Decentralized communication and value sharing
– A “match made in heaven”.
For the last couple of years, at B1X, we have found ourselves in front of a series of, what we believe, are really powerful technologies that have a true potential to revolutionize not only the manner in which web interactions occur between peers, but also create previously-unimagined forms of interaction that include the possibility to discover new sources of revenue and monetary incentives for those peers.
The team knew that the technologies to create something meaningful were there – we just needed to find something meaningful to use them for. We needed to find a real-world use case, but as you know, that’s easier said than done.
B1X spent and sacrificed countless amounts of time, resources, overtime working hours, code lines and family time, amongst others, trying to solve the use case dilemma. We dove deeply into research and development, tried different technologies, built, redesigned and scrapped implementation prototypes. Overall, it has been an overwhelming road up to the point that we have reached today.
We are confident that we have reached a point where, for the first time, our efforts have led to the identification of a viable use case proposal. At last, the endeavors propelled by the team have been monopolized, for a relatively extended period of time, by a common idea towards which we have been able to focus our development tasks, this is, to the development of what we strive to believe, is a viable product (demo below)
Particularly, B1X has been brewing different alternatives for web peer-to-peer communication, involving a combination of decentralized protocols that enable for real-time exchange of data, video, audio and, finally but not less importantly, for exchange of value.
For purposes of communicating the main drivers that led us to try and create, what we believe will bring the next generation of communication over the Internet, we will describe a general overview on the technologies used by the most widely adopted communication applications, as of today. With such context in mind, we will address certain flaws that made us think that the industry, or at least the implementations mostly used by it, need to evolve and keep up with the latest technologies.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is a protocol that allows, mainly, for voice communication carried out using the Internet Protocol (IP). This technology uses a server routing implementation referred to as Packet-Switching¸ which commonly splits information into multiple packets in order to digitally transmit it. Packets know their destination, and may arrive there via different paths.
At a very high level, VoIP can be understood as a method and a group of technologies specifically configured for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia content over IP networks, such as the Internet.
Instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, akin to how early analog telephone networks were implemented, VoIP operates through digital information that, as described above, is packetized and transmitted in the form of IP packets over a packet-switched network.
While early providers of VoIP services offered business models and technical solutions that tended to mirror the architecture of legacy telephone networks, second generation providers, such as Skype, built closed networks for private user bases, offering the benefit of free calls and convenience while potentially charging for access to other communication networks, such as the traditional public switched telephone network.
Afterwards, third-generation VoIP providers, such as Google Talk pioneered the implementation of a concept denominated federated VoIP, which allowed for dynamic interconnection between users on any two domains on the Internet.
Although there are many widely adopted applications that actually use VoIP technologies as core enablers of their respective services, this is something that remains unknown for most web surfers. Some other examples include WhatsApp and Facebook Video, amongst others.
Moreover, it is safe to say that VoIP drastically reduced the costs associated with communication by allowing data and voice to share network infrastructure.
However, VoIP’s hosting and maintenance inherent technical complexities led to an increasing centralization force on the provision of communication services. This is, notwithstanding VoIP solutions can be self-hosted by those who intend to take advantages of the technology, the great majority of adopters ended-up paying fees to third-party providers.
Although this new technology brought considerable disruption to the industry, the applications built on top of it and the manners in which the technology was implemented, derived in many undesired trade-offs, namely the following:
- An inherent tendency to centralization on the provision of VoIP services;
- Reliance on third-party entities profiteering on dedicated hosting;
- An impediment to completely eliminate the marginal fees charged by VoIP service and/or application providers;
- Inconvenient captivity situations, where users are forced to remain within walled user bases (i.e. WhatsApp users are not able to establish communication with Skype users).
Last, but not least important, at B1X we identified another deficiency that has characterized pretty much all the applications built on top of VoIP. To be honest, it’s not really fair to call it a deficiency, as we only noticed the lack thereof with the emergence of new enabling technologies. That said, we realized that VoIP-based services have not allowed for value sharing between users and, hence, they have self-limited their possibility to create new revenue streams and business models for users leveraging such technology.
Long story short, we think that as the Internet and its enabling core protocols have evolved, VoIP service providers have failed to keep up with the innovations, choosing to maintain their applications mostly unchanged and, also, to preserve some of the core flaws we previously addressed.
Match made in heaven.
Communication is moving to the web. Today, almost any device can be enabled for real time communication (RTC) – video and data sharing. In fact, these features can be enabled as a function of any web-based or mobile application, including the possibility to establish peer-to-peer (p2p) connections for purposes of bypassing intermediaries and, most importantly, bypassing dated phone networks.
Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) was developed as a free, open-source project with the intention to provide web browsers and mobile applications with RTC via simple application programming interfaces (APIs), by means of which video and audio communications are allowed to work inside web pages by enabling direct p2p communication and, thus, eliminating the need to install plugins or download native apps.
One of the most impressive features enabled by WebRTC is the possibility to establish cross-platform communication with other devices, which is a huge step forward in terms of web true openness.
Although WebRTC is still being standardized under the umbrellas of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), there are many browsers that already offer native support for it, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari, amongst others.
Despite the fact that WebRTC was initially developed for web browsers, exclusively, it has evolved to support applications for non-browser devices, including mobile platforms and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which can actually communicate seamlessly between each other.
“new front in the long war for an open an unencumbered web”.
We deeply believe that the combination of technologies like VoIP and WebRTC can really propel the entire web to a new wave of changes in the right direction.
Value sharing decentralized protocols
If you have been following our previous blogposts, you will probably be aware that we are great fans of decentralized, permission-less and open blockhain technologies, but specifically, that our attention has been drawn by the inherent efficiencies and capabilities of the XRP Ledger (“XRPL”).
In the XRPL we found a series of features that, we found, matched our vision when it comes to the potential to re-design the monetary incentive schemes that are embedded in today’s web.
At B1X, we were excited to realize that the XRPL improved many areas and deficiencies that were previously left unresolved by many of the most mainstream blockchain protocols in production, including, amongst others, the following:
- Incentive schemes for purposes of achieving true decentralization;
- Network scalability in terms of transaction throughput;
- A deterministic protocol when it comes to the validation of transactions;
- Native support for complex features, such as a trading engine for a decentralized exchange, the possibility to issue IOU obligations representing any kind of asset and the ability to create escrows.
- Resilient degrees of tolerance before the presence of malicious actors; and
- The democratization of the consensus mechanism.
As we have pointed out in previous occasions, the ability to create escrows and, thus, the native compatibility that such feature enables with highly-scalable abstraction protocols like the Interledger Protocol (“ILP”), is something that we wanted to take advantage from, since the very beginning.
In this respect, it is noteworthy to mention that, just as the Internet and other related technologies, such as VoIP, use protocols like TCP/IP to cheaply and efficiently transmit packets of data through routers, ILP employs connectors (money routers) for purposes of transmitting micro-packets of money across independent payment networks over the web; this, while achieving similar degrees of efficiency and scalability than those rendered by TCP/IP itself.
So, the Internet has drastically improved in terms of technology evolution with the emergence, adoption and evolution of technologies like WebRTC and APIs; likewise, value sharing mechanisms have suffered severe disruption with the arrival of decentralized blockchains and high-layers protocols like ILP – A match made in heaven.
However, B1X team identified that, for some reason, the Internet has not seen the creation and/or introduction of innovative applications combining these innovative technologies, reason for which we decided to take the chance.
What is B1X working with?
Following our ever-driving desire to empower peers through the reconfiguration of the existing web revenue models, which -in our opinion- are the main source for a great majority of the perverse incentives causing the detrimental trends on the quality of Internet content, we decided to work towards creating sophisticated tools, capable of sidestepping the reliance on intermediaries for purposes of monetizing traditional activities over the web.
Hence, leveraging WebRTC, APIs, the XRPL (with ILP in mind), we have designed a full-stack application (currently being tested privately) enabling peers to efficiently exchange not only data, but also value, on a real-time and p2p basis.
Such application has allowed us to think about two specific use-cases that just seem to be natural first implementations for the aforementioned set of technologies.
In this regard, we have been working in the development of a service that will leverage WebRTC for purposes of allowing experts in any fields, to directly and privately establish audio and/or video communication with individuals who are willing to listen and pay them for their advice or content.
The above, unleashes an unlimited possibility for the monetization of ordinary activities over the Internet, thus, creating peer-empowering revenue models that were previously unfeasible, such as the following:
- Lecturers and tutors, who wish to make a living from teaching over the Internet;
- Lawyers and/or professional advisors who are willing to provide their counsel through digital means;
- Webinars; and
- Expert speakers who want to leverage the web to reach broader audiences.
Additionally, through the utilization of the aforementioned technologies, B1X will be able to provide users with the possibility to participate in multi-party p2p conference calls, while enabling the option to participants in such calls to stream payments between each other.
It is needless to say that we are really excited about the disruption that all the technologies described throughout this post can really bring to the table, and that we will keep working towards identifying new use-cases that can help us driving further peer empowerment to the web.
Harness the power of 'Internet of Value' and join, or get direct access to professionals from around the world.
- Use value packets streaming and pay (earn) for services, 'how-to' VOD or broadcasts, in a safe and efficient manner. Unprecedented possibilities Take part in the new Internet business model based on direct, commission-free collaboration between people.
- Take advantage of top currency-agnostic, fin-tech solutions, such as blockchain, DLT and micropayments. Everyone can freely share knowledge, know-how, advisory or recreational content, and directly monetize without intermediaries.
- No crowds, no cuts, no ads and no spyware. Welcome to the peer-to-peer value sharing economy of the XXI century.
Watch our first public demo and enjoy the ride!