The latest version of our OriginTrail network node software 0.9a, Explorer, is proudly seeing the light of day today, as scheduled. We have been working on implementing new data standards and many improvements, especially in the privacy layer of the protocol.
Explorer is the last true “alpha” release, as two weeks from now we are launching the first beta release candidate (RC), the Lunar Orbiter, which is the final release before the testnet launch, scheduled for June 29th.
Introducing the “Web Of Things” to OriginTrail
One of the most promising ways of increasing transparency and objectivity of information in supply chains today is to utilize various devices to observe physical states and events. The common term for such devices is “Internet of things” (IoT), which encompasses pretty much anything from sensors, actuators, home appliances, vehicles and other machinery that has the ability to connect to computer networks and interact with them (and consequently, with each other, as well).
Estimates predict that the global count of IoT devices will be around 30 billion strong by 2020 (we saw annual growth of about 30% up until 2017), many of which will be involved in much-needed uses for supply chains like unique product identification, temperature monitoring, lightness during distribution, and precise geolocation.
This new infrastructure provides a great backbone for building applications on top of it, but is inherently plagued by fragmentation of IoT devices and hence low interoperability among them.
To tackle this, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed the “Web of Things” (WoT) standard, which is, with the release of Explorer, supported by the OriginTrail data importer. This enables the much-needed ability to handle any IoT data — especially sensory information in supply chains — in a structured, interoperable and platform-independent way.
Additionally, some of our partners already utilize IoT and smart tags (check out our blog posts about our cooperation with Evrythng and TagItSmart), which both support the Web of Things. Finally, we are glad that our graph ontology model has so far proven to be well designed, as it provided for a great base to integrate WoT without any modifications to the graph logic.
The Privacy Layer and General Improvements
As we have entered the final phases of the alpha development period, we are able to take the observations over the previous period and incorporate the findings into the development roadmap as we go. We have, so far, iterated successfully on several components of the system — the bidding mechanism, privacy layer, underlying database systems, network communication and importer. Explorer now supports more features on the privacy layer, which includes the zero-knowledge algorithm published a month ago in Zond. It brings the ability to handle private data within the system in such a way that the owner can retain control of the information by their DC (data creator) node, while publishing cryptographic commitments in the system to the DH (data holder) nodes involved in replication. This first iteration is just the beginning of further developments in the privacy layer, which is one of the most important components of the OriginTrail protocol.
Apart from privacy, many other code improvements have been introduced, as well as new features in “Houston” — our UI application which now allows for the visualization of the graph data stored on your node. The UI has also received a small facelift and is slowly taking its final design form.
“Lunar Orbiter” follows, Testnet launches with “Apollo”
June is a big month for OriginTrail development. We will publish three code releases, culminating with the testnet release of Apollo, which will be a major milestone for us. We are working hard to deliver each release on time and learn as much as we can along the way, but we can only do so much. That is why we invite our fellow community members to join us in our efforts and let us know of things we might have missed and show us where we can improve. We have opened the Improvements Proposals repository for that purpose.
We truly see feedback as a gift, and lately you have been very generous. We enjoy the engagement and your findings, so please keep up the good work and collaborative approach. We are building the next generation of networks together, and for them to succeed, they need to be much more than computer networks. They need to become intertwined networks of people, companies, universities and institutions, with well designed incentives, which the decentralized approach can provide.