Crowdstartcoin and XSC Wallet in 2018

Dear Crowdstartcoin XCS friends,

most of us receive many nice X-Mas holiday wishes, and, of course, the Crowdstart team wishes you the same: have some relaxing days and a very good start into 2019!

The year 2018 was an interesting year in cryptoland – we all remember very well the steep rise of most cryptos until mid January, followed by an enduring downturn – known as the crypto winter. Many crypto startups folded, also some crypto venture funds have and will. And, nobody really dares to launch an ICO these days.

Our beloved Crowdstartcoin XSC still is too small in value to either dramatically profit or suffer from overall crypto trends. In 2018, we have continued to distribute XSC to members of the blockchain community who add value to the ecosystem. We have broadened our scope of potential recipients by also rewarding community members who add value by writing blogposts, designing logos and other stuff, doing some administration work, etc. Our overall goal stays the same: we distribute free XSC to those who add value to and therefore enhance the blockchain ecosystem.

XSC Wallet Takes Action

This summer, the Crowdstart team had a lot of fun and made many friends by selling Frozen Yoghurt at the DAHOAM Pure Tech Conference against XSC. It was a very hot day and that helped to motivate the conference participants to download the XSC Wallet, receiving XSC via airdrop and then spending these for FroYo, T-Shirts and goodie bags. Out of 1,100 visitors of the conference 1,049 paid with XSC. That we call a conversion rate!

On a more corporate event, the FI-Forum by FinanzInformatik, the IT backbone of Germany’s saving banks that represent 38% of German retail banking, the Crowdstart team provided the XSC Wallet in its white label version and enabled consulting company zeb to offer the zeb DigiTaler – a very good opportunity to bring crypto payments to the attention of FI-Forum’s 8,000 visitors.

We provide the white label version of the XSC Wallet to other corporate events and (internal) crypto payment pilots, too. Based on the experiences of these applications, we develop the XSC Wallet further, make it more stable and even more secure; e.g. the XSC Wallet will feature a KYC/AML integration, soon.

Member of the European Blockchain Association EBA

In November, we joined the European Blockchain Association EBA. This organisation synchronizes blockchain activities and projects all around Europe and is designed as a Decentralised Semi-Autonomous Organisation DSAO; i.e. a DAO based on a comprehensive governance model embodied in a legal entity, registered in Germany. EBA asked the Crowdstart team wether we couod provide Crowdstartcoins XSC as a means of payment and reward for EBA members. Since this is a perfect match – our goals are completely aligned – we agreed and donated 40% of our XSC supply to the EBA. Accoring to their givernance model, the EBA will distribute XSC to its members.

Now, that we – in partnership with the EBA – have laid the basis for a meaningful distribution of XSC, we must create the best possible trading environment for XSC: today, XSC  can be traded at EtherDelta, ForkDelta, IDEX and Radar. This is a very good start. However, many XSC holders are unfamiliar with trading at (decentralized) exchanges. Therefore, our goal for Q2/2019 is to be listed at more decentralized exchanges and at one centralized exchange.

Most exchanges require rather high listing fees that we cannot afford because we have never done an ICO and therefore we have no funding for Crowdstartcoin XSC at all. That’s why our goal is rarher challenging. We have approached several crypto exchanges and asked them wehther they would list XSC in exchange against endorsements and recommendations by the Crowdstart team and the EBA. If you are well connected with an exchange, please support us by recommending the listing of XSC! The more liquidity we create the better the result for the blockchain community – let’s aim to make XSC the currency of the blockchain community!

PS: Over the next days we will read and internalise the thinking of this working paper by Nick Gogerty. That should help 😉

Crowdstart Capital Joins European Blockchain Association – Donates Crowdstart Coins XSC

Crowdstart Capital CSC has decided to donate 40% of its total XSC crypto currency supply to the European Blockchain Association EBA. The EBA‘s mission is to empower the blockchain ecosystem by synchronizing and leveraging blockchain-related activities of European corporations, startups, venture capitalists, and scientific institutes. In this endeavor, the CSC mission is well aligned with the EBA. Therefore, CSC will provide the EBA with Crowdstart Coins in order to reward its members‘ activities with free XSC. 

The donation of XSC means a change of plans for CSC: the original plan was to implement Crowdvote, a crowd-based voting mechanism to distribute CrowdstartCoins XSC to the best blockchain projects out there.

We have experienced some major road blocks while working on the liquid voting system, mainly regarding the correctness and security of the voting mechanism. Then, we started the conversation with the newly founded European Blockchain Association that has a very similar agenda to ours regarding the question how to incentivize the blockchain community to actively and consistently add valuable code and other assets to the blockchain ecosystem.

The result of this conversation was to join forces and to provide the EBA with a major chunk of Crowdstart Coins XSC for free. The EBA will reward its members with XSC for different activities that add value to the ecosystem, e.g. adding code, participating in hackathons, organizing events, and more.

Crowdstart Capital will become an integral part of the EBA by taking over the role and function of its accelerator. The EBA has agreed upon leveraging CSC‘s startup accelerator model to promote blockchain-based startups throughout Europe. We really like the decentralized arrangement of the EBA – that should enable its members to join forces and synchronize efforts.

We think that these synergies will add value to the European blockchain ecosystem at large and we’re looking forward to working together with EBA‘s members!

The day, people started paying for frozen yogurt with crypto

8 years after Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 Bitcoins for 2 PapaJohn’s pizzas, 1,000 participants of the DAHO.AM Pure Tech Conference each paid 300 CrowdstartCoins XSC for conference T-shirts, goodie bags or frozen yogurt. 30 degrees Celsius and more made especially the frozen yohurt the most sought after food at the conference. 

Datarella supported the organizational DAHO.AM team with looking for speakers, defining workshops and also with the more nitty gritty detail of a conference. Additionally, we launched our latest blockchain product at the conference, a cryptocurrency wallet, the XSC Wallet.

When opening the XSC Wallet, each DAHO.AM visitor got 1,000 XSC that enabled her to buy a t-shirt, a goodie bag and a frozen yogurt. Due to the tough conference schedule and summery temperature, many visitors asked other visitors who weren’t interested in goodie bags, to send them their XSC enabling them to buy another froyo. Sending and receiving crypto with tye XSC Wallet proved to be so easy that even the least technically educated (their words) experienced no problem at all managing their cryptocurrency.

Some visitors were hesitant to spend their XSC in the first instance, since they belong to the #HODL group – users who don’t spend their frypto but “Hold On for Dear Life”. But, after the Crowdstart team assured them that they woult get the same amount of XSC tokens they’d spend later this week in real ERC20 XSC tokens that are tradeable on the Ethereum mainnet, they went on a shopping tour.

The fascinating result of the XSC Wallet launch was the fact that all users were completely surprised how easy it is to pay for goods and food  with crypto  in real life. The payment process is easy to understand, fast, and makes so much fun that many visitors returned several times to the Crowdstart stand only to use the XSC Wallet and pay for stuff, again. For the Datarella team, this wasn’t really a surprise, but a very nice confirmation of our strong belief that crypto will play a major role in global payments soon.

XSC-Wallet Launch at the DAHO.AM Pure Tech Conference

CSC Flower

Event - Start Event - Request - Set Amount - Code Event - Vendor - XSC Received

The DAHO.AM Pure Tech Conference (on July 24th) will use our new XSC-Wallet as the official payment method during the conference! The wallet will be used for buying food, drinks, and merchandise.

As the largest pure tech conference for developers, startups, and corporates the DAHO.AM (tickets here!) is predestined to use a blockchain-based payment system at the event. The XSC-Wallet will be available as an app for your smartphone (iOS or Android) and act as a replacement for old-school paper vouchers. You’ll basically be able to pay for everything using the app. For this year’s conference, we’re also going to issue everyone a physical ticket for getting lunch super fast and as an offline backup in case your phone is out of juice.

The app contains special DAHO.AM XSC which are super easy to use. You can use the DAHO.AM wallet at the venues of the DAHO.AM conference to pay for food and snacks. We’ll issue special DAHO.AM XSC as a credit when you download the app so you won’t have to worry about exchanges or buying cryptocurrency in advance. After DAHO.AM your XSC will be transformed into tradable XSC-tokens on the ethereum network.

We are currently in the final testing period for the app and a private Beta on TestFlight in the App Store is ongoing.

Stay tuned for updates!

CROWDVOTE – A Community Driven Decision Making Model To Compensate Blockchain Developers

CrowdstartCoin

Big news is coming up at Crowdstart: with CROWDVOTE we will provide a community driven opinion forming and decision making model that follows on the present centralized distribution model of CrowdstartCoins XSC.

Starting with our IOTA hackathon in Gdansk, in November 2017, we have distributed CrowdstartCoins XSC to over 2,000 developers who have added valuable code to the blockchain ecosystem. As promised, we at Crowdstart do not think that we are the best people to decide who is eligible to receive CrowdstartCoins XSC, but rather it should be the responsibility of the entire blockchain community to form opinions and make decisions that define the distribution of XSC.

CROWDVOTE to be launched at DAHOAM Tech Conference
We announced our plan of developing a liquid democracy model to enable that kind of a decentralized decision making process last November. Today, we are very happy to announce that we will launch the first version of CROWDVOTE at DAHOAM Tech Conference, on July, 24.

With CROWDVOTE, members of the blockchain community will be able to propose and vote for blockchain projects supporting them to receive their deserved CrowdstartCoins XSC. In the first version, there still  will be some centralized elements; e.g. there will be a set of rules that define the proposal and voting mechanism. A framework of rules has to be implemented from the start – otherwise the model would create more confusion than joy about the new decision making opportunities. Our plan, however, is to go further and also decentralise these aspects. In future versions of CROWDVOTE, the community will be able to define the rules for proposing and voting for projects by themselves.

Want to participate and help CROWDVOTE to be developed?

If you are generally interested in decentralise decision making processes and liquid democracy, please feel invited to participate and support the development of CROWDVOTE. Send us an email to crowdvote (at) crowdstart (dot) capital.

 

Update on Pryze.com Sweepstakes

Pryze + Datarella Sweepstakes for early adopters

A short update about our XSC token sweepstakes with Pryze.com

Over the course of February as many of you know, we partnered with Pryze to offer an ethereum-based provably fair sweepstakes where blockchain early adopters can apply for a chance to win up to 100 XSC Tokens.

A winner of this giveaway has been drawn by Pryze, but not yet verified their claim to the prize. If they don’t do so within the next 24 hours Pryze will draw a new winner from the entry pool. The winner will have one week to respond.

Once the winner is confirmed we will distribute the grand prize to the sweepstakes winner and draw 99 runner ups who will also receive a smaller distribution. A big thank you to everyone who took part in the Pryze campaign! We’ll keep you informed. The promised tokens are coming!

The Tokenised Economy

From the early days of capitalism, when from 1633 the Hollandische Mercurius referred  to capitalists as the owners of capital, on to David Ricardo who, in his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation  is seen as the one who actually coined the term capitalism, until today: the structure and behavior of the enterprise as the main capitalist entity, hasn’t changed that much. With the advent of blockchain technology, the evolution of the enterprise could pick up pace, dramatically.

An enterprise can be defined as the largest participant of an economic system with an ideology based on – in most cases – private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. In the early days, the owners of an enterprise would manage its operations themselves. With the advent of the public corporation, ownership and management were separated from each other: in most cases, the owners did not participate in the management of the company but delegated this to employed executives. With this separation of ownership and management, and a trend towards larger entities with hundreds to thousands, to hundreds of thousands of employees, enterprises had to be structured in a way that would enable a proper management and controlling. In democratic countries, there are specific sets of regulations and laws that provide the framework for owners’ and managers’ scopes of action.

The Enterprise As An Institution

Throughout the history of capitalism, enterprises have been regarded as stand-alone, singular entities, existing because of the product and service portfolios they would offer to the market. Aspects of enterprises’ interdependencies and connections with their environments played a minor role: one of the better known examples of this is James Buchanan’s Public Choice theory that describes people’s decision-making process within the political realm. When, with the Industrial Revolution, people became aware of the significant external effects enterprises could have not only on the lives of their employees but on the environment, etc., something changed within the enterprises: owners and managers started wondering how they could address their enterprises overall impact on the outside world.

Another aspect that made managers think of the interdependency of their company with others, was marketing. Companies discovered that it wasn’t enough to produce high-quality products – they had to tell potential customers about it and even had to compete with other companies offering similar products.

The Enterprise As A Platform

Acknowledging external impacts of enterprises and the shift from supply-side to demand-side driven markets mark a clear behavioral change for enterprises: trade  unions, environmental regulations, but also purely economic aspects, such as just-in-time production or supply chain optimization, all have led to a new kind of enterprise – evolving from institutional constructs into a platform, acting as hubs mainly responsible for organizing a network of partners making sure a final product will be presented to the customer.

The enterprise as a platform: these days, most companies would be happy being regarded as a platform. After all, that propels them into the top ranks of the innovative minority according to AccentureBain and other consultancies.

And yet, the platform enterprise isn’t state-of-the-art.

Platforms may offer many positive aspects but they lack all advantages of a decentralized, trustless system, such as a blockchain protocol. Apple, Tencent, Siemens, or other giant platforms are centralistic structures that are successful as long as each platform partner plays along: as soon as one entity in the supply chain fails, the product can’t be delivered on time or with a certain quality. Costs of managing and controlling the platform processes itselves have become immense. In the event of an external irregularity, e.g. an activist group’s protest on the basis of an alleged misbehaviour, followed by a consumer boycott, could force even market leaders to halt the production process or even to discontinue a product line. Platforms are highly sensitive against irregularities because of their centralistic architecture.

The Enterprise As A Protocol

There is a cure for this sensitivity: if platform enterprises improve themselves further and evolve into protocols, they become resilient against internal as well as external attacks and they can regain what most of today’s companies have continuously lost in the past years: credibility and trust in the eyes of consumers. A protocol can be described as a defined set of rules and regulations that determine how data is transmitted in networks. A blockchain protocol is a decentralized database and ledger that allows all participants of the network to work with the identical, consistent data set at any time.

Convergence: Blockchain + Smart Technologies

A protocol enterprise uses blockchain technology to share the database and its additional, external intelligence, such as AI, autonomous machines, VR or AR, to collaboratively manage and control a supply chain process. The system is completely decentralized, featuring automated processes in line with a set of rules and regulations all participants have agreed on – the governance model. A liquid feedback mechanism ensures that all participants have the ability to participate in the network’s opinion making process. Depending on the intended level of openness, either selected third parties or the general public may also join the network. In the first case, a private, permissioned blockchain would allow a pre-defined group of participants to join the network. If everybody should be granted access to the network, a public blockchain would be used.

Cryptoeconomics & Token Design

Participants of blockchain networks need tokens to communicate or, more correctly, to transact on the blockchain. These tokens can take different shapes: they can represent a value store only, or they come with a set of instructions defining the so-called token design, or cryptoeconomics of the network. Cryptoeconomics describe the incentive mechanism that motivates participants to actively engage in the network.

In the same way, the token design is the regulatory framework for behaving within the network, it’s the (re-)presentation of each participant’s behaviour and value system. In other words: the token is the representation of the brand equity of the network’s or protocol’s participants. Customer perception will be created through the design and use of the blockchain network tokens. Since all transactions in a blockchain are immutable and, therefore, represent an accurate, consistent history, all actions of a protocol enterprise are open for scrutiny by third parties, s.a. auditors, or the general public, i.e. (potential) customers. CEOs of protocol enterprises won’t have to fear misleading accusations by activist groups. However, they have to be aware that omniscient auditors or customers form their opinions on the company on the basis of a complete behavioral history. Bad times for fraudsters!

A Tokenised Economy

It presumably will take years, if not decades, for existing enterprises to evolve in protocols. Also, many of today’s platforms will not join this evolution and will remain platforms or even morph back into institutions before the end of their business cycle. But for a new breed of contenders, blockchain technology provides the basis for a tokenised product offering already today. These vendors won’t necessarily regarded as enterprises in the first phase, but they might take over the role of today’s market leaders.  The key aspect of a tokenised economy is the token representing the behaviour and values, or, the brand equity, of market participants.

Blockchain technology is still in its infancy: most systems are not enterprise-ready, yet. However, the decentralized and open nature of blockchains provide the basis for a market penetration in an insane mode . Bitcoin, the first blockchain protocol, has evolved into the world’s 6th largest  currency by circulation  according to the Bank for International Settlements. The figure is based on a value of bitcoin at $10,765 each, meaning that the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is $180 bln. Bitcoin evolved into this widely used currency within nine years of existence – being the very first of its kind, initialising the category of cryptocurrencies.

Solarcoin, another cryptocurrency and token, was launched in 2014.  It’s a global rewards program for solar electricity generation: 1 Solarcoin represents 1 MWh (megawatt hour) of solar electricity generation. Verified solar electricity producers,  may get Solarcoins for free when participating in the network. 99% of Solarcoins will be given to solar electricity producers of 97,500 TWh (terrawatt hour) over 40 years. The creators of the Solarcoin foundation expect a market price of $30 per MWh in unregulated and unsubsidised markets. As of today, a Solarcoin costs $0.50 – so, there us a long way to go to reach a $30 price tag. However, at $0.50, Solarcoin has the third largest market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies, reaching over $45 bln. Since renewable energies, especially solar power, cover more and more of the world’s energy consumption, we could expect the Solarcoin network becoming the or one of the main vendors within this space. And, what else is Solarcoin than a reasonably tokenised product offering?

For us, blockchain technology is more than a database and a ledger: it’s the basis of a tokenised economy. Done right, blockchain protocols not only allow new vendors enter a crowded market, their decentralized and open characteristics provide the tools for decentralized and open business models, such as (a renaissance of) cooperatives, collectives, etc.. Blockchain technology provides the tools – creators and entrepreneurs may now use them and start morphing centralized, vulnerable platform enterprises into decentralized, resilient protocols.

What is CrowdstartCoin?

CrowdstartCoin (Ticker: XSC) is a digital currency rewarding blockchain developers.

Launched in December 2017, CrowdstartCoin presents the additional advantage of being a tangible virtual currency: in fact, by coupling each line of code committed to projects within the blockchain ecosystem to the production of a CrowdstartCoin, the virtual world joins our physical world. Put another way, CrowdstartCoin works as Reward Miles: any blockchain developer receives CrowdstartCoins for code that she adds to tye development of the blockchain ecosystem – and it’s free!

CrowdstartCoin has a social utility for its community: by rewarding a blockchain developer, CrowdstartCoin acts as an incentive, stimulating the development of the blockchain ecosystem worldwide. CrowdstartCoin is already distributed within three European countries and is intended to be circulated worldwide: any blockchain developer may apply and claim his CrowdstartCoins for free. To do so, the developer simply fills out this form online with data proving that she has committed code to the blockchain ecosystem.

3-Phase Incentive Scheme

The grant mechanism for delivering CrowdstartCoins is based on 3 phases:

In the first phase, CrowdstartCoins will be directly distributed to the active developer community, approached through blockchain conferences, meetups, forums, etc. Developers committing code to key blockchain projects can opt-in to receive CrowdstartCoins for free for code that has been accepted.

In the second phase, the distribution of CrowdstartCoins will be semi-automated by using a smart-contract-based system to pay out tokens according to the accepted commits. Technologies to be supported by these incentives include the core protocols of leading blockchains, e.g. Ethereum, IOTA, Monero, etc..

In the third phase, members of the community will be able to suggest projects to be rewarded with CrowdstartCoins. A liquid feedback model will be used to enable community voting and determine which blockchain projects should be included.

CrowdstartCoin therefore acts as an incentive for the future development of blockchain technology. Since 1 December, 2017, CrowdstartCoin  is officially listed at the cryptoexchange EtherDelta, with the ticker symbol XSC.

IOTA Hackathon: Open Car Charging Network (Part 2)

iPhone with PlugInBaby App
+++UPDATE+++

We’ve stirred much interest in the issuance of our XSC token at the IOTA hackathon in Gdansk. We therefore decided to prolong our rewards campaign for IOTA developers for 1 week:

If you’re a developer who committed code to advance the IOTA network during the month of November, you’ll be eligible. If you think you’re eligible you can request up to 250 XSC until Friday, 1 December 2017.

Fill out this form now! Show us that you’ve got the right stuff!
Developer Incentives Program: Claim XSC Rewards

For more information on the CSC Blockchain Evolution Incentive Scheme, click here  and here.

+++UPDATE+++

This is the second installment outlining the experiences of the winning team “PlugInBaby” during the IOTA Hackathon. In the first post (found here), we describe the idea generation process.  In this post, team member Rebecca Johnson goes into more detail with regards to how the team built the project and what exactly it accomplishes.

Our PoC decentralizes and democratizes access to a  network of electric vehicle chargers by allowing the chargers to costlessly broadcast their status (offline, occupied, available) via 0 value transactions on the tangle. Next, using a mobile app, users searching for a charging station can query the tangle using 0 value transactions to search for tags of available stations. They can reserve a charging spot and book micro transactions necessary to pay for electricity, all using IOTA.

Concept Doodle
A world where individuals leverage open source software and DIY hardware to decentralise the market for energy.

Using the tangle as a database makes the solution quite elegant. The protocol for sending data and value are essentially the same which removes the need for a centralized payment processing layer and allows for the DIY ethic to extend all the way to the end-user.

This approach is also flexible enough to leave room for participation by utilities and other stakeholders since the hardware and software are open-source.  Improvements are welcome and anyone is free to implement the idea. The code can be found here.

Requirements & Assumptions

  • We restricted ourselves to using only IOTA for implementing the database functionality. This carries the theoretical advantages of future scalability, full decentralization and zero transaction costs for messages sent to and from the tangle as well as a mechanism for machine to machine electricity purchases.
  • We assumed that the API and the interaction between the charger and the car app are out of scope for the hackathon.
  • Charging station vendors need to send status messages for their stations (free, in-use, offline) using 0 balance transactions to the tangle. Our back-end provides this capability via terminal inputs. Since this is just a PoC we didn’t build out an API or UI for this portion.
  • A web-based front-end, a back-end connection to the tangle and an API for communication between the two needed to be built. Given this, the team split into two groups of 3-4 developers each.

Back-End:

The experience of the PlugInBaby team was similar to that of the Freedom Pass team. We started out by following this tutorial from Baltic Data Science and gained speed by utilizing some of the resources from the Q&A with Chris Dukakis of IOTA. After that, we connected to a testnet node and started issuing transactions.

Like the Freedom Pass team, we also considered using a mainnet node but the issue of how to connect with neighbors was eventually a knockout criterion. This was actually due to security concerns. One of our team members had a Java Runtime Environment setup on a remote virtual machine and we considered setting up an instance of the IRI. In the end, however, we weren’t comfortable with the security risks that connecting with unknown nodes presented.

In contrast to the other teams, the “PlugInBaby” team used the IOTA Python Library to build and connect the backend. Documentation for this library is quite sparse in comparison with the JavaScript Library. We’d like to thank Andreas OsowskiLewis Freiberg and  Chris Dukakis of IOTA for their round-the-clock support in getting everything up and running.

Our team member Lukasz Zmudzinski has written a great blog post on his site which outlines which Python methods we used to read and write to the tangle in greater detail. We used the Tornado web framework and asynchronous networking library for this project and wrote our own API  to communicate with the front end.

Team PlugInBaby hard at work on frontend development

Front End:

The front end was written primarily in JavaScript and utilizes server.js for Node.  To accelerate development we started using a boilerplate/skeleton for Node.js web applications. We later used bootstrap and AngularJS to improve the styling and make our web app mobile-ready and responsive.

Users can query the tangle for the transactions of vendors with free stations and also read dynamic pricing information. The search mechanism uses information written to tags while the state information about the charging station and the station latitude/longitude are written in the message. This information is then passed via API calls to the front-end for interpretation in the UI.

User Experience:

UI Workflow
UI Workflow
  • Step 1:
    The user uses a smartphone app to query the tangle for available charging stations.
  • Step 2:
    The user selects a charging station from the map. Each station has dynamic pricing which is shown in real-time along with the map pin when selecting the station.
  • Step 3:
    The user drives to the station and lets the station know that they have arrived by sending a message to the tangle.
  • Step 4:
    The charging station tells the app that the car is fully charged.
  • Step 5:
    The user’s IOTA wallet is debited and the transaction is signed by the seed stored in the app.
  • Step 6:
    The charger resets its status to available on the tangle and all the transactions/messages are available for verification.
Tangle Output
IOTA Tangle output: Following charging all transactions are available for inspection in the tangle.

What We Learned:

The PlugInBaby PoC demonstrates the feasibility of an IOTA-based search and payment app for IOTA-based DIY chargers but it is far from ready-for-use outside of the lab/hackathon. A number of issues came up which will need to be solved before this system would be appropriate for public use.

  • Tags only allow for 27 characters which wouldn’t be enough to store latitude and longitude data plus a transaction ID without truncation. The team ended up using the message field to store data (location + charger status) while the tags were used to store a searchable charger identifier.
  • Speed is quite limited on the testnet. Specifically, we found that the testnet confirmation times were quite long late at night (2-3 minutes) when fewer users were online running test applications. This is due to the fact that each new transaction must approve two other transactions. This approach scales well but also requires many active nodes to submit and approve transactions. As both the testnet and the mainnet grow this problem should be mitigated.
  • Transaction caching was required to make the demo useable within the alloted three minute presentation time.
  • While the support from the IOTA team was excellent, we noticed that the documentation, particularly regarding the phython libraries, is quite lacking. This makes development a slow trial and error process.
  • Security and privacy are generally open questions within the IOTA ecosystem. The team assumed these issues to be outside the scope of this PoC. That said we raised privacy concerns regarding the possibility of API misuse and the lack of privacy often during the development process. Improved documentation and more descriptive error messages would go a long way towards making these issues easier to handle.
  • Masked Authenticated Messaging (MAM), the planned Private Transaction layer, and the integration of zero-knowledge-proofs into the IOTA ecosystem are exciting areas for new research given the current limitations of IOTA in the area of security and privacy.

Conclusion

To sum up, the team learned a lot about the implementation of an exciting use case that really makes sense for IOTA. Is this the only way to build such a system? No.  There are many other ways to find, navigate to and pay for electric vehicle charging. Many market-ready centralized systems are already up an running.  Our PoC demonstrates, however, that it’s possible to solve this use case using IOTA alone which allows for the possibility of a scalable decentralized approach. This, in turn, could open up the field to many more players and provide a common system for various entities to build upon.

Hackathon Participants
Team „PlugInBaby“ at the IOTA Hackathon in Gdansk, Poland

 Here is an overview of all reports on the IOTA Hackathon’s projects:

1st place – “PlugInBaby”:

…describes the idea and the pivot of the project
Team “PlugInBaby”: Open Car Charging Network (Part 2)
…describes the technical level and provides resources

2nd place – “Freedom Pass”:
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 1)
…describes the high level of the project
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 2)
…describes the technical level of the project

IOTA Hackathon: Open Car Charging Network (Part 1)

iPhone with PlugInBaby app

+++UPDATE+++

We’ve stirred much interest in the issuance of our XSC token at the IOTA hackathon in Gdansk. We therefore decided to prolong our rewards campaign for IOTA developers for 1 week:

If you’re a developer who committed code to advance the IOTA network during the month of November, you’ll be eligible. If you think you’re eligible you can request up to 250 XSC until Friday, 1 December 2017.

Fill out this form now! Show us that you’ve got the right stuff!
Develsoper Incentives Program: Claim XSC Rewards

For more information on the CSC Blockchain Evolution Incentive Scheme, click here and here.

+++UPDATE+++

The IOTA Hackathon took place from Nov 17 to Nov 19 in Gdansk, Poland. Software developers from all over Europe came together to put to test the IOTA Platform with various use cases. The event was sponsored by IOTA, Baltic Data Science (blockchain and big data service), Datarella (blockchain and big data consultancy) and Bright Inventions (mobile app development). Four teams of developers and software experts formed around various use cases and competed for the prize money of 4,200 IOTA. Here in “Part 1″ we summarize the idea iteration process for the contest’s winning team  „PlugInBaby” and the associated pivot that took place while defining the project topic. Part 2 describes the development and design of the project in more detail.

Defining the Need

Idea Consolidation
Idea Consolidation

We started the hackathon with a group brainstorming session followed by some informal voting and group building around the topics generated.

After narrowing the focus down to the topics, “Autonomous Agents” and “Decentralized Stack” the group focused on idea generation.  Any potential topic needed to utilize the special characteristics of IOTA (scalability, speed, zero transactions costs) while avoiding limitations such as the lack of a Turing complete language and smart contract capabilities.

Initial brainstorming considered applications in manufacturing, autonomous transportation, supply chain management and distributed sensor technology.  Eventually the basic idea of using IOTA as a distributed database allowing individuals or autonomous agents to identify free parking spaces in cities and also search for those spaces crystalized out of the brainstorming process.

Pizza Box Brainstorming
Pizza Box Brainstorming

After several hours of work on the concept and the potential implementations, we found structural problems with the plan. In our initial approach, the team imagined that individuals or autonomous agents/smart cars would identify free parking spaces, notify others of their presence by writing to the tangle and potentially be compensated for the service. A number of important questions were however left open with this topic.

Critical Questions that Lead to the Pivot:

  • Why should a system for finding free parking spaces be built using IOTA?
  • Wouldn’t another technology be more appropriate?
  • Why not use a blockchain which allows for smart contracts?
  • Would people really use such an app?

Pivot to an open car charging network

After several hours of discussion, the team still couldn’t adequately answer the above questions so we turned to another idea. Instead of logging free parking spaces, we would provide a link between an IoT network of decentralized charging stations and traditional or autonomous cars needing charging services.

Currently, electric charging infrastructure is almost always mediated by large corporations and organizations. This project seeks to change this.  The team drew inspiration from ElaadNL which built a Proof of Concept (PoC) Charging Station for electric cars running fully on IOTA. Their charger is built using off the shelf tech and could be adopted by individuals who wish to offer electricity from their private microgrid or solar installations. What’s missing in the ElaadNL implementation is a user-friendly way to select and navigate to the charging station.

ElaadNLPoC
ElaadNL IOTA Electric Car Charger PoC

The ElaadNL PoC app works on a “Pull” basis where the user has to enter a charger code to search for the status of a particular charger.  The team wanted to design something that would work on a “Push” basis and push the location of open chargers to users within the familiar confines of a google map interface.

The team envision a world in which individuals could take an open-source IoT charger kit and set up an IOTA-based charging station wherever they have access to power and a parking space. This could open up a whole new layer of community-based decentral charging.

Concept Doodle
A world where individuals leverage open source software and DIY hardware to decentralize the market for energy.

The project, so conceived was well matched with the strengths of IOTA. Scalability and transaction speed would be needed due to continual improvements in the speed of charging and the fact that the search mechanism of the system would have to operate very quickly to guarantee a good user experience. A system with zero transactions costs was also judged to be appropriate for the type of microtransactions that need to occur between a car and a smart charger enabling real-time pricing for electricity.

We owe a shout out to ElaadNL for their PoC. The existence of such charger allowed us to think in a modular fashion and abstract away the charger component to focus instead exclusively on the building a system to find the chargers and transact with them.

IOTA Hackathon winning team “PlugInBaby!”. Team members (from left to right): Yoon Kim, Andrew Young, Rebecca Johnson, Lukasz Zmudzinski, Dominik Harz, Alexei Zamyatin, Linna Wang, Nicolas S – and the moderator Michael Reuter of Datarella to the far right

 Here is an overview of all reports on the IOTA Hackathon’s projects:

1st place – “PlugInBaby”:

…describes the idea and the pivot of the project
Team “PlugInBaby”: Open Car Charging Network (Part 2)
…describes the technical level and provides resources

2nd place – “Freedom Pass”:
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 1)
…describes the high level of the project
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 2)
…describes the technical level of the project