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Filament Develops Ad-Hoc Mesh Networks of Smart Sensors Operating on the Blockchain

Op-ed - Filament Develops Ad-Hoc Mesh Networks of Smart Sensors Operating on the Blockchain

Filament, a technology platform company focused on Internet of Things (IoT) applications and long-range wireless sensor networks for industrial settings, is developing ad-hoc mesh networks of smart sensors for industrial applications, operating on the blockchain.

Announced at the O’Reilly Solid Conference, Filament‘s wireless sensor devices, or Taps, can cover industrial areas with low-power autonomous mesh networks for data collection and asset monitoring. Taps have built-in environmental sensors, a USB port for other sensors or devices, and are equipped with hardware cryptographic chips and long-range radios for secure accessibility and communication across large geographic areas. Taps can talk directly to each other at distances of up to 10 miles and have a battery life of up to 20 years.

“We believe that all economic elements, digital and physical, old and new, must be fundamentally autonomous and distributed in order to maximize their potential,” said Jabber/XMPP creator Jeremie Miller, now CTO of Filament.

Taps operates in a decentralized way without a central network authority. Designed to generate ad-hoc mesh networks in the absence of cellular or Wi-Fi networks, Taps will be able to process bitcoin payments and enforce digital smart contracts. The company is leveraging existing blockchain technologies to create an open platform for Distributed Sensor Transactions (DIST). The Filament platform builds on the blockchain (Bitcoin and Ethereum for transactions), Telehash (private communication), JOSE (smart contracts), TMesh (low-power mesh networking), and BitTorrent (firmware and remote management updates.)

Two DIST components have been created by Miller. TMesh and Telehash, a lightweight interoperable protocol with strong encryption to enable mesh networking across multiple transports and platforms, are available on Gitbub as open source software.

“Blanket a factory in sensors, or control the streetlights of an entire city – our standalone networks span miles and last for years, all without Wi-Fi or cellular,” says the Filament website. “We've combined end-to-end encryption (telehash) with private-key crypto hardware to provide ultra-secure, decentralized communications between millions of devices. By enabling operations on the Blockchain, we've made it possible to generate new, recurring sources of revenue by selling access to your devices or data.”

Before the conference, O’Reilly Radarnoted that Filament and IBM are exploring how specially designed decentralized ledgers can be used to enable devices to communicate service needs and other information among their owners and vendors for household, commercial and industrial purposes. IBM is building a similar proof-of-concept system for the next generation of the IoT, dubbed Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT).

Filament, after raising a $5 million Series A Round led by Bullpen Capital, started to ship an early version of its hardware and to provide services to pilot customers. It lists many possible applications for Taps networks in industrial sectors where risk and operational efficiency is critical to success. Applications range from locating thousands of bicycles across an urban bike-sharing service to monitoring weather and soil conditions across large farms, or avoiding collisions between vehicles on remote worksites.