Introducing W3bstream: A Protocol for Verifiable, Real-Time IoT Data
In the future, trust will not be simply assumed but rather proven with verifiable, objective facts. The “don’t trust, verify” mantra will become the new global standard that underpins our decentralized future.
Technology is transforming the way society operates, including the concept of “trust”. In today’s world, trust is subjective — we generally trust people/companies based on their reputation, status, ratings, media coverage, and more. While this model has worked well historically, the rapid emergence of misinformation — from deepfakes to counterfeit products to fake news — compels us to reconsider what we trust and why we trust it. In the future, trust will not be simply assumed but rather proven with verifiable, objective facts. The “don’t trust, verify” mantra will become the new global standard that underpins our decentralized future.
Trust must be objective, not subjective.
IoTeX has a vision for the Internet of Trusted Things, an open ecosystem where humans and machines can interact with verifiable trust, privacy, and free will. Establishing a long-lasting foundation for this vision requires tools that allow us to verify and therefore trust the information from our smart devices. This is why we are excited to introduce W3bstream, an open-source protocol that places the power of verifiable data in the hands of builders.
What is W3bstream?
W3bstream is a first-of-its-kind protocol developed by the IoTeX Foundation that makes verifiable, real-time data from IoT devices available to developers. Combining tamper-proof hardware and software, W3bstream provides a blockchain-agnostic framework to create cryptographically signed data streams that can be trusted, utilized, and monetized on the IoTeX Network and beyond. W3bstream specifically addresses real-time IoT data streams, which along with 5G connectivity and edge computing has the potential to enable decentralized automation, zero-latency decision-making, and human-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions.
W3bstream synchronizes with secure hardware devices (e.g., Pebble) to collect and sign data using a tamper-proof secure element called a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). This cryptographically signed data can be transmitted to any MQTT v3.1.1 endpoint, providing great flexibility for developers. While developers can customize their own backend, the IoTeX Foundation offers a hosted backend that is integrated with ThingsBoard for plug-and-play data processing and visualization. This end-to-end process produces real-time data streams that can be verified by anyone and used in any application.
To complement W3bstream, the IoTeX Foundation has also developed Prophecy, a proof-of-concept smart contract framework that enables peer-to-peer exchange/trading of data streams. Users that set up our hosted backend can “purchase” another user’s Pebble data stream by defining a price (in IOTX), duration (in blocks), and an MQTT endpoint to transmit the data stream. Once a Pebble receives an order from listening to the smart contract, it will transmit its real-time data to the buyer based on the defined parameters. Although still in beta, Prophecy allows developers to begin experimenting with the concept of #DeFIoT — leveraging data you own as a digital asset that can be openly exchanged via blockchain.
Explore the various open-source repositories for W3bstream on Github:
- Data Spec: JSON format for sensor data and ECDSA digital signatures
- Firmware: libraries for device operations utilizing secure elements
- Hosted Backend: data processing and visualization via ThingsBoard
- Prophecy Contracts: smart contract to “buy” data streams with IOTX
Verifiable Data for the IoTeX Network
Over the past year, decentralized finance (DeFi) has captured the attention of the crypto industry like never before. The amount of innovation is matched only by the amount of “rug pulls”, largely stemming from unverified price oracles. In most instances, the smart contracts underlying these hacked protocols were robust and audited — it was actually the false data that was fed to them that caused the loss of funds and reputation.
In the future, blockchain will not only manage our finances but also the devices we use in our personal and professional lives. Our grand visions for autonomous taxis that are hailed via smart contracts and paid for using cryptocurrency are possible, but we must learn from the mistakes of DeFi and ensure the data we feed to IoT-related smart contracts are fully verified and trusted. After all, a DeFi rug pull means you lose your funds, but an autonomous taxi rug pull means you crash and lose your life.
Verifiable data is also paramount for IoTeX’s vision for DeFIoT to unlock the trillion-dollar IoT data industry. Blockchain is poised to disrupt the world’s largest industries, such as insurance and supply chain, which will utilize data from IoT devices to trigger payments, settle claims, enforce dynamic pricing, and more. However, without verifiable data as the root of trust, these grand visions for a decentralized future will simply not exist. W3bstream will empower developers to incorporate a “single version of the truth” into their products to protect the finances and physical wellbeing of users and empower the future data economy.
The importance of verifiable data cannot be understated in our modern world. As a protocol for verifiable real-time data, W3bstream is just the start for IoTeX. In addition to real-time data, historical data owned by a specific device/human DID as well as transformed/intersected data will all play unique roles to fuel the Internet of Trusted Things. IoTeX is committed to the long-term mission of building a fully trusted human-machine ecosystem, which will be verifiable-by-design. We look forward to sharing more details soon!
W3bstream will be introduced alongside Pebble to the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) with the goal of understanding how secure hardware and blockchain can help global enterprises. As the co-chairs of the IIC’s Blockchain Working Group, IoTeX will present W3bstream to leading IoT institutions as part of the IIC Q4 Member Meeting on December 4–7. W3bstream will be added to an exciting list of IIC technical contributions from IoTeX.
Finally, the official launch of Pebble is coming soon after months of extensive testing and development — a truly unprecedented device! As a protocol designed for secure hardware devices like Pebble, W3bstream will be utilized extensively by Pebble developers who will be able to use verifiable data such as location, climate, motion, and light to fuel verifiable solutions. We can’t wait to see what you will build.
Founded as an open-source platform in 2017, IoTeX is building the Internet of Trusted Things, an open ecosystem where all “things” — humans, machines, businesses, and DApps — can interact with trust and privacy. Backed by a global team of 30+ top research scientists and engineers, IoTeX combines blockchain, secure hardware, and confidential computing to enable next-gen IoT devices, networks, and economies. IoTeX will empower the future decentralized economy by “connecting the physical world, block by block”.