Open source guides and documentation for the IoTeX network


Understanding IoTeX


What is IoTeX?

IoTeX is the auto-scalable and privacy-centric blockchain infrastructure for the Internet of Things (IoT). IoTeX is developing several in-house innovations to push the frontier of blockchain 3.0, including a blockchain-in-blockchain architecture for heterogeneous computing, lightning fast Roll-DPoS consensus mechanism, and lightweight privacy-preserving techniques. IoTeX is bringing machine-to-machine interaction and autonomous device coordination to the masses by “connecting the physical world, block by block.”

Who is the IoTeX team?

IoTeX’s global team is comprised of leading cryptography research scientists, top tier engineers (Google, Facebook, Uber, Intel, Bosch), and experienced ecosystem builders. The founding team consists of:

  • Raullen Chai - Ph.D in Cryptography and Research Scientist at University of Waterloo. Former Head of Cryptography R&D at Uber and Security Engineer at Google. 8+ years of experience in cryptography and blockchain.
  • Qevan Guo - Ph.D in Machine Learning and Computer Vision at National University of Singapore. Former Engineering Manager and Research Scientist at Facebook. Investor and advisor to several startups. 20+ publications and patents.
  • Xinxin Fan - Ph.D in Cryptography at University of Waterloo. Senior Research Engineer at Bosch, with 14 years of research and industry experience in information security and cryptography. 40+ publications and patents.
  • Jing Sun - Founding partner of Sparkland Capital. Led 40+ investments in blockchain, security, and IoT. Board director on numerous companies, with extensive experience in startups, investments, and building ecosystems.

What is IoTeX trying to solve and how is it different from other projects?

Despite its rapid evolution, IoT is still far from achieving mass adoption and lacks “killer applications” that would draw new users to the ecosystem, due to issues such as low scalability, high operating costs, privacy concerns, and a lack of functional values. IoTeX is tackling these problems by combining cryptoeconomic incentives with a blockchain platform from scratch, tailor fit for IoT. The ultimate vision is to serve as the underlying infrastructure for all IoT devices, and to truly enable machine-to-machine interaction and autonomous device coordination.

IoTeX is a long term, "technology first" project that is pushing the frontier of blockchain 3.0 with innovations in blockchain privacy, scalability, and speed. IoTeX is working on similar problems / innovations as other blockchain platforms; however, all design decisions (e.g., not sacrificing privacy for throughout) are made thoughtfully with the future in mind. The team's main innovations include:

  • Blockchain-in-blockchain architecture - utilization of a permissionless root chain and flexible sub-chains that enable private networks of connected device data, while also allowing for interoperability and secure cross-chain transfers of value and data.
  • Privacy-preserving techniques - innovative and lightweight cryptography schemes, such as lightweight stealth addresses, bulletproofs, and constant size ring signatures, are utilized in sub-chains to hide sender, receiver, and transaction value, while still allowing for massive throughput.
  • Roll-DPoS consensus mechanism - a randomized, delegated proof of stake consensus mechanism that provides lightning fast consensus and a more democratic governance model than other DPoS schemes.

Visit the links below to learn more!

Example Use Cases

Smart Homes

In the existing smart home market, many IoT device manufacturers are still using out-of-date technologies to develop their products. They need a large amount of development work on their cloud. The cost of development and maintenance is high, and performance is low because of the round trip required to the cloud. Deploying their products onto IoTeX blockchain will largely reduce operating cost on engineering and cloud computing, and at the same time, largely increase the performance of their devices. In a simple smart light bulb example, with cloud technology, it takes two trips from user instruction to changing the state of a light bulb. Manufacturers are not cloud experts so often their service is not optimal. The round trip can take one to three seconds. This forces them to use cloud service by big IT companies. There are two downsides of using these cloud services:

  1. Manufacturers can’t fully control the availability of cloud services.
  2. They need to continuously pay for the cloud service despite their one-time charge on selling their IoT devices.
  3. There are risks of their cloud, client side, or intranet being hacked causing user data to be stolen or home security problems.

In contrast, IoTeX blockchain manages the devices locally and interact with public chain on the internet when necessary. The public chain is maintained by community. There is no maintenance cost for IoT manufacturers. IoTeX blockchain has privacy protection that can prevent leaking data or control being hacked even if the intranet is not safe.

In addition to allowing IoT manufacturers to deploy their IoT devices on IoTeX blockchain, IoTeX will partner with IoT chip makers to develop IoTeX blockchainenabled chips to accelerate the design and manufacture cycles of IoT devices. IoT 34 manufacturers will simply integrate the chip to get their devices supported by IoTeX blockchain.

Shared Economies

In recent years, many companies have focused on shared economies, from rides sharing such as Uber/Lyft/Didi, home sharing such as Airbnb, bikes sharing such as Mobike/ ofo, to small item level sharing like battery banks, umbrellas, etc. They all provide people with a better living, although some of them are suffering from their business models. It is a different topic to discuss their business models; here we mainly focus on their technological architecture. Among all shared economies, ride sharing is the one that can’t avoid human operation. It is not an IoT powered economy, however, in the future, when autonomous car technology becomes mature and popular, ride sharing will be powered by IoT.

All IoT powered shared economies share some similarities: they all require a lock that can be opened by a deposit and rental fee. It's very possible and also efficient to power the whole sharing and returning process using an IoT device. In centralized world, the economies are powered by a centralized cloud. There are various drawbacks:

  1. A large deposit is held by a company that may not be trustworthy. Recently, there have been many cases worldwide where companies that offer bike sharing services can’t pay back deposits to its users.
  2. The shared economies are not completely driven by community. Many shared things are owned by a company. This has caused a waste of society resource. Take shared bikes as example. When the shared bikes companies are out of business, the bikes are disposed.
  3. Due to the centralized nature, the user data will be stored and controlled by one company. There are risk that either the cloud or the client can be hacked to obtain user data.

IoTeX, could be utilized to power these applications without the issues above and make shared economies decentralized and more efficient. Concretely, an IoTeX-powered shared economy provides the following benefits:

  1. The deposit is completely settled via smart contract. With no one holding back the money, returning of the deposit is always guaranteed. Users don’t have to trust a company to use the service.
  2. Each shared thing realizes its value and mission in an autonomous way. In the ecosystem, it doesn’t matter who owns the shared things in question. Everyone can own and contribute to the ecosystem. The economy can be run by community. As a result, companies can play a role of maintaining the IoT lock and manage the community. It is much lighter business model that companies can fast expand and serve more people.
  3. Again, users don’t have to trust the company to maintain their data. Their data is kept in the chain with privacy protection.