Alexander Renz: A Closer Look at Use Cases in IOTA’s MAM

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IOTA goes beyond blockchains and brings a range of new capabilities to empower the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) economy. Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) have a huge role to play in the New Mobility. IOTA will power electric mobility, enable a true sharing economy, harness the value of data and enable the machine-to-machine (M2M) economy. One of IOTA’s new modules is Masked Authenticated Messaging (MAM).

The cars of the future become data collection machines. Through computer vision systems and a myriad of sensors, vehicles not only sense their environment, but also collect massive amounts of data on the vehicle itself and its various components. Increasingly, vehicles will also have passenger facing sensors to measure heart rate, monitor emotional state, track eye gaze or monitor the seating position. Connected vehicles will also become part of a larger mobility ecosystem and connect with other vehicles (V2V) as well as smart infrastructure (V2X) to exchange data, access services and make payments. Connected vehicle data is central to future business models and has the potential to increase road safety and improve sustainability.

  • Departments of Transportation (DoT) and other authorities understand the value of data to better manage and maintain the infrastructure. Connected vehicles may share data such as the location of potholes, icy roads and puddles or defective road signs. However, DoTs must be concerned about privacy. What if we could not only protect the privacy of citizens, but create incentives for sharing data, be it in the form of tokens or in exchange for services such as preferred laning or a credit on road usage charging?
  • Real-time Maps for Automated Driving (HAD Maps) are critical to autonomous driving and will need to be up-dated dynamically to reflect changes in real-time. However, traditional approaches are leading to privacy issues, even if no personally identifiable data is shared.
  • The search for parking is causing more than 30% of urban traffic. Ultrasonic sensors in vehicles may crowd source parking related data that can be turned into highly accurate services such as on-street parking finders.
  • Data is the new fuel. OEMs understand it as a strategic control point and aim to keep data in their own cloud backend. But with data comes the risk of cyber attacks and the cost of network, store and compute. These liabilities and costs will quickly become a burden to OEMs, especially when it proves difficult for automakers to turn this data into scalable services that can be monetized. What if OEMs and consumers could control what data can be shared with whom, for what purpose and in exchange for what through a secure encrypted channel peer-to-peer? What if braking events could be shared P2P from an anti-lock-brake system with its manufacturer, the department of transportation and – if consumers agree – insurance carriers?
  • As citizens in our local communities we share an interest in air quality and more intelligent traffic management. But “smart” cities lack the data to make more informed decisions. Ironically, they rely on mobility platform providers to share select data sets with cities and its citizens. What if you could enable “Data as a Commons” and enable citizens to provide secure access to the data they own and control for the purpose of common good?

Masked Authenticated Messaging in a nutshell:

  • IOTA’s MAM can help share data through secure and encrypted channels. Such “Private Data Transfers” mask the identity of the data source and therefore protect its privacy. At the same time, network based trust established by the IOTA tangle means that the recipient can be sure that the data originates from a trusted source.
  • Besides proof of existence of i.e. sensors a key aspect is establishing trust in the quality of the data and data integrity. In other words, making sure that the data has not been tampered with during transfer. This is a critical issue in Over-the-Air Updates (OTA) and machine learning models for autonomous vehicles that we will explore in a future post.
  • What is more, IOTA would allow for data owners to be incentivized for providing access to their data for specific entities and for specific purposes. This can be in the form of monetary exchange, i.e. by streaming IOTA tokens in exchange for data streams.

IOTA’s Masked Authenticated Messaging has great potential in resolving the tension between making sensor data more easily accessible and at the same time providing the highest possible level of privacy and security. The technology has the potential to enable more cost effective P2P data sharing via secure channels and opens up new opportunities for monetization of data using fee-less micro-transactions. In a future post we explore how this will lead us towards a peer-to-peer data-driven economy.

Intrigued? For a more technical discussion of Masked Authenticated Messaging, see the posting on the IOTA blog posted by IOTA developer Paul Handy: