Recent Walmart Patent Application Describes Blockchain-Managed Smart Appliances

U.S. retail giant Walmart has applied for another patent, which describes the management of smart appliances using blockchain technology, according to an application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office August 2.

The application outlines systems and methods for managing a smart appliances such as a desktop or server computer, a kiosk, a tabletop device, or more portable computing devices, such as a wearable or gaming devices, laptop computers, or portable media players.

From a practical perspective, users will employ a device, whether it is wearable or not, that maintains the private key used to authorize a transaction. One use case described was a kiosk for receiving packages from delivery drones:

“…a user may obtain a kiosk and add the newly obtained kiosk to the distributed ledger structure utilizing their smart device to provision and/or authorize the kiosk. In one example, the user device may be a wearable device that maintains the private key used to authorize the transaction. The kiosk may sync with the user device and be automatically provisioned as a home delivery station and added as a device in the distributed ledger management system.”

The management environment will reportedly allow users to customize levels of access and control for the kiosk, including the ability to accept or decline a package or create and order an item.

In order to manage more smart appliances, the blockchain server network considers support of an Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. “A resource in the IoT ecosystem may be associated with one or more roles and, thus, is associated with a single role in the context of a single corresponding transaction,” the patent says.

The patent also proposes building up a smart home environment, where the described  appliance management system may be used in a wide range of environments, such as home, media, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and many others.

Walmart is known for its proactive stance towards adoption of blockchain technology. In recent months, the retail corporation has applied for a number of blockchain-powered systems, such as “secure” delivery management system.

Other Walmart filings include a “Smart Package” system to track package contents, environmental conditions, location, and other details, and an electrical grid that will be powered by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Walmart has actively pursued various methods of blockchain applications for their food supply chain, medical sector, customer marketplace, and energy consumption management system.

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