2020 was a year we will never forget. As the world changed before our very eyes, one thing has become absolutely clear: the institutions we trusted to protect us have instead failed us and breached our trust. From the rapid growth of corporate/government surveillance to politically-driven COVID-19 policies to rampant misinformation surrounding our elections, 2020 tested our willpower and frequently made us question “who can we actually trust?”
Amidst the turmoil, there is a silver lining: global citizens from all walks of life now recognize the importance of objective facts over subjective promises. This year, the desire for self-sovereignty and a “single version of the truth” has transcended cypherpunks to everyday people. As a result, IoTeX’s vision for the Internet of Trusted Things is now more important than ever — this is what motivates our mission and what has fueled our most productive, purposeful year to date.
IoTeX had a monumental year in 2020. Not only did we accomplish our planned initiatives, but we above and beyond with a surge of new products, protocols, tokenomics, partnerships, and research milestones. Most importantly, we kicked off our transition from the IoTeX protocol to the IoTeX ecosystem with an ever-growing number of developers and companies building next-gen products on IoTeX. We will look back on 2020 as the year we drove to completion several individual pillars that will form the foundation for the Internet of Trusted Things.
In the rest of this blog, we review the core pillars we focused on in 2020 — blockchain, tamper-proof hardware, “Own Your Data”, #DeFIoT, user/dev tools — and explain how they will come together to make IoTeX an indispensable part of our decentralized future.
At the start of 2020, IoTeX was still a hybrid network with staking/voting occurring on both Ethereum and IoTeX. This all changed in June 2020 with the launch of Mainnet GA v1.0 (codename “Machina”). From the day we started IoTeX, we dreamt about launching a fully native IoTeX Mainnet and this year, with the help of 60+ global Delegates, we made it happen. Mainnet GA is much more than a code release — it represents the true independence of IoTeX as a self-sustaining, decentralized, and community-owned network.
The IoTeX blockchain is now one of the fastest (5-sec blocks with instant finality) and most reliable (running error-free since April 2019) in the entire industry and we will only continue to improve. Shortly after launching Mainnet GA v1.0 in June, we followed up with Mainnet v1.1 in August and are nearing the release of Mainnet v1.2 in early 2021. We are ecstatic to see the various components of Machina (e.g., Native Staking v2) and our beloved Delegates continue to thrive as we close out 2020.
Blockchain provides a secure foundation to execute smart contracts and transfer value, but it is not a panacea. Blockchain, as a trusted tool, must synchronize with other trusted tools in order to achieve indisputable, end-to-end trust. Our vision for the Internet of Trusted Things requires not only a “root of trust” via tamper-proof software (blockchain), but also a “root of verifiability” via tamper-proof hardware. Put simply, even the most secure blockchain or smart contract cannot be trusted if the data written to it is not trustworthy — without verifiable data, we cannot have indisputable trust.
This year, IoTeX made great strides in tamper-proof hardware. We partnered with two of the world’s leading chip manufacturers — Nordic Semiconductor and WISeKey — and joined the Confidential Computing Consortium alongside Facebook, R3, NVIDIA, and more to explore real world applications for tamper-proof hardware. Not only did we align ourselves with premier organizations, but we also got our hands dirty with Pebble, a tamper-proof asset tracker built in partnership with Nordic Semiconductor. To cap things off, we introduced TruStream, the first of many protocols to bring verifiable data from tamper-proof hardware to the IoTeX Network.
“Own Your Data” Infrastructure
For the past decade, corporations have done everything in their power to harvest, mine, and profit from users’ data. However, inflection points in culture, regulation, and technology will soon make this legacy model untenable. Everyday people and businesses are now realizing the benefits of owning their data (e.g., privacy, control, monetization), while new privacy regulations like GDPR & CCPA are shifting corporate data ownership from an asset to a liability. The “your keys, your funds” mantra of Bitcoin is extending to “your keys, your data” as people seek self-sovereignty in the modern age.
IoTeX knew this day would come, which is why we started designing Ucam, our first “Own Your Data” device, over one year ago with Tenvis. What we did not know was the incredible journey Ucam would take us on. From winning the CES Innovation Award in January to being featured in Newsweek and ZDNet to launching Ucam on Amazon in September, we are grateful for the valuable lessons and all those who supported Ucam this year. The tech that powers Ucam, summarized in this whitepaper, was designed to be extensible and will power all types of “Powered by IoTeX” devices in the future. With Burn-Drop tokenomics, every new device that is onboarded to IoTeX will drive value to token-holders and make IOTX a deflationary token over time.
#DeFIoT — Digital Asset Infrastructure
The benefits of data ownership are wide-ranging, but skeptics may question whether self-custodying our data is worth the effort. To these skeptics we say: if data is the new gold, then your smart devices are the goldmines — you cannot control or monetize what you do not own! For IoTeX to change the world, we must not only grant users ownership of the data from their devices, but also allow them to convert this owned data into digital assets that can be utilized and monetized in a decentralized fashion. This is a paradigm-shifting concept we call #DeFIoT — decentralized finance for the Internet of Things.
Our long-term vision is not only to bring #DeFIoT to the IoTeX Network, but also to “serve” verifiable IoT data to other blockchain networks. Similar to how Chainlink serves financial data to the entire blockchain universe, IoTeX will be the de facto hub for verifiable IoT data and assets. Throughout September and October, IoTeX unveiled exciting #DeFIoT components, including ioTube (cross-chain interoperability bridge), mimo (cross-chain DEX), TokenMinter (XRC20/721 token creator), bridged ERC20 tokens (e.g., wBTC, ETH, BUSD, UNI), and more. An incredible start to #DeFIoT, which will blossom as more “Powered by IoTeX” devices are introduced.
User & Developer Tools
In addition to security and decentralization, one of the most important benefits of blockchain is that it is open and permissionless. Blockchain is often marketed as “accessible by anyone” but today it is more “accessible by anyone who can code”. This technical threshold is a bottleneck to mass adoption and engagement, which is why IoTeX devoted significant time in 2020 to expand our suite of user- and developer-facing tools. Across blockchain, tamper-proof hardware, “Own Your Data”, and #DeFIoT, we are committed to lowering the barrier for developers to build and expanding the ways users can engage on the IoTeX Network.
For developers, we introduced multi-language SDKs (antenna, Go, gRPC, Java, C/C++) and open-sourced repos for analytics, node setup, decentralized identity (DID), and many more. We also refreshed our developer documentation and ioctl command-line tool, as well as launched a web-based IDE. Finally, we kicked off new Blockchain & IoT initiatives on Hackster and other IoT dev forums. It is now simple and fun to build on IoTeX, regardless if you are interested in blockchain, hardware, tokens, or apps.
For users, our major focus in 2020 was to revamp the overall user experience centered around the ioPay wallet, which now supports native staking (blockchain), logging in to Ucam (Own Your Data), trading on mimo (DeFIoT), games, NFTs, voting/polls, and so much more. ioPay is now a one-stop shop that enables anyone to interact with the various parts of the IoTeX ecosystem, providing open access and engagement for all. We also built several new websites that transparently showcase our progress (e.g., ecosystem.iotex.io, iott.network, docs.iotex.io) and the growth of IoTeX in real-time.
Putting It All Together
While these individual pillars we completed in 2020 are great milestones for us on a standalone basis, their contributions to the larger, long-term vision of IoTeX is even more exciting. Each individual pillar provides a core benefit that, when combined, will form the foundation to empower the Internet of Trusted Things.
As mentioned above, blockchain serves as the“root of trust” while tamper-proof hardware serves as the “root of verifiability” — together they enable verifiable, trusted data. Adding “Own Your Data” tools ensures this verifiable data is owned exclusively by self-sovereign individuals, not profit-motivated institutions. Our #DeFIoT infrastructure allows self-sovereign individuals to then exchange their owned assets in an open, decentralized manner. Finally, user-friendly tools will allow anyone to participate in the Internet of Trusted Things and, as a result, own, protect, and monetize their data and digital assets. The realization of this full-stack vision will change the world and return trust, privacy, and agency to everyday people and businesses.
What a year 2020 has been — we can’t thank our amazing community enough for your support. The IoTeX team has never been more excited for what the future holds and we can’t wait to begin connecting the dots in 2021. In the coming weeks, we will publish our 2021 roadmap, extending some of the concepts we detailed in this blog as well as introducing some brand new initiatives. From all of us here at IoTeX, thank you for an incredible 2020 — the best is yet to come.
Founded as an open-source platform in 2017, IoTeX is building the Internet of Trusted Things, an open ecosystem where all “things” — humans, machines, businesses, and DApps — can interact with trust and privacy. Backed by a global team of 30+ top research scientists and engineers, IoTeX combines blockchain, secure hardware, and confidential computing to enable next-gen IoT devices, networks, and economies. IoTeX will empower the future decentralized economy by “connecting the physical world, block by block”.