Fujitsu showcases IOTA cryptocurrency as new automation standard
IOTA's uncompromising design may have made it an effective IoT industry standard.
Hannover Messe is one of the world's largest industrial technology trade fairs, typically attracting about a quarter of a million indvisitors, both tourists and industry experts, who come to take in the next generation of technology, which has an increasing focus on robotics and automation. But among the many robots and more visually stunning demonstrations filling the space, a relatively unassuming INTELLIEDGE software presentation from Fujitsu was attracting a lot of attention.
IOTA is a feeless DAG cryptocurrency designed for machine-to-machine transactions. In this case, it was being used via Fujitsu's INTELLIEDGE software to monitor a pretend factory production line, tying together the factory itself, the robots in it and the individual components being assembled.
IOTA's Tangle overcomes the traditional limitations of distributed ledger technology, Werner explained. It's energy efficient, offers feeless transactions and scales extremely well, making it well-suited to becoming the industry standard of automated systems and a wider machine-to-machine economy.
An industry standard
Standardisation is important in everything. In the case of Fujitsu's IOTA Tangle-automated factory, it allows for easier interoperability between all involved parties. For example, by provably and trustlessly tracking the origin of each individual component that's used to assemble a car while automatically monitoring each step along the entire production and shipping line, each piece can be monitored during automatic assembly by Tangle-connected robots. The completed car itself can then be similarly monitored as its own entity, right down to each individual component. The entire time, all data needed is being trustlessly and immutably logged.
The benefits of an effectively standardised system built around this framework cannot be overstated.
Manufacturers and end-users could be 100% certain of the origin of every single major vehicle component, transporters could get a built-in system for tracking their goods all around the world and provably tracing any damage sustained en route as well as getting real-time warnings of any delays or deviations.
Drivers could get alerts when certain components are damaged or need repairs, stolen cars could be tracked with certainty, people could get an entire trustworthy vehicle history when buying a second-hand car and insurers could check the Tangle to determine fair premiums with an extremely granular look at expected vehicle repairs in the near future.
Cars could securely pay at the pump (or charger) without the driver needing to swipe a card or walk into the store. Cars could also receive advance warning of emergency vehicles heading their way, so that the cars could pull over to ensure the roads are clear as the emergency vehicles approach. In the near future, this will shift over to autonomous vehicles, which could then manage themselves as individual entities with "jobs" as taxi drivers, autonomously and securely taking earnings, and paying for charging and repairs as needed.
And that's just cars. As Werner said, the possibilities are endless.
This better be good
"Altcoins are all a distraction," said Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong at the start of 2015. "Bitcoin is way too far ahead. We should be focused on bitcoin and sidechains."
This sentiment hasn't aged well. Much of the early adoption of bitcoin was based on the idea that it could become an industry standard at the centre of a connected future, but bitcoin's development has been too slow and too fractured, and the inherent limitations of its architecture have proven extremely difficult to overcome.
It also didn't consider the rapid strides being made in next-generation non-blockchain systems.
An IoT future could be assembled in a piecemeal fashion through a range of different distributed ledgers in different locations and different industries, but unlocking the full benefits means finding a global standard. The IOTA Tangle, Werner said, has managed to successfully overcome the limitations of blockchain technology and can serve as a suitable industry standard.
Fujitsu and Bosch are both thoroughly onboard with IOTA, and the latter has partnered with IBM to collaborate on industrial IoT solutions. Werner also pointed out that Fujitsu is well-equipped to help roll out IOTA as the new standard by being across both IT services and manufacturing. The Fujitsu system demonstrated at Hannover Messe wasn't a hypothetical glance at the future, but a Tangle-based system to be rolled out at Fujitsu's Augsburg smart factory.
The main takeaway from Fujitsu's presentation at Hannover Messe isn't just that robots are cool (they are), or that automation will kill jobs and save lives (it will). It's that IOTA is a done deal, and has now been selected as the next global IoT standard. The nature of the technology and extreme benefits of universal standardisation don't leave much room for runner-up prizes.
This should come as little surprise. The IOTA Foundation has outright said many times that it will become the de facto global standard on an infrastructure level sometime in 2018, and it was specifically designed, with some fairly hair-raising sacrifices, to be the objectively best option available in the long run.
For example, IOTA made the extremely exotic and widely-criticised decision to use a ternary-based system, rather than the global standard binary. From some angles, it was a way-too-large sacrifice for way too little gain. This necessitated the creation of entirely new cryptographic functions, and made it somewhat inaccessible to a lot of the existing computing infrastructure, which netted it plenty of further criticism.
These controversial decisions may have stunted growth in the short and medium term, but in the long run, it can be well worth making uncomfortably large sacrifices for very small gains. IOTA's position as the next global IoT standard isn't down to clever marketing or good connections. It's because IOTA was painstakingly designed to be the single objectively best IoT system in existence, in very tangible ways.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC and NANO.