We are currently witnessing the birth of an innovation that could revolutionize multiple sectors of the economy and the human society; called “the blockchain”. Beyond its use in cryptocurrencies, blockchains are currently being also used to build novel information systems that don’t rely on any intermediary, third party or central point of trust. This innovative technology will markedly also influence the Consumer Electronics (CE) industry. A recently published paper examined how the blockchain technology can impact the CE sector.

The Internet of Things (IoT), a network comprised of connected smart devices, buildings, vehicles….etc, will be utilized worldwide, and the number of connected devices will reach more than 20 billion by 2020 as per Gartner’s report in February, 2017. IoT solutions are faced by many challenges, especially the need for a secure model that doesn’t rely on a central entity. The blockchain can provide the necessary secure model, via its data integrity and resistance to manipulation.

 

Blockchains and Transparency in Supply Chain Management of CE:

Every electronic commodity we use today passes through a long journey of people, materials and places, which renders it rather difficult to investigate incidents or trace origins of various merchandise.  As such, consumers have no reliable means to verify the actual value of merchandise they buy due to the lack of transparency regarding supply chains, which means that the price we pay is an inaccurate estimation of the actual production costs.

The blockchain technology can enable tracking of products via complex supply chains, as is the case in the diamond industry, where every gem is tracked all the way from the time it is mined until it reaches its buyer. As transparency is in the heart of the blockchain technology, investigating its application in the chain supply management of CE will open the door to new possibilities.

Tamperproof record of item manufacturing, maintenance and handling:

The ownership and transfer of various products, using cryptocurrency transactions, along the supply chain can be tracked using a blockchain public ledger on a P2P network. IBM has recently developed a blockchain based system that is built to track valuable items via complex supply chains within the context of a secure cloud ecosystem. Another ­amazing innovation is a fine wine, provenance tracking, system, known as “Chai Wine Vault”, designed by Everledger, a London based company.  Everledger has made an overwhelming breakthrough across the supply chain management of diamonds, to prevent theft and promote compliance with the African ethical standards.

 

Protecting Ownership, Digital Identity and Packaging:

During 2016, the CE sector was the second most affected industry by counterfeiting in the US, with 5,043 seizures that accounted for around 16% of the total supply. The blockchain technology can provide digital identity tools for protection of physical property and packaging, in order to boost highly valuable parts along the logistics supply chain. BlockVerify is a anti-counterfeit solution that relies on the blockchain to prevent counterfeiting and help add more honesty to the global economy.

 

Promoting Responsible Consumption:

ConsenSys is a blockchain based service that aims at putting forward a “supply circle” where both manufacturers and consumers work together with local communities; thus, opening the door to a new concept of the “prosumer”. Smart contracts can provide producers with a decentralized platform that can help them exchange and share experiences, skills, products and resources.

 

Conclusion:

The blockchain technology can revolutionize the CE sector via improving the chain supply management approaches, preventing counterfeiting and promoting responsible consumption.

 



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