Blockchain-based companies have been touting the protocol’s capabilities for tracking ingredients, maintaining digital identity and granting rewards. But, with a few emerging exceptions, those visions have largely been on paper so far.
Internet of Things platform Evrythng is now out with an orchestration hub that utilizes blockchain to provide those services specifically for CPG (consumer packaged goods) and apparel products.
Called the Blockchain Integration Hub, it’s not actually built on blockchain itself. Instead, it provides a rules engine called the Reactor that provides an integration layer to control actions (such as when a consumer scans a bar code on a product) or properties (such as the location of an ingredient or component in a supply chain).
The Integration Hub mostly integrates with other firms’ generalist blockchains like Ethereum, supply chain blockchains like OriginTrail and specialist blockchains like Tieron. In some cases, Evrythng CTO and co-founder Dominique Guinard told me, his company operates blockchain nodes for its partners.
Many blockchain protocols, like Ethereum, utilize a consensus protocol that makes processing very slow. But, Guinard said, the data to and from products is processed directly in the Hub, which is built on conventional software and can thus be processed in real time. Afterward, it is written to blockchain for permanent and distributed storage.
In a typical use case involving the Hub, a consumer will scan the bar code on a product like a drink can with a smartphone. This results in a display on the phone of the ingredients’ sources, the can’s identity expressed as a unique URL and reward points that can be exchanged for prizes or cash.
Of course, this also provides marketers with a highly granular view of where that drink can was consumed, the kinds of rewards that were redeemed and other valuable info.
Guinard noted that these services of provenance, digital identity and rewards could be handled in a non-blockchain environment but that the new technology offers a level of trust, permanence and decentralization that is attractive to a lot of product makers and consumers. The loyalty rewards are generated and managed by smart contracts on the blockchain.
In fact, he noted, Evrythng has been providing these services without blockchain since its founding in 2012, and this Blockchain Integration Hub is its first blockchain-related service. Guinard added that, to his knowledge, this is the first such orchestration hub that employs blockchain.