Augmate Announces Blockchain for IoT


By: Michael Vizard

Startup Augmate is looking to use blockchain-style distributed ledger technology to improve Internet of Things (IoT) security. This week the company announced what it believes is the first IoT management platform to employ a distributed Tangle ledger based on open-source blockchain platform developed by the IOTA Foundation.

It makes sense to try to use blockchain for IoT. The biggest concern most organizations have when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) is security. International Data Corp. (IDC) forecasts that by 2020 over a million devices a month will be connected to the Internet. Securing all those devices manually one at a time simply isn’t feasible.

Augmate COO Dana Farbo says Augmate Connect makes use of a Machine Access Token Exchange (MATE) to authenticate devices using tokens that are known as MATEs. Farbo says Augmate Connect was originally developed to allow Augmate to manage instance of wearable glasses such as Google Glass. But now the company is opening the platform for use across a much broader range of IoT applications, says Farbo. In addition, the company plans to make resources available to developers via an app store.

“We think there’s an opportunity to build IoT ecosystems around distributed ledgers,” says Farbo.

Distributed ledgers based on blockchain technologies are used to secure cyptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. In theory, they provide an immutable database through which all changes to any IoT device can be tracked and validated with cryptography.

Farbo notes the core Augmate platform is blockchain protocol agnostic, so Augmate expects to add support for other blackchain platforms in the future. The distributed ledger technology put forward by the IOTA Foundation is based on directed acyclic graph (DAG) technology designed to enable processing of transactions for free regardless of the size of the transaction. In contrast, usage of other blockchain technologies such as Hyperledger being advanced by The Linux Foundation or Ethereum, an open source project that applies a more decentralized approach to processing transactions, is more constrained. Neither Hyperledger or Ethereum is used in an enterprise IT setting beyond a private blockchain environment where all the participants are known, and the number of transaction limited. Augmate is applying DAG to an IoT environment because confirmations times are fast and the number of transactions the system can handle simultaneously is unlimited.

In all, there are at least dozen blockchain platforms being developed by various companies and consortiums. It remains to be see how practical blockchain ledgers are to manage in highly distributed IoT environments. But at a time when securing IoT environments is rapidly becoming a top of mind issue there’s no doubt that multiple approaches to IoT security based on blockchain technologies will soon be coming to market.