A kit made from everyday objects is bringing the blockchain into the physical world. The BlocKit, which includes items such as plastic tubs, clay discs, padlocks, envelopes, sticky notes, and battery-powered candles, is aimed to help people understand how digital blockchains work and can also be used by innovators designing new systems and services, including healthcare, around blockchain.
A team of computer scientists created the prototype BlocKit because blockchain — the decentralized digital infrastructure that is used to organize the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and holds promise to revolutionize many other sectors from finance, supply chain, and healthcare — is so difficult for people to comprehend.
“Despite growing interest in its potential, the blockchain is so novel, disruptive and complex, it is hard for most people to understand how these systems work,” says Prof. Corina Sas of Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications. “We have created a prototype kit consisting of physical objects that fulfil the roles of different parts of the blockchain. The kit really helps people visualise the different component parts of blockchain, and how they all interact.
“We received very positive feedback from the people who used the kit in our study and, interestingly, we found that the BlocKit can also be used by designers looking to develop new services based around blockchain — such as managing patients’ health records for example.”