Ishan Pandey: Hi Micha, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Nodle?
Micha Benoliel: Thank you for inviting me to interview. We have been early supporters of Hackernoon from the very beginning. I have been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years in the space of telecommunications and wireless. Since I was a kid coding and later an internet fan, my dream has always been to connect the planet for free. In 2004, I was lucky to be part of the first telco in Europe that opened up communications for Skype, enabling them to sell communications to mobile and landlines. 10 years later, in 2014, after moving to San Francisco to build my next startup, I launched FireChat.
FireChat was the first off-the-grid messaging app leveraging mobile mesh technologies. 10 days after launching we already had a million users and what we thought would be a demo app for Burning Man ended up becoming the messaging app that powered many pro-democracy protests around the globe. The peak moment was in Hong Kong in September 2014 when half a million people downloaded the app to stay connected and organize the “Umbrella Revolution.” After that experiment leveraging mobile mesh networking technologies, it was clear to me that what we call the ‘smartphone infrastructure’ could be leveraged to build resilient networks for more than just moving messages.
Since most smartphones use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and more than 50% of all IoT devices have a BLE interface, building an incentivized, decentralized wireless IoT network—for the people, and by the people—made a lot of sense. Our network was thus born to build the networking and blockchain stack that we believe will lead to free connectivity.
Ishan Pandey: Please tell us about Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol and how it works with blockchain applications?
Micha Benoliel: We have designed a blockchain network that leverages smartphones and other base stations supporting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) like Cisco Meraki routers. BLE is a very advanced protocol that also has its own language for enabling communication and interactions between devices called GATT (an acronym for Generic Attribute Profile). Any BLE device or sensor that is supporting GATT or broadcasting data can use the Network.
For example, let's say you’re looking for a solution to collect information from your shipment packages equipped with a BLE tag and sensors. Your tag is broadcasting an identity with some measurement info that data can automatically be picked up by an ‘edge node’ (smartphone) in our Network and routed to your server. All that is needed from you is simple provisioning through the dashboard, and a few seconds later the stream of data appears. In most cases, there is no need for you to modify the firmware of the IoT device. This all happens seamlessly and in a matter of minutes.
Ishan Pandey: The internet's entry into different domains that have an impact on people's lives is astounding. Despite security and privacy issues, the Internet of Things is here to stay and will continue to shape our perceptions of the world. From a regulatory standpoint, what measures should be introduced so as to induce a better system wherein security and privacy issues are properly practised?
Micha Benoliel: I am personally against unnecessary roadblocks that tend to limit innovation, instead of incentivizing it. What we need is education, and the first category of entities to educate are the manufacturers and operators of IoT devices. They need to take privacy and security as a top priority in anything they do. On our side, we have created technology and IP to enable security and privacy for any IoT device that wants to use the network. We have done a lot of work around secure beacon identity and our public key infrastructure. Blockchain is the only way that we believe we can secure the future of the Internet. In addition, since we are using our own rewards formula for connecting devices, we are looking at rewarding edge nodes more when the data is moved from a device using stronger security and privacy. We think this may also give the industry an incentive to better protect user privacy and increase the security of any data traffic. Using regulation to enforce security and privacy can be a double-edged sword as to create an efficient data chain since some information still needs to remain publicly available and accessible; e.g. air quality data, weather data, and alert information to name a few.
Ishan Pandey: The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) are evolving communication ideas that will effortlessly link a range of devices (such as smartphones, household appliances, sensors, and other network devices), people, data, and processes. Which domains will be best assisted with this new emerging technology?
Micha Benoliel: IoT and IoE are great concepts. To realize their full potential, they need a few other trends to accelerate, such as: the miniaturization of radio chips, less regulation for using wireless radio frequencies (e.g. CBRS initiatives), more innovations in optimizing battery consumptions or enabling energy harvesting and in the field of spectrum efficiencies.
Ishan Pandey: In a progressively hyperconnected world, in what ways can we increase corporate efficiencies and address important global societal issues?
Micha Benoliel: The ultimate goal for the IoT of IoE according to our network’s vision is to realize the dream of becoming the connectivity layer for the “data chain” of tomorrow. This is in stark comparison to the common “commodity chain.” A commodity chain process is to gather resources, transform them into goods or commodities, and finally, distribute them to consumers. A data chain process is to collect data, sometimes gather data from multiple sources, and then route it securely and directly to its owner or to organizations and individuals that will make use of it.
For example, let’s take a ‘code red’ level of air pollution in California due to recent wildfires. Imagine 1,000 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) air quality sensors across a city like Los Angeles almost simultaneously broadcasting this critical data. The data then gets picked up by an app, when the user is walking by; and the data is validated, signed and tagged with a location and time. Then, the data is routed to a local city server where the data gets displayed on the city’s air quality dashboard. City officials are alerted to the dangerous level detected and decide to take immediate action to send alerts to all cellphones in the city and suburbs to let people know to not venture to the city center where the air pollution is the highest.
Only when a data chain such as this is achieved can we expect supply and demand to match more efficiently and almost in real-time. Society would highly benefit by automating this process in order to better control carbon emissions as well or simply reduce waste. It is with these network effects between data systems that we believe incredible value can be created.
Ishan Pandey: Despite fears about crypto prohibitions in the US infrastructure plan, Bitcoin and Ether hit their highest levels in nearly two months after a major Ethereum upgrade. Do you think this rally will last, or do you think the crypto market will soon hit a stump?
Micha Benoliel: With 68 million crypto wallets and almost 5 billion smartphone users, I think we are just at the beginning; the crypto market is only starting to grow. Imagine the impact of crypto and blockchain technologies when 1 billion people use them.
Ishan Pandey: Various governments are scrutinizing the crypto industry, such as the $1 trillion infrastructure bill’s “crypto tax reporting,” the deletion of security tokens from Uniswap’s front end, and the Chinese crypto prohibition. What does the future look like for cryptocurrencies across the globe?
Regulators and government are just starting to understand crypto and the impact it can have on our society and citizens around the world. Up until recently, capitalism has proven to be the most efficient system for our economies. But now, decentralized networks and crypto are enabling a new system that makes capital circulation more fluid and wealth creation easier.
When governments start to understand that it is the only way to provide a more equitable distribution of wealth and that it will also optimize the spendings of their administrations, I think they will push towards a faster and easier adoption of these technologies. With the global Covid-19 crisis, the way we work is changing fast, and we need to adapt faster if we want our economies to continue to perform. Crypto is part of the solution for keeping our economies thriving.
Ishan Pandey: Polkadot’s recently announced parachain functionalities are still in their initial stages in terms of interoperability. What does the roadmap ahead look like for the Polkadot space in terms of the interoperability factor and privacy and security issues?
Micha Benoliel: Our network has partnered with the Web3 Foundation to improve security and privacy and we were awarded a grant to build our public key infrastructure on Parity Substrate. We are planning to run our own parachain auction soon to secure a Polkadot Parachain slot in order to reinforce the security of the network, enable better interoperability with other blockchains and Polkadot projects, and have other ecosystems benefit from our network’s ecosystem and services. Back in April, we became composable with Acala Network, the all-in-one DeFi hub, whose Karura Network recently won the first Parachain slot on Kusama. This means we’ve integrated Acala’s XTokens pallet in our Parachain branch to support sending and receiving Nodle Cash tokens between chains such as Polkadot, Acala, Karura, Laminar, and more.
Ishan Pandey: What new trends are we going to witness within the blockchain ecosystem especially in the post-covid-19 era?
Micha Benoliel: We believe that Decentralized Wireless (DeWi) is becoming a necessity to guarantee people’s access to information in the post-Covid-19 era. We have built an ecosystem that can accelerate the creation of wireless infrastructure with the goal of having people being able to access more data for free and businesses leverage the infrastructure for their own applications and services. We are entering an era of radical, and exponential change, and we want to be sure this future we are creating is prosperous, private, and one that we want to live in.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence by asking the right questions and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions. The material does not constitute any investment, financial, or legal advice. Please do your research before investing in any digital assets or tokens, etc. The writer does not have any vested interest in the company. Ishan Pandey.