From Sneakers To Pharma: An Inside Look At The Evolution Of Chronicled


From Sneakers To Pharma to Gold: An Inside Look At The Evolution Of Chronicled

Atsome point, everyone who has bought collectible shoes or luxury clothing online has had the same thought. “Is this the real deal?”

Good question.

When a supply chain can easily stretch halfway around the globe, how do you know if those Yeezys on your feet are legit? When we started Chronicled, we weren’t thinking about Yeezys specifically, but we did have a goal in mind. That goal was to create a global protocol for blockchain that allows any object to be registered to, verified against, transferred on, or — in the case of the special class of objects that had a chip inside — to sign off on events, messages, accesses, financial transactions, etc.

Not sure what that has to do with your sneakers? Let me explain.

Chronicled was founded in 2014. We set out to explore non-financial use cases for blockchain. The average person has probably heard of blockchain in the context of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. And while blockchain does underpin those cryptocurrencies, the terms aren’t interchangeable. Blockchain isn’t Bitcoin, it’s the technology that makes those cryptocurrencies possible.

And it turns out that blockchain has plenty of other uses. We founded Chronicled in order to investigate those non-financial uses by building the first IoT x Blockchain laboratory in the world. Much of our early work in that laboratory was focused on fine art, consumer products, and luxury goods. Why? Because those are industries with a high prevalence of counterfeit goods. Some industries, like pharma, lose billions of dollars each year due to supply diversion and counterfeit products.

But how could we create a unique identity for a piece of fine art painted on a canvas? Or a bottle of rare wine? Or the designer purse you ordered online last week? The answer: tiny microchips, just like the chip inside your credit card.

In 2015, Chronicled began working with companies to embed, or affix, cryptographic microchips in or on luxury and consumer products. We would then register those encrypted identities to a blockchain so they could be authenticated. Those microchips can’t be copied or corrupted. They have a unique identity that allows consumers to determine whether or not the 1947 Cheval Blanc on their dinner table is the real deal.

Those were the first two primitive protocols we developed at Chronicle — Register and Verify. There was finally a way to register fine art, luxury goods, and consumer products with an unreproducible identity that could then be verified by the consumer. It’s a game-changing concept that is already creating a safer, more transparent buying process for consumers.

But let’s keep moving. Fast forward to 2016 when we were hard at work on the newest uses for blockchain. Many of our clients were interested not only in using the blockchain to register and verify the identity of an object, but also in using the smart contract feature of blockchain to securely transfer custody and/or ownership. In parallel with our own move into smart supply chain, more enterprise players were beginning to work with blockchain technology as the vast possibilities became evident.

Even JP Morgan had gotten in on the action with Quorum, their own enterprise ledger and smart contract platform. So, we went from registering and verifying products, to also transferring custody, ledgering data and events, and tracking provenance of an item over time using more powerful systems and smart contracts. In 2016, we began working on our next two protocol primitives, Transfer and Ledger, and our Smart Supply Chain platform was born.

The Smart Supply Chain Initiative led us to some incredible projects in several different industries. For instance, we began work on the MediLedger project, a joint venture that set out to solve the problem of counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical supply chain. We’ve also worked on a responsible gold venture to track the provenance of the world’s gold supply, and with our partner Ambisafe we will tokenize physical gold by linking the physical gold bullion identities to digital, tradeable ERC20 tokens for the first time in human history. In the future, we can track many kinds of conflict minerals with this same blockchain approach.

Notice that industries all across the spectrum are benefitting from blockchain. That’s not a coincidence. Moving forward, the trust, security, and data privacy that blockchain brings is going to change and improve nearly every industry.

So, let’s flip ahead on the calendar and start looking at what the future holds. It’s 2018, and our sixth protocol primitive is in place — Value Transfer. Chronicled’s Blockchain x IoT API is not only powering unique product identities and supply chain tracking and provenance, but it can also enable machine payments and IoT economies.

Picture this:

A drone hitches a ride on an Uber and uses the charging port on top to refuel. Then it makes a micropayment for the ride and the charge before resuming its journey. If you think that sounds futuristic, then you’re going to be in for some surprises in the next few years. We’re talking about decentralized energy grids. Fully secure and connected smart cities. And eventually, a fully connected world running on the protocols that we’ve built.

Blockchain technology is set to change everything. It’s time to start paying attention to the innovations that blockchain is creating, because the pace of disruption is only going to increase. The progress we’ve made at Chronicled in just three years has been astounding, and we’ve only just begun.