In the last a few days, it is my pleasure to be in Prague and attend the RAFA conference again in the autumn of 2019! People came from all over the world gathered together in the conference and exchanged their visions of the state of the art and future food analysis. Following the opening speeches by Prof. Michel Nielen, Prof. Jana Hajslova, and Prof. Christopher Elliott, 9 early stage researchers (ESRs) in the FoodSmartphone project presented their latest research outcomes. I feel grateful to get the chance to present the FoodTestChain, the world’s first blockchain network for immutable and interoperable geographical food diagnostic data in the conference. Not only did we get the chance to present, but most of us also live-demoed our FoodSmartphone devices in the Smart Lab session where lots of conference attendances came over and took a look at the real prototypes that we are developing, including the FoodTestChain!
People might wonder what is blockchain and why is blockchain technology suddenly attracting so much attention and becoming one of the hottest topics these years? It is all about trust. Before the blockchain, data is mainly stored in traditional databases. There is one problem with data stored in traditional databases – it is prone to data tampering. For example, the database administrator may easily tamper the data stored in databases if it fits his/her interest. This may cause big issue if the data stored is sensitive information related to other individuals or organisations, for example, a bank ledger. Blockchain network solves this issue by achieving immutable data storage and consensus between individuals or organisations.
The aforementioned explanation is the main reason why blockchain network makes a difference. Then, what is blockchain? Essentially, it is data blocks linked by cryptographic signature of each one’s previous block. As you can see in the image above, a cryptographic signature is generated from each data block and stored in the next block, forming an immutable chain of data blocks. And this is what blockchain mainly is – an immutable chain of data blocks. When stored in different locations, it is easy to check if the blockchain data is authentic – just compare the cryptographic signature of the last block. If they are the same, the whole compared chains of data blocks are identical!
Hopefully, you have gotten the idea of how blockchain and blockchain network work now – blockchain ensures easy comparison of data and blockchain network avoids potential data tampering by distributed data storage. Good examples of blockchain network include the very famous Bitcoin and our newly developed FoodTestChain! In order to make people trust the food test results generated from portable food analysers, for example, our FoodSmartphone devices, FoodTestChain is the blockchain network developed in our FoodSmartphone project for immutable and interoperable geographical food diagnostic data storage. With the FoodTestChain, people can trust the food diagnostic results stored inside – at least they are not possible to be tampered. And also, people can know where exactly those tests were taken by interpreting the location information attached to each food test result.
In this blog, hope you have gotten an overall understanding of what is blockchain/blockchain network and why is it promising – it can make sure the data accessed by different individuals and organisations is identical and authentic. In the end, thanks for reading this blog. Feel free to leave a comment below for further discussion!
Until next time,