Dominating the Edge

While we have spoken at length about the mesh networking aspects of the Ammbr Mesh Network, we haven’t expanded greatly on the design of the actual Ammbr Mesh Router. The images of our prototype have been well received, and so its probably fair to expound on our design direction.

The primary function of the device is, unsurprisingly, to provide Internet connectivity and networking services. Pretty much everything relies on networking to function these days (with the exception of our air-gapped secure appliance, which specifically avoids networking), so the networking can be considered the foundation.

That accounts for the top platter, which contains the bits for networking.

The bottom platter contains the electronics for the other important piece of the foundation — the Blockchain. This is what adds the economic ecosystem — the marketplace — to the Ammbr Network. The cryptographic unit of exchange, the AMMBR, is made possible by the Blockchain.

However, that still leave other platters on the table, so to speak.

Architecture

The first thing to understand is that the platters are connected on a common communications bus, and are therefore like miniature servers arranged as a server rack. They are held together by magnetic feet that fit into recesses in the platter below. The entire unit can therefore be picked up and moved without worrying that the whole lot may come apart.

The spring-loaded communications bus clip that connects a platter with the one above

Other platters can now be developed that clip into the tower of platters in order to add further functionality. Basically the Ammbr Router turns into a computer rack at the edge of the network, that offers the basic services of Blockchain and (mesh) networking as a default.

Networking Platters

The next platters we are building are designed to, firstly, improve the qualities of the mesh network. There is quite a bit written about this in our whitepaper, but the purpose is mainly to:

  1. Improve throughput and reduce congestion by adding alternative radio bands and protocols for routing traffic
  2. Provide support for more connectivity to other networks and devices

So we are building platters to support

  • Shorter range, higher throughput LTE-U (unlicensed)
  • Medium range Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)
  • Longer range Sub 1 GHz IoT and obstacle penetrating spectrum
  • High frequency (unlicensed) communications

This will turn the Ammbr router into a truly multi-spectrum / multi-protocol hub for mesh networking, that is pure plug-and-play.

Alternative Platters

With the networking and Blockchain understood, lets get on to where things get extremely interesting. What else can we build? Why would an Ammbr router be a good place for it to be?

Ammbr routers are going to be used in homes and small business offices. They will be providing Internet connectivity to end users, who will be browsing and accessing web services. Many applications are very well suited to sitting closer to the end user, rather than on a server in a large datacenter, somewhere in the “cloud”. The main reason for this is network latency. The other is the cost of moving data from where it is, to the end user, and back. Therefore applications prefer being closer to the user in order to reduce the costs in time and money.

A good example of this is video. Providing an in-network cache for video closer to the end user is highly desirable for video on demand. It is highly likely that one of our first alternative Ammbr platters will be a storage cache for video.

The other example is storage. Several blockchain companies already offer distributed storage services, e.g. Storj, Sia and Filecoin. It would be fairly trivial to build nodes to support these. The benefit to the owner of the Ammbr router is that this can offer both services (backup/storage) and new revenue streams, selling those services to others on the Ammbr mesh network.

Another type of platter that will likely be built early on is an edge cloud server with a virtualisation environment with containers. Again, this will give the owner of the Ammbr router new services, but also revenue streams from selling the services to the Ammbr mesh network, almost like a mini-hosting or cloud company.

Intersecting the Internet of Things (IoT)

Being able to communicate with smart devices in the home and office from the Ammbr router also presents opportunities in the IoT world. One of the key areas we will be targeting is the issue of security.

The Ammbr Network uses a digital identity schema for its own security, rooted in self-sovereign digital identity. An important factor in this is key management. If users are not fully in control of their private keys, and the means by which they authenticate, then attack surfaces appear, with the usual ensuing hacks and compromises. In Ammbr we have that sewn up, and there are no attack surfaces (subject for another post).

A commonly reported problem for IoT deployment is security. Ammbr can, magically, provide extremely strong security schema, at the point where IoT devices meet a highly resilient networking architecture. This indicates a massive opportunity to provide IoT developers and interesting and simple, cross-industry solution to their security woes.

Mobility and Irregular Power

Considering that many Ammbr routers will be deployed in regions where there is no power grid, or unreliable power, we are also building a battery pack into a platter. This will provide “clean” power when spikes threaten to disembowl electronics. It also provides a convenient way to attach alternative power such as solar or wind power. For some users it may be interesting to use the Ammbr device in a mobile or semi-mobile manner, for example providing networking services at events, or wherever there is a temporary need for connectivity. In these settings it will be useful if a power main isn’t a pre-requisite.

Conclusion

The Ammbr router is, we believe, a first in modular Edge Computing servers. The ability to blend services and technologies will create massive opportunities for enterprising developers to build distributed edge applications.

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