IOTA, the decentralised Internet of Things tokens, which was till recently in BETA version, is now being launched.
IOTA is a micro-transaction crypto-token that will facilitate the architecture involved with IoT. The IOTA protocol runs off of Tangle, which has similar functionality to a blockchain yet acts more like an emulated version, giving it more versatility.
CT: When is the full launch happening?
David Sønstebø: In IOTA there is no specific date that can be called 'full launch'. IOTA is currently in the very beginning of the first of 3 launch stages which began on July 11th after 6 months of alpha/beta testing. We're currently at the beginning of Stage 1, so live-net went live on July 11th, but the actual 'launch' will take place over the following weeks, as there are so many different aspects that can't be released all in one day.
CT: Can you describe the three stages in brief for our readers?
DS: Stage 1 is primarily about main net launch, i.e. going live as an immutable ledger. Other community issues like user-friendly GUI, website, forum, chat, listing on exchanges and other immediate issues are also part of this first stage. There are also partnerships and proof of concepts with large companies (like Microsoft) that we have been working on since fall 2015. This ‘Stage 1’ will continue in the coming weeks and months.
Stage 2 will be all about extending the utility of IOTA, whose core is ‘transactions and data-transfer’. In Stage 2 we will, together with other partners using IOTA, release modules that go Beyond transactions and data-transfer.
In Stage 3, the hardware implementation come in. Any device that has this will be able to process thousands of transactions per second. The Company that initiated the IOTA Project is working on precisely such an IoT processor.
CT: What has changed in the BETA version, compared to the initial idea that you began with?
DS: The core idea has remained the same, but the software has been optimized a lot and is still being optimized. At the moment it's all about making it as fast as possible in terms of transactions per minute on average.
CT: How has the reception from the cryptocurrency community been so far, as the first block-less cryptographic token?
DS: So far the reception has been tremendous in the vast majority of cases. Given the huge focus on issues like Block size debate and prohibitive fees of blockchains in the past 2 years, people are very excited that there exist now a technology that resolves these issues, while making the decentralization even stronger.
There are always be some biased people with a rather parochial view of the blockchain space that treat every new technology as a 'threat' to their preferred/invested solution, but those people are hardly even worth acknowledging.
CT: I know you have talked about it before, but, now that you are right there, would you like to elaborate further, on how IOTA will be a better option than the ones currently available, and in what ways?
DS: The best way to really grasp how IOTA is such a leap forward is by comparing it to the traditional blockchain. In regular blockchains, you outsource the verification of the network, essentially decoupling the verification of the network from the users of said network, this is why you have to pay miners/stakers a fee to verify your transactions. In IOTA there is no such decoupling, instead it is an entirely self-sustaining network where the users verify transactions of other users. This means there is no compensation needed and thus no fee.
Pre-IOTA there was no way to do true micro-transactions, that is transactions that may be 0.1 cent or 10 cents, because of this prohibitive fee you pay to verify the transactions. You can imagine in Internet-of-Things where the machines are the prosumer and consumers. A sensor might be purchasing 5 cents worth of electricity from a solar grid, now imagine that the sensor also had to pay a 10 cent fee on top of this 5 cent purchase, it's just not feasible at all. In IOTA you can indeed do this, you can pay whatever tiny amount you want without having to worry about any fee at all.
From micro-payments to e-voting
CT: You earlier talked about the different partnerships that IOTA is entering into. Would you like to elaborate on them?
DS: The Companies we are currently working with, come from virtually every segment ranging from insurance industry to micro-payments in technological resource trade to e-Voting.
In Africa and other areas where infrastructure is scarce and droughts resulting from global warming is a very real aspect of life, there are some really innovative Insurance models that protect farmers. What they do is use weather station data to determine whether the conditions in the area of the farmer had favorable weather conditions to have a successful crop, such as sufficient rainfall or not. Of course both parties has an incentive to tamper with the data for profit. Here IOTA is being explored to serve 2 roles. One, to pay in real time via iota depending on varied weather rather than just 1 'all or nothing payout'. And two, to put the data from the data logger onto the IOTA Tangle (IOTA's Distributed ledger) to keep the data— tamper proof— and thus honest and reliable for both parties.
As Internet-of-Things keep expanding and growing to consist of tens of billions of connected devices the question becomes how to make the devices interoperable and how to utilize them as efficient as possible. For example, in certain oil rigs there are tens of thousands of sensors, but up to 99% of the data is never utilized for anything. IOTA is being explored here for providing the incentive to share your surplus with as many parties as possible, opening entirely new business-to-business opportunities.
We are also partnering with companies for e-voting. Given that it cost absolutely nothing to cast and process votes in IOTA, and that the architecture of the Tangle is a lot more flexible and scalable than blockchains, it has been identified as an ideal backbone of end-to-end verifiable e-voting system by several academics and some companies. We are actually in talks with 2 companies about assisting them in setting up a prototype this year.
CT: What are the plans for the future of IOTA?
DS: There will indeed be a lot of news in the following weeks and months about which companies have teamed up. The overall vision and mission of IOTA for the coming years is to establish IOTA as an IoT, and Tech standard that will enable a whole new 'Economy of Things', where billions of devices are trading amongst each other and fueling the interoperability that is required to realize the true potential of IoT.