My better half, the Applied Arts major, got way out ahead of me on this technology by investing in nine cryptocurrencies ranging from well-known names like Bitcoin and Ethereum to whimsical ones like Aragon, Dragonchain, and Golem Network.
All cryptocurrencies utilize blockchain technology, which relies on a distributed ledger method of record-keeping rather than centralized one. Crypto-coin transactions can be undertaken and recorded by any entity adhering to an established, secure, encrypted protocol, and all such transactions are recorded to a custody chain. The record of these transactions is shared on all devices accessing the network. Hacking would require altering the established protocol, and this can only be done with the complicity of more than half the devices on the gigantic network—a statistical and logistical improbability.
Many of the more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies in circulation have been established as tools of a particular trade or industry. Musicoin is designed to directly compensate musicians when their work is streamed, for example. At last fall’s Frankfurt show, I reported on an automotive blockchain application IBM was developing to track every individual part that goes into a vehicle so they’re all traceable to a particular VIN should a recall ever be needed.
Since then auto industry interest in blockchain has exploded. GM, BMW, Ford, Renault, and several suppliers, NGOs, and government entities have joined the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) to develop standards and foster adoption of the technology. Other OEs are teaming up with universities and tech startups, such as Toyota and MIT Labs, or with other cross-industry blockchain incubators, like Daimler and the Linux Corporation’s Hyperledger project.
Porsche claims to have been first to employ the technology on a car, using Ethereum blockchain cryptographic encryption developed with XAIN to allow an owner, car-share user, or package-delivery service to lock or unlock a car via smartphone up to six times faster (and more securely) than when using a typical cellular connection.