ioeX and Maintaining Devices in the Field

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I’m excited to announce that UCIC is in a partnership with IOEX network, a company that has created a peer-to-peer blockchain based network for over-the-air-updates for IoT devices. You can read more about the announcements and the collaboration here and here.

Peer-to-peer app distribution through a secure and verifiable methodology is going to be a way that we can actually maintain the growth of Internet-connected devices and sensors. Otherwise, the model of a centralized server to host and transfer updates will quickly fail.

We know the challenges of this first hand. When we first launched the Ubi, we shipped it with five different sensors on board — temperature, humidity, air pressure, sound level, and light level. We’d sample these every five seconds and report them to our Ubi Portal where users could create rules to trigger different events. After we had shipped a few thousand of these devices, we started to see a dramatic rise in our server costs as we were absorbing a torrent of 10 Mb/s of sensor data. The only way we could handle this was to throttle the sensor data collection.

On top of this, we had two types of software updates that we needed to push to the devices. The first was software that ran on the application processor of the Ubi (a collection of apps for turning an Android device into a high availability device). The second was firmware that ran modest DSP code for the microphones, enhanced the reliability of the device (hard resetting it if necessary), and controlling the state machine of the button on the device. When we pushed updates to these thousands of devices, it could mean GBs of data transfer over a few hours.

It would have been fantastic to have had a solution that could have distributed the updates in a peer-to-peer network but in such a way that the devices couldn’t be hijacked. This is why I’m bullish about the ioeX solution. Adding the verifiability and security of blockchain to a peer-to-peer file transfer can reduce the costs of these services.

When it comes to voice-first devices (AVS or Google Assistant enabled), manufacturers might not think about the long term maintenance of pushing updates to their devices, which is a requirement by Amazon/Google. Having a low cost and secure network to do this on is a game changer.

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