Bitcoin's best-funded startup, 21 Inc, has unveiled a new proof-of-concept aimed at providing an illustration of how its bitcoin hardware and software can create new ways for data to be collected and monetized.
Called Sensor21, the prototype outlines specifically how a precision altimeter can work with a 21 Bitcoin Computer to create a miniaturized weather tracker capable of monitoring data points such as air pressure, altitude and temperature.
Using such a network, 21 contends that these devices can be made to query other cities to determine their data. Further, by gathering data from more than one location, users could collectively build a comprehensive weather map for a particular region.
The company explained:
"With this short set of commands, you were able to turn a small sensor into a passive income stream. The value from the sensor comes from the fact that it is not locked up in a datacenter like a cloud computer, but out in the real world and part of a compute grid."
The goal that 21 is moving toward is one whereby individuals are ultimately incentivized to share all sorts of data, whether it is the weather or radiation levels collected with a Geiger counter.
"At the end of the day, a Geiger counter is just an electrical sensor. So capturing the data, managing it with a local database and setting it up for sale will be very similar for other sensors," 21 engineer Tyler Pate told CoinDesk.
The example comes in the midst of a more active period of announcements from 21 aimed at showcasing the work ongoing internally and its vision for bitcoin in the Internet of Things, or the goal of connecting all manner of non-computing devices to the Internet.
In March, 21 introduced a similar proof-of-concept called Ping21, which found the startup proposing how a grid computing network with micropayments incentives could help webmasters better monitor the status of global websites.
Further, at CoinDesk's Consensus 2016 conference, 21 made its software package available for free, a development that means all computer users can now run software that was previously only available to users of the 21 Bitcoin Computer.
Expanded use cases
Still, 21 envisions how such a network could come to carry out beneficial societal functions, including helping rescue workers better respond during emergencies.
In the event of a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, such as what occurred at the Fukushima facility in Japan in 2011, a grid network would be able to efficiently collect information on levels of radiation, giving response workers up-to-date information about potential dangers.
This kind of tool could also be used to prevent future disasters as well.
Pate explained that one of the potential uses could have been in Flint, Michigan, and that such a network could have gathered water samples to determine quantities of lead. If there were multiple people collecting data on the water, these individuals could have sold it automatically, alerting groups and agencies that there was something wrong.
"Watchdogs or other groups could query these sensors in a fast and efficient way," Pate said.
Jacob Donnelly contributed reporting.
Weather data image via Shutterstock