US retail giant Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue, received last week three patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office for several blockchain-related systems. The patents refer to a system for obtaining medical records on blockchain, a method and system for managing demand on an electrical grid, and a system for controlling access to a locked place. Besides Walmart, IBM and Cisco also saw their patent application approved last Thursday.
Walmart’s blockchain-based medical records system allows patient data to be stored in a distributed ledger. The medical records can then be accessed in emergency situations when a patient is unresponsive. Due to privacy issues, only medical data that is emergency-specific should be put on blockchain.
The system has three key devices, one of which is a wearable object that has the function of a local storage medium for the distributed ledger. A bracelet would be an ideal option for the wearable device. There is also a biometric scanner needed to get a patient’s biometric signature (like fingerprint, iris, or retina) and an RFID scanner used to scan the wearable device. Walmart filed the patent application in December 2016.
Aside from the medical records system, Walmart was granted a patent for a blockchain-based energy network. It will be able to cap the supply of electricity based on the use of a cryptocurrency as a method of payment. The company applied for the patent in late 2017.
The solution will help to combat inefficient electricity use by home appliances and other devices. The system will allow a limited amount of cryptocurrency to be issued to each device. Thus, the user can buy the right amount of energy for a certain period.
Walmart’s third blockchain-related patent refers to a system that can help users securely control or limit the access to a real or virtual space. The system uses cryptographic keys stored on a blockchain.
In April 2018, we reported that Walmart had filed two patent applications for blockchain-based products or systems. The retail giant wanted to leverage the technology for a vendor payment sharing system and a courier shopping system.
Besides Walmart, IBM has received a patent application approval for “systems and methods for preventing vulnerabilities in a blockchain,” while Cisco got the green light for its Trust Enabled Decentralized Asset Tracking System for Supply Chain and Automated Inventory Management.