Blockchain 101: Digital signage edition
No matter what industry you are in, you might have heard the word blockchain spoken in awe, or you might hear that bitcoin is either the best investment in the world or a tool for criminals. Blockchain itself, however, is often misunderstood.
In reality, blockchain can benefit almost any industry from restaurants to digital signage manufacturers.
Let's take a look at the what blockchain is, and how it can help transform the digital signage industry.
What is a blockchain?
A blockchain is a decentralized ledger, which is unchangeable and fully transparent. The bitcoin wiki describes it as "a transaction database shared by all nodes participating in a system. A full copy of a currency's blockchain contains every transaction ever executed in the currency. With this information, one can find out how much value belonged to each address at any point in history."
This means that blockchain acts as a public ledger on which every transaction is recorded and registered by a group of users. It is the backbone of bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency.
Bitcoin is created through a process known as mining, in which they use computer processing power to solve mathematical equations to earn bitcoin.
Another virtual currency, Ethereum, developed its own blockchain, and every other cryptocurrency also uses some form of blockchain.
While bitcoin was the first use of blockchain, it is not the only application for the technology.
What can it be used for?
You might be thinking: "This all sounds great, but what does the blockchain do for me? I don't use virtual currency." Actually, the blockchain has myriad other uses that have nothing to do with virtual currency.
For one, it can enable smart contracts, which Wikipedia defines as, "a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties."
The same type of blockchain used for Ethereum cryptocurrency can also be used to automate this process by pushing data to a user-generated contract executed on a particular date. This can be useful for banks or other financial institutions looking to automate large international contracts.
Other uses of blockchain include: identity management; automated compliance; secure voting; supply chain management; and decentralized ownership of almost any type of property.
What does this mean for the digital signage industry?
Blockchain can help improve digital signage in several ways. For instance, it can provide secure peer-to-peer trading in digital out-of-home marketplaces.
Users in DOOH marketplaces could easily trade advertising space from one platform to another, with every transaction accurately and immutably recorded on a blockchain.
On a deeper level, users can more accurately track advertisements and their effectiveness with blockchain. One company, MetaX, developed a tool called adchain that allows customers to determine where an advertisement ran, who saw it, how much of the budget it used and the conversion rate for the ad. It essentially uses a blockchain as an advertisement tracking device.
Another company, VODXS, is using blockchain with "point-of-sink" digital signage. The company developed displays to place at bathroom sinks in restaurants, bars and shopping malls. The displays deliver video content while customers wash their hands.
VODXS uses blockchain technology in the backend to confirm each user impression.
Why you need to keep up with blockchain technology
Blockchain hasn't reached the tipping point of overall acceptance. And it doesn't help that a lot of unsavory actors are running various scam to capitalize on the blockchain craze.
This being said, this technology has the capability to revolutionize the way many industries do business.
And when it comes to new technologies, if you fall behind you fail. For instance, Blockbuster failed when it arrived late to the movie-streaming game. Start doing your research into this technology now to find out how it can affect and improve your business.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www