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BlockchainBusiness & Finance

Walmart to Patent a Blockchain-based System to Manage Smart Appliances

Walmart, popular as a retail corporation especially in the United States of America, submitted a patent application to the United States Patent and Trademark mark office on 2nd August. The application talks about a technology that would allow two appliances to communicate and carry out a transaction. The system of communication is said to work on blockchain.

Named, Managing Smart Appliances Using Blockchain Technology, the application discusses in detail about systems and methods that can be used to manage smart appliances. Additionally it includes an example of a kiosk that can receive drone-delivered packages, and also of a smart home system among some others.

Regarding the operation of the system, the application in technical words, verses:

“A computer-implemented method for managing one or more smart appliances, the computer-implemented method comprising: receiving, from a first smart appliance of the one or more smart appliances, a first transaction request, the first transaction request associated with a first transfer between a user and a profile manager, the first smart appliance associated with an appliance type; determining whether a transaction ledger includes transaction data associated with a reference transaction, the reference transaction associated with a reference configuration of an appliance associated with the appliance type; and on condition that the transaction ledger includes the transaction data: transmitting, to the first smart appliance, a first configuration instruction to automatically configure the first smart appliance to operate in accordance with the reference configuration; and communicating with one or more nodes in a network to validate a first transaction associated with the first transfer.”

Breaking it down, the system comprises of a computing method that:

  • receives a transaction request from a smart appliance
  • determines whether the a transaction ledger includes:
  1. the data about the particular transaction, and
  2. the reference transaction associated with a reference configuration

If the data is available in the ledger, the computer-implemented method

  • transmits a configuration instruction to the smart appliance to automatically configure the smart appliance to operate in accordance with the configuration, and
  • communicates with one or more nodes in a network to validate a transaction associated with the transfer.

This IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem is supported by blockchain.

The blockchain server network includes one or more secondary or second server systems that use one or more server-side applications to provide one or more client-side services at one or more other resources in the IoT ecosystem.

“A resource in the IoT ecosystem may be associated with one or more roles and, thus, is associated with a single role in the context of a single corresponding transaction,” the inventors added.

The application also talks about the different ways in which the system can be implemented, mentioning some of the engineering techniques.

The systems and processes described herein may be implemented using computer programming or engineering techniques including computer software, firmware, hardware or a combination or subset thereof.”

The application also mentions:

Appliances may be used to perform one or more operations to accomplish one or more particular tasks. Some appliances may include and/or use communication systems that allow its users to remotely control or manage the appliances. Other users, however, may exploit the communication systems to access and/or use an appliance. To protect the appliances, security systems may be used to restrict unauthorized users from accessing and/or using the appliances. At least some known security systems, however, are limited to the appliance itself.”

Hence declaring that security systems have also been designed to keep away the possible unapproved users from using the appliance.

It goes on mentioning:

“Aspects of the disclosure improve processor security, data integrity, data storage security, data security in networked devices, data transmission security, and/or communication between computing systems by controlling communications and managing access to various accounts using a public key cryptographic system and/or by verifying and validating transaction data using a proof-of-work protocol and a consensus protocol. Additionally, some aspects may improve user experience, user efficiency, and/or user interaction performance by facilitating transactions in an effective and efficient manner. Moreover, some aspects may increase processor speed, improve operating system resource allocation, and/or reducing error rate by automating the processing of large volumes of data.”

Possible Uses

The application gives an example of a kiosk which can be included in the ledger, and further authorized using a smart appliance. In its words:

“A user may obtain a kiosk and add the newly obtained kiosk to the distributed ledger structure utilizing their smart device to provision and/or authorize the kiosk. In one example, the user device may be a wearable device that maintains the private key used to authorize the transaction. The kiosk may sync with the user device and be automatically provisioned as a home delivery station and added as a device in the distributed ledger management system”

It also lists down numerous environments in which this combination of IoT and blockchain can be used in: “a home environment, a media environment, an environmental monitoring environment, a manufacturing environment, an energy management environment, a healthcare environment, a transportation environment, a retail environment, an agricultural environment, and the like,”

Walmart has also filed in blockchain related applications for patent too. These have included a “Smart Package” system to track package contents, environmental conditions, location, and other details. Walmart is also using blockchain for food supply chain, medical sector, customer marketplace, and energy consumption management system.

Qirat Ayaz

Passionate about robots and how the robotics is changing everything around us. Writes about startups in the blockchain space. Contact the editor at editor.startups@blockpublisher.com

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