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Malaysian and UK scholars partner on physical blockchain tool

According to a recent release, a team of computer scientists from the Universiti Teknologi MARA, in Malaysia, Lancaster University, and the University of Edinburgh in the UK have designed and developed the prototype BlocKit because blockchain – the decentralised digital infrastructure that is used to organise the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and holds promise to revolutionise many other sectors from finance, supply-chain and healthcare – is so difficult for people to comprehend.

One of the lead professors on the project at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications stated that 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.

Hence, the team has created a prototype kit consisting of physical objects that fulfil the roles of different parts of the blockchain. The kit helps people visualise the different component parts of blockchain, and how they all interact.

It was noted that having tangible physical objects, such as a transparent plastic box for a Bitcoin wallet, clay discs for Bitcoins, padlocks for passwords and candles representing miners’ computational power, makes thinking around processes and systems much easier to comprehend.

The BlocKit consisted of physical items that represented 11 key aspects of blockchain infrastructure and it was used to explore key characteristics of blockchain, such as trust – an important challenge for Bitcoin users. The kit was evaluated as part of a study involving 15 experienced Bitcoin users.

According to the release, the team received very positive feedback from the people who used the kit in their study and, interestingly, the team 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.

The work is outlined in a paper entitled ‘BlocKit: a Physical Kit for Materializing and Designing for Blockchain Infrastructure’.

The paper’s abstract states that blockchain is a disruptive technology which has significantly challenged assumptions that underpin financial institutions, and has provoked innovation strategies that have the potential to change many aspects of the digital economy.

However, because of its novelty and complexity, mental models of blockchain technology are difficult to acquire. Building on embodied cognition theories and material centred-design, the team reports an innovative approach for the design of BlocKit, a physical three-dimensional kit for materializing blockchain infrastructure and its key entities.

Through an engagement with different materials such as clay, paper, or transparent containers we identified important properties of these entities and materialized them through physical artefacts.

BlocKit was evaluated by 15 experienced bitcoin users with findings indicating its value for their high level of engagement in communicating about, and designing for blockchain infrastructure.

The team’s study advances an innovative approach for the design of such kits, an initial vocabulary to talk about them, and design implications intended to inspire HCI researchers to engage in designing for infrastructures.

Malaysia could benefit from the tool as it seeks to expand its use of blockchain.

An earlier report by OpenGov Asia noted that, in an effort to boost the country’s digital economy, MDEC and the Malaysian Immigration Department to pilot a work visa for tech freelancers, beginning with foreign blockchain capable talent.

The visa program allows tech freelancers to work in Malaysia in the short-term with the idea of fulfilling the demand for blockchain capable talents.

Tools like these will be extremely valuable to Malaysian tech talent as it will enable them to understand and then experiment with blockchain technology in a tangible way.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.