In theory, and in the minds of a lot of moonboys, blockchain technology can be applied to any industry as an infrastructural layer for data management. Whether it’s cheaper, faster, or wise to implement is another topic, but as long as we don’t know where the tech is going, anything remains in the realm of possibilities.
With this in mind, I have researched projects that are combining blockchains with other emerging technologies, especially with Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Virtual Reality. Even though these 10 projects are highly experimental, their ideas are intriguing, to say the least.
And if these projects can accomplish their high-reaching goals, they will be truly disruptive.
You gotta love the emerging tech buzzword salad, because these projects have them all. Here are 10 experimental, yet highly interesting, projects that use blockchain technology to advance another emerging technologies.
The project’s name (IoT-A) already gives away the industry that it’s targeting, and this top 10 project has been making impressive progress towards its goal of becoming the backbone of the Internet of Things.
The IOTA network doesn’t run on a blockchain. Instead, it’s built on a customized version of a Distributed Acyclic Graph (DAG) structure called Tangle. The Tangle is a database structure that unlike a blockchain does not have blocks, a chain, nor miners. Transactions on the IOTA network are feeless but “paid” for by verifying 2 previous transactions, making IOTA theoretically seriously scalable.
IOTA’s promising technology has managed to attract high-quality partnerships and collaborations. Volkswagen and IOTA announced the upcoming release of their first product in 2019, the city of Taipei is looking at implementing IOTA’s tech, the first IOTA-based electric charging station is a fact, and just recently a partnership with Japanese tech giant Fujitsu was announced, in which the MNE indicated that it will implement IOTA as a protocol standard for several manufacturing processes.
On top of that, project Qubic was announced and clarified in June, and did not disappoint. Project Qubic is designed to bring a whole array of new, valuable features to the IOTA network, including smart contracts, oracles, outsourced computations, and even fiat pairing and trading.
Welcome to Decentraland, the virtual realm where everybody is their own boss and can contribute to its pixelated aesthetics. That’s right, a VR world that is created and controlled by its inhabitants.
Decentraland’s ERC-20 token, MANA, will be the in-world currency, and has thus far been used for the sale of virtual real estate to users. On this parcel, users can let their imaginations run wild and develop at will. The Decentraland SDK (which can be found here) can be used to start developing games, applications, objects themes, and more.
The opportunities are endless, and those with the most creative development skills can even start earning MANA for the value they create. The virtual land registry, as well as the ownership over all other virtual creations, is managed through smart contracts and immutably stored on the blockchain.
The parcel marketplace is up and running, and the team has been making steady progress. The platform is currently in alpha testing and is working towards launching its fully fledged metaverse through which users can walk, talk, and create, which is expected to launch in early 2019.
The Decentraland project has been able to pretty much withstand the bears these past few months, maintaining most of its value relative to Bitcoin and outperforming most altcoins. This BBC feature certainly helped raising project awareness.
I’m gonna be honest here, this project both intrigues and kind of scares me. Maybe you’re familiar with the robot Sophia, the first non-organic entity to ever be granted citizenship, granted by Saudi Arabia officials (would she enjoy male or female rights?). The team behind this metal Saudi Arabian has created SingularityNET to power AI algorithms, which will ultimately feed the brain of Sophia and the AIs that come after her.
In order to make this possible, SinglarityNET is creating a decentralized AI marketplace. In this marketplace, AI companies can trade data, algorithms, and solutions in a secure and transparent manner. Parties providing data will be compensated with the platform’s native cryptocurrency AGI.
Because of the marketplace’s decentralized approach, SingularityNET aims to shave off a lot of the current costs of AI development, seriously reducing the barrier of entry for AI startups. Moreover, the project is creating APIs through which third parties can access AI solutions without the normally required high levels of expertise.
The platform’s beta release was just recently postponed, mainly due to the team’s overly ambitious goals. To prevent further delays and give the project’s community insight in the expected progress, SingularityNET has released a three-part roadmap, in which the platform, services, and research development roadmaps are separated.
Waltonchain could not be left out of this list, as the project combines blockchain technology, big data, and RFID technology, with the end goal of fueling the Internet of Things. To reach this final goal, the Waltonchain project first focuses on disrupting the way in which supply chains are managed.
Unlike many other supply chain projects, Waltonchain is working in producing both hardware and software. Waltonchain’s first hardware chip has reached mass production, and 2 more chips with different specifications are expected to follow suit within the next 2 years.
These chips will be embedded in the products of companies working with Waltonchain to turn them into smart objects that can transmit data. This data will be collected and stored on Waltonchain’s decentralized ledger, and the process automated through smart contracts.
Because of this, companies that integrate Waltonchain’s solution can keep track of all of their products. And with an increase of adoption, entire supply chains can be tracked and managed with a dramatic increase in efficiency compared to current supply chain processes.
The Waltonchain network will support “child chains,” which are frameworks with specific features customized for a particular client or industry. These child chains are being piloted at the moment. Slowly but surely, Waltonchain is building towards its envisioned commercial ecosystem driven by data.
Vibe is combining VR and blockchain to create new virtual spaces in which a large variety of activities can be conducted, from sports entertainment to business meetings. These spaces will be part of the Vibehub, the platform on which the interactions of Vibe users will occur.
One of the most outstanding VR experiences Vibe will provide are photo-realistic holograms of artists, educators, and public figures. These holograms will be fully observable in the virtual realm and made possible by Volumetric video technology, developed in-house. This allows VR users to observe a realistic representation of any person they’re willing to see, and with this Vibe could be the first of its kind.
Social interactions will also be made possible with the use of this technology, which means that Vibehub users will be able to interact with each other’s holograms on the basis of their mutual interests.
The Vibe project also allows users to monetize the VR content they create. This can be VR designs, models, scenes, music, videos, and additional options that will present themselves as the platform goes live.
To experience the events offered by the Vibe platform, its users, and their future partnering companies, consumers will use the Vibe token. This is an Ethereum-based token which enables micro-transactions for all activities completed on the Vibe platform. Content creators will also be paid in the Vibe token. Transactions will be instantaneous and without GAS fees due to their private, off-chain nature.
This NEO-based project is creating a decentralized marketplace for AI computations and resources. Deepbrain Chain specifically targets the cloud market for AI, but plans to build applications for trade of AI algorithms and solutions over time.
The plan is to connect all idle AI computing power to parties that could use a little extra GPU, leading to a serious boost in cost efficiency. The team projects a 70% cut to the current cost of AI computations, which would make the otherwise too costly process of training AI accessible to small businesses and startups.
The DBC token is used as the native token for the Deepbrain Chain network, and also to reward suppliers of computational power. Other services that the platform will provide are applications for AI data storage, data annotation, data analysis, and the trading of completed AI algorithms.
Deepbrain Chain is also manufacturing its own AI specialized mining hardware, which has an advantage over traditional mining equipment in the DBC network, and thus leads to higher returns.
At the moment, Deepbrain Chain is in the process of gathering suppliers of computational power, for which it has launched its project Skynet. Once Skynet is functional, we can expect the trade of GPU to commence on the decentralized marketplace.
The IoT Chain is another project targeting the Internet of Things, with an architecture based on both a DAG and a blockchain structure. The project uses this technology to create a secure layer for the lite operating system it is designing for the IoT. This lite operating system is specifically designed to let devices with low computing power connect to the devices in its environment and beyond.
Before we can have machine economies without humans involved, we need to make sure that the system these economies will run on is secure, which is why the IoT Chain has implemented Decentralized Ledger Technology. DLT provides an ideal structure for data storage, automated processes, and secure communication.
The ICT token functions as the ecosystem’s unit of account and currency, and will enable machine-to-machine transactions based on their interactions. It is still an ERC-20 token, but will be converted into an IoT Chain native token once the mainnet is live, which is not expected to launch before mid 2019.
For a complete overview of the current status of the project, click here.
Matrix AI Network
An open-source, public, and intelligent blockchain platform — that’s how Matrix AI Network introduces itself. This may not reveal much, but the project is working on multiple innovative crossovers between blockchain technology and AI.
The platform and its blockchain are actually designed with the help of AI algorithms, which will continuously iterate the platform, leading to autonomous self-optimization in the areas of security, efficiency, and flexibility. Matrix is also building applications that enable the mining power of the network to be used for large and complex AI computations.
An additional unique and highly promising innovation the Matrix wants to introduce is natural language smart contract creation. This means that smart contracts can be written in one’s native tongue, after which a natural language-processing algorithm converts this into a smart contract.
This could open up the complex process of developing smart contracts for a whole new group of entrepreneurs and businesses.
On paper, Matrix AI Network also has the biggest partnership of probably the entire industry, as it has been integrated as the exclusive AI and blockchain partner of the $1 trillion One Belt One Road project, one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever initiated by China.
To keep track of the progress of this high-reaching, yet largely unknown blockchain project, check out the Matrix AI network roadmap.
This highly ambitious project wants to completely change how we engage with websites. Instead of visiting simple, 2D pages, Mark.space allows website owners to create a fully 3D environment which visitors can explore and engage with.
Websites created through the Mark.space platform will be fully VR compatible, but the 3D spaces can also be visited through any computer or augmented-reality device, and will be available for every browser.
Other than websites, the Mark.space platform will also work to change how we engage with companies’ online stores. Instead of scrolling through images of items for sale, consumers will be able to visit stores and see items for sale in 3D. This is, for example, great for cars, clothes, art, and much more. But you could also visit the head offices of companies, admire architectural designs, or hang out in spaces dedicated to your passions.
The Mark.space environment will consist of several districts. These districts are divided based on the type of business that is conducted within them. Initially, there will be a education, community, residential, shopping and business district. You can already visit the demos of several districts and the units within them right here.
Blockchain technology is used for the virtual estate registry. The ownership of property within the Mark.space realm is accounted for on the blockchain. When an owner desires to sell, or even lease, their virtual estate, they can do this through the use of smart contracts created by the Mark.space company.
Furthermore, blockchain technology will also fuel the advertising engine and provide distributed rendering solutions. The financial model of the Mark.space platform is based on its MRK token, which will function as the native token of the 3D website ecosystem used for payments.
The Effect.AI company focuses on creating decentralized applications for AI purposes. However, their scope is much bigger, as they are also creating the Effect Network Protocol on the background. This protocol will allow for all kinds of dapps to be built on top of it, which is exactly what Effect.AI is doing.
Given the background of the team, they decided to focus on building decentralized AI applications to develop and optimize their overarching Effect Network Protocol.
In this process, the project has been making impressive progress and is now almost ready to launch its Effect.Force dapp. Effect.AI has been assembling a global, on-demand workforce that can be hired for training AI algorithms, which still need a lot human input for training purposes. Through the Effect.Force dapp, any business can access this workforce.
The Effect.Force is the first step for Effect.AI, after which the team plans to launch a smart market for AI products and services. Ultimately, the team wants to establish a decentralized, distributed computational platform for AI purposes.
The frameworks that Effect.AI is building for these applications will be launched on their Effect Network Protocol, after which they will become open source and can be used for all kinds of purposes. For example, the Effect.AI labor force can also be put to work for other tasks such as surveys, product-market fit analysis, testing marketing strategies and much more.
Don’t let the small market cap of this project fool you, Effect.AI is serious business.