Walmart Gets Serious With Blockchain-Managed Smart Appliances

US Retailer Walmart looks to expand its reach in the blockchain industry with new patents for smart appliances. It looks like your next refrigerator just got even smarter.

Blockchain appliances

An application published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on August 2 revealed that US retail giant Walmart has applied for a patent on the management of smart appliances using blockchain.

Walmart’s patent application describes systems and methods for managing a network of smart appliances such as computers, kiosks, tabletop devices, even gaming devices, laptop computers or portable media players.

Smart Appliances, Blockchain Style

To manage a system like this, users will need to employ a device that will maintain the private key used to authorize transactions. Walmart described an example of a use case, a kiosk for receiving packages from delivery drones:

“In other examples, the appliance 110 may be a kiosk used for controlled receipt of packages, such as those packages delivered autonomously via unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or automated guided vehicle (AGV). In this illustrative example, 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. A user may configure customized levels of access and/or control for the kiosk, such as the ability to accept or decline a package or the ability to create and order an item, and so on, via the management environment (e.g. appliance management environment 130). The device may also be preloaded or preconfigured with device logic for customized levels of control and access, based on user preferences. “

The system will even allow users to customize levels of access and control for the kiosk, giving it the ability to accept or decline deliveries or create and order items.

WalmartManaging more smart appliances would need the 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 notes.

Walmart’s filing also proposes the creation of a smart home environment and proposed the use of the described appliance management system that may be used in a wide range of environments, such as home, media, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare, among others.

Walmart has taken a very proactive stance towards the adoption and integration of blockchain technology. The retailer has applied for patents on a number of blockchain-based systems, including a secure delivery management system.

Walmart also filed a patent for a system to help track package environmental conditions, location, and other details. Walmart has also actively looked into blockchain applications for their supply chain, medical sector, and customer management system.

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