Discover Elk, a blockchain dev board for decentralised IoT

Discover Elk, a blockchain dev board for decentralised IoT

Credit: Elk

Over 180 people on Kickstarter have backed Elk, a development board for blockchain that combines Arduino with native support for decentralised networks.

Blockchain has boundless potential in the world of IoT. For example, tracking products in a store can help to eliminate the doubt over where they’ve come from and how long they can be fresh for. However, this is just the start of what could be a brave new world for the internet.

Now, a new development board called Elk – which is being valued at just $59 for early backers – is promising to give hardware developers a chance to build decentralised IoT. It uses Arduino along with native support for decentralised networks: so building IoT that interfaces with the likes of Ethereum, IPFS and Whisper is easy.

Elk enables the building of what its creators call “Decent IoT”. This is a kind of IoT that gives you enhanced control, privacy and security. Given the security issues that IoT faces, incorporating blockchain onto a board is an idea that could allow developers to create products that accept payments and offer peer-to-peer communication.

The board even includes a mobile app that allows you to communicate with your hardware privately through decentralised technologies.

Why is Elk different?

The board originally appeared in 2018 under the name Elkrem. Its creators were also the team behind 1Sheeld, a hardware board used to add extra Arduino shields to a smartphone and instil it with extra functionality.

Raspberry Pi can be used to develop blockchain IoT devices. What makes Elk so exciting though is that it uses a microcontroller, a microprocessor, a Wi-Fi module and storage, so there’s no issue with setting up nodes and tuning parameters. This is an interface that Arduino users will be used to, though the experience is more user-friendly.

Elkrem Blockchain Dev. Kit
Source: Elk

The team behind the board hope that Elk will allow developers to focus more on the applications themselves rather than overheads. There is a lot of potential for blockchain beyond just cryptocurrency; current IoT architecture is almost universally centralised and as the Internet of Things grows, this board could provide new, unexplored opportunities.

Decentralisation in IoT can, for example, eliminate third-party data and allow users to sell their data instead. There’s also privacy between communication.

The best thing about this is that Elk is extremely easy: it only takes a few lines of code to implement. Perhaps decentralisation will catch on in the IoT world if it’s this user-friendly?

How could Elk be used?

IoT is growing every day. Devices will hit the hundreds of billions in no time at all, as everything from our clothes to our fridges become internet-enabled.

Innovation is fueling the IoT market. There is no industry that will untouched by ingenious ideas and blockchain offers three distinct advantages for the Internet of Things: it helps to build trust by decentralising IoT, it can reduce costs by cutting out middlemen and overheads and it can accelerate transactions.

Elk offers a plug-and-play experience, just like an Arduino. You won’t need to deal with wallet and keys management, fuss over setting up nodes, tune their parameters to run well on an embedded device, handle crashes, etc. Elk “just works”, so you can focus on building cool applications and not on the overheads when exploring decentralization.

The official Elk Kickstarter

Consider some of the inventions that could possibly come from this technology. Imagine a gym for example that could return your subscription fee to you, should you hit milestones: this is possible from blockchain registering when you’re using a treadmill and having access to your crypto wallet. Equally, an alarm clock could charge you money every time you hit snooze. It would be possible for a fridge to charge you for taking food from it, so you only pay for what you use.

If you’re looking privacy rather than payment, it’s possible to build a decentralised home automation system with a door lock and smart lights that aren’t reliant on third parties. Devices such as the Amazon Echo may well adopt this technology to ease concerns over the manufacturers eavesdropping into consumers’ living rooms, whilst smart cities could implement blockchain in a bid to quash “surveillance city” reputations.

Whilst blockchain and IoT continue to revolutionise the world separately, combining the two may prove to be a masterstroke to developers. Elk is well worth keeping an eye on and could provide incredible innovation in technology.

Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast

eCMR: If not now, then when?

Gerry Daalhuisen • 17th July 2024

There have been several unexpected pit stops on the road to eliminating paper-based processes in logistics. But, is paper finally set to be a thing of the past?

Tackling Tech Debt

Wes van den Berg • 16th July 2024

5 years ago if you were a CIO without a cloud strategy you’d likely be out of a job. But making decisions in haste might mean businesses ended up with technology they regret, that doesn’t deliver on the promised value.

Laying the foundations for global connectivity

Waldemar Sterz • 26th June 2024

With the globalisation of trade, the axis is shifting. The world has witnessed an unprecedented rise in new digital trade routes that are connecting continents and increasing trade volumes between nations. Waldemar Sterz, CEO of Telegraph42 explains the complexities involved in establishing a Global Internet and provides insight into some of the key initiatives Telegraph42...

IoT Security: Protecting Your Connected Devices from Cyber Attacks

Miro Khach • 19th June 2024

Did you know we’re heading towards having more than 25 billion IoT devices by 2030? This jump means we have to really focus on keeping our smart devices safe. We’re looking at everything from threats to our connected home gadgets to needing strong encryption methods. Ensuring we have secure ways to talk to these devices...