IOTA: a spin-off from the blockchain: a ledger of things called the ‘Tangle’
IOTA is quite the interesting technology specimen! It differentiates itself from other decentralized networks. IOTA is not a blockchain; the IOTA network is called a “Tangle.” Think of it like a blockchain, retaining the features of decentralization protocols and security functions; but rather than forming ‘blocks’ to create a ‘chain’ of information, the Tangle forms the distributed ledger more assimilated like a web of information (not a chain). Sooo…. IOTA is still a peer-to-peer network and distributed ledger, but it is ‘blockless’ so transactions and records of information are a bit different in their system.
IOTA is an open-source project that aims to revolutionize and impact the Internet of Things (a.k.a IoT) greater than blockchains, by accommodating for problems, like scaling and quick transaction times, that blockchain projects are currently struggling with. The IOTA project has two major differences from blockchain technologies:
#1 A DAG (directed acyclic graph) is the basis of the ecosystem. This is the greatest difference from the blockchain, and the DAG is what forms the Tangle, which is primarily what IOTA relies on. It is the type of distributed ledger that makes the system, and according to Wikipedia, a DAG is “a finite directed graph with no direct cycles.” Ethereum uses some forms of DAG, too.
#2 Secondly, the consensus integration in IOTA’s network is an integral function in which everyone using the network participates in. On blockchains, miners or stakeholders are the community that makes the consensus. In IOTA it is every person participating in the network and making transactions. This allows for greater self-regulation within the network.
The Internet of Things is the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday appliances. Describing itself as the “backbone of the IoT,” IOTA looks to solve some of the problems facing the IoT such as microtransactions and security concerns. Offering business-to-business and machine-to-machine solutions to simplify payments and invoicing through a modular model that allows for interconnectivity and inter-operability, as well as creating an ecosystem in which technological resources can be traded as ‘services’ on an open market.
The IOTA project is a new concept that grew from blockchains, and the project believes it offers real solutions to facets of systems that blockchain aims to fix. They provide a secure, efficient, and lightweight client that offers real-time micro-transactions without any fees because of it’s features of interconnectivity and sharing of resources such as CPU and internet. In the new and coming ‘Machine Economy’ IoT will rely on machines and technology to overcome challenges for computing power and lack of interconnectivity, and IOTA believes they are creating a platform that will allow the necessary components of a system needed to accomplish this.
IOTA’s website goes more in depth with their explanation of the Tangle and their protocols. They have links to valuable resources, if you are looking to do more research into IOTA. From here, at the bottom of the page, you can also download their GUI (graphical user interface) to try it out!
The IOTA White Paper is the most valuable resource you will find for understanding IOTA.
Learn.Iota.org is a wonderful place to get started with IOTA. They have numerous tutorials and guides here, along with a FAQ and a place to ask questions.