Launched in November 2016, Waltonchain is a joint project between Chinese and Korean developers that aims is to combine blockchain technology and radio-frequency identification (RFID) to assist in the management of supply changes, with the stated aim of pushing forward the integration of blockchain and the Internet of Things. According to the developers, the assistance that Waltonchain can incorporate physical assets into the blockchain by offering a decentralized network that can store and provide information on the development cycle of assets. As a result of this decentralization, the developers suggest that the combination of RFID technology Waltonchain will create an authentic, trustworthy, traceable, and fully transparent business ecosystem with fully-shared data.
The Value Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the information exchange and communication between physical devices that are connected via an internet network. According to the developers of Waltonchain, the drawback of current IoT models is that interactions between the physical devices on such networks can only be carried out under the same trust domain between verified and pre-approved devices, which means that the physical devices connected to the network must be verified under the same IoT service provider.
The developers of Waltonchain suggest that, as a result, the centralization of IoT means that autonomous cooperation and effective transactions cannot be effectively reached due to the complexities and uncertainties of the trust relationship between stakeholders outside of the centralized network. They therefore promote a new concept, referred to as the “Value Internet of Things” (VIoT). According to the developers, by hosting an IoT network on the blockchain, the VIoT can provide decentralized access to the blockchain through a myriad of devices by RFID technology. As the blockchain is open sourced and every transaction is recorded in the blockchain, issues relating to trust fall away, allowing for safer trading between stakeholders.
Patented by Charles Walton in 1983 (Waltonchain is named in his honour), RFID technology uses electromagnetic fields to attach a digital identity to a real-world object through the use of small chips attached to objects that ‘tag’ the objects. These tag chips operate in a manner similar to barcodes except for the fact that RFID chips do not need to be within the line of sight of the RFID reader used to identify the chips.
Although the technology has been in existence in some form since World War II, in recent years the reduction in production costs of RFID hardware has resulted in increased adaption of the hardware in a wide variety of industries. A common example of the usage of RFID technology can be seen in toll booths on highways or in the ‘chipping’ of animal. RFID technology has also been used in the retail industry to automate the tracking of merchandise through the retail supply chain to increase inventory accuracy and in the pharmaceutical industry to identify counterfeits products.
The VIoT, according to the Waltonchain developers, requires hardware and software, with the hardware consisting of RFID tag chips and readers that are utilised to connect the RFID technology to the blockchain, by means of using the tag chips to connect to the blockchain while using the reader as a node on the chain. The software used in the VioT is the Waltonchain.
Structure of the Waltonchain
The structure of the Walton ecosystem involves the use of sidechains, or in the case of Walton, parent chains and subchains (or child chains). The parent chain is referred to as Waltonchain, which, in the initial stages of the product (stage 1.0), is intended to open up the complete supply chain system of the clothing industry including production, logistics, warehousing and stores (with each separate account in the system known as a subchain). The token used for circulation and payment throughout this system is called the Waltoncoin (WTC).
WTC was created as an Ethereum ERC20 token for it’s ICO and a total of 100 million WTCs were issued and assigned to each account in accordance with established programme, with the total amount of WTCs not changing. Block records are updated every 60 seconds and up to 255 transactions can be included in a block. The main function of WTC is to issue subchains, provide dividend interest and to operate as a credit mechanism. The Waltonchain serves as the public ledger of WTC transactions and is stored on nodes on the network, It’s Genesis block is due to be created sometime in early 2018.
Although subchains can be created by anyone involved in the process, who has the autonomy to customise the functions of the subchain and the specific information of the subchain tokens, the management of the subchains is undertaken by the parent chain, or Waltonchain. Although the subchains may use other tokens in their transactions, any transactions in the subchains that use WTC tokens will only be recorded in the parent chain, which runs independently of the subchain. The benefits of this structure means that the nodes on the parent chain do not need to save subchain data which, according to the developers, makes the sub-chain scalable as well as providing for security due to the distinct nature of the parent and sub chains.
The Waltonchain utilizes a Proof of Stake & Trust (PoST) consensus mechanism, an updated version of the Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. According to the developers, the PoST system is an update on the PoS mechanism by adding a “node reputation evaluation system”, which provides for adjustable difficulty for each node as a means of ensuring integrity is rewarded and thus improving the security of the blockchain. However, the flexible structure of the Walton ecosystem allows subchains to determine their own consensus mechanism “to achieve the optimal application effect in different application scenarios.”
A byte fee is paid for transactions on the Waltonchain (i.e., fees for network usage). The accounting node may set a minimum cost for this fee and the transaction node may set a maximum cost. When both conditions are met, the transaction will be written to the blockchain. According to the developers, the byte fee is what drives the blockchain to account, as the accounting node needs to pay the byte fee to initiate token transactions and subchain creation. The accounting node performs the block calculation and consensus verification to obtain the byte fee. WTC tokens must be used to pay this byte fee and nodes holding parent WTC will gain dividends from subchain development as the number of subchains and transactions increases and, as a result, demand for WTC to pay byte fees increases.
Application of the Waltonchain
Phase 1.0 of the Waltonchain project is to apply the Walton ecosystem applied to the clothing industry. In this phase, as items are being manufactured, a unique RFID is generated for each product, which is recorded by each child node (production nodes) during every stage at production. Each child node is equipped with an RFID reader and is connected to a master node. Each Master Node is connected to the internet and communicates with other master nodes, which creates a production block to record this information.
During storage of products, child nodes (warehousing nodes) will be utilized to provide for warehouse-in inspection, storage location, and warehouse-out inspection. Each section has an RFID reader to record the corresponding information and a warehousing block is created that will connect with the production block.
During transportation, further nodes are utilized (logistics nodes), which record the status of the product during transportation, with the data recorded forming the logistics block.
Once the product has reached the vendor, each vendor store is regarded as a master node to record the status and information of the product as well as customer information and preferences. This node can give customers rewards according to their consumption in the form of WTC, with the transaction being recorded on the blockchain and thereby including customer details.
According to the developers, by applying Waltonchain to the clothing industry, issues in the supply chain such as product specifications, slow turnover in warehousing management, over-reliance on staff and the regularity of having items out-of-stock will be a thing of the past. Applying this technology to the clothing industry can turn a retailer into a “smart store”, allowing managers to be able to generate statistical reports in real-time that informs them of the popularity of products and allows them to react accordingly to ensure that productions plans are in accordance with popularity, thereby reducing wastage and associated costs. In addition, for the customer, the application of Waltonchain to the industry allows customers to trace the origins of the products that they are buying and feel secure in the knowledge that the products they are buying are legitimate.
Benefits of the Waltonchain and VIOT
According to the developers, the combination of the blockchain and the IOT will allow for the creation of an authentic, trustworthy, traceable, and fully transparent business ecosystem with fully shared data relying on the combination of RFID technology and Waltonchain. With the further application of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is intended that a complete supply chain will ultimately be created, including production, logistics, stores, sales and after-sales service.
Development stages of the Waltonchain
The Walton team intend to develop the Waltonchain in four growth stages staring from building the underlying foundation, gradually extending to retail, logistics networks and finally integrating product manufacturers.
As discussed above, at phase 1.0 of the project, the Waltonchain team have developed a clothing system integration solution based on RFID technology which has been applied to several pilot projects. The next step is the development of RFID chips which use an asymmetric encryption algorithm that will be used with the Walton network.
During phase 2.0 of the project, the RFID chips will be in mass production to be used in the retail and logistics industry. It will include a smart credit system, allowing customers to pay for, manage, evaluate, trace and trade products throughout the supply chain. During phase 2.0 the developers anticipate that the logistics industry will be able to achieve full path logistics information on the chain, covering the complete logistics process from warehouse to customer.
During phase 3.0 of the project, the technology will be applied to the manufacturing stage to achieve traceable customization of smart packaging. This phase will include all of the phases of the production chain, including the purchase of raw materials, production and assembly, and packaging. The intention is that this will eliminate the possibility of counterfeiting.
Phase 4.0 of the project will involve the upgrade of the hardware and improvement of the data structure. At this stage the development team anticipate that the entire Waltonchain will be widely used worldwide, bringing:
“a more convenient, intelligent and trustworthy world to everybody, and at the same time, give handsome rewards to the investors of the Waltonchain.”