South African technology companies DoshEx and Digital Twin today unveiled what they believe could be a world first designed to revolutionise the security and integrity of solutions deployed across the Internet of Things (IoT).

With IoT, physical objects from lightbulbs to vehicles and manufacturing plants communicate via a complex system of sensors. Scalable and reliable, IoT is the overriding goal of major technology players worldwide, but secure interaction between various components in these networks has proved to be an obstacle.

DoshEx CEO Alex de Bruyn comments: “DoshEx is a leader in blockchain deployments while Digital Twin is an innovator in the realm of fourth-generation edge devices that provide access to enterprise networks.

“Our collaboration enabled us to create a globally scalable solution to the problem of harnessing blockchain technology without the need for outside verification of events logged by a blockchain. We call the new product Sherlock.

“The IoT nightmare is that ‘bad bots’ might create havoc in the case of cybercrime or system malfunction. Sherlock will help developers put these fears to rest.”

Richard Creighton, CEO of Digital Twin, adds: “Secure, automated and highly dependable field data is essential in achieving the next generation of cross business insight and control, we believe we’ve made this possible. It could even be a world first.

“The industry forecast is that $15-trillion will be invested in IoT by 2025. But IoT creates a multitude of technical and scientific challenges. Sherlock addresses one of the big potential snags to rapid IoT uptake by bringing together blockchain technology and edge-based connectivity in a seamless but secure manner.

“It is essential that IoT solutions enjoy public and investor confidence. Sherlock will significantly increase the level of trust and open the way for serious IoT development.”

A blockchain is an immutable set of records linked together cryptographically through a series of interconnecting blocks, creating an everlasting record of transactions and responsibilities.

When events are input it is necessary to verify an event actually occurred. For independent verification, a digital third-party – an oracle – is connected to the system.

An oracle, as a component of blockchains and smart contracts, is an ‘agent’ that finds and verifies real-world occurrences and feeds confirmation to the blockchain for integration into a smart contract, ensuring all parties can trust the record of events. Oracles as a data-feed and an element of multi-signature contracts have no connection with the company of the same name.

However, any third-party input creates a theoretical risk the truth might be tampered with.

To help create a system of absolute trust, Sherlock offers a built-in oracle solution.

In technical terms, DoshEx developers and Digital Twin innovators connected an inbound oracle input from an edge-capable device over a globally enabled USSD network.This ensures trusted and SHA256 encrypted input into a blockchain.

Creighton explains: “By using USSD, the edge devices and their inputs can be instantly globalised without reliance on any specific local cellular provider. The edge device can travel anywhere in the globe and transmit encrypted messages into the blockchain.”

The Sherlock collaborators can now build industry-specific IoT-enabled smart contracts for large value chains across multiple participants that rely on trusted data.

De Bruyn: “An example would be mining firms that have to measure quality and quantity from pit to port or a construction group that has to confirm events throughout the build process and critical milestones captured, such as field results of concrete testing, documentation sign-off and versioning, as well as key progress reached as signed off by the professional team, using an IoT-enabled biometric sensor.”