COVAL UPDATE 1016

By Michael Sullivan and ►Shannon Code

Shannon and I have a lot in common and it’s why we work so well together. We’re big thinkers who can turn ideas into working prototypes which then, if deemed worthy, can proceed and evolve into more mature concepts and components integrated into larger systems. Sometimes, it makes sense to turn it into a stand-alone thing. This is happening with some of the COVAL developments in recent weeks.

We are both fascinated by Steganography related technology. I started discussing this topic with Shannon in the context of audio. I’ll get back to this shortly. As discussed in the previous update, VOCAL is our own initial application that is being built to specifically integrate with the $COVAL cryptocurrency and tech stack. It is an audio focused concept (though other content types can be published as well). Audio content is becoming more and more relevant especially with many high quality productions in the last few years. It’s not the first time that I have focused on audio publishing tools (podcasting, aggregators, web players/recorders, remixer apps etc) and we both have done extensive work with the RSS standard in the past. I’ve wanted to re-enter the audio space and this seemed like a perfect time and project to do so. But in addition to developing an audio publishing platform and hopefully a network of creative people to use it, we want to add some unique crypto features too. This brings us back to Steganography and Watermarking.

Steganography and Audio Watermarking

As crypto geeks, we are obviously drawn to interesting dark corners where security, secret sharing, anonymity and zero trust technologies are just some of the usual suspects. We tend to see practical use cases with fringe tech and we think that focusing on stego and watermarking is a good example of this. Audio Watermarking is an important innovation and it’s not obvious or trivial how to do it in a robust way. I have spent some time delving back into this space in an effort to bring some form of it into the VOCAL platform. I’m working on ways to combine both stego and watermarking techniques to provide a range of features from basic binding of public keys and bitcoin addresses within audio files to advanced concepts that could to some extent mimic the qualities of a bearer bond value exchange.

We have privately discussed various use cases and we hope to be more forthcoming in the next update about what all of this means and if it will continue to be a focus for the VOCAL development project. We are also collaborating with an expert audio engineer who specializes in audio watermarking. More on this relationship in a future update.

Below is an early concept that expresses some of our vision around audio and cryptography. This example flow would rely on client-side encoder/decoder wallet apps to allow for a zero knowledge/trust cryptocurrency value transfer between Alice and Bob. We are working on variations of this scheme but thought we would share a visual to help you grok what we’re working on.

Alice sends Bob cryptocurrency using an audio wallet file. Alice never has access to private key but funds the bitcoin address. Bob can spend/sweep the funds or keep as is. Bob gets access to the private key.

ŏdeōkee

In relation to the VOCAL platform and Audio Watermarking tech, we have also started developing a companion app called ŏdeōkee. This will evolve over time but initially it will act as a simple client-side offline-capable Bitcoin “audio wallet” generator. This app will work with VOCAL for cases where zero trust is important. We are not ready to go into more details about this component in this update but it is an exciting experiment! Below is a short screencast of the first step of generating an audio wallet:

VOCAL APP

We are co-developing the web and mobile app. Both are functional and allow for easy publishing of audio content and other formats as well as messaging and common features you would come to expect in a social network type of environment. Nothing groundbreaking here but it is solid foundation for the more interesting features that will be laid on top and integrated using the COVAL stack components. This will allow the $COVAL cryptocurrency to be seamlessly used in the app (which also will work as user wallet). Since we still have early interface designs on both versions of the app intended to just help us flesh out the functionality and features, we won’t bother displaying screenshots here. Polish still needed! Here is a quick screencast of webapp showing an audio post:

Games and 8-bit Pixel Art

Another focus of ours is integrating $COVAL into games. Since $COVAL is now intended to be a generic cryptocurrency that can be used by other projects as their in-game currency (alongside native Bitcoin support), we have been thinking of ways to make this attractive to existing digital ecosystems and how to gain some momentum. In order to demonstrate this use case, it is smart to be efficient with our resources and expedite proof of concepts. Building iOS and Android apps takes time and to make a great app has deep costs. Prototyping on other platforms is enticing so we looked at 8-bit gaming as an alternative to the obvious smartphone app approach for games. Later in 2017, we expect to build some iOS and Android games but for now….

Pico-8, Voxotron and PocketCHIP

I have been interested in the platforms called Pico-8 and Voxotron by Lexaloffle. So, why not start by working on integrating $COVAL into our own games and other 8-bit pixel experiences on these Lexaloffle platforms?This is the plan for our game integration initiative. We’re also motivated by the very cool PocketCHIP (CHIP board as portable computer) which is Pico-8 compatible. Going retro may seem like a strange move in a world of slick mobile games and apps on our phones. However, I think it brings a unique and exciting culture of hackers and artists into the picture and since we admittedly are in a very experimental phase for COVAL, it seems like the right move.

While working on these platforms, we will interact with those user and developer communities and help others integrate COVAL into their own virtual “cartridges”. We also think that the format of the .p8.png cart files plays nicely into our stego and audio watermarking efforts. Expect to see some cool mashups between VOCAL and these simple 8-bit game integration efforts. We have some crazy ideas around this so stay tuned.

Counterparty Migration

We are still hopeful to have completed the migration to Counterparty by the end of 2016. It is possible that we will conditionally use COVAL.XCP tokens before the full migration off of the legacy chain. As a current holder of $COVAL, you will receive a higher ratio than 1:1 when you convert to the new tokens. Token supply will not be increased but we need to finalize what the accurate total market numbers are including pre-mine from legacy RBR project. We will look to burn off some amount of the premine and take other measures in order to align with a logical economic model. These details are still pending and we may solicit community feedback after the next update.

Mobile App Development Update

Mobile development is ongoing. Soon we will be offering beta access to applications before they hit the app store.

Redemption Network

One of the most important and exciting features of COVAL is the ability to convert or “redeem” points for another form of value. There are a handful of ways we plan to enable this. One of which is our integration with http://giftbit.com. This will enable the conversion of rewards into immediately usable value at thousands of retail locations and online.

The COVAL Landscape

Thanks for your interest.