By Harrison Gross, Cofounder of Lucyd PTE Ltd
The Emerging Blockchain Sector
Emerging technologies are changing the way we do everything. One of the most popular this year has been the blockchain sector, which has seen explosive growth in both the cryptocurrency space, and in the new market of blockchain-based businesses. These businesses are by and large focused on creating new software solutions, which use a decentralized ledger to solve a particular problem. A good example is Medicalchain, which aims to solve the problem of inaccurate and difficult-to-access medical records, by putting users’ medical history on an immutable ledger, which can be accessed by a user’s practitioners. Blockchain startups typically use an ICO (initial coin offering) or TGE (token generation event) to crowdfund their initial development. ICOs & TGEs offer for sale a company token that has some utility in their blockchain platform, and often, but not always, act as something akin to a share in the company.
Blockchain and the decentralize movement is proving extremely popular, as it exemplifies the publicization of control for many types of tasks and transactions. Rather than depending on old financial networks like banks and Visa, blockchain-based companies can operate more freely, using native tokens and cryptocurrencies for compensation and internal network operations. By using this new financial framework, users of a network can interact and compensate each other much more fluidly than ever before. But while blockchain has started a software revolution, there has yet to be tremendous impact on the hardware space. This may soon change, however, as some blockchain businesses are looking to merge decentralization and hardware for physical crypto products with potentially global markets.
Global from the Get-go
New blockchain platforms, like Medicalchain, are revolutionary because they are built for global expansion from the start. The very fundraising model used, ICOs and TGEs, are decentralized crowdfunds themselves, opening up the company’s blockchain with a token release, and giving their fundraising global reach. This is antithetical to the way companies were built throughout history, starting locally or regionally and gradually expanding outwards. Instead, a blockchain business tries to wrap the world in its offering out of the gate, and increase saturation of users over time.
There is something inherently “viral” about decentralization—removing total control of a network from a company, and giving the reins to the user population, fosters a much more public-facing business model. As a positive result of this public focus, there is a useful element of natural selection in blockchain businesses. Blockchains that don’t solve a critical problem on a global scale quickly run out of steam, because active engagement by a user community is required to grow the ledger, thereby increasing revenue. On the other hand, blockchains that are extremely useful, like Bitcoin, can explode overnight. This is because their ability to offer a useful solution (in Bitcoin’s case, anonymous, region-free transactions) can be recognized and adopted worldwide in a rapid, unbound fashion.
Progress from Software to Hardware
However, while the software space is bustling with new blockchain solutions, there is only a fledgling interaction between the decentralization movement and hardware. One notable example is the Trezor, a popular cryptocurrency “hardware wallet” which allows secure offline storage of Bitcoin. But to-date, there has been no real capitalization on the potential for blockchain to decentralize a hardware product on an international scale. If blockchain can decentralize abstract things like money in the form of cryptocurrency, then why not physical things, like the way Uber has created a global taxi network?
Augmented reality is an emerging market with tremendous potential for growth via blockchain. Like all computing platforms, it can benefit from decentralization of power, by creating an open developer environment. New computing platforms that use blockchain can operate without dependence on older financial and computing systems, allowing for completely next-gen experiences and unbridled, global growth. Merging the rather intangible concept of blockchain into a viable hardware product is difficult, but the potential rewards are great.
Lucyd is a company trying to do just that. We are designing AR smartglasses on the blockchain. Our blockchain is going to decentralize the app development for smartglasses, letting anyone develop and share new AR-native content. It also motivates developers with cryptoken rewards based on user ratings. Using a content ledger and the LCD utility token, we are creating a hardware product supported by Ethereum blockchain technology. Our ecosystem will allow instant P2P transfers of LCD, enabling AR-native transactions, completed entirely within our smartglasses. This is a key example of using blockchain to give revolutionary new abilities to hardware.
Another example of a physical product born from blockchain tech is the new Monaco cards. These are cryptocurrency-compatible debit cards, that give instant access to both fiat and crypto funds. Furthermore, they provide cashback in the company’s native MCO token. This is an example of the new need to anchor cryptocurrency and the decentralize movement in the real world, for both security and accessibility reasons.
The Ultimate Implications of Decentralized Hardware
In conclusion, there is great potential for both hardware and software to benefit from decentralization. As an exciting emerging technology, it’s hard to know what limits, if any, blockchain truly has. By bringing blockchain into the physical world with hardware products, its reach as a movement suddenly becomes much larger, involving those who have limited knowledge of blockchain and cryptocurrency. A business that has never purchased a Bitcoin online might find use for the Monaco card in accepting international crypto payments, and ordinary users of Lucyd smartglasses might get their first taste of blockchain technology on its decentralized content platform.
Decentralization is certainly powerful for increasing the breadth of software solutions, but hardware applications have the ability to make blockchain ubiquitous. By taking a physical product, and connecting it to a global community with the blockchain, it can adapt and grow freely with live feedback from its user base. Therefore, decentralization can not only remove financial and regional barriers from product development, it can allow for updates and improvements to occur organically, in real time.