If you think blockchain technology is just for cryptocurrencies, you’re missing the bigger picture.
Back in 2014, when I co-founded my blockchain and IoT innovation company, Chronicled, we set out to explore non-financial use cases of blockchain tech. But even then, I knew that was only the beginning. At the time, we were just looking for a more effective way to register objects, sensors, and identities in order to verify and validate authenticity.
Today, I speak and consult with a lot of people from all kinds of different industries.
There are so many more potential use cases in the following industries:
1. Supply chain
2. Asset tracking
3. Trade finance
4. Digital rights
6. Corporate filings databases
7. Personal identity
8. Patent filings
9. Forensic evidence
10. Basketball jerseys
11. Blood samples for the MLB and other major sports leagues
Truthfully, the list goes on and on.
What many innovators and tech entrepreneurs are quickly realizing is the immense opportunity for reinvention in just about every industry, by leveraging the blockchain. In fact, it even has begun stirring conversations in the entertainment industry, looking to solve for one of the most glaring issues in music: unpaid royalties to artists.
Here are a few industries that are already being disrupted:
1. Supply Chain
IBM and Walmart recently partnered up to improve their supply chain practices by “digitally tracking the movement of pork in China on a blockchain,” according to Fortune.
The goal here is to reduce salmonella outbreaks and deadly strains of E. coli.
The benefit of tracking this sort of information on a blockchain is that you can see where certain shipments within the process come from much more quickly, stopping shipments as soon as they are declared unsafe.
This improves transparency between vendors and consumers, meaning not only is the process much safer and more effective, but it also instills a higher level of trust.
2. Machine to Machine
One of the features that separates Ethereum’s blockchain technology is its ability to perform what are called Smart Contracts.
This means that two parties can create an agreement wherein the specifics of that agreement are executed automatically.
For example, slock.it recently partnered with energy company RWE to tackle the currently-inconvenient way in which electric cars are charged. By utilizing Ethereum’s blockchain, they have supplied certain cars with their own digital wallets, allowing them to automatically communicate with autonomous electric charging stations. This way, the experience operates a lot like regular fuel: instead of renting charging stations for a full hour, Smart Contracts only have you pay for what you use, when you use it.
The futuristic example the company eluded to is a world where you pull up to a stoplight, and embedded into the roads would be technology that could wirelessly charge cars on the asphalt. The cars would then automatically pay for the energy being used through its Ethereum wallet, and when the light turns green, you’d be on your way.
This is an industry I have been wrestling with for a long time, and one I am currently in the process of working to disrupt on my own.
Here’s a story for you.
Back in 2014, I started looking hard at conventional manufacturing processes — really out of necessity for a few of the projects we were working on at Chronicled. I started to learn about 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and in a sense, I became obsessed with the work one of my friends, Chris Prucha, was doing at Origin Labs (their tagline is “Manufacture the Impossible” and I’ll tell you, they truly can).
Fast-forward to today, and I’m still obsessing over additive manufacturing. Currently, I’m advising an innovative and eco-friendly, badass but beautiful razor company utilizing 3D printing at scale, that dwarfs businesses like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s.
There’s just one problem.
Not many people know how much red tape there is in some of these markets.
Most of the conventional OEMs and parts manufacturers are owned by only a handful of companies — Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Edgewater Brands, etc. Which means, even though we’re not short on ideas, designs, or new innovations, the challenge lies in the manufacturing of consumer products.
The cost to create tooling for a new razor cartridge design can be upwards of $1 million. In addition, traditional OEMs require minimums for production.
So, what happens if your customers don’t like your first design?
What happens if you don’t have the funds to test?
What if you want to change the design every few months to keep up with the fast fashion cycles younger consumers expect these days?
The opportunity for disruption here is in scaling additive manufacturing by creating a decentralized network of 3D printers that function solely for a demand chain — essentially, a collective of producers responding to the demand of customers, with products collectively produced by a collage of suppliers.
To put it more simply: instead of trying to own a supply chain or thinking that purchasing a supply chain is the answer, why not own a demand chain?
Which is exactly what we’re going to do.
This post is part of a multi-part series discussing Consumer Products, Demand Chain, Localized Production, and Additive Manufacturing x Blockchain.