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Blockchain+IoT+AI in smart homes

4 Mins read

Blockchain+IoT+AI in smart homes

You know internet security is a big thing. Blockchain helps there in financial transaction security, of course, but can it help in other ways as well? This week I’ve been thinking about the explosion of smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices in my home and the security implications and opportunities for blockchain and AI/ML to fix security issues and give ownership of these data sets to the right people. This data might be the next big monetisation opportunity as smart devices move from light bulbs and heating to electric cars (and power in their batteries), smart health devices and beyond.

Home networks are becoming like small business networks but with no one (single) person responsible for security – except the home owner. There are too many moving parts and especially untrustworthy Chinese cheap smart devices for say Apple to take overall control. This is my home network design, so far, as I move into Electric Cars (how do I reach the parking bay for my apartment), smart lights and plugs as I try to reduce walking requirements as my MS progresses and I can’t really walk anymore, smart heating and WiFi music to all speakers around my home.

Blockchain+IoT+AI in smart homes

Blockchain plus IoT plus AI/ML seems to me to offer much potential. As I continue to design my own Smart Home Mesh, with help from the Linkedin community, I wonder what the impact of this “holy trinity” might be over the years to come. Here are just four ideas:-

1. Distributed and decentralised energy storage – one of the reasons we have an energy crisis in Europe today is because wind & solar don’t work all the time & you can’t easily store energy. So if an electric car is basically a battery on wheels it can become part of the solution. Maybe I am not using my car today. Why not charge the battery up when energy is cheap (when the wind blows) and sell it back to the grid when it is needed? Let’s create a decentralised and distributed grid where I can sell spare power, peer-to-peer, for tokens that I can use to buy other stuff I need, like pizza. I can even combine this with solar panels on my roof and a new type of credit card using these tokens with a loyalty scheme, all in my wallet on my phone. All super cool.

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2. Trusted Smart home IoT devices – I discovered to my horror that these cheap WiFi Chinese smart bulbs use an app. that helps itself to your WiFi password all the time. I changd my WIFI SSID and password, watched all the lights go out, as expected, and then in horror watch as they came back on when the app. harvested the new sign on credentials. That didn’t half scare me. The app. also has full sight of all devices on the network, like my smart heating. Here’s another article and another article about how scary this is. It’s much safer to put your bulbs behind a hub and use a seperate machine-to-machine technology like Zigbee to communicate to IoT devices. The dotted red lines are very interesting – this is wireless – like wifi – but a different frequency range just for stuff like lights bulbs that talk to the internet via a hub and machine-to-machine (M2M). In my case it is from Zigbee – the red “Z.” Here light bulbs talk to light bulbs talk to the hub so the range grows in a daisy chain. Very cool.

Imagine that scenario if that app could introduce malware onto my network to increase the temperature of my heating by 1 degree. If the malware did that for a million homes, all at the same time, the sudden increase in demand could take the grid down. Why not use blockchain to take a hash of the audited firmware on the device and software in the app. that we know is OK. Then if the code is in anyway different, then it won’t run. Apparently it is already possible to use blockchain to audit the individual devices and the IoT network for both physical and software tampering. As Nick Waters says “The tricky part to workout was the synchronisation of the devices with the blockchain when they’ve switched offline to back online. A simple but much overlooked aspect of blockchain tech solves this.”

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Sharing your network password in this way is a trade off for smart functionality. If you buy these Chinese smart bulbs, then the intelligence is on a server in China. So for me it’s because with MS I am losing the ability to walk so this means I can control the lights etc. So the solution is to either isolate the bulbs etc. on the network by disabling any port access to specific smartlife devices in the router or to use something like Zigbee. But most folks won’t do this. So I wondered if there was another way, perhaps with blockchain.

Blockchain+IoT+AI in smart homes

3. IoT data tends to sit in silos as no one wants to share it. Why not use an ML smart bot / smart contract to trawl though IoT data and then share the learnings or analytics? In this way the only data that moves is the analytics and learnings – the core data set stays secure in that silo. In this way IoT providers can monetise their data in a trickle feed way – micro and nano transaction – so they maintain control over the monetisation of their most valuable data. And innovators get the ML to drive their new apps – a win – win , which is the blockchain way.

4. As Piotr Rutkowski says “maybe a system for reporting incidents about events and vulnerabilities based on blockchain could also be useful challenge for developments?”

Source: Andy Martin

 

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