably be almost impossible, it also aims at a far-reaching autonomy of the intelligent objects. This autonomy can be supported in several ways by blockchain technology.

For logistics as one of the main application domains, this means that resources and goods network with each other, exchange their statuses and negotiate specific interactions in the interests of optimal added value. The resulting value-adding activities have to be tracked and stored transparently for all involved actors. It does not matter whether it concerns internal company processes (e. g., determining the utilization of resources, traceability in the case of a quality defect, ecological footprint or process cost calculation) or cross-company processes (e. g., cost allocation, billing, proof of use). In any case, the value added processes that have been performed have to be documented and the relationship between the goods and the utilized resources and work equipment have to be made available, in a form that cannot be manipulated, to all those involved. In the case of the proof of use of a product or the ecological footprint, this also applies to the customer who has a particular interest in the non-manipulable information.

In this regard, basically a decentralised system, blockchain can offer an approach that can replace a central authority which is difficult to implement, and which is essentially not in the interests of those involved. A great challenge in this regard lies in the (secure) connection of the physical objects with their data (which, for example, is collected by sensors) and the corresponding entries in the blockchain. It is important to ensure that virtual entries (in the blockchain) and physical objects (such as goods) are uniquely linked with each other and can be assigned.

With the IoT, smart contracts offer the possibility of machines reaching agreements that are guaranteed to be complied with in both directions. In line with the Internet of value, machines can then bill their services directly to their user and save earned money decentrally in an e-wallet. Contract and billing can also come about if a machine is not connected to the Internet at that time. They will be synchronized later via the blockchain.

For example, future business models would be conceivable in which manufacturers let autonomously operating machines (e. g., autonomous vehicles) offer their services (e. g., taxi rides) completely free of charge. Machines then earn their money directly (e. g., by transporting people), report maintenance requirements independently and bill directly in both directions. Surpluses are finally posted to the manufacturer. Even the already politically discussed taxation of the work of robots would be easy to realise. Like human workers, part of the machine’s income would be diverted to the state and, therefore, to the general public.

© Yotta Laboratories