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If the first question people ask about either blockchain or NFT is “what exactly?”. The second question is inevitably “Is this what I really need to care about?”
If you are an artist who sells art and makes a living, the answer may be yes. But when you’re in the engineering world, the potential benefits are much less clear.
Here’s a quick introduction to these hot topics of technology. Most people have heard of blockchain, a distributed ledger technology that first appeared in 2008 and is a well-known foundation for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain can record transactions without any kind of participation and create immutable records of centralized authority such as banks and government agencies.
Blockchain also supports non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Currently, NFTs are primarily used to indicate ownership of a particular object or digital file. Often this is a 2D graphic, but it can be almost anything, such as a music file, text, video, or even a 3D file.
If you’re an artist, you’ll know where this can help. You can sell your work of art and collectors can buy NFTs that say they are the official owners of that work of art. (Theoretically, anyway – I’ll explain this in a little more detail.)
So how does this apply to the field of engineering software?
“I did it”
Unlike individuals in the art world, people in the engineering world usually do not create 2D or 3D files for artistic expression and sell them. They are creating these assets Do something Use these files, such as designing and manufacturing real-world objects.
So hit one: you won’t find much usefulness for that particular front NFT and blockchain. But perhaps there are other applications in the engineering space, such as intellectual property and documentation of product development processes.
Imagine a manufacturer designing an innovative new bicycle. One engineer is in charge of the bicycle frame. As you go through the development process, every time you create a new CAD file, check in to the blockchain so that your work with this new product is documented on the blockchain. A few years later, if for some reason you need to prove your work with this product, a permanent public record will be visible to everyone and the engineer will say, “I did it.” can do.
this sound Like a nifty use case. But unfortunately, the “theoretical” benefits of blockchain soon hit some topics here.
Not so fast …
To get started, only a handful of companies make the technology to do this kind of thing, but few of them. When it comes to innovation and recruitment curves, this area is still in its infancy. This is amazing, as the underlying technology has been around for nearly 15 years.
Not all are enthusiastic about the potential of blockchain and NFTs in the engineering world, but not all have holy motives.If someone buys Bitcoin or NFT boat roads for purely speculative reasons, they can be champions everything It is related to blockchain and its potential because it indirectly benefits the investments that blockchain has already made.
Next is the issue of the environmental impact of blockchain.Even newer and more advanced blockchain protocols like Ethereum still consume huge amounts of energy. [subscription required] Record and validate transactions across distributed and distributed ledgers. Due to the “proof of stake” mechanism for validating entries, this energy usage has other issues, but not so much.But what matters is on a rapidly warming planet [subscription required] Blockchain is a difficult technology to adopt unless you can radically streamline transactions while looking at climate emergencies.
All this, not to mention the fact that much of what blockchain can do in the engineering space is already possible through existing methods and is much easier to do. Want to show evidence of previous work on the product? Whenever you check in a CAD file to some CAD or PLM system, there is an audit trail of who accessed, created, or modified the file. Need an indisputable patent? There are patent offices that determine those types.
It may be good to get an “official” NFT that officially says that working with CAD files is yours, but that NFT means that you own it in the legal sense. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a digital signature that means something in the “blockchain world,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything legally.
The fact is that most of what you can do with blockchain is easy for you Without it A blockchain that uses a centralized database. The only thing you are losing is decentralization. Frankly, given the potential shortcomings and inefficiencies, it may not be sufficient as an incentive for people to invest much in this new way.
Do you hope it will spring up forever?
Obviously, blockchain and NFTs are not slam dunks in the engineering arena. However – New and new technologies always have “but” – If you squint enough, you can see the inkling of that potential in some interesting areas. One of these is a smart contract, which is essentially a self-executing contract embedded in the blockchain.
These contracts contain a set of customizable instructions that allow you to perform a particular action when certain conditions are met. For example, you can create smart contracts that comply with digital assets such as NFTs and other files and execute instructions on payments, distribution rights, execution rights, or other factors.
As such, smart contracts go far beyond what is found in traditional PLM systems. In addition, they offer the possibility to cut out the entire layer of intermediaries. Mediators are actually of great value in the world of more manufacturers and creators than ever before.
Another interesting area of blockchain and NFTs is centered around the digital virtual world that is being built to create the so-called metaverse. Blockchains and NFTs are central to the way ownership is assigned and content is populated in this space. Creating an NFT and placing it on the blockchain is at the core of creating this virtual infrastructure.
This, of course, could lead to the need to bring engineering assets into these virtual worlds, whether they’re pulling data for review or pushing data at the end of the product development lifecycle where digital assets are delivered. there is. It may not be common at this time, but over time it is worth monitoring the demand for engineering data in these virtual worlds.
Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism for now
Blockchain and NFTs show that there are some interesting applications for artists and those who just want to enjoy speculative assets.When it comes to engineering software, there are several Possible Applications for creating smart contracts and metaverses – but overall, no jury has come out yet.
Currently, there is not much serious engineering work done on blockchains and NFTs. There may be good reasons for that. At this time, this is primarily a solution for looking for problems, and it is not clear whether its usage will be more convincing or feasible in the future, unless there are major fundamental changes. For people in the engineering world who are wondering, “Is this something I need to care about?” The answer is: Not at this time. For now, pay attention to this evolving territory, but skepticism is sufficient.
Jonathan Girroir is Senior Manager of Technical Marketing at TechSoft 3D.
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