With the World Cup 2018 coming swiftly to its end, anyone watching ITV's coverage in recent days may have spotted a technology-focused advert lurking in between the plugs for cheap pizza and beer.
The clip from South Korean company Hdac shows off the potential capabilities of blockchain technology, the hot topic dominating news headlines for the past few months.
But what does Hdac actually claim and what can we learn about blockchain from the video? We've taken a look at Hdac’s advert, and the company behind it, to find out more.
At first glance, Hdac’s advert, shown on both ITV and Eurosport in both English and French versions, appears to be yet another flashy corporate video.
Highlighting the possibilities that blockchain can bring, it shows a family home where many of the appliances are able to talk to each other and operate using the magic of the technology.
A child chooses her next outfit in a virtual wardrobe, a house is secured when its occupants leave, and a family carries out a video call with their relatives - all apparently through blockchain technology.
But are any of these examples applicable today?
As for the clothes shopping, the advert shows a number of different payments being made presumably through blockchain-powered systems. There are transactions for clothes and food shopping, as well as utility bills being settled in real time as water and power is being used.
Home security is another potential use case for blockchain, but one that is certainly still a work in progress.
Back in February, Comcast revealed it would be offering a blockchain-powered security service for smart home customers. This created a unique digital identity for each customer which can then be combined with a permission-based ledger known as a trunk, which is linked to smart devices in their homes, allowing the user to set permissions for each.
Video calling may not be a widely-expected use case for blockchain, but several companies are in fact working on bringing the two platforms together to create a more secure offering - which could for example protect details of a sensitive business deal.
It may be that Hdac is simply looking to board the blockchain hype train and highlight the potential that the technology will be able to bring to users - and in fairness, some of it is closer than we think.
However the company’s slogan of “Now and Tomorrow” may damage the perception of blockchain, which is already being seen as a cure-all for many issues plaguing the technology industry today.
TechRadar Pro has contacted Hdac for more information on the advert examples, as well as the company’s operations as a whole, but so far has had no reply.
- See how football and tech combine in TechRadar's guide to the World Cup
So the important question remains - just who is Hdac?
Headquartered in the Swiss city of Zug, Hdac actually stands for Hyundai Digital Asset Company. As the name suggests, it is part of the Hyundai chaebol group, one of the three big conglomerates based in South Korea (the other two being Samsung and LG), falling under the Hyundai Pay arm.
The business was set up by Chung Dae-sun, nephew of Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-koo, to help popularise M2M transactions, whilst also enhancing the security of digital payment processes. Now headed by Hee-Chang Yang, the company says it identifies as, “an IoT contract platform based on blockchain, that not only exchanges but also restricts the usage of connected devices.”
This suggests the company is looking to use the distributed ledger technology (DLT) seen in many other blockchain platforms to ensure that transactions across different devices are able to be completed safely and smoothly.
On July 13th, the company revealed that it would be expanded Hdac blockchain services to smart homes and so-called "online-to-offline" areas - much like those seen in the advert.
This would allow the technology to bridge the gap between public and private blockchain services, greatly simplifying and speeding up transactions.
Hyundai Pay is now set to carry out a series of proof of concept tests across a variety of areas, including the intriguing possibility of connecting blockchain to traditional point of sale (POS) payment terminals found in high-street shops.
And as seen in the advert, the company is also looking to test connecting blockchain technology with smart home devices such as wall pads at home to allow utility bills to be paid securely.
On its website, Hdac says, “we are creating a more innovative future,” adding that, “the technological philosophy underpinning Hdac is to dramatically improve M2M transaction environments daily: all transactions should be seamless and easy.”
The initial omens were good for Hdac, which completed a successful initial coin offering (ICO) of its DAC tokens late last year, raising $258 million. However last month, the company's mining pool was reportedly hacked, forcing it to temporarily halt withdrawals. Hdac escaped censure, saying that it had no liability because its mining pool was decentralised.
Since this incident, the company’s Twitter account has been fairly inactive in recent days, which seems unusual for a business looking to boost itself with such a high-profile advertising campaign.
Some of its most recent tweets saw a link to the company’s homepage sent on May 18th, which followed a rather odd tweet stating, “Thank you for your continued support in Hdac. Unfortunately, we are not currently tweeting. Please check out the latest Hdac news on our official site to stay in the loop! Thank you for your continued support in Hdac.”
However June 18th saw a new pinned tweet from Hdac, announcing that, "we will be taking a break from Twitter" as the company is, "currently re-strategizing our social media channels".
So for now at least, it seems that Hdac will continue to baffle viewers in the UK and Europe with its adverts - but if it can come through on its promises, the blockchain market may be in for a major boost.
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