Harm van den Brink, who is an expert on the blockchain technology, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT), and electric vehicles, has come up with a promising proof of concept (PoC). This involves LoRaWAN and Tangle, i.e., the technology underpinning the IOTA cryptocurrency.
With his PoC, Brink has added one more dimension to the already happening space of blockchain data storage. The blockchain data storage projects are focusing on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, however, Brink now throws in the LoRaWAN dimension.
Cloud storage is now widely popular. We store our data and files online using the services that cloud computing providers offer. This is convenient, however, there are downsides to it.
Even when our data backups on the cloud are encrypted, the encryption key is with the cloud provider. With the exponentially growing volume of our data online, hackers increasingly target these cloud providers.
Blockchain data storage is now an increasingly prominent use case. With the decentralized network, the safety of our data increases. Hackers can’t destroy our data by just attacking a single central server.
Blockchain also uses modern cryptography and consensus algorithm. This increases the security of our data since unauthorized parties can’t access it. Storj and Sia Network are two up and coming blockchain data storage projects that have made their name.
People with excess storage can put their computers on rent on these networks. We call them ‘farmers’. Users with a need to store data upload their file. We call the users ‘renters’.
Renters encrypt their file and retain the encryption key with themselves. Typically, the blockchain data storage solution breaks the file into pieces and stores each piece on many nodes on the network. Farmers only store the individual pieces, therefore, they can’t recreate the entire file.
When the renter requires the data again, the system collects the pieces from the multiple farmers. It combines these pieces and recreates the original file. Renters use their encryption key to decrypt. Smart contracts govern the transactions between renters and farmers. Typically, these blockchain data storage solutions use their crypto tokens to compensate the farmers.
Admittedly, these projects are new. We need to wait and see their impact on the marketplace before we can announce the verdict on their success. Blockchain data storage projects need to assure the user community about a few key questions.
For e.g., would all farmers keep their computers available online with the renters’ data according to the terms and conditions? How can smart contracts audit their compliance? How would blockchain data storage solutions deal with the scalability issues that blockchain networks already face? Will these projects be viable enough, considering prominent public blockchain networks have transaction fees?
Understandably, innovators are working overtime to address these questions. One such effort is to use the Tangle technology, which is the bedrock on which the IOTA cryptocurrency operates. Tangle uses the ‘Directed Acyclic Graph’ (DAG) technology, which is quite different from blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Tangle has no blocks, moreover, there is no crypto mining. These improve scalability and transaction throughput. Tangle has no transaction fees, which makes IOTA eminently suitable for IoT. After all, the larger success of IoT will involve secure communication between smart and connected devices, including many micropayment transactions. Tangles’ security, scalability, and the elimination of transaction fees are important factors for IOTAs’ adoption in the IoT space.
Oyster Protocol is a new project that offers blockchain data storage solution using Tangle. Users can upload their files, and the system will store them on IOTA Tangle. The project ensures redundancy, moreover, the nodes perform their own ‘Proof of Work’ (POW) consensus algorithm to guarantee the retention of data.
The project uses the Pearl token (PRL), which is pegged to the market value of storage prices, and farmers are compensated using it. Renters don’t need to provide personal information and get their encryption key. This project also uses Ethereum smart contracts to protect the identity of the renters.
The PoC by Brink pushes the envelop further! Brink has used the low-power ‘Wide Area Network’ (WAN) protocol called LoRaWAN. This protocol wirelessly connects battery-operated devices to the Internet. The connection can be over regional, national, or global networks. LoRaWAN helps in meeting key IoT requirements like bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, etc.
Brink has used ‘The Things Network‘, i.e., the platform to build IoT apps with LoRaWAN, as the backend. His PoC involves sending a message using LoRaWAN and ‘The Things Network‘, furthermore, he used MQTT to receive the message.
Remember that Oyster Protocol has its’ farmers running their localized POW consensus algorithm to guarantee that the data is stored on Tangle? Well, Brink uses the POW-as-a-Service (PoWaaS) platform powsrv for this, in his PoC. Finally, the data is stored on Tangle.
Brink has not only conducted an impressive PoC in terms of the technology stack, but he has also achieved good transaction speed. He has described his PoC here. We need to wait and watch how this interesting PoC changes the promising blockchain data storage landscape.
Pic Ref – Medium