Project outline: The Sensor-Tangle Gateway

The full article was originally published by Michael Kuhlmann on Medium. Read the full article here.

For quite a while I’ve been actively working on a Sensor Tangle Gateway using the IOTA technology. This technologie enables us to store data secure, distributed and permissionless without any fees on a decentralized DAG, the so called Tangle. This DAG is a kind of Blockchain but without blocks and a chain. But it provides the same previous mentioned advantages without the commonly known issues like huge power consumpion or super expensive transaction fees. The Sensor Tangle Gateway (STG) is intended to connect the current available industrial sensor environment with the IOTA Tangle.

Motivation and needs

The motivation for this project was the result of research about supply chain integration of blockchain based solutions for the BKN. I dealt with the possible applications of distributed ledger technologies and the possible value that can be added with them. During this research it became clear that a big potential in the field of decentralized supply chain, digital twin or in the audit proof saving of processing data exists. Especially for fully autonomous M2M interactions, the origin of components will be a very important factor in the future, in order to guarantee the process flow continiously. The revision-proof storage of process data such as freight or storage documents can often economize on costs, by reducing the administrative and archiving effort in places where many third parties interact with each other. To make this possible, an integration of software or hardware that opens up these possibilities is necessary. For this purpose, this project has been initiated, whereby the focus lays on a hardware-based integration.

Goal of this Project

Similar to the cloud gateways used in industry, the Sensor Tangle Gateway intents to connect the sensors used in industry, instead of the cloud, to the tangle and store them in a decentralized manner. In addition, the integration of digital identities DID’s, as well as a connection to the Industrial Marketplace is planned in the long term. Another important goal is to use IOTA Streams to give the end user the possibility to assign access rights for data streams, of single sensors or sensor groups, and to share the process information with external parties. An important feature here is the integration of the IO-Link protocol. With currently about 17,000,000 sensors, this protocol provides a solid basis for sensor connection. A special feature of this data bus is the bidirectional connection to sensors and actuators. This makes it possible to configure sensors or call up the speeds of e.g. servo motors directly. This generates a large amount of data that can be stored on the tangle in a selected manner. Also the interaction with PLC / IO-Link Master is in the foreground, in order to store the data generated, on the Tangle.

Technical challenges

The aim is to have a web page that allows access to the STG and any settings can be made from there. In order to enable easy integration, various standards must be integrated for this project. Common transmission protocols such as PROFINET, PROFIBUS, EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, Modbus and IO-Link have to be supported in order to enable simple connection to existing networks. The difficulty here will be the integration on the embedded level and the storage of all information on the tangle with maximum performance. Another challenge is to create this product in a way which ensures the industrial standards.

Proof of Concept

As mentioned before, I’ve been working on this for quite some time. Up till now I was able to create a custom board, a nice housing and a sample program, to show what i want to enable.

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The full article was originally published by Michael Kuhlmann on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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