OriginTrail Alpha Network deployed and tested on the Yimishiji use case. What are the next steps?

Trust has two enemies — bad character and bad data. Decentralization and blockchain seems to be a logical remedy to reconcile the trust gap in today’s supply chains which are growing in complexity and to do away with the bad character. Yet, existing decentralized solutions proved to lack certain properties should we want to use them to handle highly interconnected data in a scalable and cost effective way while protecting sensitive data. OriginTrail is a decentralized peer-to-peer network built on top of blockchain, made to address supply chain challenges in a scalable way. Bad data and poor interoperability is a paramount problem that impedes performance of any information system and for that reason standards are an integral part of the OriginTrail data layer.

The purpose of this blogpost is to report on the progress of OriginTrail protocol that is currently deployed as the alpha test network with basic protocol functionalities. In order to acquire relevant results the current solution is used to handle data from Yimishiji e-commerce platform and their supplier, Sunrise Harvest. To give you a better overview, you may review the exchange of information between the two companies using a preview of a webstore plugin.

Alpha network is up and running

OriginTrail decentralised protocol is being built on several years of experience and work in the supply chains giving us a strong foundation in understanding as well as a codebase moving forward. As outlined in the roadmap, our current focus was on setting up the pilot that was using the alpha version of the protocol upon which a consumer-facing application for product journey will be created. The network at this stage consists of 5 nodes that are all managed by our tech team performing the following functionalities:

  • receiving independent datasets from two organisations,
  • connecting them based on the implemented GS1 standards,
  • storing the connected data in a graph database,
  • performing basic consensus checks on selected variables (timestamp and encrypted quantity)

The network used in the pilot will be at disposal for members of Trace Alliance for testing their use-cases. Over the next months we will be taking a good look at the analytics of the individual node performance as well as network performance to fine tune the system.

OriginTrail testnet and mainnet

The next development milestone is the launch of the testnet which will be utilizing test tokens. The main challenges of this stage will be perfecting the compensation mechanisms within the network nodes, as well as testing the first implementations of the zero knowledge tier in the data layer.

XML snippet showcasing the data structure following EPCIS standard

We are already exploring the nuances of incentivisation within the protocol for high availability Data Holder nodes, working on creating connectors to other blockchains within our protocol blockchain layer and getting the protocol up to speed with all the GS1 required specifications for EPCIS (which OriginTrail is a member of). The team is working hard on specifying the precise requirements and researching into new proof mechanisms such as Bulletproofs and STARKs.

Another purpose of the test network is to support the selected use-cases for Trace Alliance members in the context of running simulations on token economics. Based on this analysis and research, we will be able to define all details regarding node requirements and bidding mechanisms for compensations.

The third quarter of 2018 is reserved for launching the OriginTrail Main network which will operate with the incentivisation of the Trace token. We are aiming to create a smooth transition of the use cases tested within the test network and Trace Alliance to the main network.

Following the successful launch we will be revealing a roadmap of future updates which will include further standardization, focusing at first on IoT standards.

Yimishiji Pilot project

This January we have been finalizing the pilot project with our partners Yimishiji which showcases a technical preview of product visibility through supply chain and connecting data from all partners based on EPCIS data structure.

For this preview we created a Dapp built on top of the OriginTrail Alpha testnet and Ethereum testnet, plugged into the product page on Yimishiji’s website

— — — — — — — (showcase link) — — — — — — — —

Community preview: http://yimi-pilot.origintrail.io/

This is just one example of interacting with the data from ODN, via a RPC API providing graph information on each event within the product supply chain on a batch level.

The data is automatically introduced to the OT alpha network on a daily basis from the originating Sunrise Harvest Farms on one side, and the Yimishiji ERP system on the other. These export processes were set up by the respective IT teams of both companies, following the XML file structure based on the GS1 EPCIS standard. Once introduced to the system, the data gets connected, cross-checked, replicated in the ODN and fingerprinted on the Ethereum blockchain.

The Dapp also provides a map view and easy way to compare claims on events in the supply chain from both partners.The complete product “trail” is graphically shown from farm to store and separate supply chain events are illustrated and backed by provided data. The Dapp allows for easy checks of data integrity with a convenient interface to both the ODN data as well as the fingerprints stored on the blockchain — once the “Confirm on Blockchain” button is pressed, the plugin API fetches the appropriate fingerprints and data and compares for their matching, confirming the data hasn’t been changed. Finally,the plugin contains the information on the RPC API endpoints and a way to crosscheck between the fingerprints on the blockchain and data coming out of ODN manually.

This version of the Dapp is showcasing the information that has been available in ERP systems of 2 parties involved in a supply chain of relatively little complexity — the product has been picked and transported from the farm, packed by Yimishiji and waiting for purchase via their webshop. The outlook will be even more interesting once the plugin is implemented within a context of more collaborating parties, or where an additional data set of sensory information would provide deeper insight into the product journey and possible inefficiencies that could be solved once clearly visible.

The example of the connections between data sets in the pilot, based on GS1 standardised data.

From the technical point of view I must say it was a great pleasure to be working with the Yimishiji team and their CTO Alex Chang, who then successfully communicated the project implementation needs to Sunrise Harvest IT team. This top-down approach allows the spread of OriginTrail protocol use among other Yimishiji suppliers more easily in the future.

Once everything was setup, it was great to see the system performing automatically, that the standards have proven to show value immediately with quicker implementation and that we have already seen the performance of the system in real time. The OT tech team is looking forward to further collaboration with our partners from China and learning more from further pilots within the Trace Alliance.

Growing the team

The team behind OriginTrail has been a multinational (might I say decentralized? :) crew of friends since the beginning of our work in food supply chain transparency in 2013. From the beginning, we have had offices in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Belgrade (Serbia), and since last year we have added a project office in Shanghai to that list. We have been growing steadily in numbers and are proud to have a great team, an amazing advisory board and support by a great community of contributors.

In order to continue building upon our vision, we are working on growing our development team in Belgrade with great talent skilled in working with decentralized systems, databases, efficient APIs and open source development. If you would like to explore options of joining us, head over to our careers page or get in touch directly via careers@origin-trail.com.

Looking forward to updating the community on our progress as soon as possible with further development milestones, research results and some hard numbers.

Trace on!

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