The inconveniently named “21” Bitcoin Computer (21BC) appliance came out in late 2015 to great hype. It has been available to developers for a while now, so Coindesk surveys some of the “innovative” products under development.
The 21BC is a small custom computer that automatically mines Bitcoin, and has full software capabilities for sending and receiving Bitcoin. While the device theoretically generates (minute amounts of) Bitcoin just by running, the main use is to make it easy to build cool gadgets that employ Bitcoin in interesting ways.
What interesting ways?
Daniel Palmer reports in Coindesk about “What Are People Building With 21 Inc’s Bitcoin Computer?” he gives six examples :
- Analysing and selling your genes
- Managing work with a ‘Mechanical Turk’
- Monetising social media
- Selling your Wi-Fi
- Selling creations and assets
- Internet of Things
The central theme in these ideas is that the 21BC can be used to create a “coin slot” for digital services, enabling “montisation” in various forms. But above all, having a self contained processor with the whole shebang already loaded is convenient. (If you have tried to build and install Bitcoin software, you will understand how nice it is to have it set up for you.)
There is a lot of handwaving about how these concept will really work, I think is is highly debatable whether you need a dedicated device for any of these cases (as opposed to the same thing in software directly on your PC or mobile.
Overall, these applications are not that exciting, nor are they particularly original or innovative.
But what if we crossed 21BC it with the “innovations” we’ve seen at CES?
To be specific, what about the
blog fodder cunning concepts I mentioned earlier this week. Let’s have a look.
Augment a “smart” thermostat with Bitcoin.
This might be used as a coin slot, as in “insert Bitcoin to turn up the heat”.
Or there might be more sophisticated uses, such as using a Bitcoin budget to manage energy use against some model usage. Above average consumption charges Bitcion, below average pays out Bitcoin. At the end of the day, your balance reflects your overall keeping to targets.
This budget might be even more complex, if it coordinates with other sources of producing and using energy, such as lighting, cooking, driving, and so on. Reduced travel could offset higher home heating in an ice storm, for instance.
In these cases, Bitcion is serving to “monetize” energy use, which could be a valuable way to understand and motivate efficiency.
Add a 21BC to your digital thermometer!
This might be used to incentivize routine self-care, e.g., offering Bitcoin payments when you follow procedures and record your temperature and other data.
Or it might incentivize care workers, e.g., public health workers on the watch for the signs of an epidemic.
Another possible use would be to pay a service to archive and analyze your data. Each reading would be sent to a “virtual nurse”, along with a payment in Bitcoin. The monitor will alert to problems, and schedule further actions if needed. The micro payments cover the costs of the service, in a transparent yet private way.
In a more mercenary vein, you might bid for the digital attention of a virtual or human experts. Your temperature data is submitted and your software negotiates a Bitcoin payment to get prompt service. The price goes up at peak loads (epidemics) and with the expertise of the server (e.g., a specialist).
The Mechanical Turk Desk! It monitors a list of tasks, and issues micropayments as you complete your assignments. It’s all local, so there is more privacy.
Another possibility would be to have the desk act as a digital receptionist, filtering incoming and outgoing messages, email, phone calls, etc. Bitcoin is attached as “postage” to digital messages, implementing a “bidding” system to prioritize your attention. Messages with a lot of Bitcoin postage are delivered first, and over higher levels of filtering. Spam is not delivered. Similarly, you have to attach “postage” to outgoing messages, which makes you think about what you emit.
In this use, Bitcoin is “monetizing” your limited attention, and helping to make filtering visible and effective.
Another idea, directly following the concept of the Autonomous Desk that tries to shape your behavior to make you stand up more, Bitcoin could be used to incentivize the desired behavior. Sitting down causes fines to be paid to your desk, while standing up receives payments.
Add a 21BC to a “smartshoe”, with parasitic power generation. Walking energizes the 21BC, mining Bitcoin. The shoes accumulate savings to help pay for replacements!
Bitcoin could also be tied to the activity monitoring of the shoes. Idleness is fined, activity pays.
A pro-social option would be to tie the 21BC into a charity. When you “walk for the cause”, 21BC automatically pays out as you walk!
There are so many possibilities!
Do you have a better idea? Send us a description of creative ideas you are thinking about!