Blogthng

Author Dominique Guinard (CTO & Co-Founder)
Published

We started experimenting with the blockchain about two years ago when we were invited to join the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) to lead the Blockchain and IoT research. A big part of our work for the institute was to research the impact the blockchain, and more generally Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT), will have on IoT, producing an objective research report looking at opportunities, strengths and challenges of the blockchain for IoT.

Our report was published in November 2017 to the members of the BRI. However, in order to disseminate knowledge beyond members, the BRI has a rule that reports are made accessible to the world under Creative Common license six months after their initial publication.

We’re now happy to provide you with a full copy of our blockchain and IoT report, which can be downloaded here. However, since the report is 38 pages long, let’s summarize the crux of it here.

The report starts by providing order to the IoT chaos and defining what makes a typical IoT project: connectivity, identity, sensing and/or actuation.

We then look at what the challenges of today’s (centralized) IoT are and how the blockchain could come to the rescue. We also examine what challenges blockchain bring:

  • Resilience & Durability. Too many connected products are not built in a sustainable and durable way, leading to many IoT gadgets that will cease to work as soon as their manufacturer decides or goes out of business. Blockchains are not controlled by a single entity but by all (or some, depending on the implementation) participants in the network leading to a distribution of control that could help tackle this challenge.
  • Global trust. How can we ensure IoT products and centralized platforms can be trusted to manage data securely and will not abuse or modify the data? Thanks to consensus mechanisms and the immutability of ledgers, blockchains are more trustworthy than centralized systems and could provide a way to verify some IoT data (e.g., transactions or identities) in a trustable manner.
  • Interoperability. The IoT still is a fragmented world of Intranets of Things running incompatible protocols (for good and bad reasons). The blockchain could potentially help by creating global value exchange networks. However, in its current state the blockchain is as fragmented as, if not more fragmented than, the IoT space: new blockchains appear on a daily basis and are largely incompatible with one another.
  • Scalability. How can you scale centralized platforms to billions of connected things sending trillions of updates on a daily basis? The blockchain could potentially help resolve these challenges by fostering decentralization (i.e., reducing the pressure on centralized platforms). However, today’s widespread blockchains (e.g., Bitcoin, Ethereum) scale orders of magnitude less well than centralized IoT platforms.

We also discuss blockchain specific challenges such as massive energy consumption, slow throughput, lack of regulation or challenges with complying with regulations (e.g., GDPR), or relative immaturity of the solutions. Then we look at innovative solutions that could provide concrete answers to these challenges in the future.

Finally, we equip the reader with a framework to understand when to use and not to use blockchain in an IoT context and propose an implementation pattern that looks into hybrid solutions: the core of the idea being to continue connecting things to the IoT via centralized platforms and start propagating some of the data to blockchains or DLT (a pattern we implemented in production with our Blockchain Integration Hub).

Very few technologies have developed so rapidly and have had the impact of blockchains and DLT. The potential of these new systems is a clear hint that they will revolutionize a number of markets, including IoT. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day! The blockchain space for IoT has moved past its peak of inflated expectations and is now proceeding more carefully, realizing the lack of maturity and focusing on those challenges that we really need to solve in order to future-proof the technology. The community is now also putting effort into understanding where the technology can truly help, and where it cannot. We hope this report will provide the keys to understanding the state of the blockchain and how to start experimenting with the blockchain for the IoT and the supply chain while minimizing risks.

Author Simon Jones (SVP Enterprise Sales, Europe & Asia)
Published

We’re excited to bring the power of product digitization to Asia — the manufacturing hub of some of the world’s biggest brands. Today, we’ve announced a partnership with AccelerAsia, along with a new regional office in Singapore, to enable us to meet the rapidly increasing business demand in the region.

Product digitization gives manufacturers greater control and visibility into the supply chain — arming them with the product-driven data and intelligence needed to combat real issues in today’s market and protect brand integrity. We’re talking:

  • Counterfeit products
  • Gray market imports
  • Food safety
  • Sustainability
  • Recycling
  • Consumer digital premiums

Brands need a simple, scalable solution that is future proof — that will work with whatever supply chain software they already have invested in, as well as new technologies that are already on the way, like blockchain.

EVRYTHNG collects data throughout each individual product’s lifecycle from the sourcing of ingredients to consumer purchase to recycling. This is particularly relevant in Asia where counterfeiting and gray market issues are a growing threat to consumers and manufacturers, alike.

Why Asia?
Beyond being a manufacturing hub, Asia is ahead of the curve in the adoption of mobile technologies. Thanks to apps like WeChat, WhatsApp and Alipay, consumer interaction with QR codes is commonplace, with over 100 million daily scans and over $5.5 trillion of contactless payments annually.

Product digitization — which allows consumers to scan packaging and labels on items for provenance, authenticity and rewards — is perfectly suited for the mobile-first Asian market.

The reality is a disproportionate percentage of consumer product lifecycles begin in the Asia region. This combined with advanced consumer behavior means that adoption of a digitized product ecosystem will be high and consumer product brands will realize a return-on-investment much faster.

About AccelerAsia
AccelerAsia is a business development firm that helps cutting-edge technology companies from Europe, US and Israel enter the Asian market. According to Frank Bomers, Partner at AccelerAsia, “Asia is digitizing at a breakneck pace, and in many ways leapfrogging from the pre-industrial to the IoT era — technology adoption that took decades in other markets sometimes takes just months in some of Asia’s megacities.”

You can learn more about our expansion into the Asia region here.

Author Niall Murphy (CEO & Co-founder)
Published

I’m incredibly proud to reveal that EVRYTHNG has been named by the World Economic Forum as a 2018 Tech Pioneer.

Innovation takes many forms. Sometimes relevant to the masses. Sometimes a select few. This year’s class of World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers is proof and I’ve got to say it is humbling to stand among this prestigious group of innovators.

How did we get here?

EVRYTHNG is disrupting the way consumer product brands interact with their customers by bringing billions of products — thngs — to life with a digital identity on the web. Every product — we’re talking purses, soda, hats, shampoo — can now tell its intimate story creating a real-time knowledge network of product data.

Why now?

The massive takeover of online sales and the domination of a few players like Amazon has reduced some of the world’s most beloved brands to mere manufacturers: Online retailers get powerful data about who has purchased products while leaving brands in the dark. Plus, global brands are facing bigger, more critical macro business issues than ever before.

  • $461bn or 2.5% of global trade lost each year due to counterfeiting
  • Growing costs and environmental impact of waste, arising from lack of visibility into closed loop supply chains
  • Consumer loyalty is dwindling — shifting focus to sustainable, ethical and transparent brands – the rise of the B corp

EVRYTHNG is pioneering the way for consumer product brands to embrace this transformative time and reclaim market leadership. Beyond the tools to digitize and connect every product to the digital ecosystem, we provide the real-time data to drive consumer trust and provide brands with visibility, control and pre-emptive intelligence throughout the product life-cycle. EVRYTHNG also allows brands to fight two of their biggest supply chain problems: counterfeit products and gray market imports.

Why EVRYTHNG?

At a very broad level EVRYTHNG exists because the world needs greater efficiency in how we make, sell, use and dispose of physical products – huge amounts of inefficiency, waste and losses simply as a result of information about state and location of physical products not being readily available. EVRYTHING helps brands reclaim product intelligence, using the existing GS1 product coding already in use on trillions of items, so that any company can understand its consumers, no matter what smart packaging or product ‘trigger’ they use — QR code, NFC tag or RFID chip  — creating unique and direct links between the consumers and the brands they buy.

What’s next?

What’s next is really a whole separate blog. But I do want to say one thing to any consumer product brands who may be reading this, now is the time to act. Don’t wait until your competitor or even a new entrant to the market rides this wave past you. The possibilities are limitless. Change can be difficult. But this is really an exciting time and we are here to help guide you as we continue to lead — pioneer — the way.

Author Niall Murphy (CEO & Co-founder)
Published

Almond has launched a new drink brand – “FACT” – digitized on the EVRYTHNG platform to meet consumer’s growing thirst for knowledge about the products they’re buying.

We’re really excited to tell you about FACT, a new healthy fruit-flavored drink, available in stores across the UK now.  Every FACT can tells the product’s unique story – where, when and how it was farmed, where and when it was packaged, and its journey to store. It even shares its carbon footprint, based upon the journey the ingredients and ultimately, the finished product, took to reach consumers’ hands. The story of FACT is best told directly by Almond founder, Oliver Bolton:

Consumers are changing. Brands need to change too.

By engaging with consumers directly at ‘point of consumption’, Almond can better understand their customers and see where and when their products are being consumed.  And at the same time, build deeper relationships with customers by building trust through product & supply chain transparency.

“When a brand offers complete transparency, 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to that brand.”

Label Insight Transparency ROI Study

Almond’s Ecosystem

Almond has built its own ecosystem around the EVRYTHNG platform-as-a-service (PaaS), using our partner integrations and toolkits to create an offering that can be expanded to other brands in the future. FACT is the first brand and later this year What a Melon will be added.  Almond’s goal is to attract other B Corps wanting to offer transparency to consumers. (B Corp is a global movement of pioneering companies that are using their businesses as forces for good.)

How does it work?

  • Integrated with Crown Packaging to embed digital identities which are encoded in DataMatrix codes printed onto the ends of cans at point of manufacture.
  • Connected into the Almond.io blockchain ecosystem, linking an immutable ledger of product information and events with the unique digital identity of each can of FACT.
  • Uses EVRYTHNG’s mobile SDK to build the consumer app which can access product data and crypto-rewards.

Product Digitization is happening now

FACT’s launch is evidence of a shift in the way brands manufacture and take products to market. Product digitization — where every physical item becomes an interactive, trackable and intelligent asset — is at the heart of this change. Now any physical item – whether a can of drink, box of cereal, or handbag – can be connected to the web to start telling its story to consumers and to brands alike.

When 4 trillion products digitally come to life, things are going to get interesting!

Stay tuned… we’re just getting started.

Author Dominique Guinard (CTO & Co-founder)
Published

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Blockchain Integration Hub, a milestone in our exploration of what blockchain technologies can bring to supply chain & the IoT and in particular to the digitization of CPG and apparel products. In short, the hub packages integrations with several blockchains and makes it easy for consumer product brands to rapidly test and scale applications to deliver traceability, transparency, authenticity, data sharing and reward tokens to customers through distributed ledger technologies (DLT). What really makes the hub are the integrations and partnerships we have built with great partners such as OriginTrail, Tierion and BlockV.

What’s this Hub about?

When we started our exploration of the blockchain about 2 years ago and joined the Blockchain Research Institute to write a 35 pages report about the influence of DLT on IoT and supply chain, it became clear that blockchain was going to have an impact on our business and on our customers. It also became clear that a lot of the solutions were not ready for prime time, with significant scalability, interoperability and immaturity challenges ahead of them. This said the reality is — we rarely have a customer conversation in which the blockchain is not mentioned.

So, we had two options:

1) Re-inventing the wheel and building our own blockchain (which seems to be a trend these days…) adding another blockchain to the interoperability challenge.

2) Focusing on what we do best: providing mass-scale digital identities, intelligence and analytics for products, and partnering with a number of leading blockchain protocols and solutions to act as a “hub”, making it possible for our customers to test and combine the best of what each solution has to provide.

We picked the second solution. Let me share a little more about the Blockchain Integration Hub because it is going to totally change the consumer products landscape.


The EVRYTHNG BlockChain Integration Hub

The EVRYTHNG Blockchain Integration Hub comprises of packaged scripts running in EVRYTHNG’s most popular component; our rules engine, called the Reactor. This creates a powerful and scalable integration layer between the EVRYTHNG platform and the platforms of our blockchain partners. In essence it enables Actions to be replicated (e.g., steps and location in the supply chain, consumer scans, etc.) and Properties to be updated (e.g., temperature of goods, number of steps) to different blockchains.

How does it help make products smarter?

This is why we are so excited! Working together we are able to extend the smart capabilities of digitized products with the decentralized features of integrated blockchains.

For instance:

  • The integration with OriginTrail allows decentralized data sharing across supply chain partners based on the Ethereum blockchain. This makes it possible for our customers to share specific parts of their data. For instance, information required for compliance purposes or data to provide greater transparency in environments where trust is lacking.
  • The Tierion integration allows anchoring hashes of supply chain transactions to the public Bitcoin blockchain. This ensures that these transactions are immutable and cannot be modified by anyone. A useful feature when it comes to trustable product provenance data.
  • Finally, with the BlockV integration, EVRYTHNG Active Digital Identities™ (ADI) can be linked to virtual objects that are unique, verifiable and tradable. For instance this allows embedding physical products into Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality games and creating very compelling, token-based loyalty programs.

Even better, all of these features can be combined through the EVRYTHNG platform, acting as an orchestration hub! This allows interoperability across different blockchain solutions – a very important feature in the blockchain world, experiencing an unprecedented rate of innovation and change.

Give me technical details!


Architecture on the EVRYTHNG Blockchain Integration Hub

The best place to get all the nitty gritty details is to go straight to our developer portal but let me summarize some parts of the blockchain hub integration pattern here. As mentioned before, the integrations were built using scripts running in our powerful Reactor service. This service is capable of running custom (Node.js) securely and at scale for any transaction sent to the EVRYTHNG platform: from supply chain tracking data, to consumer engaging with products and to live data from LPWAN tracked containers. This code is then responsible for translating the transactions from the EVRYTHNG model (based on the W3C Web Thing Model) to the models used by our blockchain partners. It also then pushes transactions to the selected blockchain(s).

This is done either via the public API of the blockchain partner (e.g., BlockV) or via blockchain nodes hosted within the EVRYTHNG platform (e.g., OriginTrail).

The script finally receives back a back transaction hash that it stores on EVRYTHNG. This ensures the transaction can be leveraged by apps using both the EVRYTHNG platform API the APIs of the blockchain platforms. As we further strengthen the integrations we will blog about each one separately here but you can already have glimpse at the Tierion or OriginTrail integration and could build your own integrations based on this pattern.

What’s next? Looking for more blockchain partners!

Integrations with our first partners are readily available from our developer portal but we are busy deploying new blockchain nodes and will make them available to our customers soon. We are also looking at partnering with other blockchain protocols and platforms so, if you believe you can help us making CPG and apparel products smarter with your blockchain solution, do contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

Finally, after a successful real-world pilot with the now famous barry the bear, we are excited to be onboarding our first large scale customers. For instance, Almond will allow consumers to scan a unique ADI on cans of Fact, an organic, flavored water launching next week, to unlock cash reward tokens and reveal the product’s story as told through blockchain-based supply chain data.

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