On 19th March 2018, IBM Research’s blog on annual technology predictions suggested that in the next five years, cryptographic anchors and blockchain will come together to prevent counterfeit.
Complex supply chains that span across multiple countries with multiple suppliers and assembling units increase the chance of tampering of the parts.
According to Andreas Kind, the manager of Industry Platforms and Blockchain at IBM Research, the estimated value of counterfeit products across the world is US$1.8 trillion. This is not limited to just the branded clothes and accessories. Fraudulent products can be seen in safety mechanisms and medicines as well, posing a threat to the lives of people.
Blockchain technology can bring trust, transparency, and efficiency in digital transactions. Cryptic-anchors are tamper-proof digital footprints that can be embedded into products and parts of the products. By linking both these technologies, one can make sure that all the parts used in the product are genuine.
Computer for Crypto-anchor
As a part of this crypto-anchor project, IBM also revealed what would be the world’s smallest computer. It is basically an edge device that is smaller than a grain of salt, but matches the computing power of x86 computers in the 1990s. This device will have the ability to monitor, analyze, communicate, and act on data.
The computer would have several hundred thousand transistors for processor, static random-access memory (SRAM), photo-voltaic cell for power, and a light-emitting diode (LED) and photo-detector for communication – all mounted on a 1 square millimeter silicon wafer.
Low Manufacturing Cost
With manufacturing cost expected to be as low as US$0.1, this disposable device can be used in supply chain management to verify if a product has been handled well throughout its journey.
As of now, the world’s smallest computer is still a research project in the IBM Research labs. But we can expect the finished product in another 18 months, and hopefully start seeing its integration across different verticals within five years. According to the tech giant IBM, this project could change the way supply chain management works. It is expected to reduce the number of fraud products in the market and protect the consumers.