IBM develops micro-computer that uses blockchain to secure goods
IBM's new blockchain tech may challenge supply chain coins.
IBM has announced the development of a near-microscopic computer for supply chain tracking, using blockchain technology to securely identify products as they move along the supply chain.
The news was released as part of the annual 5 in 5 report, in which IBM summarises innovations that it believes will lead to a "powerful evolution in computing that will exceed anything we’ve previously seen". This statement is supported by the device's ability to perform a range of tasks, such as detect theft, faults and fraud as well as basic AI tasks, such as sorting the data it's given – all of which occurs on a blockchain, powered by a device that costs less than 10 cents to make.
The announcement was made at the IBM Think 2018 Conference, where the Head of IBM Research, Arvind Krishna, said that they foresee the blockchain-based technology being installed in "cryptographic anchors - such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt". Krishna believes that such blockchain devices "will be embedded in everyday objects and devices" within five years.
Blockchain in supply chain management is not new, with companies like WaltonChain (WTC), Vechain (VET) and WaBi (WABI) all working in the space, using variations of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips and labelling technology to securely track products and ensure authenticity, amongst other goals.
RFID technology has been around for decades and is established within the supply chain industry, with the market value of RFID technology alone predicted to rise to US$18.68 billion by 2026. IBM's technological development predicts a move away from RFID products, to a newer method of ensuring supply chain security, in which their products can "monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data" – all aided by the blockchain.
IBM has been researching various blockchain technologies for several years now, via its Blockchain research hub, as well as previously exploring the use of the Stellar (XLM) network to move money across borders.
Counterfeit goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars per year, according to the OECD, with the problem particularly pertinent in China, where supply-chain blockchain companies have been heavily focused so far. WaltonChain, which operates heavily in China, was recently accused of running a giveaway scam on twitter.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ICX, AION, LINK, QASH, NEO, XMR.