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Filament Brings Industrial Blockchains a Bit Closer

Filament Blocklet could bring blockchain to the enterprise on a hardware level

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When it comes to crypto and blockchain technology, the vast majority of people who have not been exposed to our community have a simple question: “How are we supposed to understand this?”

This seems to be the biggest barrier for new tech—one can’t avoid having pity for those engineers who, having developed and honed systems with millions of moving parts, get asked: “So how do I check my email again?”

These are serious concerns, especially if blockchains are to usher in the kind of post-industrial revolution that its advocates are predicting. Most of us can’t even protect our passwords, much less our private keys; the idea of integrating a corporation with thousands of employees with a high-tech blockchain seems about as realistic as training a cow to trade derivatives.  

One new device may bring companies a half-step closer to a blockchain for industrial use. Filament has introduced the Blocklet, a penny-sized hardware dongle that will allow businesses to interface their equipment with blockchains. According to a statement from the company, the device “is designed to interact with multiple blockchains natively, giving businesses a way to attach secure hardware to their existing IoT machines allowing them to transact with each other directly.

The Blocklet is a bit like a hardware wallet, targeted and marketed for Industrial IoT use. In short, the Blocklet attempts to do for industrial blockchains what the Ledger and Trezor do for ‘consumer’ applications such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Instead of having to navigate the maze of block explorers and private keys, the tiny device can be simply plugged into a computer’s USB ports to interact with data on multiple blockchains.

“It is designed for companies that have existing machines,” Filament told Crypto Briefing in a statement. “For example, it could be inserted into smart meters and other devices that connect to an energy system to create a transactive grid….In the automotive and transportation industries, the Blocklet USB device could be plugged into vehicle diagnostic systems to track service history, or into computers managing trucking fleets to streamline operations.”

The device is now available for pilot and proof-of-concept projects, Filament says. The ability to interface IoT machines directly with several blockchains “enables corporations to significantly accelerate blockchain proof of concept, pilot project and production deployments to create new economic value.”

Filament believes that devices like the Blocklet will play a key role in the “Industrial Internet of Things,” a growing ecosystem of smart, internet-enabled manufacturing technologies, whose economic influence is expected to exceed $12 trillion by 2030. The addition of blockchain technology will hypothetically allow such smart devices to exchange value as well as data.

“The USB form factor of our Blocklet Chip allows companies to plug into existing machines or devices through any connected USB port, and immediately begin securely transacting against a blockchain,” said Filament CEO Allison Clift-Jennings in a statement. “We’ve had significant interest from manufacturers and others that want to use the equipment they already have in blockchain trials but previously had no way to do that.”

Disclaimer: the author is invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

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