IoT is here to stay, and the influence is already visible across the spectrum thanks to an array of gadgets and powerful applications. But as a whole, IoT has remained mostly disjointed, scattered and multifaceted without a strong protocol ruling it entirely. This is why so-called decentralized apps, or dApps, fit with it so well.
What are dApps? Are they regular applications with centralized access and control? No, dApps differ from mainstream and regular apps on many regards. They are decentralized apps that instead of relying fully on centralized inputs and controls can actually do a lot of things on their own. Can you imagine helping passengers reach their destinations while you are away from the spot? Can you think of your computer utilizing its free disk space and computing power to solve problems voluntarily for others? Well, blockchain-based shared networks connecting different computers remotely are promising us something of this sort, and dApps are direct consequences of this approach.
While decentralized apps will continue to grow, they are bound to coincide or collide with the vast network of connected devices we use. These connected devices represent a whole spectrum of dispersed and scattered devices across multiple niches and categories. When decentralized apps begin to connect and operate these connected gadgets, we face a new reality of multifaceted applications and usability. Through the following text, we are going to measure the influence of dApps on the future of this connected reality.
How dApps came into being
DApps represent a complete shift of paradigm in the way we address software models and the way they are utilized across different user contexts. They started with bitcoin, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that pushed us to reevaluate the store of value. This new approach toward assessing value by taking multiple sets of data from different sources into consideration ultimately gave birth to the concept of dApps. By taking advantage of the latest technology, these distributed apps continued to grow bigger and exert more significant influence.
Blockchain: The underlying technology for dApps
Before venturing into how dApps work and how they exert their influence on connected IoT devices, we need to understand its underlying technology, blockchain. The ledger of data records stored in blocks is not stored in a central location, nor is it maintained by one central entity. As such, the blocks of data remain dispersed across distributed locations. But when it comes to ruling accessibility and maintaining security, all the blocks of data are linked and ruled by cryptographic validation. This distributed nature of blockchain technology gave birth to distributed apps, which as open source applications use blockchain to remain accessible for multifaceted uses.
Common attributes of decentralized apps
Decentralized apps boast of a concept which is still in its infancy. Naturally, apart from a few common characteristics, a consistent character of these apps in their entirety cannot be drawn as of now. Let us have a look at some of the key attributes of decentralized apps that we have figured out so far:
- Open source: DApps are open source in character as all the required changes are always decided based upon a consensus of the majority of users. This requires the code base to be available to all users for evaluating.
- Decentralized data storage: Needless to say, the data of these apps is stored on decentralized blocks.
- Cryptographic validation: Blocks of data are made accessible and verified by cryptographic validation and the validators are given incentives with cryptocurrency tokens.
How dApps influence IoT
From the above-mentioned definition and the characteristics, it is clear that decentralized apps function in an open-ended manner without any centralized control ruling their usability and access. For connected IoT devices in the consumer domain that face issues concerning interoperability and security, decentralized blockchain-based, open source apps can deliver a credible solution.
IoT devices are no longer limited to single-player use cases as public arenas and professional atmospheres are increasingly adopting them. Moreover, intelligent network-based apps that always strive to interact in real time with multiple users across different device interfaces can find centralized control ruling access and transactions highly limiting. For example, ride-sharing apps like Uber will find it more beneficial if real-time interactions can be facilitated across multiple connected devices at the workplace or home. This will scale up real-time information accessibility about on-road vehicles as various devices and interfaces in the city environment will collect vehicle data and make it available through decentralized blocks.
Solving the connectivity issue: The biggest block on the road
In spite of the widespread noise about the promise of IoT transforming our lives, it is true that connected IoT devices cannot deliver their full potential because of network connectivity issues. Solving the connectivity issue seems to be the biggest problem for IoT at large. Naturally, for decentralized apps to play a bigger role in spreading the benefits of connected devices far and wide, we need to focus on solving the connectivity issues first.
For most of our digital interactions, mostly low-range technologies work. Yet from Wi-Fi to Ethernet to Bluetooth to Zigbee, all networking technologies lack the efficiency and performance required for connecting devices spread across wider spaces. This limitation is a stumbling block for the flourishing of connected environment and prowess of decentralized apps for everyday use.
Recently, a long-range connectivity technology dubbed as secure and cheap has surfaced. Branded as Helium, it can address many shortcomings that earlier connectivity technologies were known for. With the use of physical devices called gateways, Helium can connect machines to the internet and help transfer data over long-range networks.
While dApps promise to help break loose from the boundaries of device control, connectivity issues pertaining to internet-ready connected devices still remain as the last stumbling block. As new long-range networks are increasingly being worked on, soon such limitations may be things of the past.
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