Ultimo Digital Technologies has achieved a potentially game-changing technological breakthrough. Top banker turned blockchain industry CEO John Baird describes how it will transform supply chains worldwide.
Author: Wang Yanhua
Australian company Ultimo Digital Technologies (UDT) announced last week that their project UCOT has made a technical breakthrough in IoT and blockchain.
It has produced a system that enables an IoT device to write data onto the blockchain in real-time without needing to do any heavy duty data processing.
UCOT allows the manufacturer to monitor their products’ journey from their factory floors right into their consumers’ hands.
The technology begins with a small unique digital ID microchip that can be imbedded into a product’s label or packaging which cannot be tampered with.
The microchip can monitor things such as storage temperature, humidity, and GPS throughout the product’s journey.
In this way, it allows a retailer or consumer to verify the origin of the product, ensuring they are not receiving counterfeit goods. It sheds light on the transport methods, environment and delivery schedule of the distribution process.
UCOT’s new technology also dispels the notion that blockchain is bad for the environment because it runs effectively without the use of data mining.
John Baird, CEO of UDT, demonstrated UCOT’s technology at the recent IoT festival in Melbourne and the International Smart Logistics & Supply Chain Congress in Singapore.
Block Asia caught up with Baird over an email interview to find out more about UDT’s plans.
Baird had left his previous roles as vice-president of Credit Suisse and chief technology officer of Deutsche Bank in order to join the blockchain industry. He told Block Asia, “I first became aware of blockchain while working for large financial services companies. There was considerable interest within the firm, but a reluctance to adopt such a radical new technology.
“In order to prepare, a number of us undertook further study around blockchains, what they were, how they work, and where they could be deployed for benefit within an organisation.”
Why did you make the career change to enter the blockchain industry?
I’d already left the financial services industry, having chosen to focus on the challenges of cyber security, when the founders of UDT approached me to help them get the company set up and the initial product rolled out.
The description of what they were doing sounded very interesting and, after a period of examination, I agreed to come on board and help them formalise the product’s roadmap.
Now, six months later, we have the custom IoT Blockchain rolled out: we have small IoT sensors that can be embedded into everyday objects and we have those IoT devices writing data back – in a secure way – to the Blockchain. I’m pleased by the progress we have made and the world firsts we have achieved.
How does UCOT aim to increase the adoption of its new technology?
Counterfeiting, product substitution, and outright fraud are huge problems today and seem to be only increasing.
The UCOT product offers a modern solution to these problems that also serve to improve the efficiency of the supply chains involved. By creating our platform in a modular way we can easily adapt UCOT to the specific requirements of a specific customer.
So far in our discussions the ability to provide a solution to any one of these products has provided a compelling argument for adoption.
What is the size of the microchip now?
Right now the components we are using are off the shelf components in configurations designed by us, for our projects. This limits the density of components and hence the minimum size.
While small enough for many applications we will be incorporating the learnings from this stage into our designs for our own custom ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) which will allow us to reduce size and power consumption for the next generation of devices.
Around how much will it cost to add in this step into the production and distribution lines of each product?
At present the devices are purchased in non-bulk quantities, the pricing is an estimate. We can construct reusable, container level devices for around the AUD$50 mark. This device will be used on many journeys and has a lifetime measured in years, so that cost is spread across many journeys.
The price is also falling constantly, as we expected, as we refine our designs. The target is to have devices in the sub AUD$1 range.
How does UCOT stand out from its competitors doing similar things in the blockchain industry?
At present there are no other companies that have IoT devices that can write back securely to a Blockchain specifically designed to support IoT data – as far as we know, this is a world first for UDT. We do have competitors who have tackled a piece or pieces of the puzzle but no one who has achieved the level of integration UDT has.