With blockchain (and various interpretations thereof) currently taking the world of innovation by storm, it’s no surprise that the mobility sector is eyeing its potential closely. While we’ll examine numerous use cases in Munich, two of the clearest examples are in the provision of efficient shared mobility services and secure data management for integrated transport services.
Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder and Chairman of IOTA, will speak on stage at the Muffatwerk and demonstrate the potential of one such variation can contribute to the former use case. Meanwhile the ÖBB will be looking for innovative solutions on the latter application in its role as a partner for the Mobility Hackathon, which our consultancy arm Pioneers Discover will be running at the same venue from February 6th-8th.
The talk by Schiener, an industry character who declares in his Twitter profile that he’s ‘very pragmatic, very direct and likes to swear a lot,’ will be a highlight for far more than entertainment value. The IOTA platform (and cryptocurrency) is a major player in the race to smarten up the sharing mobility resources in the Internet of Things era to come. Founded in 2015, it uses a ‘blockless distributed ledger’ called the Tangle to enable fee-free, scalable business-to-business payments.
While his on-stage Car eWallet demonstration will graphically illustrate the full workings and potential of IOTA to enable a car to automatically pay for services like charging and parking, Schiener recently gave us a layman’s overview of the technology in an exclusive interview.
“The overall problem we’re solving is how machines can pay each other,” he said. “We pioneered the vision of a machine economy – our hope is that in the future machines start trading with each other. Trading resources, trading services and thus making our lives more seamless and efficient by replacing the human as the centre of these processes.
“To achieve this machine economy, you need to give a machine a wallet. Then it can start paying for resources and services, but also start earning money. IOTA is the protocol that enables these wallets and the transactions to be settled between machines. That’s our foundational layer.
“Car eWallet is part of our strategy when it comes to mobility. I’ll talk about how it is at the core of this new sharing economy, enabling all of these technologies. It’s at the core of the new business models and new applications.”
IOTA’s technology and vision, which envisions enabling real-time leasing of everything from drones to computational power, continues to attract considerable attention. Just last week the foundation announced it will partner with the International Transportation Innovation Center (ITIC) to build a global alliance of smart mobility testbeds.
Schiener is already working with major corporates in the mobility industry, and says he’ll be looking to meet more at Mobility.Pioneers.
One of the many large companies guaranteed to have representation in Munich – and also a strong interest in blockchain – will be our Mobility Hackathon partner ÖBB. The hackathon, which is open to single developers and developer teams as well as fully-fledged startups, will see contestants (selected by Pioneers Discover) build prototypes answering transport challenges or problems pre-defined by each of our partners, which include both ÖBB and Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).
ÖBB has already issued its challenge, namely Blockchain for Passenger Name Record. Using blockchain for seamless and secure personal data management in a future integrated transport booking system featuring multiple service providers has been an ongoing area of interest for ÖBB ever since the Open Innovation Challenge Workshop organised for them by Pioneers Discover in late 2016. That’s where they were introduced to Markus Sabadello, Founder & CEO of Danube Tech, a company our consultancy arm scouted. It works on technologies in the field of digital identity and personal data, including personal clouds and blockchain identity.
Since that connection sparked, Sabadello has developed a first Proof of Concept for the ÖBB: a future booking solution that would place the necessary identity data ownership and permissions squarely with the customer. Furthermore, the system could allow a company like ÖBB to offer a multi-modal and multi-service transport platform with a one-stop customer identification solution that’s simpler and more secure for all. ÖBB will use this Proof of Concept as the basis of their challenge at the Mobility Hackathon, and ask contestants how they might further improve the concept.
“The winner of the hackathon will be the one with the most thought-through or most holistic concept to build on our existing idea, or the broadest network of solutions,” says Peter Zehetbauer, Innovation Manager at ÖBB. “There will be one winner, but in the long run maybe we can bring people who work on the same ideas together and help make their vision reality.
“The benefit for us will be that we could play an important role within that mobility ecosystem. A long term future for companies like ours is not specifically bound to the railways. But mobility as a public good will always be important. There is a future in terms of taking care of people’s mobility needs.
“Our vision of future mobility is intermodal transport. Nobody will book a train or a car. You’ll simply book a ride, and it won’t matter how you travel. We at ÖBB will still have our core competence, the railway network, however we believe that the future product is the booking process and not the train itself.
“A lot of important players and big companies are also going toward shared mobility solutions, but what will be the standard underneath all these platforms? While the answer isn’t certain, blockchain could solve that by allowing you to transfer the personal data you always need for travelling.”
“We have a good innovation network within the company but at the same time we believe we need to push the boundaries when it comes to visionary concepts for mobility,” concludes Claudia Falkinger, fellow Innovation Manager at the ÖBB. “That’s why we’re going for the hackathon now. We’re not just looking for a headline but a concept of how it really might be done in the future. In the long run we will profit from that.”
The Mobility Hackathon is the first one that the railway giant is running in conjunction with an external partner. If you’d like to join ÖBB and DB as partners contact Pioneers Discover on firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the benefits of partnering in a hackathon here.