Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #01 Melonport
Last week we introduced a new interview series titled Ethereum Contributors where we hear the stories and thoughts of the people participating in the Ethereum community. With the release of Issue #01 for that series we also hinted at a another new interview series starting soon.
Well here it is!
This series is called Ethereum DApp Creators and as the title says, this one is all about the amazing developers of the decentralized applications. Here we give the floor to those who are behind all the wonderful DApps that give form to Ethereum, with their applications running on top of the platform. You’ll see a variety of applications from all kinds of different fields that all have one thing in common; Ethereum.
First issue in Ethereum DApp Creators features Melonport with their CEO Mona El Isa.
This interview series is about the people who work hard to develop decentralized applications on top of Ethereum.
Melonport Portal running on Status alpha 0.9.3. Learn more about the upcoming UI refresh to Status.
Hello Mona, Melonport has gained a lot of publicity lately and with your successful MLN contribution period that sold out in record time, you seem to be on a fast-track to have the Melon protocol progressing in a timely manner.
You’ve also been very active on going to meetups, doing interviews (thanks for taking the time to do this one too) and your EDCON presentation was intriguing.
Your Green Paper has been published, and now that the Melonport Portal beta is now open for the public, we felt that this would be a good time to hear your sentiments on Ethereum and how have you arrived in this time and place in your life.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get started working in the Ethereum space and what led you to co-found Melonport with Reto?
Having previously worked at Goldman Sachs as an Equities Trader and Jabre Capital as a Portfolio Manager, my last stint in finance was a rollercoaster experience of trying to launch my own fund. It didn’t last very long, but it was an incredibly eye opening experience. Despite having single-handedly raised $30 million to manage, it was nowhere close to being enough to run due to the phenomenal costs associated with hedge fund management.
For the first time in my life, I was faced with the operational and administrative work that goes into running a fund and I was shocked by how incredibly inefficient, expensive, wasteful and archaic it was in today’s age of technology. I had no time to focus on the job I wanted to do which was — investing! So, I closed the fund with the intention of taking a year of to explore what was happening in the world of fintech, with a particular focus on blockchain platforms and the hugely disruptive and innovative technology that was being built around them.
This led me to meeting my business partner at Melonport, Reto Trinkler. Reto was already working on the idea behind Melonport — a blockchain based asset management platform. You can imagine how excited I was when I heard that! From then onwards we’ve been working together on developing the idea and making it a reality. We founded Melonport AG in Switzerland, the private company behind the Melon protocol together in 2016 and released the Green Paper describing the Melon Protocol last year. Now in 2017, everything is coming together and we’re picking up a huge amount of momentum.
Now that all these pieces are coming together, how does 2017 look like for Melonport?
We are now fully funded for Phase II of the Melon project which is very exciting! Our priority is delivering what we have promised to the community as per our specs doc. During Phase I, this was all simply an idea and now we have an opportunity to make it a reality which is mind-boggling.
As well as working closely with our Head of Business Development George Hallam to forge exciting collaborations and partnerships in the right areas, we are totally focused on making sure that our Chairman & CTO Reto Trinkler and the rest of the devs are as free from headaches, noise and distractions as possible enabling them to deliver technical results!
Melonport team members Mona El Isa, Reto Trinkler & George Hallam
About some technical details, which sort of digital assets will be tradable using the Melon protocol?
To start of with, all ERC20-compliant tokens should be tradable in Melon portfolios.
We are seeing new ERC20 tokens pop up every day — and thanks to companies such as Decentralised Capital, Tramonex, Digix we are also seeing innovation around how “real world assets” can be “blockchainised”. This increases the universe substantially for tradable digital assets.
In a future world, we hope that the development of decentralised “internet of blockchains” solutions such as Polkadot or Cosmos will also enable users to hold tokens securely from other blockchains too — increasing the value proposition even further.
And what makes the Melon protocol and Melonport different from the non-blockchain applications in asset management?
A few things spring to mind;
- Melon protocol is fully decentralized.
- We have designed an ecosystem which lowers costs and barriers for users whilst incentivising developers to contribute.
- Our open architecture and code base from a really early stage allows us to receive feedback early on and iterate.
- We are fully funded by community contributions. This really means we can truly design it in a way which is free from any corporate influence.
In your opinion, who will benefit the most from using Melonport, individuals, large institutions or investors looking to preserve capital?
If we are successful, ultimately I think investors looking to preserve capital and generate gains will benefit the most. The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, the Melon protocol dramatically reduces the barriers to entry (cost and time) around setting up and managing a fund-like structure.
Using Melon, fund administration and reporting requirements can largely be automated by smart-contracts and enforced by blockchain technology. This reduces the need for spending some 50% or more of your cost base on operations or support functions. The second benefit follows quite naturally; if you can lower barriers to entry you also get access to a much deeper talent pool which potentially gives you access to better performance for less risk.
And which group do you think will be the first to adopt Melonport, companies or individuals?
Naturally individuals are more nimble and can act somewhat faster than larger institutions or companies. So my bet would be individuals — having said that, we have been overwhelmed by institutional interest globally for what we are doing and that is a good sign that we are working towards solving a real-world problem which handicaps a lot of people in even the institutional world today.
verview of the Melonport Portal
For individuals to have access to Melonport, do you feel that the Melon protocol can benefit from a mobile user interface? Is there something Status can do to help adopt the Melon protocol?
What Status is building for the decentralized community fits in very well with our own philosophy of lowering barriers to entry. Our team truly believes that it can achieve this in the fund space, but if we want to lower barriers even further we also must recognize that there are a lot of people in this world who are not able to own a computer.
Smart-phones are widely adopted all over the world even in Emerging Markets and Status can genuinely help bring the Melon protocol to these regions and provide value for a truly global community.
How do you see Melonport helping people’s lives in the future?
Most people invest because they want to preserve capital. In a world where inflation is high, and currencies are being devalued constantly — it is costing money to be holding cash. The next logical step, is to diversify your cash and invest in other asset classes to fight against this. Crypto is still an emerging asset class with interesting properties — it is highly uncorrelated to any other asset class and it has also outperformed most other asset classes in the last few years.
This is great as a “diversification” tool and the Melon project is enabling an infrastructure that will make it possible to one day discover and invest in the best crypto Fund Managers for diversification.
On a different note, if you are investing in traditional non-blockchain run funds — you are paying on average 1.5%-2% of performance away in fees annually due to the large cost base incurred due to outdated processes and technology. This has the potential to be radically reduced by using more efficient technology like Melon. If we can help cost-saving for fund-like structures through smart-contract automation, the this can be eventually passed on to investors in the form of lower fees.
There has been enormous excitement and interest to Melonport in the Ethereum community, what can people do to help Melonport?
Great question — If you are a blockchain developer building anything that falls into these categories;
Get in touch and lets talk about building a module that can interact with Melon!
We are looking for devs to grow our team slowly and steadily and welcome job applications in Crypto Valley. Our code is open on www.github.com/melonproject and the best way to apply is by contributing code!
We will be launching a Bug Bounty program very soon and we are constantly looking for feedback and great minds who can help this project become a success so please also feel free to reach out to us with any thoughts in our Slack chat.melonport.com or email us directly at [email protected].
Thank you for the interview Mona and best of luck to you and everyone at Melonport!
Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #02 AuctionHouse
The Ethereum DApp Creators series began last week with the Melonport interview, where their CEO Mona El Isa answered some of our questions regarding the development of the Melon protocol and Melonport Portal.
In our second issue, we invited Doug Petkanics from AuctionHouse.
AuctionHouse is designed to bring Ethereum non-fungible on-chain goods for people to buy and sell in a decentralized market place. This will allow people to safely exchange goods between each other, an important function when considering mainstream usage of Ethereum.
This interview series is about the people who work hard to develop decentralized applications on top of Ethereum.
Hello Doug! Could you explain what AuctionHouse is for any readers who aren’t familiar with the project?
AuctionHouse is a decentralized platform for auctioning off on-chain goods on Ethereum.
While exchanges are great for buying and selling fungible goods like tokens, auction platforms are much better for selling unique, non-fungible goods, like a digital ticket to a concert, or a virtual good in a role-playing game. Users place their item into the smart contract in escrow, start their auction, and the contract handles collecting bids, reserve price, and distributing funds and the item to the winner.
Could you tell us how did you get started with AuctionHouse?
I built AuctionHouse, along with my colleague Eric Tang, for two reasons:
- We saw the need for an auction platform that was easy to use for non-technical users in the Ethereum ecosystem. There was plenty of example code for auctions in Solidity or contained in blog posts, but no easily usable auction DApps with interfaces.
- We wanted to go through the process of building an end-to-end DApp, including the smart contracts, the protocol design, and the front-end, in order to learn the development stack.
We wanted to build and deploy it on the testnet so that it would be usable, but it’s intended as an open project. The source is on Github, and we welcome contributions and updates. It is not intended to be run as a business directly, as it’s an open protocol for auctions that anyone can build on top of, but we did build in incentives for DApps that want to bring bidders to auctions and promote auctions on different channels. This would enable people to develop and market sustainable apps on the platform, but we don’t have any intention of doing so ourselves.
So AuctionHouse is deployed on the Testnet, how can people access it?
AuctionHouse is out in the wild on the Ropsten testnet, and is accessible through Status. There have been problems with Ropsten recently, where transactions may not get included unless the gas price is increased. We’ll update to point to a new testnet when the solution gets figured out. We’ll deploy to the mainnet as soon as a good owned standard for non-fungible items is agreed upon. Anyone else is welcome to deploy AuctionHouse to the main net as soon as they have a great use for it!
You mention it’s accessible through Status, how has it been for you and what are your thoughts about Status?
I’m excited about Status because I think it’s the first tool which can really bring the power of Ethereum DApps to the mainstream user on their smart phone. If it abstracts away network syncing, key storage, and transaction signing, then users can use DApps like AuctionHouse on the go.
Look at how people bid on Ebay and interact on Craigslist in growing numbers from their smartphones today, and it’s clear that DApps won’t reach the mainstream unless people can use them in mobile contexts.
Which sort of incentives do the auctioners have and what feature are you most excited about in AuctionHouse?
I’m most excited about the “Distribution Cut Incentive” that we baked into the AuctionHouse protocol. Using AuctionHouse is free for sellers and buyers (minus gas costs). However a seller can optionally set a percentage of the final sale price to go to an Ethereum address of their choosing. We call this the Distribution Incentive. Why would a seller do this, and for example send 15% of the sale price to someone else?
It’s a market determined rate that serves as an incentive for marketing and promotion and audience brought to their auction. Imagine a centralized (or decentralized) site pops up that promotes great on-chain auctions, and has an audience of millions of potential bidders. Whatever that site features as the first item on their homepage is more likely to get seen and get bids than something that’s buried under many other listings.
If the seller sets the distribution cut address to the address of this site, then the site is now incentivized to feature this item to their users based on the profits it can expect to receive from the sale. The site can even set this rate itself if it serves as a nice interface to let mainstream users create auctions. AuctionHouse won’t determine what this price should be, but the market will over time. This will create a nice equilibrium in which auctions can be run really efficiently without undeserving parties taking a toll.
Will you have a service for people to create their own custom tokens that will represent physical items which can then be auctioned?
This is a good question. The only items that can be auctioned are items that conform to the Asset Contract, which means that the items have an owner() method and a setOwner() method. Anyone can create a token that has these methods, and it will be auctionable on AuctionHouse.
This is not a universally agreed upon standard yet however, and we’d definitely be willing to update AuctionHouse to support whatever standard people agree upon. There is some discussion on Github going on here: https://github.com/ethereum/EIPs/issues/173#issuecomment-259180200
AuctionHouse Creators Doug Petkanics & Eric Tang
Any other exciting Ethereum related projects that you’re working on?
I mentioned that we built AuctionHouse as a learning experience, but it is not our full time project. I would like to give a plug for our actual full time project — Livepeer.
Livepeer is a decentralized platform for live streaming video built on Ethereum and Swarm. Any user can run a livepeer node, broadcast a live video into the network (think Twitch or Younow), and the network will take care of encoding it into all formats for all devices, and distributing it to any other node which wants to watch it.
We’re early in design/development for the project, but we encourage everyone in the community to get involved!
You can see more about us at http://livepeer.org/team.
Thanks Doug, it’ll be interesting to see how AuctionHouse and Livepeer develop!
Ethereum Contributors Series // Issue #03 Jarred Chase
Previous issues in the Ethereum Contributors Series have featured interviews with ethereumNick and Andy Tudhope.
This issue will have an interview with Jarred Chase, a community member who contributes to The Etherian and participates in numerous discussion and social media platforms.
This interview series is about the people who are actively involved with projects in the Ethereum ecosystem, and also includes some of our very own contributors to Status.
Hi Jarred, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what do you do for a living?
I am a husband, dad, chef, baker, charcutier, metalhead, and crypto-enthusiast from Austin, TX. I work for Dai Due; a restaurant and butcher shop in Austin. In 2014, we transitioned from Supper Club and Farmer’s Market Stand to a brick-and-mortar restaurant and butcher shop. In 2015, we were named one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants. I now work solely in the educational wing of the restaurant called: The New School of Traditional Cookery.
We offer several different kinds of classes ranging from butchery to fishing with the most popular being a 3-day Hunting School where we take a group of people out to a ranch and teach them gun safety, how to sight in a rifle, wildlife management, hunting, skinning, eviscerating, storage, butchery, whole animal utilization and processing, sausage and charcuterie. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is made with what we have harvested; whether that be feral hogs, dove, duck, deer, quail, turkey, and/or fish (saltwater and freshwater). Dinner is quite the spectacle.
You’re not working in the tech industry, so how did you find about and got involved with Ethereum?
I’ve been involved (read: obsessed) with Ethereum for a little under a year now. As a native Texan raised on a healthy diet of heavy metal music, I immediately fell in love with Ethereum’s potential for self-sovereign identity and disruptor of existing power structures.
I had always been interested in Bitcoin, but line cooks raising a newborn baby don’t exactly have a lot of money to invest in magic Internet money. I remember hearing about Silk Road, and wondering, “Man, I wish I could buy weed on the darknet! That’s badass! Dangit, I need some Bitcoin. *checks bank account **sigh** closes bank account*”
After Mt. Gox I paid closer attention to how Bitcoin would rebound, and during this time I got my family’s finances in order thanks to YNAB [You Need a Budget], and was finally able to buy my first little bit of coin.
In March of last year, I read that GDAX had added Ethereum.
My searching led me to a couple of interviews with Joseph Lubin. I had to watch them several times.
“Wait a minute… does this mean what I think it means?
Holy shit. It does! And more!”
Before I could properly expand my mind to fully understand the implications and possibilities of this new technology, TheDAO happened. I woke up to the news, and marveled at the calm and measured response to the whole situation that followed, and immediately felt secure in my investment. I’ve been diving deeper ever since.
How do you currently participate and contribute to the Ethereum community?
I contribute to The Etherian along with MrNebbiolo and truewavebreak. It is a weekly update on DApps and development within the Ethereum ecosystem. We monitor and report on news in the public channels (Slack/Gitter) of the various teams building this ecosystem.
So what would you say that the non-technically savvy people can do to contribute to the Ethereum community?
I kept asking myself this very same question. I knew this was a path I wanted to follow so I began searching for that first step in the right direction. I came across a post by MrNebbiolo in /r/Ethereum asking for help with this project he and truewavebreak were planning to start. That project became The Etherian. We could actually use more contributors to expand the number of DApps we cover so that is one viable option. There will be similar projects that arise. Colony is going to be a gamechanger. Dive in, yo!
Other than that, I’d say introduce yourself on the public forums, answer noob questions, call out and report spammers/phishers, get to know members of the community, test the DApps, buy and hodl, create a wallet for your close friends, allocate a bit of ETH, and show them how this all works. If they are hesitant to dive deeper; have patience, that day will come.
What Ethereum related projects do you find the most fascinating yourself?
Status, Colony, AKASHA, WeTrust, ENS, Ujo and JAAK are a few. I think we’re underestimating the importance of the ENS [Ethereum Name Service]. It alleviates one of the most confusing aspects of crypto, and I’m happy they are taking their time to fix the contract issues. Micro-licensing is one of the first things I thought about when getting into Ethereum, and I got really happy when I learned about JAAK.
My buddies make really good music using samples from different sources that would be impossible to release without inviting cease-and-desists. It’s really awesome that they could pay a small licensing fee for just what they use that’s recorded in a contract with an immediate usage grant where they can get paid for their work. Perhaps that contract is written in a way that the original artists also get a tiny cut, too? Smart contracts all the way down!
Do you think Ethereum will be disruptive to traditional industries? Any particular ones that you think might get disrupted by this technology?
Ethereum will disrupt industries that I haven’t even thought about yet. The one I think about the most; however, is agriculture. I’m really interested to see how this technology can be applied to a local ecosystem. Austin has a strong food community with many young, aspiring, idealistic farmers and artisans. Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are extremely difficult. Then, should one be lucky enough to have a nice piece of land to farm, the day-to-day realities of running a small farm in Texas quickly become overwhelming. Floods, drought, predators, disease, wind, labor, low sales, and competition from established farms are just some of the issues facing new farmers.
With an Ethereum token model, I think there is an opportunity to create a distributed network of local farms that could help mitigate these issues, to provide better ability to train new farmers, to have better volunteer infrastructure, to have better data storage and monitoring, to have the ability to set up a food bank and pantry utilizing excess. I’m excited to see crypto-communes become a thing. Could we make a point-of-sale system for a restaurant that wouldn’t go down during Sunday brunch? I already view Ethereum as kind of a community garden so I feel it can assimilate nicely into similar communities. Maybe that’s all a bit idealistic, but I’m willing to fight the good fight.
Talking about the technology and fighting the good fight, is there something that you think might be an obstacle which Ethereum has to overcome in the future?
Proof of Stake. There is going to be a palpable energy surrounding Ethereum when we change over. I know it’s going to happen in phases now, but with the price rising like it has been, I think PoS is going to hit some mainstream news outlets. There will be attacks, but I look forward to when we can all let out our collectively held breath afterwards in triumph.
What do you personally look forward to this year, any personal goals you wish to accomplish?
My goals for 2017 are to improve my foundational knowledge of Ethereum, and to continue to try to find my voice in this space. I’m relatively new, but this is something I believe in. Having a non-technically savvy wife has helped me become a better communicator about this technology, but I’m not where I want to be yet.
I’m going to continue working in this space, and view it as a legitimate career. I love meritocracies. I worked 6 months unpaid to get into a kitchen because I love cooking. This is my new passion, and I’m prepared to work just as hard. I started contributing to The Etherian just a short while ago, and now I’m getting interviewed by Status. It’ll be exciting to see where we’re at in December.
Thanks to everybody in the Ethereum community for making this a great place to be.
Keep the FAETH.
Good luck to The Etherian and for whichever projects you will get involved with, thank you Jarred for participating in our interview!
Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #03 FirstBlood
The Ethereum DApp Creators series started with our interview of Mona El isa from Melonport and continued with Issue #02, Doug Petkanics from AuctionHouse.
In our third issue, we’ll be getting into the world of online gaming and eSports with Auryn Macmillan and FirstBlood.
This interview series is about the people who work hard to develop decentralized applications on top of Ethereum.
Hello Auryn, you had a successful token sale for the FirstBlood token 1ST last year, you’re now building towards the initial alpha release, you’ve been presenting at meetups, organizing multiple regular Dota2 tournaments for your community, and the pre-alpha was one of the first DApps in Status.
Before your public alpha launch we thought this would be a great time to delve deeper and ask you some questions.Community Director of FirstBlood, Auryn Macmillan
For those who don’t know you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, like what is it that you do at FirstBlood? How did you get drawn into the world of Ethereum?
Officially my role is Community Director, what that translates to most of the time is cat herding. I coordinate our community events and tournaments to make sure everyone is having a good time.
I’ve been totally immersed in the blockchain space since early 2013, I originally discovered Bitcoin after learning about the deep web. That intrigued me, so I started poking around and noticed everything for sale was denominated in Bitcoin. From there I fell into a rabbit hole that just keeps on getting deeper (I feel a matrix session coming on). When I started reading Vitalik’s posts on his concept for Ethereum, I immediately knew it would be game changer.
And how about FirstBlood? What would you say is the most exciting aspect of it for you?
FirstBlood (actually it was called Tronn when I first discovered it) immediately jumped out at me, it was a blend of a long time passion of mine, video games, and a rabbit hole that had ensnared me for the past few years. Naturally I was captivated.
Coming from a crypto background, I’m personally most excited about the proper alignment of incentives. Toxicity and cheating are rampant in video games and eSports, so platforms like ours that will financially disincentivise these behaviours can’t come soon enough.
You actually have a background in professional competitive sports. Do you see that your former career in basketball helps you in the world of eSports?
Definitely, there are all kinds of parallels to be drawn between the two, everything from league/tournament design to player work and dietary habits.Auryn Macmillan was formerly a professional basketball player.
Also you’re a gamer yourself, what kind of games do attract you, do you have a favourite genre of games?
I honestly don’t think I could say I have a personal favourite genre. I tend to like individual instances of just about every genre. My absolute favourite game of all time is Half-Life 2, followed closely by Diablo 2. Both of which have aged well enough for me to still enjoy playing them today.
The game I play most these days is Hearthstone, just because it’s a quick and simple game I can play anywhere.
And obviously I’ve been playing a fair bit of Dota 2 lately, the whole team has had to dive head first into Dota 2 to make sure we fully understand the ecosystem.
What kind of players do you think will be drawn to FirstBlood and how will they benefit from it?
FirstBlood will be most attractive to competitive eSports players. Anyone who already spends time grinding out ranked games will find more consistent quality games on FirstBlood because of the incentive structure.
Because of this built in incentive model, FirstBlood will help to eliminate a lot of the toxic behaviour that is common in eSports. On FirstBlood there will be direct financial disincentives to cheating, disconnect, go AFK, feed, or start flaming your teammates.
Dota 2 being the first game on FirstBlood, can you tell us what other games are you looking to and what you’re hoping to achieve with FirstBlood?
There is nothing set in stone just yet, but we’ll be targeting the major PC eSports games first. So that would include CS:GO, League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Rocket League, Street Fighter, etc. Beyond that, we hope to eventually expand into console games like Call of Duty, Halo, and FIFA.
To put it briefly, we want to reward the journey. We want to give gamers the opportunity to be rewarded for their participation in eSports from day one. Joe, our CEO actually wrote a nice blog post on this: https://blog.firstblood.io/reward-the-journey-a01415426c64
What sort of issues are you facing on this journey of developing FirstBlood?
Waiting on the rest of the industry to catch up. We are pioneering this application of Ethereum’s blockchain tech in this space, so until the rest of the space catches up we will be dealing with making our product backwards compatible with legacy systems.
Typically public video game APIs are sparse and poorly documented. Finding or creating APIs that will give us the level of granularity we require will be one of the bigger challenges.
And the UX of Ethereum, and cryptocurrency as a whole, is nowhere near where it needs to be in order to satisfy the needs of mainstream gamers. Finding solutions or compromises to the janky interactions that crypto forces will be the biggest hurdle for us.
Making the UX of FirstBlood as simple as possible will be key for us. If you can play Dota 2 (or really any other eSport), you should have no trouble navigating our platform.FirstBlood pre-alpha Game Lobby
Regarding Ethereum, what are the benefits of using it? Any other projects in the space that you’re excited about?
Ethereum will allow us to be more transparent than any of our competitors can be. Meaning players, teams, and other organisations will be exposed to much less counterparty risk when they interact with us.
There are some really interesting synergies in the Ethereum space. The one that immediately springs to mind is Ownage; they are tokenizing in game assets. Imagine being able to take your in game items with you from one game to another, this is exactly what Ownage is making a reality. Now the really cool extension on this will be asynchronous wagering, i.e. my sword vs your shield, on the FirstBlood platform.
Aside from FirstBlood, I’m most excited about Gnosis and Status. The later because I see it drastically reducing the barriers to entry in the Ethereum space. The former because it is the technology that will enable some of the more interesting and wild applications that the Ethereum has to offer; futarchy DAOs!
The big barriers to entry right now are key management and client weight, both of which Status is doing an amazing job at addressing.
Do you see that Status as a mobile user interface can help FirstBlood?
First and foremost, crypto is scary! Well for a lot of users anyway. So anything that reduces that barrier to entry is welcome. Aside from that, giving users an opportunity to interact with our app while they are away from their PC will definitely help engagement.
What do you think FirstBlood can do to help or change people’s lives?
I look forward to hearing the first stories of someone quitting their day job because they’ve been able to generate a steady income playing on FirstBlood. These cases will be exceptional, but there will be opportunity for everyone to monetise their eSports participation much earlier than is currently possible.
How big do you think the FirstBlood community will grow in 2017?
It’s gonna be yuge!
Honestly though, I’m not going to try to predict a figure but we have no intent on scaling slowly once our platform is ready for users. We have a couple of leagues and tournaments planned that are sure to see some pretty wild growth.
What are you personally looking forward to this year?
Wild growth in the Ethereum and crypto space! I think we’ll see the start of an Ethereum DApp boom, so I’m looking forward to more and more use cases for my favourite technology.
So how can people get access to FirstBlood?
We’re currently in a limited alpha. If you participated in the 1ST pre-sale or have been active in our community for a while and want to try it out, then shoot me a message asking really nicely. Otherwise, you may just have to wait until we open it up to the public in Beta.
Last question; what can people in the Ethereum community do to help FirstBlood?
Learn how to play Dota 2!
Thank you for your time Auryn, we’ll be closely following the development of FirstBlood in the months ahead.
Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #04 Project Oaken
This time we’ll be interviewing John Gerryts and Hudson Jameson from Project Oaken about their recent success and progress on bringing the blockchain to the Internet of Things.
In the previous issue of this series we talked with Auryn Macmillan from FirstBlood about eSports and the blockchain.
You can find all the past issues of our Ethereum DApp Creators and Ethereum Contributors Series at https://blog.status.im.
Hudson Jameson, John Gerryts & James Johnson from Oaken, winners of UAE GovHack
Please tell us, what is Project Oaken?
Project Oaken is a secure, autonomous, machine-to-machine platform built to provide the underlying infrastructure needed to power smart cities and secure IoT devices. This includes both a software and hardware solution that integrates into existing systems and processes.
What is your role and what is it that you do in Oaken?
John: My role is as co-founder and CEO. At this early stage though co-founder is more descriptive of what I do than CEO as we still have the luxury of being able to truly tackle things as a team. In my mind this is what has allowed Oaken to be successful thus far and I see us striving to keep this environment moving forward as we grow.
Hudson: I am a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. As a start-up there is a plethora of roles that bleed over into one another. I handle a lot of the back-end business side of things and create all of the Ethereum related infrastructure and Solidity code that we use. It’s a lot of fun!
Could you describe your vision for Oaken and the goal you’re hoping to achieve with the project?
John: Our vision for Oaken is to be the first name that comes to mind when someone is thinking of a Blockchain & IoT solution. We are looking to position ourselves as such by continuing to build out revolutionary, innovative & reliable solutions that help to realize value by leveraging Blockchain in the IoT space.
Hudson: Project Oaken wants to be the go-to platform for IoT device infrastructure. We want to build innovative solutions that provide stability and security to IoT devices while showcasing the benefits of blockchain technology.
We want to build a robust layer of secure machine-to-machine value transfer that will allow for the vision of blockchain to be implemented on a massive scale.
Tell us little about yourselves, what’s your background and how did you discover Ethereum?
John: I have been a technologist for over 20 years. I came into the crypto space, as most have, by way of Bitcoin. Being somewhat involved in the Toronto scene in late 2013 & early 2014 I was exposed to Ethereum early on, and to a certain degree I “got it”. I entered my first Ethereum Hackathon preceding the 2014 Bitcoin Expo, with Airlock, assembled a team the morning of the event, and we placed third at the “In Crypto We Trust” event.
I never looked back as my work on Airlock inspired me to continue to work with Ethereum. I was able to secure, and successfully deliver on, an Ethereum DevGrant, named EthEmbedded, in which I ported early versions of the Ethereum client (pre-light client) to ARM based devices. Oaken is a natural progression from there as a way to implement the technology I have been working with for years now.
Hudson: I have been interested in computers and security since I was a kid. Throughout high school I focused less on programming and more on computer security, specifically wireless protocol security and penetration testing.
In college I became familiar with Bitcoin which started my obsession that would last the next 6 years. During my last year of college I was exploring altcoins and had been very involved in the Darkcoin (now Dash) community. I saw articles discussing Ethereum and read the white paper. It instantly clicked for me that this was going to be different than the other coins I was looking at. The idea of adding programs and scripts on top of a blockchain has always been a really cool idea to me.
I invested in the crowdsale and started developing Dapps around the PoC8 release (early 2015). Since then I’ve enjoyed participating in the growth of Ethereum and all the friends I have made in the space.
The concept behind Oaken was really interesting because I had seen a lot of hype in the industry about blockchain + IoT, but not a lot of solid examples of implementing those ideas.
Hudson Jameson and the huge cheque
What role does Ethereum play and help you in the development of Oaken? Any features you think which will bring even more benefits?
John: Our entire platform is currently built on Ethereum to essentially create an on ramp for IoT in order to leverage Ethereum smart contract functionality. Oaken simply may not exist were it not for Ethereum as progress of other blockchains in regards to development are a great deal behind.
Hudson: I believe a PoS solution will benefit Ethereum the most because of the security and stability behind it (when properly designed and implemented). CASPER is looking very promising.
What kind of requirements are there for someone wanting to utilize Oaken? What about the average consumer?
Hudson: Oaken is currently being developed for the purpose of industrial IoT and smart city applications, so the requirements vary based on the use case. For those implementing ACORNs, a solid understanding of how Ethereum works is a must.
For the average consumer it should be as transparent as TCP/IP is for people accessing the Internet. Once widely implemented, the transparency of IoT transactions will benefit the consumer. Companies will have a much more difficult time overcharging customers.
About the IoT industry, do you see Oaken as a disruptive force in that field? Which other industries do you see that it might affect?
Hudson: IoT is a nascent technology itself, so the standards for IoT are not set in stone. This provides a great opportunity for blockchain to show itself to be a valuable technology.
John: Whichever industry is bold enough to adopt the technology first. The applications for blockchain & IoT span industries and will begin to actually tear down the walls or silos that separate all the spaces. I have said it before, If you are still searching for use cases, you don’t understand blockchain. I think rather that the opposite is true: to pick just a few is very difficult indeed.
What is it about IoT that got you working on this project?
John: For the most part it was what IoT seemed to be lacking that makes this project most interesting. It is in these shortcomings of IoT that we are able to see how perfect the union of Blockchain & IoT truly is. Identity, Security, & Payments are all problems within IoT that Blockchain provides solutions to.
It is also impossible to overlook the timing in innovation and continued development of these two technologies and how they not only compliment each other but are both now being realized as viable at such a crucial time in tech.
Hudson: Blockchain and IoT is match made in heaven. IoT devices require security, identity, and need to transfer value (whether that be data or money). Blockchain technology is the missing piece of the IoT infrastructure. There are a lot of exciting new fields that blockchain can contribute to, but this one will make the biggest industry impact.
So how does blockchain technology make Oaken different from other traditional applications?
John: Bleeding Edge Innovation. I see most non-blockchain technology as just re-hashing (no pun intended) or improving the efficiency of existing tech. With blockchain we have the ability to truly innovate in a new space and build things no one else has built.
What specifically can you do with your technology currently? What are your biggest challenges on scaling that?
Hudson: We have released a few demos that show how our technology can interact with things like water meters and Tesla automobiles in order to facilitate in the transparent, autonomous transactions blockchains provide. The biggest challenge we face is the current limitations of blockchain technology. Solutions like sharding that improve transaction throughput and data storage requirements will help us scale more in the future.
John: Currently the two main things we can do with our technology is to realize the value in implementing secure payments via blockchain and to also realize the value in utilizing smart contracts alongside distributed storage in lieu of traditional IT infrastructure. We can deploy this specifically on embedded devices in addition to traditional systems.
Our current proof of concepts are utility meters and self driving vehicle payments with regards to tolls & parking. Scaling is an issue that we all face in regards to blockchain, and we all see the dangers of this with the current situation within Bitcoin. This is why we are currently focused on Ethereum and EVM based chains as this is where we believe most of the successful development on scaling and other optimizations will occur. From the geth light client, to Status, to Raiden payment channels we are dependant on, and support fully, community efforts to discover valid solutions to problems.
Are you looking to partner with other IoT companies in the future or do you prefer to keep production in-house?
John: In an effort to be efficient, we surveyed the existing off-the-shelf tech on the market in order to implement cryptographic tools on embedded devices but none of the offerings were able to support Ethereum (or other blockchain tech for that matter). We then set to work on developing our own HSM [Hardware Security Module] in order to generate, store and transact with Ethereum keys on-board embedded devices.
We have had a great connection with one partner in particular, and have discussed the possibility of further business in order to leverage what we are both good at. I think it will ultimately depend on each specific ACORN application whether we reach out to a partner or not. In summary, we are capable of doing it in house for now, but as we grow we are obviously not opposed to partnerships.
Hudson: We are open to collaborating with others.
How are the ACORNS autonomous? And how does Ethereum relate to that?
Hudson: Our ACORNs are independent modules of Oaken that are able to interact with each other. Ethereum smart contracts enable autonomous transfers of value, which fit nicely into our models.
John: ACORNs are autonomous in that they allow for independant interaction and payments from Ethereum node to Ethereum node, or Ethereum node to Smart Contract without human confirmation or interaction.
Are you now concentrating your work on polishing the existing ACORNs and getting them production ready or are you looking to widen the field with more ACORNs first?
Hudson: We are currently polishing and expanding the capabilities of our existing ACORNs while having discussions with parties interested in all kinds of ACORNs.
John: We built a great foundation during recent months, and we continue to strengthen that foundation in an effort to be prepared to adapt our ACORNs to many solutions we are currently discussing with numerous prospective partners.
What are you looking forward to and how big do you see that the project might grow during 2017?
John: Development Partnerships and Growth. We have some short term goals we are focusing on, and some of these will allow us both work with Industry leading companies and also to add to our already amazing team.
The Project Oaken Team and friends
What do you see as the biggest hurdle in gaining a critical mass for Oaken?
Hudson: The biggest hurdle is the same hurdle that many groups in blockchains products face: communication. Being able to get people to understand the value and benefits of a new technology is the majority of the battle.
Do you see Oaken possibly benefiting from a mobile user interface, like what you have with the Water Meter ACORN in Status?
John: Absolutely. Although some of our focus is on machine to machine transactions, there will always be some sort of UI required in order to leverage the systems that this machine to machine interaction facilitate. Ultimately increased efficiencies and utility for humankind is the end goal and mobile devices are the leading interface currently.
Hudson: A mobile interface for Dapps is instrumental in showcasing the value of Ethereum to all users. Even beyond demos, Status is one of the only tools an average user can use today to interact with Ethereum.
So when do you think people can get their hands on Oaken products?
John: I see Oaken as an “Infrastructure First” platform. So basically when people can truly get their hands on Oaken, they may not even know they are using it.
Which other Ethereum projects are you personally most excited about?
John: Oaken: Raiden for low cost micro transactions.
And which Dapps can Oaken benefit the most from?
John: Definitely Status. The amount of time and effort that we DON’T need to invest in mobile development is fantastic.
Any words for the readers, like what can they do to help Oaken?
John: Simply continue the awesome development on all the great Ethereum based services and help us help you. If there is anything we can do to contribute to the progress of the technologies built on the platform we are more than happy to discuss! We need you to all be successful for us to be successful!
Thank you John and Hudson, looking forward to seeing what new ACORNs you develop next and all the best for your future endeavours!