Atonomi - The Secure Ledger of Things

Blockchain might have captured our collective fancy now, but just a couple of years ago, we were all going gaga over the Internet of Things. In simple terms, IoT (as it is fondly called) is a vast network of electronics devices with the capability of ‘talking’ or exchanging data among themselves. Now if blockchain is in its infancy, then IoT has just reached its childhood. Both the technologies offer immense potential. And what if we can combine the two? We That is exactly what Atonomi promises to do.

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The Growth of IoT

In its early days, IoT aimed to be provide features which would make consumer electronic goods more lucrative (and more profitable). For example, IoT made it possible for you to control your WiFi-enabled AC through your mobile phone. You could turn on your AC 5 minutes before you returned home back from work, so that you wouldn’t have to wait for it to cool your room. Of course, you would be willing to shell out a few extra bucks for this particular model of AC.

Over the last couple of years, as people began to delve deeper into the world of IoT, the number of IoT devices began to grow exponentially. This was accompanied by the emergence of more complicated IoT applications, including device-to-device monetary transactions. This is one of the biggest dreams and and of the biggest challenges of IoT. Just imagine your carl automatically paying your parking fees, as it waits for you in the parking lot.

The Explosion of IoT

The Problem of Security in IoT

Any application or service which involves money is always susceptible to hacks. In case of the IoT, there are no clear laws or protocols governing such transactions yet. Aany fraud or malicious behavior in these fields would be difficult to put to trial. Moreover, these IoT devices typically have pretty low computing and storage resources – insufficient to host tradition security software. In other words, the field of device-to-device financial interactions presents a security nightmare. One way to solve this problem would be to have a secure system in place, which establishes device identity and provides them reputation scores. These trust records could be written on the blockchain, so that the device ratings can’t be tampered by hackers. And that is exactly what Atonomi is trying to do.

Atonomi’s Solution

Establishing Identity

Atonomi maintains all data relating to its partner manufacturers and devices operating on its network in different smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, known as Registries. New device manufactures which wish to be a part of the Atonomi ecosystem are first screened by the existing members of the network. These manufacturers’ names are then entered into the Manufacturer Registry, which is maintained by Atonomi and other participants in the consensus network. Thereafter, each device that has to be added to the network is provided with a unique device identity and a public key, and is added to the Device Registry. This process is termed as establishing the Root-of-Trust. Only authorized manufacturers whose names are present in the Manufacturer Registry can write in the Device Registry.

Managing Reputation Score

The reputation scores of devices have to be managed over time on the blockchain in order to ensure that transactions happen only between trusted devices. This is done through the Reputation Tracking Service, and is managed by Audit partners. Atonomi maintains the names and states of its partner auditors in the Auditor Registry. If it is known that a certain device has been comprised, then its reputation score can be significantly lowered and other devices can refuse any sort of interaction with it. Similarly, if a device has been known to perform exceptionally well, then Audit partners will increase its reputation score, and the device can now demand a higher price for its services.

The reputation scores are maintained in the Reputation Registry. Only auditors listed down in the Auditor Registry have permission to make changes in the Reputation Registry. Details of trusted devices are maintained in a whitelist, and the integrity of this whitelist is maintained through a consensus service known as the Atonomi Identity Registry. A few selected manufacturers will run a limited number of Identity Registry servers in the Atonomi ecosystem. As part of its roadmap, Atonomi intends to integrate an AI-based system which will dynamically modify reputation data of devices based upon analysis of device-to-device interactions.

Functioning of the Atonomi Registries

Autonomi OEM SDK

All the data writes and reads in the network are performed through smart contracts. To simplify the interactions between the device manufactures/auditors and the Ethereum blockchain, Atonomi will provide SDKs (software development kits) and sample codes to its partner OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). This code, once embedded in a device, will automatically match its credentials with the data stored in the Identity Registry, and establish the reputation score of the device. Atonomi will also maintain a cloud-based service that will enable the OEMs to find out the reputation data of other devices before engaging in any transactions. There will be provision to incorporate this functionality in the device software.

The Atonomi Stack

Why Atonomi?

CENTRI, the parent company of Atonomi, is one of the leading providers of data security for IoT. Industry giants like ARM, Intel and Flex are some of its customers. Their patented security software has been integrated into the Atonomi security protocol stack. The CENTRI IoTAS (IoT Advanced Security) protocol enables immediate and secure communication between devices as soon as a device in registered in the IoT environment. Moreover, IoTAS requires only about 16kB of RAM to perform properly, and can be easily embedded in the firmware of IoT devices. Finally, data encryption is provided through state-of-the-art cryptographic algorithms, like Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman Cryptography, Salsa20 Symmetric key cipher data encryption, and SHA-512 cryptographic hash function. Needless to say, the CENTRI factor gives Atonomi an edge over its competitors in the IoT security platform space.

Atonomi Applications

Atonomi is trying to establish itself as the standard low-level security protocol in the IoT space. They intend to work closely with chip manufacturers and convince them to embed their proprietary software in their devices. This would help the OEMs make full use of the potential of the Atonomi platform, and Atonomi to be the numero uno player in this space.

The Atonomi whitepaper lists out some specific use cases where their solution can provide immense value.

Healthcare

An inventory sensor in a hospital ER can autonomously analyze health records of patients and list of upcoming surgeries, and re-order stocks of blood supplies based upon need. Moreover, heart monitors, insulin pumps and other invasive healthcare products can securely transfer patient data to healthcare clinic and research institutes. All such applications can be secured through the Atonomi network.

Smart Home

Customers can register their IoT-enabled devices with the Atonomi network, and securely control them using WiFi networks. If a home has solar panels installed, then it can securely sell the excess power generated to the highest bidders among the neighbouring houses. Similarly, a thermostat registered on the Atonomi network can securely purchase electric power from whoever offers the lowest rate, and make the payments accordingly.

Smart City

Cities are trying to find various ways of connecting IoT devices on a secure platform, to help improve the overall quality of life its residents. Street lights can be controlled such that they are turned only when people or vehicles are in the vicinity. And a smart grid infrastructure can be provided with power meters installed in all houses, to ensure that uninterrupted power can be provided to all parts even in case of localized power failures. Needless to say, the Atonomi ecosystem is the perfect fit for these infrastructure-heavy applications.

Industry

Devices in industrial automation have to meet strict safety standards. Atonomi can help in ensuring that devices which are going to be installed in a manufacturing plant are trustworthy and reliable. Apart from that, sensor nodes connected through WiFi can be used to keep track of products in a warehouse. And industrial greenhouses can use moisture sensors to detect soil nitrogen levels, and enable irrigation devices to add nitrogen to the soil as and when required.

Atonomi Token

Atonomi will introduce its own token on the Ethereum blockchain. These will be ERC20 compliant utility tokens. All sorts of transactions on the Atonomi network would be powered through these tokens. When a new device is registered on the Device Registry, the manufacturer who makes this entry will be paid in Atonomi tokens. The Audit partners would also be paid through Atonomi tokens to track the reputation scores of devices in the Reputation Registry. Moreover, the devices that are active on the Atonomi platform would be encouraged to use these tokens for peer-to-peer autonomous financial transactions. The token would serve as a reward mechanism to attract more participants to the Atonomi ecosystem.

In the future, Atonomi plans to establish itself as marketplace for IoT commerce too. It would encourage developers to design new projects and protocols making use of the Atonomi platform. The Atonomi tokens would serve as the means of payments for all such transactions and developments. Device owners will be able to create wallets on the Atonomi network. Atonomi plans to work with 3rd party services, to support credit card payments and bank account authorizations. Transactions over the Atonomi network will deduct a small amount of tokens automatically from these wallets.

Although there are concerns about the scalability of the Ethereum blockchain, Atonomi does not plan to create its own blockchain. As per their whitepaper, most of the transactions on their network would not require high throughput data writes to the blockchain. So, for the time being, the Ethereum blockchain is enough for their purpose. If and when it becomes necessary, they are willing to explore scalability options, like Sharding, Raiden and Plasma.

The Atonomi Token

Team Atonomi

Vaughan Emery is the founder and CEO of Atonomi. He is also the founder and CEO of CENTRI, and has led his brainchild into a position of strength over a span of 8 years. He brings to the table more than 20 years of leadership and entrepreneurial experience in the cyber-security market. His presence ensures the strong synergy between CENTRI and Atonomi. David Fragale is co-founder and Chief Product Officer. He has been associated with PWC for over 10 years, in various managerial and advisory roles. He is also a MIT Sloan Fellow, and in this capacity has worked on emerging technologies such as FinTch, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.

The core team also includes Mike Mackey, who is the CTO and VP of Engineering. He has over 15 years of experience in the software industry, including 8 years in CENTRI. Luis Paris is their Chief Data Scientist. He has worked in the software engineering field for over 20 years, and has been associated with CENTRI for almost 6 years. He holds a Phd in Engineering Science from University of Mississippi. And finally, they have Andrii Zamovsky, their Strategic Development Partner. He is the founder of Ambisafe and NoveltyLab. The former is a ICO launch platform, and the latter a startup which provides payment solutions for cryptocurrencies.

Overall, Team Atonomi seems to be a well-rounded mix of leadership and technical talent. Most of their core members have been associated with CENTRI for a long time, and have proven themselves in the software security industry.

Team Atonomi

Token Metrics

Atonomi has its ICO coming up towards the end of May (they haven’t specified the date yet). The total number of tokens is 1b, out of which 500m would be up for the public sale. 1 ATMI has been priced at $0.05, and the hardcap is $25m. They haven’t publicly disclosed as to what they plan to do with the remaining 500m tokens. The whitelist has been closed as of now, but they might re-open it if some spots get freed up. So keep an eye out for that.

The Atonomi project looks great on (white)paper. They are trying to combine 2 of the hottest technologies around. They seem to have the team to implement this vision. As far as I know, they are the only players in this field. On top of that, they have the backing of CENTRI. How can this possibly go wrong? The only glitch that I encountered is that they haven’t put forth any formal roadmap yet, which seems a bit strange for a team boasting of such self-made professionals in the field. Otherwise, this looks like one of the winners of 2018 ICO-lympics. The rest is up to you, my dear investor.

 

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