Important Announcement: Sentinel Chain Launches Orion Testnet
5 October 2018: Sentinel Chain presents its first public release of “Orion”, its testnet blockchain and completing stage 4 of its project milestone.
As Wikipedia puts it:
This is an amazing analogy of the idea behind Orion the constellation, and Sentinel Chain’s Orion, a blockchain hub to interconnect people and markets throughout the world. The team aims to provide enthusiasts and developers with an ecosystem full of state-of-the-art features and services to interact with its core business platform to bring unbanked communities out of financial exclusion.
As the crypto-world continues its search for a viable use-case, Sentinel Chain which is designed with a real world use case, creates a bridge to two worlds that enables other ERC20 tokens to participate in the Sentinel Chain network. As Sentinel Chain is a consortium-side chain to Ethereum, network participants must be registered users on the nodes. In July, Sentinel Chain announced partnership with POA Network to enable such participation. Other announcements of major partnerships will come in following weeks to demonstrate the value that Sentinel Chain can offer to the Ethereum community.
In alignment to its value of ‘change’, Sentinel Chain’s development is ongoing with new features continually added to its ecosystem. As more markets get connected to Sentinel Chain, its partners will gain access to an increasingly larger and more extensive pool of users. This would lead to an increase demand for SENC.
Sentinel Chain’s Orion Testnet
The diagram illustrates Sentinel Chain’s Orion architecture that is comprised of different ecosystems, interconnected by the use of different technologies like blockchain bridges and/or oracle services.
These ecosystems are:
- Kovan Testnet (teal colour): The public Ethereum blockchain where the SENC ERC20 token were initially created and distributed during the ICO period. Tokens holders will be able to use their wallets to convert SENC in this blockchain to SENI in Orion.
- Orion Testnet Blockchain (grey colour): First public testnet, now released. It contains all the contract and services described below.
- CrossPay Blockchain (light blue colour): Nationwide blockchain, used to store key information of livestock, farmers and ownership.
Components and Design (Speed, cost, security/reliability)
One of the main goals of Orion is to provide its users with fast, cheap and reliable transactions.
The problems faced in using public blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum are transaction fees (total cost of transactions depend on value of the underlying asset, and thus is expensive and hard to calculate). Additionally, most blockchains use trustless consensus algorithms that are not designed to be fast.
Sentinel Chain addresses this with Proof Of Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm. This mechanism allows a new entity who is a trusted “validator” to be responsible for creating or issuing new blocks. The new transaction is then “confirmed” at speeds that cannot be achieved by traditional Proof of Work (PoW) public blockchains. Sentinel Chain’s combined application of PoA features with traditional blockchain characteristics like immutability, resiliency and auditability, among others, creates the perfect technology stack to implement and fulfil its project purpose.
Orion public testnet components released are:
- Consortium nodes: These nodes maintain blockchain integrity and help strengthen the network’s immutability value across the entire transaction history
- Validator nodes: These are special types of nodes with ability to create or issue blocks. In PoA type of blockchains, a miner is a “validator”.
- Bridge authorities: These nodes will provide the required signatures to enable execution of cross-chain transactions between Sentinel Chain Orion and other EVM-based blockchains. More details provided below.
- RPC nodes: The purpose of RPC nodes is to provide a way to interact programmatically with the blockchain without having to install the client and download the entire transaction history
Blockchain Internal Operations
- SENI (Sentinel Chain Internal Token) is Orion’s underlying asset. It is used to pay the GAS (cost of powering the execution to perform transactions, deploy Smart Contracts or use oracle services). 500 million SENI will be created on Orion upon release. This amount mirrors the total supply of the SENC ERC20 tokens on the Ethereum testnet.
- The only way to obtain SENI in Orion is to perform cross-chain token transfer, to exchange SENC tokens for SENI at a 1:1 conversion. The cross-chain token transfer works in such a way that all SENI are initially locked on Orion and is only released on Orion when SENC are sent to the foreign bridge address on the Ethereum testnet. SENI can be converted back to SENC by sending SENI to a home bridge address on Orion.
- Currently the ‘block reward’ (SENI value transferred to validator) for ‘block creation’ (transaction confirmation) is set to 0. This is by design. In doing so, the 1:1 ratio of SENC and SENI created will be maintained.
- Transaction fee can be calculated by taking into account the minimum price per GAS unit is 8.1 GWei. So if one is to create a common transaction transferring only value from one account to another, the fee calculation will be as follows: 21000 GAS units * 8.1 GWei = 0.0001701 SENI
Orion Explorer and Statistics
As with all types of blockchains, a block explorer is required for users to track transaction status, check block issuance, inspect or deploy Smart Contracts, and get the general state of the blockchain.
In future releases, Sentinel Chain will extend Orion’s features to enable reading and executing smart contract functions directly from the browser, using popular wallets like MetaMask or MyEtherWallet.
Another noteworthy component of Orion is the statistics page site, which will provide users with real-time and easy to read core information like:
- Latest transactions
- Current GASPrice
- Block creation speed
- Latest ‘block number’ and
- Validators list
The cross-chain token transfer bridge service is a core feature of the Orion testnet because it allows use of existing ERC20 tokens through a cross-chain transfer.
In Sentinel Chan, this feature is key because it allows SENC ERC20 token holders to unlock the token utility to use as fuel for transactions, contracts and data query. This is done by converting these tokens into SENI (Sentinel Chain Internal currency).
The bridge mechanism includes the following components:
- Proper smart contracts to be able to transfer tokens from one chain to another and back via the following process:
- > Orion Bridge Contract
- > Orion Bridge Validator Contract
- Onto Kovan testnet
- > Kovan Bridge Contract
- > Bridge Validator Contract
- The bridge app / web service that tracks the transfer status:
- This service is comprised of different applications to manage:
i. Transaction queue
ii. Real time event listeners
iii. Signature collection
iv. Transaction execution
Following this article we will soon publish the Kovan SENC ERC20 Faucet.
Sometimes, a Smart Contract requires additional information from sources outside the blockchain to enable decision-making or execution of some functional logic. With the current state of the EVM design and opcode, this is not possible. This led to birth of the concept of “Oracle”. The “Oracle” is simply a service from an external agent that can be trusted, and its data injected into the blockchain via smart contract execution.
There are two types of Oracle services on Sentinel Chain — the “Sentinel Oracle Services” and “Cross-Chain Oracle Services”.
- Sentinel Oracle Services are used to gain access to vital market information such as prices and exchange rates. They also interact with Sentinel Chain’s data-query service to perform cross-chain information retrieval. Sentinel Oracle services include:
- Token conversion exchange
- Price listings
- Cross-chain data retrieval
- Cross-Chain Oracle Services are used to gain access to data stored on the CrossPay private blockchain utilising the block number and transaction id on the private blockchain. This feature allows future ERC721 tokens to be created on Sentinel Chain while maintaining the actual information on the private blockchain backing the non-fungible token.
To reiterate, Sentinel Chain’s Orion testnet is an ongoing project. The team plans to maintain, and also further develop it to unlock its full potential.
Future components include but are not limited to:
- ERC721-to-ERC721 Cross-Chain Bridge: To spur exponential growth of total number of use cases.
- Non-fungible Tokens: An ongoing development that will provide a mechanism to create a non-fungible token that is backed by a real cattle on CrossPay, thus tokenizing it.
- Local Currency Tokens (StableCoin): Sentinel Chain Exchange Contract for creation of LCT by utilising SENI within Sentinel Chain.
How to access to Orion
- The testnet block explorer is located here: https://orion-explorer.sentinel-chain.org
- Statistics site that tracks node status, GASPrice, block time creation, etc., is located here: https://orion-stats.sentinel-chain.org
- The public RPC service that connects with MetaMask, MeW or other application and interact programmatically with Orion testnet is located here: https://orion-rpc.sentinel-chain.org
- For the WebSocket connection, the URL is: https://orion-rpc.sentinel-chain.org/ws
- For the bridge application which is responsible for token transfer between blockchains, statistics and latest transactions can be queried through a web service accesssed from this link: https://orion-bridge.sentinel-chain.org/
- This link: https://github.com/InfoCorp-Technologies/orion-testnet/ leads to list of Contract Addresses for:
1. Whitelist contract
2. Exchange Service contract
3. Validators Contract
4. Operations Contract
5. Bridge Contracts
i. Orion Bridge Contract
ii. Orion Validator Contract
iii. Kovan Bridge Contract
iv. Kovan Validator Contract
Open Source Code
Last but not least, to enhance trust and security of Sentinel Chain’s ecosystem, the team plans to open and release the source code of every service/contract/application involved.
The open source community has proven before that auditability and transparency are keys characteristics of most successful projects.
The Sentinel Chain team plans not only to open source the code, but to establish a bug-bounty mechanism to incentivise the community to help strengthen the network.
The Orion source code can be found here:
“After all, the main goal of our project is to provide the unbanked with a solution to achieve financial inclusion, making every individual, company or community effort worth the shot.”
Roy Lai, founder and CEO of InfoCorp Technologies & Sentinel Chain
Sentinel Chain is a blockchain-based international marketplace for cross-border financial services and the world’s first platform to accept the use of livestock as collateral. Taking a unique approach to the last mile problem of financial inclusion, the Sentinel Chain model establishes livestock provenance through the creation of livestock insurance on blockchain — the registration of livestock provenance on blockchain provides the unbanked with a new opportunity: the real possibility of accepting livestock as ‘collateral’ for loans. Sentinel Chain is a project by InfoCorp Technologies.