Blockchain technology seems to be everywhere, but what are some of the coolest, most innovative and exciting projects happening in this space right now?
This is the third part of my blockchain series. In this post I am focusing on some of the most interesting and cool projects in the blockchain space right now.
All three parts of this series:
Part 1: What is Blockchain
Part 2: What can Blockchain solve?
Part 3: Exciting Blockchain Projects (this post)
Most people have heard of Bitcoin by now because of all the controversy around it. That said, it’s still the biggest cryptocurrency and blockchain out there, and it is currently growing very rapidly. I won’t talk about the volatility of the currency because I am no expert on that, but I can comment on the currency as a whole instead.
Bitcoin has a lot of technical challenges that needs to be solved. I outlined some of them in my last post. Luckily it seems to be enough people pushing for innovative solutions to solve all of these problems. Sure, there are other cryptocurrencies (like Dash) out there that have solved many of these issues already, but none of them are as popular or as mature as Bitcoin (even though Bitcoin is still in its early infancy).
Bitcoin could very well be the future of money. I have written about what a blockchain currency can do for people, and Bitcoin might just be that savior. In fact, in many places of the world, people are turning to Bitcoin to escape many of the issues they face with their local currencies.
There are many so-called alt-coins out there, but Dash is the only one I find worthwhile. It is trying to be all the things Bitcoin hasn’t been able to be yet. Dash supports instant transactions (while Bitcoin ones take approximately 10 minutes) and private transactions which make it unique in the cryptocurrency space. They also have a lot of other great functionality planned for the future.
The thing that makes Dash something to look out for, however, is that it aims to be so easy that your grandmother can use it. Right now the bar to get started with Bitcoin is quite high, but Dash wants to solve this problem. It wants everyone to be able to use it. They have some ways to go, but they are correct in that usability is critical for widespread adoption. Let’s hope they truly succeed.
In a talk done by Amanda B. Johnson at the University of New Mexico, she outlines quite a few interesting aspects of cryptocurrency and how Dash is going to be awesome. I liked this talk, so if you want to learn more, take a look:
I mentioned earlier the way blockchain can make IoT amazing, and this is one of the projects that tries to enable that.
IOTA is technically not using blockchain, but a new piece of technology called the Tangle, which is a block-less distributed ledger aiming to overcome the problems with the current blockchain designs that won’t work for IoT. For instance, it enables transactions without any fees (which enables real micro-payments between machines), and you can store all your sensor data on the ledger.
I won’t go into length to describe exactly how Ethereum works, because I have written about that in detail in the decentralized apps section of my last post about “The Blockchain Innovation”.
Ethereum is a big project on the blockchain scene and has a lot of momentum, even though it had some problems a while back that might slow them down (the DAO hack - also mentioned in the last post).
I also hear a lot of talk about companies starting to experiment with Ethereum, so it’s going to be fascinating seeing how this technology matures.
One big difference you might want to notice, though, is that the apps are not located on the blockchain, only the data. There are links to the apps (as zip files) on the blockchain, which you download and run locally while interacting with the blockchain.
Lisk also seems a bit more geared towards web developers and lowering the barrier to entry than Ethereum. It seems easier to create a “normal” web app with Lisk than with Ethereum. It also helps that you can build your entire application out like you normally would, and not on separate contracts. I am not sure if it’s going to be as big as Ethereum, but I like their selling points. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
Blockstack seeks to create server-less apps where the user of said apps controls their data. Sounds good, right?
Blockstack is not its own blockchain; it just builds on top of existing blockchains. It can run on Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.
One big part of Blockstack is its decentralized domain name system (DNS). Blockstack has it’s own DNS that runs on top of a blockchain (for instance the Bitcoin blockchain). You can register a domain name on blockstack and point your app to it, making it very hard not to reach your app.
There is one important thing to note, though. You still have to host your app somewhere, and the blockchain is not where that is. You would for instance store your app on Amazon cloud storage, and point to your Amazon link using the blockstack DNS.
But blockstack has a lot more going for it that makes it interesting. Any application running on blockstack (using the blockstack browser) has access to the blockstack library with built-in functionality like identity, authentication, and storage.
I found Blockstack a bit hard to wrap my head around, so if you are really interested, I reccommend this talk to understand it a bit more:
A prediction platform that earns you money if you are predicting things correctly, losing them if you don’t. Augur is built on the principle called the wisdom of the crowd, which tells us that if you ask enough people something, the average answer is usually pretty accurate.
I think this can be used for a lot of interesting stuff. You can ask questions you need answers to on Augur and get the wisdom of the crowd to help you out. You can also make a lot of money if you are good at predicting future events.
Social media on blockchain! It works a bit like a blog/Reddit site, where people write content on the site, and you see all of that content in a way much like on Reddit. The interesting part of Steem is that it pays content creators when they are upvoted. Users can also be rewarded for upvoting and commenting on things that get popular.
The concept is sound; people probably want to share better content if getting received well means a monetary reward.
Right now, the content there is still thinner than say Reddit or Medium, but it is getting better. With a big user base, I think it could become significant. In any event, it’s an exciting project.
Steemit, the social media site: https://steemit.com
Steem, the blockchain technology site: https://steem.io/
I don’t want to put too many projects here, but a few other projects that I’m keeping an eye on are (in no specific order):
- Technically not blockchain
- Selling points are security, privacy, and non-traceability.
- Technically not blockchain
- Focuses on the banking market and making it cheap and easy for them to settle transactions
- “Create a verifiable record of any data or business process on the blockchain.”
- You get a receipt from Tierion that can verify data without relying upon or trusting 3rd parties
- Blockchain as a Service platform
- You can get your child chains on the Ardor blockchain without having to worry about creating or securing it.
- Builds on top of Blockstack
- Your own Blockchain ID
- Me on Onename: bjaanes on Onename
- Transportation sharing on the blockchain
- Supply chain verification and transparency
- Distributed computing
- Distributed computing
- Open Source Blockchain Platform
- Started by the Linux Foundation
- Focuses on global business transactions
- Has a lot of big members like IBM, Cisco, Intel, American Express and a bunch of others.
- Open source private blockchain platform
- Aiming to connect all blockchains together
- Decentralized social travel ecosystem
- A new contender for decentralized applications (potential Ethereum killer?)
- Decentralized applications
- Done with less flexibility (no turing complete programming language), but more security and performance
There is probably a lot of amazing projects that I have missed. If you know of any that might be worth taking a look at, feel free to reach out!
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