Part I: Driving Real World Adoption: DePIN first
IoTeX was founded in 2017 to supercharge the decentralization and productivity of real-world technology. Six years later, physical devices are transitioning from centralized ownership to decentralized physical infrastructure networks (DePINs). With the launch of W3bstream, IoTeX is established as a DePIN leader and a catalyst for one of the most significant technical transformations of the decade; with a market size projected to grow to $3.5 trillion by 2028.
In this three-part blog series, we pull from DePIN entrepreneurs, investors and analysts to demonstrate why IoTeX is essential to the burgeoning sector we’re calling the r3al world and the massive mainstream adoption of crypto.
A unique proposition with great growth potential
“DePIN is for the maximally ambitious founders that want to solve the base problems of society.” – Salvador Gala, co-founder of Escape Velocity Ventures
DePIN answers urgent, fundamentally unsolvable social problems with existing, centralized infrastructure. The problem of too little supply of physical infrastructure is out of the control of the users who rely on it. For example, demand for broadband has compounded at 30 percent annually since 2000. Twenty-three million Americans do not have access to basic broadband, and as of 2021, 2.9 billion people globally were without internet. The reason is a supply issue. Many areas are simply unprofitable. And where the profit doesn’t come, the service doesn’t come either. And it's not just bandwidth; DePIN addresses core infrastructure supply problems from renewable energy to transport.
“It’s how people get internet, how they get energy to their homes, how they transport themselves, so DePIN in its 20 or 30-year timeline solves all these problems. It cuts out the middle man and gives the most economics back to the people who are actually contributing to the network.” – Salvador Gala
So how big is DePIN exactly?
DePIN harnesses the nearly 50 billion smart devices and the trillion-plus sensors already deployed. But it also creates entirely new devices. Helium alone has nearly half-a-million active hotspots designed and sold from scratch. Hivemapper has sold over ten thousand proprietary dashcams, and IoTeX itself has nearly 20,000 devices deployed.
Because of their decentralized nature, DePINs enable globally distributed individuals to collectively build, maintain and operate community-owned physical infrastructure networks without needing a single, centralized entity. IoTeX tooling–from a blockchain L1 to middleware that connects device data to an anonymized database and incentive engine–allows startups to scale these critical decentralized solutions to meet global demand bloat.
An entirely new design space
“There’s been this explosion of interest in creating high-value data. How do you make that data available for quality insights and AI analysis? One is having a secure execution environment; another is pushing the computation out locally to where the data sits. The third is the web-3 model of incentivizing people to contribute this data.” — Ron Bodkin, Founder and CEO of ChainML
The launch of Ethereum’s mainnet in 2015 reduced the technical overhead of launching a dApp from months to the click of a button. IoTeX W3bstream condenses most of what a developer needs to launch, run, and scale a DePIN application into a single interface. By dramatically lowering the technical overhead, W3bstream opens up the DePIN design space to orders of magnitude more founders.
W3bstream streamlines deployment, management, and incentivization. But DePINs also benefit from the accelerant of crowdsourced funding and infrastructure management that scale physical infrastructure 10-100x faster. Even the largest cloud companies, valued in the trillions collectively, will struggle to deploy at the speed of tens of thousands of users simultaneously buying and running devices.
Our focus on DePIN will help create a new market sector, drive groundbreaking advancements within the IoTeX ecosystem, and foster innovation and growth in the sector.
“Companies want to connect the real world more efficiently with their digital world. Customers want to be rewarded for capturing sensor data or images. And this idea that you can use w3bstream to program this ask is tremendously powerful.” – Garrett Kinsman, co-founder of Nodle
A multifaceted platform, W3bstream empowers developers to convert physical activity into on-chain proofs. Garrett Kinsman, the co-founder of Nodle, described W3bstream as enabling “programmable asks.” “There are billions of Bluetooth devices out there,” he said, “and we believe if there's a network that can connect all of them, then there will easily demand for hundreds of billions if not trillions of things to become connected.”
W3bstream unleashes the power of these networks, turning raw connected data streams into real-world action. By providing an off-chain environment for developers to crowdsource data from smart devices, generate proofs, and use these proofs to trigger smart contracts, W3bstream is the total package.
Just as Chainlink jump-started the DeFi renaissance by providing a "single version of the truth" to dApps regarding cryptocurrency prices, W3bstream will accelerate the DePIN movement by providing a "single version of physical truth" to dApps about what happens in the real world.
Positively affecting people's lives
“You can think about [DePIN devices] as electronics that improve your lives. These are vehicle tracking devices, wifi devices, etc. but meanwhile, they are also mining machines. Using these devices to modernize your life, enjoying their functionality while making money with them. What also makes these devices even more web-3 is the user has the power over their own data.” – Bianca Chen, JDI Global
With DePIN, the incentive (token mining) is combined with producing the network's utility. For example, Helium miners are rewarded with tokens precisely for the bandwidth they provide. Users also have full control over their information and how they engage with the network, inverting the centralized power structure.
During the Texas power crisis of 2021, eleven million people lost power. Catherine Hickox of SpaceandTime said a decentralized grid would have allowed the state to navigate the crisis, potentially saving lives. “[The power grid] is controlled by one company. That company's not connected to any of the national grid. It only services Texas. And when they calculate something wrong, when they predict something wrong, it has catastrophic consequences.”
With our developer tools, Halo Grants 2.0, and our focus on DePIN, we are driving the next wave of Web3 adoption, visibly affecting people's lives for the better. As more partners come on board, we create new design spaces where businesses and dApps never thought of before will come to life.
It is an exciting time to be a part of the IoTeX community, and we can't wait to see what the future holds. Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, where we will dive deep into our infrastructure and how we are helping the entire DePIN sector expand and grow.