Exclusive Interview with XYO Network

How can we bridge blockchain and the real world? That’s the problem that XYO Network is addressing. Billed as “blockchain’s first crypto-location oracle network”, XYO’s goal is to “enable smart contracts to interact with the real world as if it were an API.”

We speak with the team to learn more about their project.

Can you give us an overview of what XYO is?

Yes absolutely. XYO connects blockchain with the real world by creating decentralized location data via a smart contract called an oracle. We’re the world’s first decentralized location oracle.

Right now smart contacts are amazing because you don’t need lawyers or middlemen or escrow. They’re immutable, transparent, and execute based on predefined parameters. The problem with smart contracts is that the data input source is often flawed. Data inputs can be hacked or spoofed, or you can bribe someone if it’s centralized data.

This problem exists right now in location. Most applications use GPS data for location. GPS data can be easily spoofed. If you look at the Pokemon GO craze, all the kids just downloaded a GPS spoofing app to get their rare Pokemon. The Iranians allegedly took down an American drone a few years ago, just by shooting up the wrong GPS signals.

It was a problem for the Department of Defense actually. And because you can’t trust location data, you can’t transact on it.

Wow! I had no idea GPS was such an issue. Can you share a bit more about the back story of the company, and how the product works?

We’ve been around since 2012, and we built an IOT company, started with 7 million of our own money and 1.5 million in venture debt. We have about 1 million devices out there that can detect each other’s location.

Think of it like us taking a selfie together. We print out two copies, and we put our signatures on the photograph. We can prove that we have been together today.

We work with a bunch of IOT companies, mobile app distributors, mobile OEM plays — basically anything that’s connected with the web.

What kind of practical use cases do you see IOT-based location data?

You can do payment on delivery for eCommerce. Amazon could offer Prime customers the ability to only pay when the package is at their doorstep. Your doorbell, your neighbor’s smartphone, the smart meter down the road, all can help detect when the package arrives. Amazon puts in the packaging tape an NFC or RFID chip, then the event gets triggered when it’s in your house.

Or, you could make sure your kids arrived at school safely, and arrived together with all their friends, and even took the paths you wanted them to take. You can also create location-verified travel reviews.

That’s the world of today, but in the world 5 to 10 years in the future, in a world full of AIs, robots, smart cities, self-driving cars, and drones, all of these things will rely on transactional location data. Nobody is providing that today. We want to be the center of that future.

Let’s say I have an iPhone and you have a smart fridge and someone else has a drone – how do these different kinds of technologies verify with each other that they were where they said they were?

Some of them are one-directional like RFID chips or NFC chips that just “ping” out. A lot of devices can send and receive data, such as your cell phone or your drone. Most of them can detect that something is there. The more devices you have, the more accuracy you have in describing where something is.

It’s similar to overlapping circles. The more circles you have around a device, more you can pinpoint where the overlaps are, and the more accuracy you have. You also get more certainty – the more devices that are around, especially devices with more history, the more certainty you have that an answer is true.

If you order yourself a $200,000 car, and you have a smart contract that activates payment when the car arrives, you want to be damn sure that the car is really at your doorstep. You want to have 99.99% certainty. But let’s say you order yourself a pair of socks for $2, maybe you only need to have 30% certainty that the socks are there and the smart contract gets triggered.

What data is being stored on-chain and what data is being stored off-chain?

There are four parts to our network:

  • Sentinels: These are the location verification devices we discussed.
  • Bridges: These relay the data.
  • Archivists: A distributed computing system that stores the data. Similar to Berkeley open infrastructure network.
  • Diviners: These are the mining algorithms.

You talked about already having 1 million devices on your network. Can you talk a bit about what kind of devices those are, and what they’re doing?

Absolutely. We haven’t activated the full 1 million devices yet. Right now, we have a smaller network in San Diego. Bluetooth trackers, GPS devices, those types of devices.

We had a hackathon 2 weeks ago, with the City of San Diego providing parking and traffic flow data. We also had an IOT company there with 120 hackers. So they built parking and traffic flow applications on top of our chain, with real world data, imagining that every car in San Diego were a sentinel (a location verification device.)

The best projects included:

  • When a car goes into a parking spot, all the other sentinels would recognize that the car is there and charge the car by the minute for parking.
  • If you’re in traffic, sentinels can recognize the traffic flow. You can send that data into a traffic management system and optimize the red-green phases. You can use AI to do predictive traffic flows to avoid traffic congestion.

Anything else you want our readers to know?

Yes! We’re hiring. We’re about 30 people under staffed. We’ve built teams in HK, Russia, Europe. If you’re excited about our project and have any skills at all, we’re hiring. Our token sale is also now live.

To learn more and participate in their token sale, visit the XYO Network website. You can also join their Telegram.