Alexy Khrabrov

Trusted IoT, Early 2019 Future of Europe: No Driving, No Ownership, No Gas!

I’ve just completed a four week tour of Europe where I visited several members of the Trusted IoT Alliance, including member candidates, across several events that TIOTA ran, coorganized, or attended. These are my observations from the tour. 

MOBI meeting at BMW HQ, München 

The MOBI Alliance meeting was held at the BMW HQ in Munich on February 14-15. Multiple MOBI members are advancing various questions surrounding DLT mobility applications. The first phase of the Grand Challenge was completed with the awards given, and the second stage, Citopia, will focus on rewarding decreased car use with city-wide services for public transportation, local merchants, etc.  It was great to see MOBI thriving: several working groups up, membership growth, and presentations by the members such as Ocean Protocol supporting the Grand Challenge.  I’ve met the entire Ocean team and was quite impressed, and moved by the talk by one of the founders, Bruce Pon.  He talked about his family history with car accidents that motivates him to look for a next step in mobility management.  It’s an important insight – behind the decentralized technologies there are humans with their life stories, aspirations, capabilities.  In the end trust is a human concept, and the systems we are building are meant to ensure human trust as the ultimate level on top of machine trust.

Daimler Blockchain Factory, Stuttgart

I visited Mercedes-Benz Bank in Stuttgart. Stuttgart is home to Daimler, Porsche, Bosch, Zublin, and other German engineering companies. We talked with Harry Behrens, the Head of the Blockchain Factory, overlooking the highway where Mercedeses, Smart cars, and Porsches where passing by...In ten years, said Harry, nobody will own the cars, nobody will drive the cars, and nobody will put gas in the cars. The manufactures need to plan for that future. Ownership will be replaced by mobility services. The NOW joint venture between Daimler and BMW was announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to create a shared mobility infrastructure. Fleet operators will replace dealers and owners if mobility takes off...DLT securitization is an immediate question for fleet ownership, specially a shared one, and financial engineering needs to precede manufacturing when ownership structures will shift. The long planning cycles already dictate the need of productizing such research...Once the fleets are electric, charging is the next problem to be tackled by DLT. Even without autonomy, the small amount of energy charges make it important to decrease the transaction costs for fleet charging...Autonomy, even a decade or more away, will make the DLT backbone especially critical as the car identity will dictate the services it can obtain, charging it needs, storage, repairs, and even economic modus operandi. Conceivably, the car can pay for itself and become free, making money on the mobility circuit and donating them to the causes its progenitors asked it to support.

Bosch Innovations and Connectory, Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart

Bosch innovation hub hosts the DLT team, the home of the new Jaguar iPace that is used in the TIOTA Mobility Challenge. The team already had three engineers working on the car, connecting the CAN bus to the ALEN (automotive Linux) box. ALEN is a Raspberry Pi runs a version of Yocto. Jaguar is helping with the spec and the car was well on track to join the hackathon in Barcelona. Peter Busch gave me a ride in it, and accelerated a bit when we got on the autobahn — it literally pushed me into the seat.  Bosch is a huge force behind TIOTA.  Dirk Slama, our president, connects companies all over the world with our mission.  Multiple Bosch divisions have interest and capabilities in the IoT space that could benefit from the DLT superstructure.  Power Tool folks help drive the construction.  DLT is supported by a strong R&D program, lead by Dr. Nik Scharmann.  Every component Bosch makes is becoming IoT-enabled.  By virtue of network effects, as they start communicating, the value of the whole system increases dramatically.  Since Bosch is the key supplier to some of the most important companies in the world, including neighboring Daimler, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Siemens, etc., the reach and impact is enormous.  Having internet and hardware giants among the founding members of TIOTA propels us to the forefront of innovation.

Züblin, Stuttgart 

Stuttgart is also home to Züblin, one of the oldest construction companies. TIOTA is starting a new Construction Challenge, jointly with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), to bring Trusted IoT to the construction sites and processes. In advance of our first Ideation Workshop in Berlin, held on March 4, I visited Rainer Bareiss, the industry veteran now leading innovation at Züblin. Rainer showed me around the HQ, pointing out various elements of the building itself that resulted from the innovation— usage of wood, open spaces, and custom design on different floors and in different wings. Rainer is a great enthusiast of technology, deeply familiar with all aspects of construction, from design to architecture to contracting to the on-site coordination, building, and subsequent maintenance. I’ve learned a whole lot of new context important in applying the IoT/DLT ideas to reality of building.  The key is to establish a common data landscape and a trusted log of all the events that impact a site.  Multiple teams, machines, liability, security make it an important future area for TIOTA.  We expect to have the construction challenge followed by a building and a security one, and the logistics challenge will be closely related.

Blockchain Future Festival, Stuttgart

The timing worked great so I could attend the Blockchain Future Festival, a regional blockchain conference in Stuttgart, on my last day there.  It is now my strong belief that Stuttgart is the IoT Valley of Germany, and in fact the world.  Most key players presented at the BCFF:

— the Stuttgart region innovation administration

— Daimler

— Porsche with XAIN

— T-Systems

— Bosch

— and many more.

Peter Busch, the Bosch DLT lead and head of TIOTA Mobility Working Group, gave a great overview of the Trusted IoT frameworks for mobility.  His hierarchy of collaboration and competition was frequently cited by other speakers.

T-Labs Hackathon, Barcelona

T-Labs hosted a hackathon in Barcelona ahead of the Mobile World Congress.  First we had a mini-conference at T-Systems Iberica.  I was on a blockchain trends panel, with the moderator leading a loyalty company and a fellow panelist was the head of the Catalonian Blockchain society.  We also heard from T-Systems and T-Labs and local partners.  On the weekend, the hackathon was held at the Valkyrie space next to T-Systems, and not far from the sea.  The Jaguar was brought in and the TIOTA Mobility Challenge teams had a chance to work on it for the very first time!  The ALEN box was connected via Ethernet to a router and the teams around the table could get data from the car.  We had the Bosch-Siemens team, Streamr, UBirch, and University of Aachen engineers all working on the car.  The main hackathon also filled up the place and explored various use cases.  We had Brian Belendorf from the Hyperledger Foundation as one of the judges, along with John Calian and Alexandra Mikityuk from T-Labs, and judges from Bosch and Manuel Vasquez from T-Systems Iberia.

A key takeway from John Calian and Dr. Alexandra Mikityuk is Trusted Anonymity: your devices deserve the same level of privacy as you.  The team presentations included a VR-controlled drone authenticated via blockchain, DLT-mediated apartment rentals, and more.

Mobile World Congress 2019, Barcelona

This was my first MWC, and a first extended stay in Barcelona. We started with the T-Labs mini conference and the hackathon three days before, stayed throughout the entire MWC, and then held the TIOTA strangely session on Thursday and its f2f (Face to Face) meeting on Friday. 

MWC is a monstrous size event, 107,000 attendees this year.  The was a bulk of huge corporate displays in Grand Fyra and many smaller booths there and also at 4YFN, the Four Year from Now pavilions at Fyra downtown.  As luck would have it my AirBnB on Plaaza España was next to 4YFN so I had a good look at it.

We started Monday with a joint T-Labs + TIOTA presentation at the Telekom stage.  John Calian and Alexandra Mikityuk, leaders of the T-Labs DLT team, presented a deeply evolved case for DLT mobility implemented with scooters and a fully decentralized charging/battery economy.

TIOTA was the last section of the talk, showing what the ecosystem for a fully decentralized, industry-backed DLT consortium should look like.  I, Dirk Slama, and Peter Busch introduced TIOTA, our Challenge Program, and the Mobility Challenge, respectively.

Trusted IoT Face to Face Meeting, Barcelona

On March 1, we held a TIOTA f2f (Face to Face meeting) in Barcelona.  We met next to the sea, and discussed our growth, our Challenge Program, technical frameworks, and a panel of industry analysts.

Construction Challenge Workshop, Berlin

The first ideation workshop for the new Construction Challenge was held in Berlin on March 4th.  This was the first tome we gathered together corporate construction sponsors, such as Bosch, Liebherr, TÜV, and Züblin, on the one hand, and multiple startups, advancing the area, on the other.

Our good friends from Bosch have deftly organized the day with the goal to discover as much as possible about both the participants and the opportunities in the field.  Several companies and their core divisions, including Zublin, Bosch COnstruction, and Liebherr Heavy Machinery, are providing the sites to test the technologies.  TUV is keen in certifying IoT-enabled sites, and in using the IoT in its certification, so it is also a sponsor.  

Multiple startups work in all aspects of construction:

– site maps, including precise indoor location (Autodesk, HERE)

– project planning (Bosch, Holobuilder)

– machine witness, integration

– logistical support, track and trace

– and so much more

We started by identifying problems and grouping them.  Then we associated possible areas where the answers will emerge, and ended up with specific projects.  Those will be further refined as teams (possibly of one) and prioritized on sites.  It was interesting to see how companies have come from as far as London (Blox, smart worker wearables) and San Francisco (Holobuilder, project status reporting) to join.  This challenge evolves very rapidly.  Thanks to Innogy who hosted our reverse pitch in its Berlin hub.

It has been the longest business trip I’ve undertook so far, on par with being a mentor at the Skoltech Innovation Workshop.  It was extremely instructive to meet our core members in person and see the future of the Trusted IoT we are building together.  Next stops are the Mobility and Construction events in April and May, culminating in the award ceremonies for both challenges at the Bosch Connected World in Berlin.  Check back often for the updates!

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