by Alireza Ghodes, Co-Founder Natix And Natix Networksand Leonard Dorlochter, co-founder of peak And EOT Labs,
Many a grand idea one day has to deal with that little fickle thing called reality. One day, you’re decentralizing IoT connectivity and winning all the accolades as the poster child of real-life Web3 adoption… but then, it turns out the real adopter was not really there Due to low network usage. This is the story of Helium, the People’s Network, so far, and for all the sarcasm, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. It points to a real path to Web3’s real-world adoption — and pitfalls to avoid traveling.
Let’s start the journey by taking a closer look at the model that underlies this project. Helium is decentralizing LoRaWAN connectivity services, LoRaWAN is a wireless communication protocol used by Internet of Things devices. Here, you, the connectivity provider, will purchase a Helium-compatible hotspot to enable the connected devices to communicate with each other. The network will reward you for trouble with tokens based on actual usage, so if usage is low, so are the rewards.
And that’s really the crux. It has around 1 million hotspots running as part of a decentralized physical infrastructure network (deepin, a term recently coined by Messari), Helium has been successful in building a supply side using Web3 to provide real-world services. The problem was with a lack of demand, resulting in an online blunder. Quite understandable: Buying a hotspot, members of the network expect a return. Now, however, several projects are looking to bring this model to more demand-driven markets, and investors are paying close attention.
So how does Web3 ride this wave without falling into the chasm between grand vision and reality? For this both the answer and the inspiration come from somewhere quite unexpected – the smartphone industry.
Today, it’s hard to imagine a smartphone other than a sleek slab with a touchscreen and maybe a few physical buttons here and there for good measure. However, this was not always the case, but with the release of the original iPhone, the future of the industry was quite sealed,
Importantly, the iPhone didn’t really offer the user anything above and beyond the ordinary. In 2007, a cell phone needed no introduction, the value of web access was obvious, and phone cameras had long been a thing, too. The iPhone pioneered design in many ways, but its level of innovation didn’t make the user feel like they were dealing with alien technology. It took advantage of the demand that the original already had and let users do all the same things, but better and with more cool content.
Compare this to what Helium did. Let’s leave aside the demand for a second and look at the optics. Providing LoRaWAN connectivity is hardly what you do on a daily basis, so the only reason you’d buy a hotspot is to benefit from the services. Without demand, you get a mismatch between user expectations and experience—and anger over performance, which we shouldn’t let cloud the idea.
Granted, there are real demanding use cases where it is impossible to do without custom hardware. Who knows, perhaps Helium’s own story would have been different if LoRaWAN connectivity was already more needed. But there is one thing Deepin projects can do to increase their chances of success and set the stage for wider Web3 adoption. As the iPhone has allowed people to do more with existing technology, Web3 should target the connected devices people already have and add additional value to them.
Do you have a supercomputer in your pocket?
The number of connected devices is not only growing, it is to skyrocket With each passing year. More and more devices from cameras to mouse traps are outfitted with increasingly powerful chips and attract private and business users alike.
This trend becomes ever more apparent if we zoom in on a smartphone. An average smartphone packs more umph than a supercomputer from a few decades ago. They’re also packed with sensors—just look at the lidar on the latest iPhones, and count in gyroscopes, lighting sensors, and cameras. A phone is literally a pocket sensor constellation.
There are already about 7 billion smartphones available. millions of them are already equipped with AI accelerators, and this figure will Only grow With the accelerator chip market. Smartphone ownership is on the rise in both developed and developing countries Developing world, These devices form a decentralized hardware mesh of an incredible scale, which can be accessed with nothing more than a single piece of software. Onboarding? It’s just a matter of a few taps. And once those are out of the way, your phone can do anything from decentralized computation to data collection and censorship-resistant communications. And it can all be completely GDPR-compliant: You can properly anonymize data on edge devices and send only AI-processed output from it.
Above all, the mismatch problem is not there at all in this approach. People don’t buy smartphones to earn crypto, so they won’t be bothered by the fact that their Deepin rewards won’t buy them a Lambo on the first day of use. The return on investment is already there, whether it’s scrolling through TikTok or playing Mobile League of Legends on a business call. DePIN adds additional value to it and does not cause any inconvenience. In fact, the dApps themselves can provide users with the same functions they already get from Web2 apps, such as navigation, fitness advice, or entertainment, but with additional revenue as a pleasant bonus. It can also balance supply and demand by managing its payment and payment operations. As an example, a Navigator DApp may provide navigation as a basic service for free, pay users for anonymized data used to improve this service, and provide additional services for a fee. can offer.
The sheer scalability offered by this model is unmatched. Founded in 2013, Helium is now on nearly one million hotspots. Nodal, which has been around since 2017 and leverages smartphones as network nodes, now reports nearly 3 million nodes, XYO’s COIN app has nearly 5 million nodes, and Sweatcoin, a walk-to-earn smartphone app , has 140 million users. This lightning-fast growth would hardly have been possible with custom hardware, and with enough traction, it could even set a new benchmark for a whole host of service sectors. And as users interact with Web3 from the comfort of familiar apps, they become more open to further engagement with the space.
Established IoT manufacturers are well positioned to make use of this gradual change of heart. By tailoring their products, from smart fitness trackers to cameras and electric vehicle charging stations, to Web3 integration off the shelf, they can provide their customers with greater value over and above what is already provided by the device’s core functionality. Furthermore, they unlock new business opportunities and sources of income for themselves, thereby increasing their own income.
But even with some savvy retro-fitting, there’s a whole universe of hardware already up and running, ready to go full Web3 if their owners are encouraged enough. This universe is Web3’s best shot at adapting it to the actual real world – not as something esoteric and shady, and not as a speculative Wild West, but as something that gives users added value to what they already have. . From this foothold, it can grow and expand into new industries and regions, merging decentralized technology with real-world value and results. And thus, in the long run, it will bring its vision to life without slipping into the innovation abyss that has brought down Facebook’s metaverse and many other untimely innovations.
About the Author
Alireza is the co-founder of Ghodes Natix Networks And Natix, Creation of AI-powered maps through crowd-sourced camera networks. He is the former lead of Consumer IoT and former co-lead of Blockchain (Europe) at PwC. He has a PhD in Wireless Communication from Jacobs University Bremen.
co-founder of Leonard Dorlochter peakWeb3 networks power the economy of things, and EOT Labsis a software development and incubation organization that supports open-source projects focused on the economy of things.
The views and opinions expressed here are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.