Projet 2 : Smart Iot for mobility

Porteurs de projet

Personnes réellement impliquées (effectif global + détail nom, statut, laboratoire) :

Laboratoires et/ou équipes UNS concernés



Résumé :

In the context of mobile portable architecture design and in order to communicate directly with computers through an Internet type communication network (IoT architecture) we decided to explore solution based on the use of blockchains and mainly on a satisfactory implementation, for users and for designers, of smart contracts onto IoT devices. Smart contracts allow a quasi-automatic negotiation of a contract that would be displayed by an electronic device. For example one can imagine a negotiation and the automatic subscription and payment of a contract for a broadband connection when traveling in the city. On the other hand, it is mandatory, for the provider of such services to integrate users misgivings with regard to these emerging technologies.

The idea of designing smart contracts is at the heart of the project Smart IoT for Mobility a thesis whose objective are to define the hardware and software architecture (all the hardware layers, processor virtualization, operating systems, middleware, interpretation and smart contracts) and make it a version that would be brought to the Experimental Economics Laboratory (the LEEN) for series of experiments that will be used to feed future versions.

The specificity of this multi-disciplinary project is that it involves ‘Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies’ (Electronics and Computer Sciences), on the one hand, and ‘Social Sciences of Digital Systems’ (Management, Economics, Law, Psychology and Ergonomics), on the other. In this project, it is argued that the technical conception and the design of smart contracts cannot be disconnected from their social uses and therefore their technological acceptance. Based on this working hypothesis, experimental methods developed by social scientists (mainly experimental economists and psychologists) are used 1) before the technical conception of the smart contract, to determine which variables could affect the acceptance of smart contracts and IoT devices by users; 2) after a beta version of the device (hardware and software architecture), to test and improve its functionalities with a new series of experiments.


Scientific context :

The recent and rapid developments in blockchain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are impacting more and more our daily lives. Some significant changes and new applications will appear that will disrupt existing processes across variety of industries including manufacturing, trading, shipping, the financial sector and services. Ensuring trust, authentication and standardization across all elements of IoT is an  essential issue for widespread adoption and could be reached through the use of blockchains and smart contracts. Moreover, a Gartner study estimates blockchain will add $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030, and in another analysis the global IoT market is expected to grow to $457B by 2020.

A blockchain [1] is a decentralized, distributed and digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. The result is a robust workflow where participants uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving a long-standing problem. A smart contract (examples of them can be seen in [2]) is a computer protocol intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties. These transactions are traceable and irreversible. Smart contracts were first proposed by Nick Szabo, who coined the term in 1994 [3], and are coded into blocks of a blockchain.

There are two big issues with integrating blockchain into IoT: the computational complexity and an overcomplicated language for contracts. Firstly and at its current state and as example, the bitcoin blockchain can manage 7 transactions per second. At its max, Ethereum can handle 25 transactions per second. These speeds are far too slow to be useful for IoT networks with hundreds or even thousands of connected devices all functioning and transacting simultaneously. Moreover IoT devices are frequently built with connectivity, not computation in mind, and average processing power reflects this; IoT networks cannot handle computationally complex consensus algorithms. Proof of Work, the workhorse of crypto, demands far too much for it to be effectively used in IoT. Proof of Stake, variants upon it, or entirely different protocols are more likely to be implemented, but none of these have yet seen standard adoption for IoT. Another problem is on the language that is used for coding the smart contracts. Java Script, Solidity [4], Lisp-Like Language [5], Serpent [6] and Go [7] are used for the operation and can be understood as “computer languages”. There are some research that has been done on this subject, like Digital Asset Modeling Language [8] for financial institutions but none of it are understandable by the vast majority of people.

The project objective is at the junction of hardware and software innovation together with social acceptance for smart contract specification and implementation on blockchains. This project aims at searching for an innovative solution for doing both an architecture able to interoperate on blockchains and being able also to execute smart contracts in a natural language. The aim of this project is also to do this architecture and to execute a smart contract by ensuring that these new technologies will be socially accepted by users. This acceptance could be eased by experimental methods to identify which factors could prevent users from accepting these new IoT devices based on smart contracts. Based on a systematic literature review, the study has isolated 4 categories of trust [9]:

-       institutional trust (such as disappearance of trusted 3rd parties and complete decentralization);

-       trust in the terms of contracts (such as the understanding of encrypted contracts and anonymity);

-       trust influenced by design (interface of the platform and its reputation; user-friendly experience);

-       trust in security (fear of hackers, use if personal information, data privacy) [10].


Expected Outcomes :

The result of this project is threefold: On the one hand, one of the results of this project is a new IoT SW/HW embedded architecture allowing the possibility to execute smart contracts. Indeed the architectural solution is to build and that as it stands, existing solutions are not embeddable, limiting the adoption of blockchain and smart contracts technologies. This means that this architecture will be fully compatible with all the encryption, hashing and transaction-issuing actions imposed by the blockchain access protocols. On the other hand, this architecture is able to execute smarts contracts expressed in natural language (or almost) and will be proof formally. Finally, these smart contracts will be designed after experimental validation, with test users, by a team of social scientists. The expected results of this project will also be a seminar day, in Nice, during which the first results will be presented to national and international Master students (in economics, computer science or electronics) and to research teams.


 References :

[1] K. Christidis and M. Devetsikiotis, "Blockchains and Smart Contracts for the Internet of Things," in IEEE Access, vol. 4, pp. 2292-2303, 2016.

[2] K. Delmolino, M. Arnett, A. Kosba, A. Miller, E. Shi, “Step by Step Towards Creating a Safe Smart Contract: Lessons and Insights from a Cryptocurrency Lab”. In: Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9604. Springer, 2016

[3] N. Szabo. “Formalizing and Securing Relationships on Public Networks”. First Monday. ISSN 13960466. doi:, 1997.






[9] Chang, M.K., Cheung, W., Tang, M. (2013), “Building trust: interactions among trust building mechanisms”, Information and Management, 50 (2013), p.439-445.

[10] M. Giancaspro. “Is a ‘smart contract’ really a smart idea? Insights from a legal perspective”. Computer Law & Security Review, 33(6), 825-835, 2017.


Porteur : François VERDIER (LEAT)




Financement : Académies 1 et 5 de l’IDEX