Congratulations on your upcoming Mainnet GA launch on June 1, 2020! Can you explain what the main features and improvements are?
IoTeX Mainnet GA (“Machina”) is launching on June 1 and is the biggest milestone yet for the Blockchain + IoT industry! Our Mainnet GA launch represents more than technology – it also comes with native staking, updated governance, and powerful developer tools. We are now ready for the world to build the Internet of Trusted Things on IoTeX!
There are five core components of IoTeX Mainnet GA:
Platform 2.0: new and improved IoTeX platform for the Internet of Things
Pantheon: enterprise-ready consortium blockchain for IoT
Halo Program: official developer grants program from the IoTeX Foundation
Native Staking v2: new scalable, transaction-based native staking mechanism
Hermes: rewards system for IoTeX Delegates and voters
You can see all of our announcements on the Mainnet GA Countdown website!
Smart devices are now a part of our personal and business lives in many ways. How is IoTeX designed to support the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The IoTeX platform utilizes a unique architecture to meet the unique demands of the Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. Our multi-layer architecture combines smart devices, IoT Cloud + decentralized storage, and blockchain. IoTeX is all about generating trusted data from trusted devices to enable trusted applications.
Let me describe each of these layers:
Device Layer: To trust a device, it must have a verifiable identity and its actions must be verifiable by others, which is exactly what IoTeX enables by combining secure hardware and blockchain, two tamper-proof technologies.
Storage Layer: IoT devices generate a lot of data, but not all of it can be stored on blockchain due to cost/scalability reasons. Today, data processing is performed “on the edge”, reducing the need to store large amounts of unfiltered data on servers. Pre-processed data can then be stored on the IoT Cloud (e.g., AWS) or decentralized storage (e.g., IPFS) and “hash” them to the blockchain for verifiability and data provenance.
Blockchain Layer: Blockchain is the root of trust for the entire IoTeX Network. Our blockchain is open source and one of the fastest in the entire industry — 5 second block time with instant finality! Not only does it enable standard P2P transactions and smart contracts, but it is also used to register device identities and “hash” data (stored on Cloud/decentralized storage) to the blockchain.
The combination of these three layers provides great flexibility for developers and builders. For more information, please see our Blockchain & IoT Reference Architecture
IoTeX recently launched a blockchain-powered private home security camera called Ucam. Can you tell us what is special about Ucam?
IoTeX recently launched our first “Powered by IoTeX” product called Ucam, which was built in partnership with Tenvis, a major security camera manufacturer. Tenvis was founded in 2005 and has sold millions of cameras to governments, enterprises, and consumers — they are currently “Amazon’s Choice” for security cameras, but came to IoTeX to bring privacy to their users.
Ucam is the world’s first absolutely private home security camera that lets you own your data. This year at CES, the world’s largest tech conference, Ucam won the CES Innovation Award for Cybersecurity & Privacy. Ucam uses blockchain-based identity and the encryption keys are generated using the IoTeX blockchain in a decentralized fashion to make sure only the user has a copy of the encryption key for full privacy. With Ucam, nobody can access your device or data except you, or people authorized by you.
We have many exciting plans for Ucam — we are currently working with IPFS to add decentralized storage to the camera and are also planning to launch other form factors of Ucam, such as doorbell + outdoor camera. The great thing about Ucam is the firmware/software that IoTeX developed can be used on almost any camera, so we are actively exploring new types of cameras to power with IoTeX — Ucam is just one of many “Powered by IoTeX” products in the future!
Learn more at https://ucam.iotex.io
There are many competitors in the Blockchain & IoT industry. How is IoTeX different?
IoTeX has deep expertise in both blockchain and IoT, which has allowed us to launch the world’s first blockchain-powered IoT products. I have not seen any other project to launch real products like IoTeX. We are way past the white paper phase — these days, the proof of real products matters a lot. Only two years after IoTeX launched our first code release in April 2018, we already have many types of devices powered by the IoTeX platform, not just shilly prototypes or proofs of concept.
These two devices are just the start and we expect many other form factors of similar devices to emerge over the next year:
It is also important to remember that IoTeX is a full-stack platform — our ultimate goal is to enable other people/companies that are interested in privacy/IoT to leverage our platform and tools so that they can also create their own privacy-protecting IoT products. IoTeX will provide trusted data and trusted devices to builders, who will use it to build their own trusted applications and services. In this sense, we welcome even our competitors to use some or all of our platform/tools to empower their products.
What is IoTeX’s biggest strength and how does this translate into a market opportunity?
IoTeX has one of the strongest and most technical teams in the entire industry. We are at the forefront of cutting-edge tech in the blockchain space, but we are also equally cutting-edge in the IoT space, including hardware, connectivity, and large-scale architecture. The IoT industry recognizes our potential too — IoTeX was recently selected as the Co-Chair of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) Blockchain Group along with Amazon and Huawei. We built our entire blockchain and IoT middleware from scratch and launched several blockchain-powered IoT products in only two years. The best part is we are just getting started — there is so much future potential for IoTeX.
The biggest opportunity for IoTeX is the size of the IoT industry and the fact that nobody is doing what we are doing better than us. Many people are focused on DeFi projects right now because they see finance as a huge industry — finance is a multi-trillion dollar industry, but so is IoT! In fact, IoT is growing at a much faster rate than most industries. Today, there are 25 billion IoT devices around the world and there will be >100 billion IoT devices by 2025. We have big goals to power all types of devices in the future and be the decentralized infrastructure to enable the future of privacy and IoT.
Will IoTeX ensure neutral root-subchain protocol language or will there be only one supported programming language? In addition, will sub-chains have their own tokens?
Regarding sub-chains or “Layer 2” chains — these can definitely have their own tokens, and are meant to be smaller ecosystems of IoT living on top of the root chain. While these Layer 2 ecosystems can operate independently, they can also communicate with other Layer 2 ecosystems via the root chain for interoperability.
What security measures will be taken to prevent the influence of subnets on the root chain that is not functioning properly (attacked or have errors, etc.). Will IoTeX’s privacy function cover transaction data (receiver, sender, amount) and also smart contract data (inputs and outputs)?
Regarding your first question — IoTeX utilizes a special consensus mechanism called Roll-DPoS, which was designed in-house by the IoTeX team. Roll-DPoS is modeled after traditional DPoS, but adds a randomized selection process for more decentralization without sacrificing performance. it’s also super fast — 5 second block time with instant finality.
You can read the Roll-DPoS yellow paper here
Regarding your second question about privacy, IoTeX is currently utilizing hardware-based and computation-focused privacy, not necessarily transactional privacy. Our goal as a platform is to allow builders to create IoT devices where users have full control and own their data. Privacy is a result of this — if you own your data, you can choose to keep it private, share it with others, or authorize its use one-time to service providers. Privacy has many flavors and IoTeX is leading the charge!
The root chain, gravity chain and level 2 chain are advanced protocols, please tell me, what are the advantages of this to IoTeX project?
We have restructured our blockchain design — we merged the functionality of gravity/root chain into Layer 1 and are working on various Layer 2 solutions, some powered by blockchain and some powered by trusted IoT devices. At Layer 2, we focus on providing builders with robust IoT middleware and flexible dev tools. It’s important to remember that a platform’s job is to enable others to build things — to that degree, we have built an amazing and flexible platform to power the future of blockchain+IoT.
For your point about privacy — yes, privacy laws are very different around the world, but my view is that privacy and functionality can go hand-in-hand in the future. It’s also important to think “who you are trying to be private from” — government, corporations, other people? Based on your individual goals for privacy, there are many options and IoTeX is trying to enable others to understand their options for privacy but also give them products with great functionality.
Given the number of IoT devices in the world and their lack of protection and privacy, how difficult would it be to upgrade various existing devices to use IoTeX?
There are different “levels” of security and privacy today. In the security world, there is a concept called “defense in layers” — basically it means one security feature cannot solve everything, you need to have many layers of defense just like in an army. Our ultimate vision is to combine trusted hardware with trusted software to build trusted products. Some of this will require new hardware, but for other devices with more advanced hardware, we can build IoTeX technology right in.
How will future 5G wireless technology affect IoTeX? Is Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enough for blockchain IoT applications, or it doesn’t matter?
Good question! 5G and other connectivity technologies (WiFi, cellular, LPWAN, Bluetooth, RFID/NFC) are enablers of our vision. If you think about any type of IoT device today, they all share some basic components: sensors, connectivity, power, storage, compute. Connectivity is one area that is advancing very quickly, which means we have more options to send data from point A to point B. There are many different types of connectivity that have different speeds, costs, and power consumption — the good news is all of them are getting faster, stronger, and cheaper. This opens up the doors to brand new IoT use cases! See below for more explanation about connectivity.
What is the possibility that a network that will include IoT devices with IoTeX solutions will be able to crack? An example is the hacking of smart refrigerators by Gilfoyl, in the series “Silicon Valley” (p.s. if you watched this series)
Let’s use your refrigerator as an example — today, there may be cheap hardware used to build your machine. That is the same as having an app that is poorly/cheaply built. If you combine cheap hardware and cheap app design, then you get a cheap overall product. What people are starting to realize now is that hardware is getting to the point where it is not getting much faster year-over-year, but it is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day. This allows us to put higher quality hardware into our machines, which has many security benefits.
It is actually IoTeX’s vision to combine secure hardware with built-in secure elements and combine it with blockchain, which produces truly secure and private end-to-end products. Your refrigerator will be “Powered by IoTeX” in the future — no hacking!
Let’s imagine. For example, IoTeX will expand and be adopted in the US and Japan as the underlying technology to support the mass industry of IoT, and both governments will decide to declare cryptocurrencies illegal (as in China). What are your actions and thoughts about this?
I think we are getting to the point where it’s important to distinguish between “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency”. To me, a cryptocurrency is something like Bitcoin or Dash or Monero — they are digital currencies that are meant to be currencies. IoTeX is different — our token is used for four specific things: 1) stake-to-govern, 2) stake-to-service, 3) device registrations, and 4) normal transaction fees aka gas. One day, I think we will see clear regulation from governments regarding utility tokens and cryptocurrencies, but for now, we will just have to wait and see!
It is known that Blockchain & IoT use cases must have great security and high scalability – how does IoTeX address these requirements?
The IoTeX platform utilizes a unique architecture to meet the unique demands of the Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. Our multi-layer architecture combines a trusted device layer, Cloud/decentralized storage layer, and a blockchain layer. The combination of these three layers provides great flexibility, security, and scalability for developers and builders.
To answer your questions about scalability — many people think that ALL data from IoT devices must be written to the blockchain, but that is not true. The thing that really matters is “triggers” aka data that represents a change in the real world that you want to be reflected in the digital world. The entire dataset can be stored on the IoT Cloud or decentralized storage (e.g., IPFS), but only the “trigger” needs to be written to the blockchain to achieve the desired business outcome.
Another thing to know is that a lot of computing today is done “on the edge” meaning on the device itself. Even small sensors can perform simple data validations, and more powerful devices like routers are being equipped with AI engines for advanced processing. This means there is less computation required in the lower parts of the tech stack, such as Cloud or blockchain. This is actually an example of “Layer 2” scalability! For more information, please see our Blockchain & IoT Reference Architecture: https://iotex.io/reference-architecture
You know, there are many competitors working on IoT-related projects, such as IOTA and Hedera. Can IoTeX collaborate with these projects? What is the difference? What is your approach guys?
There are several great projects that are working on Blockchain & IoT, but it is important to understand what part of the tech stack they are addressing. IoT requires many components/layers to work, as I described above. For example, IOTA is focusing on machine-to-machine communications/payments, while Hedera focuses on rapidly sequencing transactions at a low cost. These are definitely needed to support the future of IoT, but it does not cover everything that is needed. In other words, end-to-end solutions cannot be fully supported by these other projects.
IoTeX is different because we think about the entire picture of what is needed for full-stack IoT solutions, and we have proven this with Ucam. Specifically, the IoTeX platform enables trusted devices and trusted data, so people that build on IoTeX do not have to re-create this component. We also provide the necessary tools that developers/builders need to use these trusted devices and trusted data to make their own trusted applications. So by default, people that build on IoTeX can focus on the business logic/application layer, while the IoTeX platform takes care of the rest. This is our “plug-and-play” vision for the future of IoT!
So, speaking about the roadmap and plans. What are your major project goals for 2020?
Our main goal for IoTeX this year is to welcome the world to build amazing things on our platform. Over the past two years, IoTeX has worked very aggressively to build out our protocol, infrastructure, and platform — with Mainnet GA launching in early June, we know that the IoTeX platform is ready to support a wide variety of use cases across blockchain, IoT, and privacy. Until now it has been a lot of work from the core team and a small subset of community members, but our goal is to build our ecosystem of builders and contributors that will bring great network effects to IoTeX.
We are starting this process right now by launching our new developer grants program called Halo. We have already received many interesting proposals for new projects that people want to build on IoTeX, including asset tracking use cases (like Hyperaware) as well as healthcare devices/wearables that let you own your health data. We encourage any developers out there to take a look at Halo and apply for a grant!
Halo will also be an important initiative to put our developer-focused device kits in the hands of builders from around the world. Our next big priority for developers is to launch Pebble Tracker, which is a special device that IoTeX built with Nordic Semiconductor, one of the leading chip manufacturers in the world. This device has built-in secure hardware and is able to write sensor data directly to the blockchain for use in smart contracts — it is basically an IoT data oracle that is hardware-based. Check out the Nordic Semiconductor announcement for more information.
Do you plan to cooperate with top companies in the industry? If yes, which ones?
Yes! IoTeX works closely with major IoT manufacturers, research/standards institutions, and other blockchain companies. Get up to speed with IoTeX major partnerships below
Industrial Internet Consortium: IoTeX is the Co-Chair of IIC Blockchain Group along with Amazon & Huawei
Nordic Semiconductor: one of the largest IoT chip manufacturers in the world; IoTeX is collaborating on Pebble Tracker, a next-gen trusted asset tracker
IPFS: decentralized storage for “Powered by IoTeX” products, starting with Ucam
IEEE: core contributor to IEEE’s Blockchain+IoT standards, along with enterprises
ThingsBoard: advanced IoT data visualization for smart device builders
I have questions regarding the selling data to users of IoT devices. How profitable it can be for the average user? How profitable it can be for companies, compared to the usual model of buying or collecting data?
This is a good question — lots of people when they think about “owning their data” they think about money or how much it is worth. The truth is, the reason why your data is valuable to tech giants is that they use your data to feed their advertising engines and revenue. Honestly, a normal person would not be able to extract the same value from data as a big tech giant … yet! Blockchain can enable this in the future — one of my favorite use cases is for people to be a “shareholder” in the data products that they help build. For example, if there is an international health database and you contribute your data to make the databased 0.1% better, then you should get 0.1% of the profits. This will be possible with blockchain + IoT, and IoTeX looks forward to achieving this vision.
Let’s say there is a situation where a group of devices is disconnected from the Internet but still exchanging data/transactions. How is data integrity maintained when affected devices return to the network and try to record their transactions to the blockchain?
This is also an interesting question — there are many ways that devices can pass information to other devices, servers, etc. The most common type of connectivity is WiFi, which many people think about as the “Internet”. However, there are other connectivity mechanisms like Bluetooth, cellular, LoRa, satellite, etc.
Based on your specific IoT use case, most times an IoT network utilizes many different types of devices and many different types of connectivity. For example, if you have a sensor in a field that is not powerful enough to run WiFi, it will probably use LoRa and send the data to a more powerful gateway/router before being sent to the Cloud or blockchain. Each of these steps must be secured (data-in-transit, data-at-rest, data in-runtime) to ensure full protection of the device and data.
How would you prioritize decentralization and confidentiality? What’s more important for you? How do you plan to achieve methods of maintaining confidentiality without losing in decentralization?
Interesting question — to be honest, for IoTeX both decentralization and confidentiality are must-haves for us. We are not just trying to make small improvements to the world today, we are trying to create a brand new decentralized way to power our smart devices with trust and privacy. This is what we call the Internet of Trusted Things.
Decentralization is critical — today, our smart devices are controlled by institutions (government, corporations) that can do anything they want to it. Although there are regulations being set, this is not enough, and power must be given back to the people. Decentralization is more important than ever!
Privacy (or confidentiality) is also important — I think about privacy as freedom/choice. Because I own my data, I am able to choose to keep it fully private or share/use it. It does not mean I cannot live my normal lifestyle, it just means I will have the choice about what to do with my data and assets.
Are there currently examples of using a DID identification system that is claimed as a component in combination with a blockchain? In what practical cases will we be able to see the use of this technology? What makes a DID system better than what competitors offer?
IoTeX’s decentralized identity (DID) framework is very unique. While many projects in the DID space are focusing on identity for people, IoTeX is focusing on identity for devices/machines. This is something unique to the IoTeX Network — in the future, the “users” of IoTeX will be both people and machines, which will interoperate and form human-machine economies.
DID still has some time to reach adoption – the tech is getting there, but there is a need for real-world institutions to also buy into this concept. This is because, with DIDs, you need to source your own “credentials” and without institutions that issue these credentials (like your employer or school or bank), then it’s hard to have DID applied to the real world. BUT it is already happening in the decentralized world.
See our latest presentation on DID here
See our open-source DID spec here
What do you think motivates large companies and corporations to use IoTeX technology instead of using their huge resources to develop their own technologies?
Companies will build on IoTeX because we offer something that nobody else does — we give companies the chance to build privacy-preserving IoT products that are decentralized. Today, the entire IoT industry is centralized, which leads to things like data breaches and abuse of consumer data. What we are proposing is something that will replicate the user experience of the products we are used to today AND give users full data privacy and ownership. This is going to change the way we think about companies, products, and value. you can see some of our initial products here: Ucam & Pebble Tracker
Which Ucam feature do you like the most as a creator? Which function was the most difficult to develop and implement in reality?
My favorite Ucam feature is the setup process actually. This is because it was not easy to make the user experience very enjoyable and fast — this is one of the biggest hurdles for blockchain mass adoption is getting people started with creating their first blockchain-based account. We built an amazing one-click setup process for mass-market users to experience blockchain technology for the first time! Ucam comes with all of the features you expect from a camera but also comes with privacy, which is tied for first place as the most important feature. great privacy + great UI/UX = great product