An Insider’s Look at BABEL, Unification’s User Interface

Maziar Sadri
Aug 16, 2018 · 11 min read

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting the first-ever live demo of BABEL, Unification’s consumer-facing front-end interface, at at Beyond Blocks Summit in Seoul with over 2000 industry experts gathered to learn & share the latest on blockchain technology. It was a stellar opportunity to share a behind-the-scenes look at the progress we’ve been making over at Unification.

As the Product Lead at the Unification Foundation, it was helpful to be able to solicit high-value feedback about Unification’s product suite from diverse attendees of Korea Blockchain Week. It was also highly gratifying to see the palpable excitement in the room as we shared what we are working on.

This article offers a sneak preview into the BABEL interface that I shared during my presentation at Beyond Blocks, including extensive screenshots of the product in its current form.

Meet Unification, a Robust Data Ecosystem

While Unification itself is a decoupled architectural framework that provides generalized state channels for data standardization and interoperability across enterprise tech stacks, BABEL serves as an end user’s entry point to the Unification ecosystem.

One of Unification’s most valuable offerings is granting enterprises the ability to onboard onto blockchain technology without having to rebuild their existing tech stack. HAIKU, our smart contract protocol, enables businesses to deploy smart contracts without auditing or coding the contracts themselves.

Unification’s protocol losslessly converts each app’s data sets into a unified data format, after which they are referred to as “UApps.” Once converted, UApps can deploy State Channels for data exchange internally or externally with partners (more on this to come soon!). This allows them to buy & sell data also stored in a unified format from right inside Unification’s data exchange marketplace.

Within the system, enterprises often act as both data producers and data consumers. They are able to acquire data to improve functionality of their products, as well as offer any data they have collected for sale on Unification’s open marketplace. Users are also able to have control & benefit from the transportation and sale their personal data for sale on the marketplace.

End users play a strong role within the Unification ecosystem. Within BABEL, Unification’s user interface, end users can view that data they are generating and toggle its sale on and off with a click. If they choose to share their data, then they are compensated via UND tokens, which are stored in a wallet within BABEL.

BABEL serves as the easy-to-use front-end interface that enables data producers, data consumers, and end users to access the benefits of Unification’s data standardization and exchange marketplace.

Introducing BABEL, Unification’s User Interface

BABEL is Unification’s user interface, designed providing end users with a unilateral view into the Unification ecosystem.

Within Unification, BABEL serves several critical functions:

  1. Unilateral Dashboard: Provides both enterprises and end users with a clear view of what is happening to their person data, including which data points are being collected, whether or not they are being shared, and with whom.
  2. B2B & B2C Marketplace: Offers the opportunity for enterprises to purchase data, and for end users to permit the sale of various pieces of data with a single click.
  3. Unified Verifiable Credentials ID System (UVCID): Affords users the opportunity to sign into multiple apps through a single verified credential. UVCID enables network effects of users across all other UND partners, allowing easier expansion.
  4. Discovery Platform: Makes it possible for end users to find unique opportunities to sell their data, such as participation in research studies, as well as to view personalized reports that are generated by aggregating and correlating personal data.
  5. Token Wallet: Allows both enterprises and end users to view the amount of UND tokens they have accrued through selling data, and enables them to withdraw it into fiat.

BABEL allows data producers/data consumers, such as enterprises and research institutions, to more efficiently participate in multifaceted data exchange via the Unification ecosystem.

Unification’s platform is based on the idea that a single actor, such as an enterprise, may play the roles of both data producer and data consumer at different points in the product life cycle.

As such, an enterprise or research institution maintains a single BABEL account, regardless of whether or not they are actively buying or selling data at the present moment. Thus we consider data producers and data consumers as a single block for the purposes of this article.

BABEL allows data producers/data consumers to:

  • View data: After submitting data sets for approval by MOTHER, Unification’s master smart contract, BABEL makes the verification status of each data set visible.
  • Sell data: With a click of a button, data producers can opt into selling their data sets to data consumers.
  • Purchase data: Inside BABEL, data consumers can browse other data sets that are available for purchase by data producers, and acquire them as needed.
  • Aggregate various sources: Within BABEL, data can be requested or shared in bundled bulk data packages. These bundles will be created by Unification ourselves, as well as by data consumers who make their own aggregate bundle consisting of the specific combinations most valuable to them
  • Request new data: Data consumers can make a direct request from all BABEL users to share new data points not currently available in Unification.
  • Acquire leads: Once verified by MOTHER, UApps are automatically listed on BABEL’s UApp store, allowing them to attract new leads among the userbase.
  • Manage payments: BABEL functions as a wallet where data producers accrue UND for selling data, which can then be withdrawn into fiat from within BABEL itself.

BABEL allows end users to maintain ultimate control over their personal data, while also granting them newfound opportunities to participate in data exchanges designed to benefit all parties involved.

BABEL allows end users to:

  • View data: End users are able to see a unilateral view of all data they are generating within the Unification ecosystem, and the exchange permissions they have chosen for each piece of data.
  • Manage permissions: The end user themselves controls whether or not their data is listed for exchange on Unification’s marketplace. At any point in time, they can extend or rescind permissions for their data to be sold.
  • Receive payments: If the end user grants permission for their data to be sold, they are compensated in UND tokens. BABEL itself functions as a wallet to store said tokens, which can also be withdrawn into fiat within BABEL itself.
  • Access information: As an added bonus for end users who opt into sharing their data, valuable reports may be compiled using their individual data points, i.e. a heart health report aggregated from multiple health data points.

A Visual Tour of BABEL

Each user of BABEL — whether they are an enterprise or an individual — maintains their own account. Users can sign up and log in via the BABEL sign-in page.

Unification offers a decentralized ID system, in which users can access both BABEL and UApps via a verified credential single sign-on system. This ID system allows UApps to incorporate Unification’s functionality, without having to put in significant labor engineering a sign-in system that integrates with blockchain tech.

Upon logging in, a user arrives at a dashboard listing all the UApps that they can interact with from within the Unification system.

Users themselves can choose to connect any of their other accounts with Unification as well if they’d like to manage data permissions or participate in any programs.

By toggling the “More” button next to each UApp, a drop-down menu appears that allows users to control what data is shared with each app. Users can toggle permissions off with one click.

For example, in the screenshot above, the user (Neyma Jahan) has decided to share his public Facebook profile, friends list, and timeline posts, but has decided not to share his location information.

Once a user has connected an app and offered access via top-level permissions, they can also control each UApp’s data permissions with more granularity.

For example, in the screenshot above, the user (Neyma Jahan) has decided to share his blood glucose levels, time and date, location, and heart rate with the One Drop team, but has decided not to share his personal identity.

When a user clicks to view more information about a Unification-integrated program, like One Drop’s Diabetes Management program, they are brought to a secondary page for that specific program. This page lists any relevant information regarding that program, as well as giving an overview of how many UND a user has collected through their participation.

In the screenshot above, you can see a listing of the rates that One Drop is willing to pay for certain pieces of information, such as 2 UND for blood glucose levels and 3.3 UND for a user’s location.

After connecting with UApps, the user can access a secondary dashboard offers a high-level view of all their Unification usage.

On this page, users can view their personal data flows within the different programs in which they are participating. For example, in the screenshot above, under “Data Flow and Earnings,” the user can see that they have sent 198 data points and been compensated 60.54 UND in return.

Users can also get a quick view of all relevant information the programs they have opted into, as shown above in the tabs for Stanford Medicine, DeepMind, HSBC, Kaiser Permanente, and USAA. In this screenshot, Neyma is able to get a top-level view of his participation in Stanford Medicine’s Blood Glucose Monitoring Program.

Importantly, within this dashboard, uers can view their full balance of UND tokens (collected from granting permission to share their data). They can withdraw these UND tokens into fiat right here inside the BABEL dashboard.

Additional, in this dashboard, users can see their activity log, so that they can verify the actions that have been taken on the Unification platform.

Similar to the example listed above, except this screenshot shows the top-level overview of Neyma’s participation in HSBC’s Car Insurance Saving Program.

Within the details of each program, there is a map of the various data connections that a user has authorized. The user serves as the gatekeeper of their data, and can both authorize and control the flow of data between parties.

In the screenshot above, a user has opted into participating in Stanford University’s Blood Glucose Monitoring Program, and they have granted Stanford access to their heart rate, GPS location, glucose level, and DNA data.

Additionally, using this map, users can gain a view of custom reports created by data consumers on the behalf of end users. For example, in the screenshot above, in order to further incentivize data sharing, Stanford University is compensating users for sharing data not only in the form of UND tokens but also by creating a custom diabetes report. This report is created from the aggregated data that Stanford has collected from the user via the Unification ecosystem.

In addition, because the information flow works both ways, Stanford has now established a connection with the end user that they can call upon perhaps years down the line if they wish to offer Neyma the chance to participate in another study or join an additional program.

Similar to the map shown above, a user’s data flow can be mapped for other connections, such as a Car Insurance Saving Program.

In this case, with his permission, HSBC compiles Neyma’s personal identity, account balance, and mortgage rate information. In return, they offer not only payment in UND, but also a special car insurance saving report compiled from the information they have collected.

If Stanford decides that they need to collect additional data from users who are already enrolled in one of their monitoring programs, they can use the BABEL interface to issue a request to users like Neyma for new information that has not already been granted.

Users who decide to opt in to share more information are granted a higher number of UND, in addition to being granted access to more custom reports provided by the data consumer (in this case, Stanford Medicine).

Rather than forcing data consumers to access end users in a piecemeal fashion, Unification has created data bundles that users can opt into via a single click. For instance, OneDrop’s bundle combines access permissions to both Stanford Medicine and Kaiser Permanente at the same time. Additional bundles that can be opted into include Cycling Health, Travel Insights, and more.

Unification has created the initial bundles on the platform, but data consumers who wish to collect more diverse data can bundle access permissions to multiple data points and offer them directly to users via BABEL.

Within BABEL, end users can find listing of all UApps that have been verified by MOTHER, Unification’s master smart contract. They can opt into each of these apps with a click and earn UND tokens for sharing their data with the apps.

This provides a valuable lead source for UApps, as well as an easy-to-access directory of connected applications for end users.

Learn more about Unification

If you’re interested in what we’re building at Unification, there are several ways to get learn more.

The best place to start is our Telegram group, where I and other members of the Unification team are present to help answer any questions you may have about the project.

More details can also be found on our website and our Medium publication.

If you’d like to go deep, I highly recommend you dive into our technical paper and white paper (both available on our website).

We’d love to hear your feedback.

Unification Foundation

Blockchain Solutions For Enterprise

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