With growing concerns about data privacy in the smart home sector, Comcast is trying to add another layer of security with blockchain technology.
Blockchain is better known for its application in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoins. Instead of the distributed and decentralized information structure, the data is stored under a technology that enables disintermediation for a chain of data ledgers. Blockchain therefore allows for digital information storage of multiple entities while keeping the core data protected and validated.
When the technology is applied in the smart home industry, smart home owners can share part of digital home features without exposing the whole access to the connected home.
For instance, parents in the smart home can let their children unlock the smart lock at the front door with an app, without letting them check security cameras or adjust the thermostat setting. Another example is that homeowners who are on vacation can grant access of their garage door to their neighbors but restrain them from controlling other parts of the smart home.
“In such ultra-connected homes, there are any number of situations in which we will want friends, or family members or guests to be able to control some features of our connected homes, without giving them access to everything,” said Noopur Davis, Senior Vice President of Product Security and Privacy at Comcast.
The technology works like this: Comcast uses blockchain to create a unique digital identity for each Comcast customer, associate the identifier with a permission-based ledger, and each connected devices at home will associate with the ledgers and set and revoke permissions as they see fit. It’s like allowing someone to have temporary access to the house with a special code that expires based on the pre-set time.
Comcast first applied the blockchain technology in its TV advertising business, and now it’s experimenting the capability in its Comcast Labs. Although the company hasn’t announced a timeline for the technology’s deployment in smart home, applications are likely to be brought to Xfinity Home and xFi, the home Wi-Fi management platform of Comcast.