5 Companies Innovating with Blockchain
Right now, Bitcoin is by far the primary application of blockchain technology. However, digital innovators in every sector have seen the remarkable potential of this simple technology, and are building exciting new systems. Here are some of the ways blockchain is already disrupting and improving industries:
- Peer-to-peer music sales
The music industry was one of the first to be turned upside-down by digital disruption, and artists are still struggling to create viable revenue channels. Blockchain may offer a way for musicians to sell music directly, bypassing record labels and distributors: the identity management functionality allows for robust, cross-platform Digital Rights Management (DRM), while a Bitcoin-style payment system can manage fee-free payments. The leading service in this niche is Mycelia, founded by the recording artist Imogen Heap.
- Distributed energy networks
An increasing number of people now generate a surplus of electricity, thanks to solar panels and wind turbines. Currently, you have no choice but to sell your excess to one of the power companies. But what if you could sell directly to your peers elsewhere on the grid? Again, blockchain is the perfect platform for such transactions and the concept is already catching on in Germany, where a substantial number of prosumers want to sell their surplus. German energy companies are determined not to be caught out and are developing blockchain-based projects such as Conjoule, developed by RWE.
- Cloud resource sharing
Cloud computing creates greater efficiency than in-premise systems, but blockchain could help make things even more efficient. For example, your cloud provider may give you terabytes of storage that you don’t really need. So why not rent it to someone else? That’s the goal of Storj, a startup that audaciously describes themselves as an Airbnb for data. Blockchain not only allows the kind of transactions that make this possible, but the public key encryption will keep your data secure while it’s stored on someone else’s drive.
- Decentralized Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
IIoT will mean millions of smart devices on a network, generating huge volumes of data. In a centralized system, this means bottlenecks and a single point of failure, which could potentially be catastrophic. The race is on to be first to market with a stable, reliable and decentralized IIoT platform, and blockchain is one of the leading options. IBM and Samsung are currently working on a protocol called ADEPT which will enable devices to co-ordinate via blockchain, making it easier to perform diagnostics, roll out software updates and manage energy consumption.
The creators of Bitcoin intended to make banks obsolete, but they may have had the opposite effect. Blockchain is a brilliant and efficient way of dealing with the fundamentals of banking, especially verification of transactions and ensuring account security. R3CEV are leading the way in this area. With the backing of 70 international financial institutions, they have developed the ledger platform Corda. The reduced administrative overheads alone could save the industry up to $20 billion.
This is a small taste of the thousands of innovative products and solution being built on blockchain technology. What began as the platform for an experimental currency seems to be taking on a life far beyond the dreams of its creator.