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Can't Grasp Blockchain? BlocKit Can Help

July 17th, 2019


Even for IT professionals, blockchain is a technology that can be difficult to comprehend.

Best known as the internet infrastructure for Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, blockchain is an independent technology that simplifies transactions among two or more parties, eliminating the need for a central repository to facilitate the process and manage the bookkeeping. Because of the way it is designed, a transaction is recorded in thousands of places simultaneously, which makes it virtually error-proof and incredibly secure.

Sounds simple enough. The reality is that it is far more nuanced and complex, making it more difficult to comprehend the deeper you look.

Enter BlocKit, a collection of everyday objects representing different aspects of blockchain that can help non-techies (and maybe even a few tech pros, too) to visualize how the technology works.

"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," said Professor 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 visualize the different component parts of blockchain, and how they all interact."

She and a team of computer scientists from Lancaster University, the University of Edinburgh in the UK, and the Universiti Teknologi MARA, in Malaysia, created the prototype BlocKit. It includes plastic tubs, clay discs, padlocks, envelopes, sticky notes and battery-powered candles to demonstrate blockchain's Bitcoin application. It was evaluated in a study by 15 Bitcoin users, and detailed in a paper presented at the DIS ’19 conference in San Diego last month.

“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.”

Whether BlocKit will become commercially available wasn't mentioned in the announcement.

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