In software development, ‘composability’ refers to the ability to freely combine applications and their components to create new products.
Web3 takes this notion to its extremes because of its open-source nature. Anyone is free to pick up an open-source application or its components and use it to create something new.
At peaq, we’re taking the concept of composability even further by applying it to machines, vehicles, robots and devices. Why? Because Smart Cities will never work without it, and Smart Cities are the economic hubs of the Economy of Things peaq is powering.
For Smart Cities to work, everything with a sensor – from vehicles to thermostats – has to be able to seamlessly interact and transact with everything else. Period.
Stress on the ‘seamlessly’.
You’d think that should be obvious but many of the systems being built today involve people and machines having to download, register and verify across tens of walled off platforms.
This will never scale.
Machine Composability fixes this.
In this piece, we’ll be introducing the concept of Machine Composability, why Smart Cities cannot work without it – based on our experience working with industry leaders such as AUDI – and paint a picture of the future it enables.
What is Machine Composability?
We said that in software development, ‘composability’ refers to the ability to freely combine applications and their components to create new products.
In the context of the Economy of Things on peaq, swap ‘application’ for ‘machine’, and take ‘machine’ to mean any machine, vehicle, robot or device.
Machine Composability refers to machines being able to operate and transact across multiple apps (dApps/DePINs) seamlessly, facilitating the exchange of different services, resources, and information in a decentralized ecosystem.
Let’s demonstrate with an example.
An autonomous car is able to offer a taxi service via one app (DePIN), then switch over to another app to deliver a package, and then switch over to another app to charge itself.
The machine has just ‘composed itself’ between apps because 1) it and the machines it collaborated with use peaq IDs, and 2) the apps and machines involved all run on the same blockchain network – peaq.
That’s Machine Composability.
Sounds simple, but the Internet of Things industry is moving in the opposite direction of this today, demanding multiple sign-ups, leading to fragmentation across the board.
Machine Composability can be subdivided into two types; Morphological Composability and Syntactic Composability.
Why such esoteric terms?
The terms are derived from the idea of composability in the DeFi space, where some person with a big brain slapped these violent words on.
Don’t worry, we’ll break them down simply.
Morphological Machine Composability – peaq IDs
Things that pertain to a form or structure, particularly as it relates to adherence to common standards for interoperability.
Apply that to machines. And apply that to the idea of composability.
Characteristics or features in machines and the way they operate that allow for seamless collaboration.
peaq IDs are Self-Sovereign Machine IDs. These are the most advanced Machine IDs. Every connected vehicle, machine, robot and devices in the Economy of Things on peaq gets one. Every ID is of the same standard, meaning every machine on peaq can seamlessly transact and interact with other machines in peaq’s decentralized ecosystem. It also means that any machine on peaq can seamlessly interact with any DePIN on peaq. Machine2X seamless interoperability.
Simply: Machines can work together seamlessly because they operate using the same standards, in this case peaq IDs.
Example: Any vehicle can charge at any charging station with instant payment and verification.
For more information on peaq IDs, check this out.
Syntactic Machine Composability – Native App Interoperability
So the arrangement or sequence of elements for something to function. In this case; the capability of apps to integrate and interact seamlessly, forming new, more complex systems.
Any DePIN on peaq is natively interoperable with all others by default.
Simply: Apps (dApps & DePINs) can ‘plug and play’. They can plug into one another like puzzle pieces and offer services, via machines, that they otherwise couldn’t alone.
Example: You want to go from Paris to Berlin. Mobility apps work together to get you there, with the help of AI. You step out of the house, into a car that takes you to a train station, out of the train, into another car, to a micro-mobility scooter. One booking.
The result is open, fast and secure Smart Cities, powered by people-powered applications, not Big Tech platforms. Or in other words, the opposite of the trajectory the Internet of Things is on today; closed, walled off, ‘I win, you lose’, monopoly-hungry. You simply cannot scale Smart Cities – or the Economy of Things in general – in this way.
Why does the world need Machine Composability?
We’ve been working at the intersection between the Internet of Things and Web3 for over 6 years as of 2023, so we’ll answer this one with a personal anecdote.
Since 2018, the peaq team has been at the forefront of developing decentralized IoT platforms, what we call EoT, or Economy of Things. A collaboration with AUDI in 2019 brought forth a pressing issue: the fragmented charging infrastructure for Electric Vehicles. Users and their vehicles found themselves registering on multiple charging platforms, leading to a disjointed and cumbersome experience.
This project underscored the broader need for Machine Composability across various sectors. An efficient smart city can't operate optimally if every machine, vehicle, or device is confined to its own isolated platform. Such separations hinder seamless integration and progress.
peaq: The birthplace of Machine Composability, the blockchain of choice for real-world apps and machines
When was this blog published? That was when the term ‘Machine Composability’ was coined.
The idea, though, has been discussed for years.
We’ve always known that machines on peaq would be composable, and the huge value and advantage over general-purpose layer-1s this would bring, but this is the first piece dedicated to it, inspired by the need for it.
DePIN - Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks - is taking off, despite us being at the depths of the longest bear market in history at the time of writing. More and more teams are coming together to build real-world focused Web3 apps, which means two things;
1. There’s never been a bigger need for a layer-1 blockchain built specifically to power real-world applications.
2. There’s never been a bigger need for machine composability.
Enter peaq, and here you have a layer-1 blockchain built specifically to power real-world applications with machine composability built into the design from the start, AND …
(and here’s the sauce)
… the peaq network itself incentivises the deployment of new machines to the ecosystem AND incentivises machines to become economically independent.
The more machines on the network with peaq IDs, the more machines there are to interact and transact with one another via DePINs (Morphological Composability), and the more opportunities there are for DePINs to band together to offer more, better services, to reach more people and machines (Syntactic Composability).
And, equally excitingly, the higher the chances that machines choose to offer their services via your DePIN, instead of you having to onboard all the machines that will leverage your DePIN yourself.
This is another key reason to build on real-world-focused, machine-centric layer 1 blockchain like peaq instead of a general purpose layer 1.
2030: Internet of Things on Big Tech
Imagine a Smart City in the near future. You’ve got to sign up on one app for parking, another for charging, yet another for ride-sharing, and oh, don’t forget the one for local wifi. For every single service, you or your trusty devices have to undergo the tedious dance of signing up, verifying, and remembering another password.
Want to compare prices on the fly? Well, brace yourself for a digital scavenger hunt. Just another task on your ever-growing list.
Sounds almost dystopian, but if we let today’s Web2/Big Tech systems dictate our smart cities, this could be less fiction and more of a grim reality.
And why? Because each function, whether it's ride-hailing, car-sharing, EV charging, or parking, exists in its own isolated digital bubble. Each one vying for dominance, building its own kingdom of users. A tad inefficient, wouldn't you say?
2030: Economy of Things on peaq
Now, picture a paradigm shift: Every device, be it a car, a charging dock, a parking space, or even a toll booth, boasts a unique, sovereign identity on one open network -- peaq.
And it's not just devices; every user has one too. This seamless identity matrix ensures everyone and everything can recognize, authenticate, and transact quickly and smoothly.
Developers can craft apps for this open ecosystem, catering to diverse needs like ride-sharing or EV charging. The twist? Machines aren't bound to just one app. They're versatile, mingling freely with any app on this open platform. And us, people? With our single, unified identity, we’re all VIPs with an all-access pass to every service under the sun.
And here's the cherry on top: both machines and users can instantly compare prices, ensuring they always snag the best deal, since the entire ecosystem is transparent.
Being open means everyone can jump in, offer their goods or services, and not only benefit from the infrastructure but actively contribute to its evolution.