As we move forward into the era of digital transformation, many technologies are emerging to facilitate the radical shift in data operation. The Internet of Things is getting a lot of attention lately as it is the technology that will create an interconnected network of devices. However, until now, the IoT model is built upon centralized infrastructure that generates a lot of security problems. A solution for this resides in the decentralization that Web3 offers. So, how can Web3 technologies help the Internet of Things?
Before we can get a glimpse of how Web3 can enhance Internet of Things technologies, we must differentiate between the two.
The Emergence of Web3
The Internet has gone through many stages since the World Wide Web emerged in 1991. After being just static web pages throughout the web’s first iteration, Web 1.0, Web 2.0 came as a radical shift that allowed users to be content creators instead of content consumers. However, Web 2.0 brought with it many problems that would be later solved in Web 3.0.
Centralization of the internet created the problem of big companies owning users’ data, as well as their ability to sell them. In addition, central management bred heavy censorship of accounts and content. This means that users have little to no control over their data ownership or use.
The third iteration of the internet came as a solution for centralization by eliminating intermediaries and third parties, placing ownership of personal data in the hands of users. Web3 technologies promote openness, permissiveness, trustlessness, and ownership.
Here are some of the Web3 features that make the new iteration of the internet the next radical advancement.
- Decentralization: Web3 is entirely based on decentralized technologies such as the blockchain. Having a distributed peer-to-peer network takes the concentrated power of the client-server model and distributes it to several points of control. Thus, disrupting the hierarchy of big tech corporations and giving back the power to the user.
- Security: Distributed networks are more secure than centralized ones. This is because decentralized networks don’t have single points of failure that could be targeted by attackers.
- Blockchain Technologies: Web3 uses technologies such as blockchain, a distributed and immutable digital ledger. The immutability and decentralization of the blockchain eliminate the need for central authorities, such as banks, when conducting transactions. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are also part of Web3 that revolutionize how we perceive digital assets.
What Is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things has become one of the most radical technologies to emerge in the century. IoT is the network of physical devices, or things, that are embedded with sensors, software, or other technologies in order to connect and exchange information with other devices via internet connections.
The “things” or devices range from household objects to industrial tools. Physical objects embedded with sensors can monitor things like temperature or motion, or any change in the environment.
Some use cases of IoT can be health, like attaching devices to humans’ bodies in order to monitor the overall condition. It can also be applied in homes, like voice assistants and automated vacuums. The applications of the Internet of Things are many including, retail, offices, vehicles, cities, and production.
The Internet of Things, just like Web3, has features and elements that constitute its structure. Let’s take a look at the structure of IoT.
Devices, sensors, and actuators are part of the device layer of the Internet of Things. The sensors embedded within a device collect information from an environment and transforms it into raw data to be sent to other IoT devices. This means, that sensors collect things such as temperature, heartbeat, and other physical phenomena and convert them into digital data.
Device Connectivity and Gateways
The second layer of the Internet of Things is the communication layer that allows the transport of data from sensors to the Internet. This is usually done by employing smart gateways that perform additional processing and aggregate communication between devices. These smart gateways could be things like WiFi or Bluetooth, and they ensure security by controlling IoT access and malware protection.
The third IoT layer is the processing layer that comes after the devices send data to the internet. This layer handles data analysis and pre-processing. Data is thus processed, analyzed, and stored in the cloud. Cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure provide IoT-based services that enable the routing of data. Web3 technologies can tackle his layer by decentralizing the computation of data in the future.
The last layer of IoT is the application layer. IoT’s user interface allows users to interact with the Internet of Things through applications often stored on smartwatches or tablets.
The Relation of Web3 and the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has many inherent problems and security issues as it is based on Web2 technologies. The centralized aspect of Web2 creates a vulnerability within the IoT ecosystems, exposing devices to security breaches.
For example, hackers could easily access the IoT of a device by intercepting encrypted communications. Hackers can also access sensitive personal information and hack through radio waves. Even if the information is stored in the cloud, hackers can gain access to cloud-hosted applications. The security issue is thus a major concern with IoT that is hindering its large-scale adoption.
Another IoT problem lies in its inability to scale to high demand. The number of devices connected through an IoT network is growing exponentially, and thus centralized systems connecting systems to different nodes can become a bottleneck. This would need huge servers that can handle a large amount of data exchanged.
Here come Web3 technologies as solutions that would further enhance Internet of Things security. Although Web3 technologies such as the blockchain is known for being effective in finance, the blockchain can serve as a database for storing information. Blockchain has the potential to address some IoT security and scalability issues.
How Can the Blockchain Help IoT?
Since blockchains are decentral peer-to-peer networks, there is no central point that controls the vast amount of data generated by IoT devices. In addition, blockchains are immutable, which means that storing and exchanging information on the blockchain adds another layer of security.
In addition, blockchains enable fast processing of transactions among billions of connected devices. Blockchains can also eliminate IoT-related gateways and reduce their costs significantly. Also, IoT can use smart contracts for faster automation. Although IoT enables automation on its own, smart contracts automate responses with a smaller margin of error.
Thus, Web3 can enhance the Internet of Things by decentralizing decision-making to a consensus-based shared network of devices.
Although Web3 technologies serve as a great enhancement for the Internet of Things, the immutability of the blockchain is a bit problematic. Once data get written into the blockchain, it cannot be changed or altered, which can create a problem when changing some IoT data.
Nonetheless, Web3 and IoT are the catalysts of the digital transformation era that will allow consumers to take back control of their data while eliminating the gap between the digital and physical worlds. IoT’s future is yet along the horizon, as Web3 technologies are advancing towards ultimate efficiency.