Consumer Electronics Show 2020 Displays Wealth of Incoming Blockchain Technology

By Landon Manning

The international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 concluded in Las Vegas on January 10, 2020, after showing off a wide array of novel applications for distributed ledger technology sure to hit the public in the near future.

Calling itself the “global stage for innovation,” CES is an annual conference consisting of thousands of private tech companies showcasing a great number of future products intended for general consumption. Among a cavalcade of various doodads, such as a motorcycle with Blackberry support and a set of Internet of Things devices to connect in small homes, CES 2020 also offered a large number of blockchain companies the chance to flex some of their most intriguing products to a wider audience.

Two blockchain-related technologies won conference “Innovation Awards” for their ingenuity, allowing their products to be featured at the final gadget showcase of CES’ best products. The Blok on Blok (BOB for short) claims to be the world’s first entirely blockchain-powered phone, developed by a company in Singapore. Originally introduced as a prototype in 2018, the BOB has been rebranded slightly and updated to include a more secure operating system. Not only will the phone allow calls, texts and internet connection to take place entirely over baked-in decentralized networks, but each BOB itself acts as a node for this network, allowing customers to create their own community.

Also winning accolades in the field of cybersecurity and privacy was IoTex’s Ucam, a home security camera designed to use blockchain technology to make recorded data as secure as possible. Positioning itself as a contrast to Amazon’s home security, the developers of Ucam have noted the degree to which employees at Amazon are able to access users’ own footage with little oversight. When streams of data are recorded by Ucam, they are encrypted before being sent to storage on IoTex’s massive data servers. The permissions for decoding these encryptions are made with distributed ledger technology, and as a result only the actual owner of the device is able to create usable files. This allows the user to store larger amounts of data than would be practical to keep as an individual homeowner, while also ensuring that no other party has any access themselves.

Spunky young startups with bold new inventions were not the only noteworthy uses of blockchain technology, however. IBM, for example, hosted a lavish feast cooked by celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez, all for the purpose of highlighting the potential of IBM’s Food Trust. Using blockchain technology to track the entire life history of various food products in a convenient label that any consumer can access, the Food Trust claims to have the potential to upend the way we consume many products in the developed world. As a symbol of the project’s successes to date, every course of the meal was centered around the products that IBM is currently tracking on this blockchain. Including such treats as a tequila “blocktail,” this simple demonstration showed how wide of an array of everyday consumer goods have already been folded into blockchain-based tracking. IBM also announced that it would be launching a similar app based on coffee consumption in the near future. 

CES 2020 also contained a wide variety of smaller blockchain projects developed by companies worldwide. Although not all of them showed as much potential or progress from launch as the aforementioned ones, they still are a symptom of a tech industry that’s chomping at the bit to learn more about the possibilities of distributed ledgers. Any one of these products could end up making major strides in the everyday adoption of this technology into households worldwide.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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