Blockcloud (BLOC) is the latest entry in the competitive blockchain space of IoT devices and IoT integration. It features several innovative solutions to their competition; but how does Blockcloud really stack up?
We’ve been on a rather bullish kick of Internet of Things (IoT) products and solutions that are enabled by blockchain technology as of late. In fact, that’s where most of the current batch of projects are leaning towards in terms of the goals they are attempting to reach – which naturally makes sense given the immense opportunity in IoT. From more focused projects such as Atonomi to vastly ambitious designs like Holochain and Urbit, we are getting a slew of blockchain products that we feel will land on the mark sooner rather than later.
With the many different kinds of solutions and implementations offered by teams from across the globe, we finally look towards the most recent entry into this space, Blockcloud – who has a few surprises of its own while maintaining the laser focus of IoT domination.
For those of you who need a quick refresher, here is our basic rundown of the IoT space and the opportunity blockchain represents:
See, our devices are growing smarter every single day – and I’m not just talking about our cell phones or the newest Alexa model that Amazon has on sale (though that will certainly benefit as well). We are embedding electronics into practically every facet of society; unmanned drones that can scout the weather for us, little devices that track the health and moisture levels of corn crops, and supply chain technology that autonomously sends and receives orders directly from the raw material suppliers themselves.
The truth is that we are replacing a lot of human work with robots – and this is something that is only going to increase over time.
Much of the work we did at one time didn’t require anything to be smart – the horse got replaced by the car for example. But what about a car that is smart enough to self-drive?
Clearly, you’ll need a communications network at that point. A car that can say “Hey, I’m making a right turn here”, signalling to other autonomous vehicles on intent and receiving equally useful data.
Enter Blockcloud. We’ve already gone over a few of the reasons why IoT is important (read our other articles for more information), so we’ll skip straight ahead in this review to discussing the fine points and features of the Blockcloud implementation. Specifically, the Blockcloud innovations include: a service centric design philosophy, a DAG based architecture, and a hybrid consensus model. Let’s dive in now.
Service Centric Design
This is essentially the meat and potatoes of what differentiates Blockcloud from other IoT projects. Usually when creating a platform or infrastructure it’s important for the author to define exactly what the philosophy of what they are trying to build should follow. As an example, we can compare and contrast Blockcloud’s answer to other similar projects. In projects such as Urbit, each node essentially functions as a “planet” – in others like Holochain, nodes are designed more in the spirit of a “cell” of an organism; still others carry more data centric designs (Atonomi, Harmony), whereas Blockcloud is exclusively centered around services themselves.
What that basically means is that the base unit of operation (at least on the service layer) are these services – you’re not querying other nodes or servers for their information in the way you would if you were to ask a Linux box for your Twitter feed; instead, you are asking the entire service layer for your Twitter feed, and then the service layer itself will find the proper data that you are looking for to provide. It’s kind of a wonky concept, but it makes enough sense in human terms – you never ask for a chair, you ask for a seat. In this sense, you aren’t asking for the actual object or tool that you need on Blockcloud, but the utility that said object provides.
This service centric design (they call it their SCN) offers a few advantages. For one, Blockcloud’s service routing solution means that nodes can actually go offline temporarily while still being able to provide the required services when needed through some smart use of alternative providers. You can think of this like having a bunch of backup servers that will cover for an individual machine and service going down. One of the examples they put forward in their Whitepaper is that if you’re watching a YouTube video on Blockcloud and the node suddenly goes down, you can still continue to stream the video through other nodes.
Additionally, this service chain will also be able to support smart contracts by running virtual computers similar to EVM, which opens Blockcloud up as a possible infrastructure play compared to Ethereum.
DAG Based Architecture
It’s no secret that we love DAGs at Globalhalo – for the uninitiated, a DAG is essentially a different version of blockchain that organizes transactions across nodes asynchronously rather than by creating sequential verified blocks. For some examples of existing DAG projects take a look at Nano, Byteball, and IOTA.
DAG is a directed graph data structure that uses a topological ordering. The sequence can only go from earlier to later. DAG is often applied to problems related to data processing, scheduling, finding the best route in navigation, and data compression.