How Blockchain technology can enable the Industrial Metaverse

In our last article, we introduced the concept of the industrial metaverse and discussed some of the opportunities and challenges it presented. In this article and the next, we start to delve into the unpinning technology that would make it possible. To start, we are going to look at blockchain technology and why it is such a good fit for the industrial metaverse.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger operated through a network of independently run computers. As the blockchain operates autonomously, it enables multiple parties to conduct transactions between themselves and record these on the blockchain without a central authority. Blockchain is transparent and immutable, meaning it cannot be altered once it is recorded.

Why is Blockchain relevant to the Industrial Metaverse?

Business runs on information or more specifically data. Industrial plants produce vast amounts of data. The faster it’s received and the more accurate it is, the better. If we discard the need for hardware devices for now, the metaverse needs an environment for exchanging data with users. Blockchain is ideal for delivering this data because it provides immediate, shared and completely transparent information stored on an immutable ledger that can be accessed only by permissioned network members. If you remember from our first article, we talked about one of the main challenges to the industrial metaverse was security of data. A blockchain network is ideal because of its inherent advantages including security, trustworthiness, decentralised character, and interoperability. Crucially, it offers a process for users to safeguard and show ownership of virtual assets.  A blockchain network can track accounts, access, production data, transactions and much more. And since members share a single view of the truth, you can see all details of a process end to end. With blockchain, there is no need for trust between the parties involved in the exchange of data, so it eliminates the potential issues of fraud or identity theft or tampering with the data. An industrial metaverse powered by blockchain technology would make it fully independent and decentralised, allowing all users to participate, connect and contribute.

In addition, blockchain technology further plays a vital role in metaverse development because it provides the capacities for the industrial metaverse to be decentralised. And since the future of the web, i.e., Web 3.0 is all about decentralisation it works well with it. A practical example in an industrial environment might be monitoring real-time sensor data on a gas turbine. Blockchain technology could allow you to transact energy safely and securely between decentralised points of generation, storage, and use, and build an industrial-grade implementation running over an unbreakable, quantum-secure blockchain network. In fact, GE Research are working on just such a project.

Real Life User Case

If all this seems like ‘Pie in the sky’, think again. Renault Group created XCEED, built on blockchain technology to help them be more reactive, robust, and sustainable in compliance management. Previously, automakers and suppliers had little visibility into the layers of component compliance. They also had no way to share this information across the supply chain to regulators or consumers.

Renault Group resolved this by moving its supply chain documentation to blockchain and invited the rest of the auto industry to join in.

Finally

In 2018, PWC researchers found that 84% of executives across industries said their companies have had some involvement with blockchain, and 15% have live projects. By the time of the PWC Time for Trust Report 2020, it was estimated that blockchain technology had the potential to boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$1.76 trillion over the next decade.

In our next article, we continue the theme industrial metaverse technology but this time with an emphasis on software.