Cisco Files Patent Application Around Blockchain, IoT Integration

On October 19, the technology conglomerate Cisco filed US patent application 20170302663, an invention that it terms, “Block Chain Based IoT [Internet of Things] Device Identity Verification and Anomaly Detection.”

The concept has to do with enabling a blockchain-based system that could record changes to the conditions affecting and captured by sensors (i.e., smart objects) in a network and instrumentalize network relationships and the data that the network generates in order to exercise control over those nodes.

The application explains several of the challenges inherent in working with Low-Power and Lossy Networks (LLNs), of which sensor networks (which can constitute Internets of Things) are one variety. In these kinds of systems, “routers and their interconnections are constrained” in terms of their “processing power, memory, and/or energy (battery), and their interconnections are characterized by, illustratively, high loss rates, low data rates, and/or instability.” Additionally, “Changing environmental conditions may also affect device communications.” As such, a system that enhances communications between these sensors and another device in the network could expand the number of practical LLN use cases.

The application lists “the smart grid, smart cities, and building and industrial automation” among the types of LLNs that might operate more efficiently with the integration of the invention. The smart objects/sensors that could, at least partially, comprise these networks include “lights, appliances, vehicles, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning), windows and window shades and blinds, doors, [and] locks,” as well as actuators – automated devices that can, for instance, start an engine.

The text of the abstract is as follows:

“In one embodiment, a device in a network receives a network registration request from a particular node. The network registration request comprises information about the particular node. The device causes performance of a validation of the information about the particular node via comparison of the information about the particular node to a distributed block chain that includes information regarding the particular node and one or more other nodes. The device causes an update to the block chain based on the information about the particular node and the validation of the information about the particular node. The device uses the updated block chain to control behavior of the particular node and the one or more other nodes.”

Cisco, a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and of the Trusted IoT Alliance, is no newcomer to the blockchain space. In 2016 it partnered with South Korean startup Blocko Inc., which uses blockchain technology to authenticate documents as well as identities, and its website is home to a blockchain-themed blog.