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August 9, 2017

Sony Develops System for Authentication, Sharing, and Rights Management Using Blockchain Technology

    Sony Corporation
    Sony Global Education

    Sony Corporation and Sony Global Education (SGE) have developed a system that will apply block chain technology*1 to the field of education. By using "technology that makes mutual use of educational achievements and activity records in an open and safe way," this reliable system centralizes the management of data from multiple educational institutions and makes it possible to record and reference educational data and digital transcripts.

    The newly developed system comes with functionality that records information in a difficult to falsify way and controls access to recorded information, making it possible to reliably disclose information to authorized third parties.

    Sony Global Education will build on this system to construct a foundation for new educational and learning services where multiple educational institutions will be able to make use of its data. This system is built on IBM Blockchain, which is delivered via the IBM Cloud and powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation. It brings together 1) a function that authenticates and controls usage rights to educational data, and 2) an application programming interface for handling these rights aimed at educational institutions.

    Currently, in educational institutions that operate ICT systems, operational management is carried out by "Student information system" comprised of students' school registrations, attendance, grades, and educators' lesson planning management, and "learning systems" made up of all educational content as well as students' learning records, results, etc.

    By using the newly developed system, operators can safely integrate and connect previously gathered data as is from "Student information systems" and "learning systems," even if that data came from different providers. This creates a highly convenient service.

    At the same time, with this new system's services, users can take data about school grades and educational records, create a digital transcript, and safely provide it to a different educational institution. Additionally, this also makes it possible for evaluating organizations to analyze this data and records using artificial intelligence (AI) and use it to provide suggested improvements to educational institutions' curriculums and management.

    This newly developed system is also extremely versatile, with the potential for wider applications outside of the field of education including device control and data management in the IoT field, contract management of value chains in the field of logistics and distribution, rights and distribution management in the digital contents field, property rights and usage management in the sharing economy, and currency/point tracking in the field of cryptocurrencies.

    Sony Group is also considering innovative ways to make use of blockchain technology. It will continue evaluating this system going forward as it works towards the creation of appealing products and services in a host of different fields.

    The technological revolution brought about by AI is expected to change education by diversifying the way learning and evaluation take place. Educational data is becoming even more important as the search continues for ways to improve the efficacy of education for both individuals and educational institutions by analyzing and manipulating this data. Previously, the effective mutual use of data between different providers has proved convoluted. In the coming future, the open and safe handling of educational data will allow for a highly flexible service that links together different educational services in a way that was previously difficult to achieve. Going forward, Sony Global Education hopes to partner with educational institutions and tailor the service to their needs while working towards a 2018 rollout.

    Sony Global Education operates Global Math Challenge, a worldwide contest that tests logical thinking skills. This contest, which has seen over 250,000 participants from 85 countries, holistically evaluates overall performance including accuracy of answers and time spent on each question and calculates a final score. This score has become an important method of assessing test takers' abilities using a universal standard. At the 5th Global Math Challenge, to be held in 2017, SGE plans to use this new system by recording test results on a blockchain and creating a digital transcript that is difficult to forge and highly reliable.
    SGE's mission is "to create a new infrastructure by providing educational services for global use that go beyond the framework of existing applications and services in order to allow anyone and everyone to easily access education, compete, and learn together." It believes that blockchain technology will be a big influence on the future of society, and that by linking together the systems of various educational institutions via this newly developed system, it can create a new framework for education.

    • *1:A blockchain is a type of de-centralized network technology that records synchronized digital transactions to nodes located all across the globe. It allows for any number of anonymous participants to create a secure network in which programs and information are difficult to forge or destroy. This technology is well-suited to the open transfer of rights and assets.
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