Japanese technology giant Sony wants to patent two hardware approaches for hosting and maintaining blockchains, newly published documents show.
Sony's two filings are entitled "Electronic Node and Method for Maintaining a Distributed Ledger" and "Device and System," revealing for the first time that the company is working on blockchain-related hardware concepts. They also set the stage for the company to potentially include these devices in a future product.
The first application includes two elements: a hardware node and a method for maintaining the blockchain, which it repeatedly describes as a "mining process." Indeed, in one incarnation of the proposed invention, the nodes would operate a network that's akin to bitcoin's, which is an open-access network with a token.
As the application explains:
"The distributed ledger may be a blockchain, which may be based, for example, on the principles used for the bitcoin blockchain or the like. The distributed ledger uses mining and proof-of-work mechanisms and it may use some kind of reward (currency), such as bitcoin as currency and/or as reward for performing mining. Moreover, the distributed ledger may use consensus mechanisms for ensuring that all electronic nodes have consensus about the distributed ledger."
This isn't to say that Sony is launching its own cryptocurrency. But here, it seems that Sony is leaving the door open to the possibility by establishing the claim that its proposed invention could serve that purpose.
In the second application, "Device and System," Sony hones in on the security risks in a network that only has a small number of nodes.
Because "the number of devices accessing and contributing to the distributed ledger may be small, such that security issues occur," Sony proposes essentially boosting that number through the use of virtual nodes. The device proposed in that filing would "[host] a plurality, e.g. 10, 100 or even thousands of virtual nodes, such that the number of virtual nodes may be much higher, e.g. ten times larger, than the [total] number of devices."
Ultimately, the submissions appear less focused on the type of distributed ledger and more on the hardware and operational methods themselves. Sony indicates that the networks could be public or private, and could rely on either Sony's own software or "distributed database technologies like Hadoop," as one of the filings states.
Sony image via Shutterstock