How blockchain can help to prevent odometer fraud

Close up of Timo Gessmann at Bosch Connected World 2017.

An Interview with Timo Gessmann, Director Bosch IoT Lab

Timo Gessmann is the Director of the Bosch IoT Lab – a cooperation between the University of St. Gallen, ETH Zürich, and Bosch. The Bosch IoT Lab is working on IoT-enabled new business fields. Its focus is on mobility, smart living and working, IoT business models, and blockchain technology.

Why is blockchain becoming increasingly important in the IoT?

Established in 2009, blockchain has become a highly disruptive technology. In the beginning, it was mainly used for FinTech applications such as cryptocurrencies. Nowadays, however, blockchain is no longer just about digital currencies. Blockchain will fundamentally change how we exchange value. In the age of the IoT, we have many devices that exchange information with each other. The challenge is to create trust in those devices. It can be compared to dealing with money: it is accepted to do business and to set up contracts. A person gives you money and you give some sort of value back to that person in return.

In a digital world with IoT devices, there is a requirement for technology that enables humans to trust a device. In addition, this technology needs to ensure that the information the device provides is correct and trustworthy. Because blockchain fulfills these requirements, it allows digital contracts to be established between things – which is why it is becoming increasingly popular for IoT use cases. One IoT use case we have identified at the Bosch IoT Lab is using blockchain to prevent odometer fraud .

Blockchain: Screenshots of an app that show the status of the odometer.

An app allows to check and verify odometer data.

How did you come up with the idea to prevent odometer fraud using blockchain?

Our research into existing problems in today’s markets revealed that odometer fraud is a widespread problem in the automotive market. There are many vehicles on the roads where the mileage has been manipulated in the past – without most of the current drivers being aware. Manipulating the odometer can increase the value of the car significantly. If I had driven 100.000 kilometers in my car, it would be worth less than if it had just 10.000 kilometers on the odometer. That is why there is a high motivation to manipulate car data – especially nowadays that mileage data is just digital information stored in the car. At the Bosch IoT Lab, we are keen to explore whether blockchain technology can help build trust in car data – especially the mileage data.

How can blockchain help to create this kind of digital trust?

Blockchain is a decentralized database that stores a registry of assets and transactions across a peer-to-peer network. The transactions get locked in blocks that are cryptographically linked and secured. These blocks are stored on every computer in the network. For this reason, the transaction information cannot be hacked without the attacker having to hack into the majority of the other computers in the network that store exactly the same information, too. This being the case, blockchain can help reduce uncertainty when exchanging value without the need for intermediaries such as banks, governments, and corporations.

We want to develop a certificate based on blockchain that ensures a car’s mileage data is correct. Last year, we started with a proof of concept and connected a real car to the blockchain. We installed a connectivity device in the car to read its mileage data. Using the connectivity device we then transmitted the data to a backend which is connected to a blockchain.

Cars parked in a row.

The Bosch IoT Lab explores, whether blockchain can help prevent odometer fraud.

In addition, we developed an app for consumers that enables them to view the mileage history of their car. What’s more, users can access an online service to get a digital certificate indicating whether the mileage has been manipulated or not. Our minimal viable product is a complete IoT solution including a connectivity device that is connected to the car, an app for consumers, and a live service to certify the mileage data.

By using this live service, consumers can easily create a digital certificate for their cars and also share the information with other entities in order to create trust in the specific car data. Furthermore, we are collaborating with an original equipment manufacturer and have a fleet with about 100 cars in Germany and Switzerland that is connected to the blockchain. This is a field test and we are still working on the project, as the technology is not yet ready for the mass market.

Given that blockchain is a fairly new technology are you facing any challenges?

With blockchain technology being quite new – especially in the IoT – we are encountering some challenges. One, for example, is that the blockchain technology must be highly scalable . It must support millions of cars around the world that are connected to the blockchain database. At the moment, this is not really possible because the technology is quite slow. Another challenge is the cost of using the existing blockchain technology. It is open source, which means it can be used and explored for free.

But for each transaction a fee must be paid to use the public blockchain – each and every time data is transmitted to the blockchain database. These costs are hard to predict. If millions of cars were to be connected to the blockchain, huge costs would be incurred each time data was transmitted to the mileage database. We are currently trying to figure out how to reduce such costs for this use case.

What are the next milestones in your project to get the blockchain-based certificate market ready?

The technology as such is working – which is great. The next step is to evaluate the business model. To do this, we will involve our partners such as OEMs, TÜV Rheinland and other IoT and Blockchain companies. In addition, we will continue to expand our ecosystem with partners, consumers, and customers. We want to ensure that we get a broad range of market feedback about the benefits and challenges of using blockchain for this use case. Stay tuned!

More information about blockchain:

Thinking out loud: Read Timo Gessmann’s thoughts on blockchain.

Get to know the basics of blockchain. We provide ten things you should know.

Bosch and other international companies are making use of blockchain to increase users’ trust in IoT solutions. Find out more about the Trusted IoT Alliance.

The post How blockchain can help to prevent odometer fraud appeared first on Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.

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10 things you need to know about blockchain

Futuristic chains in a row, representing blockchain.

While some people stress blockchain’s disruptive potential, others remain somewhat more skeptical. But what is blockchain all about? We have compiled a list of the ten things you should know about this relatively new technology.

1. What blockchain is

Blockchain is a database that is managed on a peer-to-peer network of computers, which are referred to as nodes. It can also be described as a distributed ledger: a decentralized way to chronologically document transactions. Each participant in the network has access to the entire blockchain and its history. When a transaction is recorded, the accounts of all the participants are updated with the information. Transactions are grouped together in blocks, each of which is then linked to the one that came before it. The result is a chronological record that is basically impossible to tamper with, alter, or falsify.

2. How blockchain works

If two parties agree to a transaction, this information is broadcast to the computers (nodes) of the peer-to-peer network, where it is then validated. Once the transaction has been verified, it is added to a block together with other transactions. This block is then hashed. Every block contains a reference to the hash of the block that came before it. This guarantees the position of the block in the chain and ensures that it cannot be tampered with. The new block is then permanently added to the blockchain and distributed to all its participants. The transaction is now complete.

Photo of the skyline of Frankfurt.

With blockchain there is no longer a need for intermediaries.

3. There is not just one blockchain

Blockchain can be implemented in many different ways ; there is not just one single blockchain everybody uses. It is also not a product or a single software program. It can be compared to middleware in that blockchain itself has no real value – value is created only when it is used in conjunction with suitable applications.

4. Blockchain gets rid of intermediaries

Blockchain creates the very trust it requires to function. It allows participants to transfer assets directly among themselves, thus bypassing third-party intermediaries like banks or brokers . It also makes it possible to quickly prove who has the ownership of a specific asset. Because each block is secured by cryptography, it is almost impossible to manipulate transactions recorded in a blockchain. This ensures the authenticity of every transaction and makes them virtually immune to forgery.

5. Blockchain goes beyond virtual currencies

Though often mentioned in the same discussion, Bitcoin and blockchain are not the same thing. Bitcoin is a virtual currency (or cryptocurrency), while blockchain is the tool that makes virtual currency viable. But while Bitcoin may be the best-known use case for blockchain, there are many others besides .

Blockchain: Close up of a coin with the Bitcoin logo.

Bitcoin may be the best known blockchain use case but it is by far not the only one.

For example, blockchain allows musicians to get paid directly when consumers buy or listen to a song. The purchasing platforms can be cut out of the process, which also means they don’t take a cut of the revenue. Musicians benefit both financially and from a more direct relationship with their fans.

Another example is online voting. When a vote is cast and recorded in the blockchain, it is very hard to alter. That makes it difficult to commit voter fraud by manipulating votes. Furthermore, every voter would have a complete record at hand and could track the outcome as the vote takes place.

6. Blockchain is decentralized and reliable

Since blockchain is distributed across a peer-to-peer network, there is no central point where data is stored. A copy of the blockchain is saved on all of the computers of its participants. This decentralized approach ensures security and reliability , as there is no single point of failure for hackers to attack. Taking this idea a step further, the blockchain is generally managed by its participants: no one entity has authority over the blockchain as a whole (at least in the case of public blockchains).

7. Blockchain offers transparency

Whenever a transaction is conducted as part of a blockchain, it is recorded and visible to all participants. Blockchain participants can be, but do not necessarily have to be, anonymous. When talking about Bitcoin, the term “pseudonymity” often crops up, referring to a kind of anonymized pseudonym. Even though each user has a unique Bitcoin address, this pseudonym can be linked to their personal information in different ways. A simple example would be a user providing their home address to receive a delivery paid for with a Bitcoin transaction.

8. There is a difference between public and private blockchains

Public and private blockchains generally work in the same way; the main difference is who is allowed to participate. A public blockchain is open to anyone who wants to be part of it. The downside is that, due to the large number of participants, verifying transactions takes more time. Bitcoin is a well-known implementation of a public blockchain.

Private blockchains, on the other hand, are controlled by one entity that decides who is allowed to participate. This entity may also set up rules and regulations to govern transactions. Transactions are generally conducted faster within a private blockchain because of the limited number of participants.

In a business context, there is a third option: the consortium blockchain. Here, no single entity has full control; instead, a predetermined set of nodes are allowed to participate. A hypothetical case would be a consortium of ten different companies, with each one authorized to operate a node. This type of blockchain ensures that the transaction information stays among its participants without consolidating power in one place.

Closeup of Dashboard Instruments

A possible IoT use case: The Bosch IoT Lab explores whether blockchain can help prevent odometer fraud.

9. Blockchain enables smart contracts

A smart contract is a computer protocol that facilitates transactions and makes sure that the terms of a contract are met. It does this by automatically triggering actions following the finalization of a contract. One basic example is purchasing a computer program: as soon as the payment has been made, the download of said program starts automatically.

10. Blockchain has use cases in the IoT

In combination with smart contracts, blockchain can also be used for IoT use cases. One possible scenario, as presented by the German startup, involves house rentals: the owner of the house installs a smart lock on the front door and sets a rental price. After the tenant has paid the required sum, the door opens automatically to let the tenant enter.

There are other scenarios besides smart contracts. Imagine you want to buy a used car that has had some parts replaced. With the help of blockchain, you can trace the origin of the spare parts to make sure they are not counterfeit. Another example is odometer fraud: by recording the car’s mileage in a blockchain, you can be sure that nobody has tampered with it.

More about blockchain:

How to prevent odometer fraud using blockchain. An interview with Timo Gessmann of the Bosch IoT Lab.

Timo also shares his thoughts about blockchain.

Bosch and other international companies have set up a new alliance to make use of blockchain and related technologies.

The post 10 things you need to know about blockchain appeared first on Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.

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Thinking out loud – Timo´s thoughts about Blockchain

Timo Gessmann sitting at his desk and looking into the camera.

In my current role at the Bosch IoT Lab, I am responsible for exploring new IoT product ideas & business fields including blockchain technology.

Thought #1

What I really like about Blockchain is the potential for enabling users and IoT devices to do P2P “value” exchange.

Thought #2

What drives me nuts about Blockchain is the hype about ICOs and trading crypto-currencies .

Thought #3

Blockchain is not just about FinTech applications, it has the potential to be a key technology in the IoT by generating a trusted link between the physical and digital world – a so-called digital twin.

More on Blockchain

How can blockchain prevent odometer fraud? Read the whole interview with Timo Gessmann.

What is blockchain all about? We present you with ten things you need to know.

Generating trust in IoT: Bosch and other international companies have set up the Trusted IoT Alliance for blockchain and related technologies.

The post Thinking out loud – Timo´s thoughts about Blockchain appeared first on Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.

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We are unided! What the Eclipse Unide project is all about

Eclipse Unide is an open source project to develop and test implementations of the Production Performance Management Protocol.

Members of the Unide open source project are continuously refining the Production Performance Management Protocol – the language of Industry 4.0. This protocol facilitates communication between devices (e.g. sensors and machines) and Industry 4.0 software solutions. It can be quickly and easily implemented by users in the plant. Among others, use cases include: condition monitoring and data analytics .

Fun Fact: “Unide” is derived from understand industry devices, because that’s what the project is all about!

Unide for coders

The source code (repository) is provided on Eclipse Unide. This makes it easier for developers to get to grips with the format definition standard. With bindings, they can generate objects and structures in a programming environment (such as Java) from a Production Performance Management Protocol message in JSON format. Test and visualization options are available as well. Developers can thus validate their own implementations against the official ones in the Production Performance Management Protocol early on in the process, and receive visual feedback if needed.

More about Production Performance Management

Learn how Eclipse Unide wants to establish the PPMP as an Industry 4.0 standard. Watch the webcast from the Eclipse virtual IoT meetup.

Want to get a better understanding of the PPMP? We provide you with an explanation in a short video.

You can also take a more in-depth look at Eclipse Unide’s efforts to find a common machine language.

Find out more about the newly launched Eclipse Open IoT Testbed concerning Production Performance Management.

The post We are unided! What the Eclipse Unide project is all about appeared first on Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.

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How to evaluate process and quality data to boost your production

Worker in factory at metal skip machine putting work piece in press.

As a Solution Architect, the author Henryk Fischer works on creating new Industry 4.0 solutions close to the customer and is responsible for the Unide open source project at the Eclipse Foundation. He was also involved in setting up the customer project with Promess and Bosch, described in the use case below.

How can you judge the quality of a process and take steps to improve it ? The first step is to get a thorough understanding of the process. But I think this shouldn’t be something new for you. However, getting this understanding can be a real challenge sometimes – especially when working with closed processes that are highly complex. Think about the production of manufacturing parts like spark plugs, windshield wipers, or high-pressure pumps! Is there an easy way to create transparency within these production processes?

Yes, there is: Dedicated software for monitoring process quality increases the transparency of the production process . The software makes it possible to digitally map and analyze manufacturing processes and take appropriate measures for boosting product quality.

A standardized machine language for process and quality data

To analyze this wide range of different manufacturing processes you need a common “language” for the process and quality data. This common format needs to be independent both of the process in question and of the software program used to perform the analysis. The great news is: Such a format already exists! The Production Performance Management Protocol already offers a standardized format for measurement values and machine feedback . The Eclipse Unide community, that created the protocol, expanded it now to include a new type of notification: the process message.

How do I use it in practice ?

Now, the Production Performance Management Protocol makes it possible to summarize processes in a single message, which the respective Industry 4.0 solution can then work with further. The message abstracts the actual process, e.g. pressing, welding, or tightening, regardless of type.

But which kinds of data does a process message include so that the software can then evaluate as needed? Let’s take the example of a pressing process:

  • For one thing, the process message contains information about the device that carries out the process. In this example, this could be information about the press.
  • It also contains details about the process itself. This can be program data or shut-off values that determine when the press needs to terminate the process.
  • And it delivers information on the finished parts or batches, for example, the ID of a metal part, that has been pressed.

This links the process data to the quality data and ensures a better understanding of the evaluated processes as well as of the correlations between process parameters and product quality.

Infographic shoing how the PPMP works.

Structure of the Production Performance Management Protocol process message.

What are measurement values and special values?
Measurement values describe the process sequence. They, in turn, are split into phases characterized by special values; for example, values for how long to maintain a certain level of force, or extremes in a defined range. Based on this data, the software can quickly evaluate process quality without having to analyze the entire process curve.

How Bosch & Promess are visualizing and evaluating ECU pressing processes

The Bosch plant in Ansbach makes electronic control units (ECUs) for airbag, ABS, and ESP systems. Mechatronic presses made by manufacturer Promess assemble the individual components of these ECUs. With the help of the Production Performance Management Protocol data is extracted from the proprietary control units of the presses and sent directly to a software that is evaluating the process and quality data. At Ansbach plant, they use the Production Performance Manager for this evaluation.

Screenshot Production Performance Manager

Evaluation of pressing processes at the plant in Ansbach. In the software, you can click on the green and red bars at the top and get a visualization of the force/position curves for every single process.

Promess is one of the first machine manufacturers to have independently implemented the Production Performance Management Protocol for process and quality data. This saves the company the time and cost of developing special gateways or integrators for extracting process data for the end user (the plant). The Promess presses now send their data directly to the appropriate software.

Why does the evaluated process data not need a common point of reference, such as time?
Time references are not strictly necessary for visualizing this data. In contrast, continuous measurement values are always captured in relation to time (e.g. temperature progression of cooling water). As a result, users can correlate non-time-based values (for example, force to position).

Based on the data from the control units of the presses the ideal form of each process is defined and thus serves as a reference for each and every pressing operation in the plant. The software enables users to evaluate each process directly and immediately based on the complete set of raw process data. Previously, this was possible only by random sampling in the downstream quality assurance phase. Furthermore, the resulting transparency of historical data makes it possible to identify parameters that are critical to the process but have thus far gone undetected.


More from Henryk Fischer

Video: Get an easy explanation of the Production Performance Management Protocol.

Listen to Henryk introducing Eclipse Unide – A way to establish an open Industry 4.0 standard in this webcast from the Eclipse virtual IoT meetup.

Looking for something more hands-on? In this video Henryk gives you an overview on what it’s like to hack with the Production Performance Manager.

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