XYO Network Strengthens Crypto-Location Tech Portfolio with the Acquisition of GEO
In a move that continues to strengthen San Diego-based XYO Network as a leader in the development of crypto-location technology, the company has recently acquired GEO. The company and the team behind it first attracted the attention of XYO during EthDenver, one of the largest hackathons for Ethereum in the United States.
“We’re excited about the addition of GEO to our crypto-location portfolio,” said XYO Network co-founder Markus Levin. “GEO adds an additional feature set to XYO by trustlessly notifying a device that an object was there with absolute certainty, and without having to communicate private data with the network.”
EthDenver took place in mid-February. The 36-hour gathering invited teams to bring their best ideas, find new ways to utilize the Ethereum network, and contribute toward building a decentralized future. Judging was based six criteria: usefulness, design, technical sophistication, creativity, diversity awareness, and making the world a better place.
“We immediately recognized the added value of GEO to XYO because it advances the concept of secure, private and anonymous location verification,” added Levin.
GEO was conceived and built by three highly talented college students, one of whom is world renowned hacker Jack Cable. Cable is best known for competing against 600 hackers from around the world in 2017 as part of Hack the Air Force, a partnership between the Department of Defense and HackerOne, a bug bounty platform. Cable found 40 vulnerabilities on the Air Force site, which placed him first on the event leaderboard.
Owen Shen and Zefram Lou, both gifted freshmen enrolled at UC San Diego, rounded out the EthDenver GEO team. Both had already garnered their own fair share of attention in the blockchain space with Shen recently entertaining an offer to join Google Hacker and Lou receiving an offer from Consensys. However, with the acquisition of GEO by XYO, both joined XYO as Jr. Blockchain Engineers. Cable has also come on board XYO as an adviser.
A closer look at how GEO works
GEO provides a protocol that allows anyone to easily distribute and verify Proofs of Location in a decentralized network, and without a massive overhead.
Companies often require a verifiable Proof of Location, but traditional metrics, like GPS, are easy to spoof. GEO approaches this challenge differently. It is centered around Nodes, which are devices set at a fixed physical location. Users can connect to the Nodes via Bluetooth and receive a Proof of Location signature. The signature is unique because it requires a user to be physically present at a location, demonstrating a presence at a specific time.
GEO can distribute signatures through two possible pathways. Users who want to keep their signatures private and stored on their device can provide a Proof of Location by invoking a Smart Contract, verifying the Proof of Contract. For public systems, such as GEOcaching games, Proof of Location signatures are stored on a server and use a queryable API for Smart Contracts via Oraclize. This makes it possible for a Smart Contract to verify the past location of a user.
“We built GEO in such a way that it could be certain a user visited a specific location at a specific time without compromising user privacy. Though there may still be some limited potential for exploits, the model we created ensures that it is only possible to obtain a valid signature by physically visiting a node,” said Cable.
Designed for many possible uses
To accommodate a global market, GEO is multi-platform and utilizes Bluetooth so that it can be accessed on any enabled device such as a desktop, tablet or Arduino. The GEO mobile app is written universally in Ionic, meaning it can be deployed on any mobile operating system. Nodes are written in Node.js. The mobile app and the node communicate via Bluetooth, with the node returning the Proof of Location signature. To protect user privacy, the GEO team created a Smart Contract model for probabilistic Proofs of Location.
Now that the protocol has been developed, the XYO and the GEO team will continue building applications for a variety of possible uses. Some of these might include:
- eCommerce: Companies like Amazon and UPS an offer, as a premium service, an independently confirmed ledger to track every step of a shipment’s progress, starting at the fulfillment center and ending with the package’s secure delivery within the customer’s home. As a trustless and decentralized system, the XYO Network provides independent confirmation not only of a package’s delivery, but of its entire shipping history. This also allows a retailer or eCommerce site to offer payment-upon delivery, utilizing an Ethereum smart contract to protect the merchant from fraud or loss. (Case study here.)
- Automated Drones: Automated drones operating independently of each other will be able to communicate their relative and absolute locations using a universal protocol. Drones that are not inherently able to communicate with one another can take advantage of the XYO Network and still interact through third-party intermediaries, including independent devices or other drones. Interactions between devices on the XYO Network are also recorded on the blockchain, a decentralized ledger. This means that all automated drones are held publicly accountable in the event of an accident, regulation infringement, or breach in safety or personal privacy through the availability of a permanent and unalterable record of all device interactions. (Case study here.)
- Hospitals: By tying the XYO Network into the operational frameworks that are already in place in Hospitals, care providers can significantly reduce failures in communication and record keep- ing that result in patient injury and death. Utilizing the XYO Network and XYO Tokens can provide a trustless, decentralized, and independently verifiable record of all patient interactions with any staff as well as a log of relevant patient data such as the patient’s vitals, treatment details, and test results for the duration of their stay. (Case Study here.)
Accessing GEO developer libraries
Continuing with its mission of collaboration, XYO Network and GEO have provided access to several libraries where developers can host and review code, manage projects and build software to bring added value to GEO going forward.
GEO provides access to the following GEO libraries:
Node: Nodes are devices spread across the world in fixed locations. Users communicate with the nodes via Bluetooth to generate a signed Proof of Location message at a certain timestamp. Nodes generate a private/public keypair, unique to each node.
Server: A hosted server holds a list of known public Proofs of Locations, providing a queryable API.
User Client: Users interface the GEO universal mobile app to connect to devices and store Proofs of Locations. Users can elect to generate a unique Ethereum public / private key using Web3, which is then stored on the device. The public key is sent to the GEO Node when generating a Proof of Location.
Probabilistic Proof of Location: A Smart Contract to verify Proofs of Location on the blockchain, using a probabilistic model to protect user privacy.
Sample Contract: A sample contract built on the GEO network to facilitate in-person meetups. Uses GEO Proof of Location to disperse funds back to users who attended.
Adding to a growing XYO Network portfolio
The addition of GEO to XYO Network’s portfolio continues a larger commitment to facilitating an open ecosystem of GEOspatial blockchain applications.
“Part of our mission is to seek out worthy projects and reward developers like the GEO team with monetary resources and development resources. It is in our best interests and in the best interests of advancing crypto-location technology to support events such as hackathons and other related endeavors to help these projects succeed,” said Levin.
As a demonstration of this commitment, XYO Network recently funded Prysmatic Labs, which also just received a $100,000 grant from Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin as part of the inaugural Ethereum Foundation grant awards.
“We are continually evaluating our support of other crypto-location blockchain projects and maintaining our visibility through a variety of outreach efforts,” added Levin.
A leader in crypto-location technology
As all forms of commerce become more reliant on location data, smart cities and smart companies of the future will increase their dependence on that data exponentially. However, one of the biggest challenges to meet that need is finding a more efficient and foolproof way to deliver trustworthy location data. Right now, current location technologies are a limiting factor that are hampering efforts to move forward as quickly as possible into the future.
In response to this challenge, XYO Network has focused efforts on making trustless location data possible through an ecosystem of crypto-location technologies and protocols to help bridge the gap from the world of today to the world of tomorrow.
Blockchain technology eliminates the need for trust because it makes all transactions transparent, decentralized and secure. It has revolutionized online commerce. With blockchain, banks, and the fees they charge, are eliminated and there is no need for a trusted third-party to settle disputes. Although blockchain is most closely associated with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, it is much larger than that.
Not only can blockchain technology have a direct impact on almost $2.8 trillion of B2C commerce sales, it can also play a key role in location-reliant trade markets that generates a staggering $11 trillion in activity.
The introduction of Ethereum in 2013 brought about “smart contracts” which are transaction protocols that collapse payment and execution of an agreement into the same thing. However, Ethereum’s one major drawback was that smart contracts need a centralized third-party for verification, making those contracts vulnerable to hackers.
To eliminate this vulnerability, XYO set about building the world’s first decentralized location verification system, starting with more than one million Bluetooth and GPS devices used by people around the world. It is blockchain’s first Proof of Location oracle network. After years of investment and breakthroughs in crypto-location technology, XYO is poised to help bring the promise and the benefits of blockchain technology to the real world on a massive and global scale.