In today’s modern world, location tracking is now tightly woven into every aspect of our lives. However, current systems are composed of a completely centralized technology, and this is precisely where problems occur. As we all probably know, no one can verify the authenticity of the data that is provided by a centralized party, and this can make smart contracts vulnerable to geolocation tampering. Today, we were able to talk to Christine Sako and Johnny Kolasinski who play an important role at XYO Network, a company with bold plans to dethrone the location-based systems by providing trustworthy and tamper-proof geolocation data, ranging from tracking huge commercial freighters to organ transplants, legal marijuana, and everything in between.
Hi, Christine! Hi, Johnny! Can you start by introducing yourself?
Christine: I’m Christine Sako, Head of Analytics.
Johnny: And I’m Johnny Kolasinski, Head of Media
Can you tell us your personal story of how you got involved with the blockchain?
Christine: I have been with XY since January 2017, and I have grown with the company in many different capacities – the blockchain fell into my lap hard and fast with the company’s decision to delve into it, and I learned most of what I know now through auditing and revising all of our official documents such as our white paper, green paper, and use cases.
Johnny: A friend of mine from high school worked for Marketplace on public radio, and he worked on one of their first pieces on Bitcoin. That piqued my interest, but I didn’t get around to actually buying or mining Bitcoin until 2013. I’ve been following the crypto/blockchain space since then, but I didn’t branch out into other coins or technology until last year.
What problems does XYO Network address? What is the solution that you propose?
Johnny: The majority of the world’s economy is based around moving stuff from Point A to Point B. The crypto community has come up with some amazing solutions for moving funds and information without involving a middleman, but there still isn’t an authoritative way of proving (without relying on a single central service) that a physical thing was in a particular place at a particular point in time. Through our “proof of origin” and “bound witness” protocols, we provide a method of proving relative location without relying on a central authority.
Compared to centralized solutions like Oraclize, what advantages does a decentralized oracle such as the XYO Network bring?
Christine: Decentralization removes the requirement to involve a trusted third party to verify data. A third party would normally take some sort of reward from the other parties involved, such as a fee. In addition, not having to rely on a source of “truth” that can be spoofed is the main feature of the XYO Network. The proof of origin protocol is implemented in the network to remove the liabilities and vulnerabilities involved with relying on a third party to come to a consensus in regards to location verification.
What does XYO plan to achieve this year? Do you manage to keep up with your roadmap?
Christine: Alongside our token sale, we have been working on developing the testnet (whose original implementation has been utilized at a local hackathon we hosted in early March). Our progress has been astounding as far as what we have been able to do with our existing data from our XY devices that are currently in the wild. I would say that our aim is to fast-track the roadmap and blow everyone out of the water.
In your opinion, what impact can XYO have on society as a whole? What domains would get the most benefits?
Johnny: We’re a US-based company, but we know that in other parts of the world cash is still king. In many regions, especially in Africa and India, payment-on-delivery is still the standard. By incorporating the XYO Network into e-commerce, smart contracts can be created to protect both the buyer and the seller from fraud. The funds can be locked up in the smart contract, essentially in escrow, and released to the seller when the order arrives, or to the buyer if the order doesn’t make it within the terms of the agreement. The same model can be applied to international shipping as well.
The funds can be locked up in the smart contract and released to the seller when the order arrives, or to the buyer if the order doesn’t make it within the terms of the agreement – Johnny Kolasinski Click To Tweet
How can someone verify if the data provided by XYO is trustworthy?
Johnny: Devices on the network communicates with other devices on that network and record those interactions. To validate the data that one Sentinel provides, you can compare its history with the histories of the devices around it. The more devices that a Sentinel encounters (and the longer its history), the more weight is given to the data it reports on. This reputation system is called “proof of origin.”
Did you already test the XYO Network by solving some real-life cases? Do you already have some agreements on how to use the network?
Johnny: In early March, we hosted a 48-hour hackathon in our offices in San Diego. The teams were tasked with creating a way to use the XYO Network to pay a parking meter by the minute and log the payment on the blockchain. This was the first time we’d invited anyone from outside of the company to work with what we’re building. Not only did multiple teams complete the challenge, one of those teams went on to win a grant from the US Ignite Gigabit Smart Cities program!
What are some unusual items that we’ll be able to track with XYO?
Johnny: It’s essentially limitless. We’ve had a lot of in-depth conversations with potential use cases, from international shipping to organ transplants, and even to legal marijuana!
Who is manufacturing the devices? What are they made of?
Johnny: The XYO Network is open source, but we anticipate being the major manufacturer of devices in its early stages – we work with a manufacturer in Tijuana, just a few miles from our offices, so we can be hands-on and involved with the production process. As the XYO Network grows, we expect third-party networks to begin building their own XYO Network hardware, either to take advantage of the existing framework or to participate because of the crypto-economic incentives.
It might be hard to make people go from simple GPS tracking to using XYO. How do you plan to promote the usage of the network?
Christine: The XYO Network provides crypto-economic incentives by rewarding XYO Tokens to devices/users that are involved in the process of answering a query. The devices that are utilized to collect and verify location information are also less susceptible to spoofing in ways that GPS is vulnerable, which make their usage of XYO Network devices more alluring.
Some people say that mass adoption will only be achieved when ordinary users would be able to use DApps without knowing anything about blockchain the same way that most Internet users don’t know anything about TCP/IP protocols. What do you think about this?
Christine: This is the beauty of our existing consumer-facing business – our existing XY devices have uses beyond participation in the XYO Network. We already have users who have over 1 million XY devices out in the world, with a majority of them never having heard of the blockchain, let alone its implications. These users are owners of the very same devices we have already been able to create a working testnet with – there is no need for users of network devices to know the technology behind their usage.
What is the purpose of XYO Token? How is it used on the network?
Johnny: XYO Tokens are the “gas” for the XYO Network. Anyone that contributes information to the network – whether it’s location data, server space and indexing, or doing the work to create usable answers to queries – will be awarded XYO Tokens based on how their input is used.
Christine, you’re also a musician. How do you manage to keep up working on both projects?
Christine: I’ve had the opportunity to make music my full time career in my earlier years and have since held to the contention that for me, it should remain a hobby. Living a well-rounded life is important to me, so balancing data analyzation and mathematical computation with writing and recording music comes pretty easily. As much as I love creating and enjoying music, I like to think of it more as an outlet to be exercised in my daily 10 minute break from XYO :P.
Johnny, lately you managed to give a lot of interviews for those interested. How important is the team’s social exposure to a successful ICO?
Johnny: Obviously, the more we can get the word out, the more excited people get about the project. I think that doing interviews and podcasts and letting people actually hear from the team has an important intangible effect – there are good reasons to be skeptical of some ICOs and token sales, and hearing from the team behind the project talk about what they’re working on is a good tool to help a potential buyer validate the project.
Did you take any courses to extend your knowledge of the blockchain and DLT?
Johnny: Most of the founding team has been involved in the blockchain space for a few years now. I don’t know what formal courses we’ve taken, if any, but I know that we’ve all been spending the past few years learning about the blockchain, crypto, and DLT in our spare time.
Could you give our audience some advice on what one needs to do to get involved into the blockchain?
Johnny: You’re already taking the most important first step – you’re educating yourselves. The blockchain space is still evolving, so it’s important to keep an eye on the news and the conversations that are happening around the web. Just because someone isn’t an established voice in the tech field yet doesn’t mean that we won’t be talking about them in a year or two!