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The Internet of Things (IoT) has recently captured attention of the general public from different realms due to its ability to vastly changing the way people interact with surroundings. The myriad of possibilities arising from the ability to monitor and control things in the physical have induced a wave of applications in the fields of logistics and transportation, traceability, and smart home, and it will continue to infiltrate into other aspects of our everyday lives.
As the number of IoT deployments increase, a plethora of security and privacy challenges associated with IoT technology will begin to realize. Nevertheless, an Australia-based start-up, led by a former vice-president of Credit Suisse and chief technology officer of Deutsche Bank John Baird, has provided an effective solution to the key problems in traditional IOT and supply chain with regards to authentication, security, interoperability. The project, named “UCOT” (acronym for “Ubique Chain of Things”), was developed by professors from University of Technology Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in conjunction with experts from IOT and supply chain industry. Using a unique digital identification microchip embedded into the product’s packaging, UCOT would record all the activities during the product’s life cycle along with related stakeholders on blockchain, thereby enabling secure traceability of salient information in supply chain while eliminating the need for centralized management.
Technical Advantage of UCOT system
The technical framework of UCOT consists of three layers (from the top down) – that is, the IOT layer, the blockchain layer, and the service layer. According to the description of Mr.Baird, the goal of UCOT is to build a blockchain-driven IoT platform that will revolutionize the entire supply chain sector, with IoT providing intelligent track and trace solution while blockchain guaranteeing transparency and reducing operation cost.
For example, the transportation of meat and poultry product can be especially challenging as proper refrigerator temperature must be maintained along the process, the failure of which can lead to deterioration and spoilage. By combing 5G communication infrastructure with blockchain technology, UCOT can monitor the conditions of parcels such as the temperature in real time, and the data would be recorded in a public ledger that cannot be tampered with by any ill-intentioned individual. In case the temperature exceeds the pre-set warming level, the change would be immediately notified to the stakeholders in the supply chain for timely reaction, such as the manufacturers and consignees.
As the latest news on the project shows, the prototype of the blockchain-based microchip is about to complete, while a working model is estimated to come out by July.
Collaboration of Industrial giants
UCOT has teamed up with Go Vita, Australia’s largest health food store co-op, stocking vitamins, health supplements, organics, natural beauty, sports and weight loss supplements, to build a blockchain-based supply chain ecosystem and fully develop the product traceability technology. The bombshell comes just days after Little Lamb, a restaurant chain in inner Mongolia, reached a deal with UCOT to create a track and trace system for poultry products and improve the degree of visualization of the whole supply chain. After a few round of negotiations, Go Vita decided to join the UCOT family, and the two parties signed a MOU to from long-term strategic partnership. According to Go Vita, the company will work with UCOT team to promote the landing of UCOT ecosystem in its business mode, so as to ensure product quality, improve supply chain efficiency, and enhance consumer experience. Go Vita believes UCOT will become its strongest partner its expansion to China and global market: UCOT’s smart IoT ecosystem based on blockchain can lay a strong foundation for Go Vita’s logistics management, as well as cut down the high operation costs in Go Vita’s transportation system.
Besides Go Vita, UCOT has established collaborative relationship with a number of domestic and foreign enterprises, including Blockchain Global (leading multi-national corporation on blockchain technology commercialization and investment), Evotrue Net Tchnology Co., Ltd (pioneer in product anti-counterfeit and traceability system and technology in mainland China), and JOC Australia (No.1 exporter of Australian high-quality farm produce and livestock products. Such a strong business alliance will be of great help in the project’s progress towards building an optimal ecosystem in which automatic value transfer and effective control of device in supply chain and IoT System can be realized.
Recognition by Governmental Authorities
The achievement made by UCOT so far has been recognized not only by industrial peers but also by representatives of governmental agencies in Asia, Australia and America. During its visit to Australia last year, the Product Traceability Management Training Group led by China’s Ministry of Commerce held brief talks with the Chief Technology Officer of UCOT Professor Liu regarding the latest research results in the area of blockchain and IoT, where the group demonstrated strong interest in the UCOT ecosystem and the application of blockchain and Iot in different scenarios. In addition, the group also expressed its intent to work with UCOT team in the long run, including conducting in-depth research on the cross-border trade between Australia and China, industrial consortium chain, and regional product traceability system jointly.
Beyond that, in an article published two weeks ago by a mainstream Australian news press focusing business, finance and Investment, Mr. Baird revealed that the project “has already secured a number of memorandums of understanding for contracts with governments and corporates,” and is “in discussions with a government in South America to use its product to protect insulin shipments.” It seems that it is just a matter of time before the names of local or national government appear on the client list of UCOT.
Although blockchain technology has become a trending topic on news media and social websites, the industry, however, is not as glorious as it seems – In fact, the emerging landscape is plagued with market manipulation and pump-and-dump schemes. In the mayhem, UCOT stands out as being the few that lives up to its promises to contributors and actively pushes the development of projects forward, despite of despite of its unsatisfactory performance in the secondary market due to recent corrections in the broad crypto market. However, many sophisticated investors found that it’s a value buy, and the price has been bouncing more than 90% back in the last few days.
“Despite the existence of many problems in the blockchain industry, these problems are also opportunities.” said Mr. Baird. It is not a doubt that today’s era is more promising than the information revolution brought about by the Internet wave in the 1990s. Hopefully, the UCOT team can use its resources to solve substantive issues concerning supply chain and IoT in the progress towards the new digital age, thus creating more social values.