A Decentralized “Internet of Blockchains:” Blocknet Protocol

Blocknet is moving to the v18 base chain and gearing up to support business customers with the release of XRouter 1.0. In this article, I take a look at the inner workings of the Blocknet Protocol and what it offers.

Why Decentralization is Important

There are some serious problems with this. Billions of pieces of personal data are shared daily online and the vast majority are stored in giant servers located in a few places around the world. This data is vulnerable to direct attacks, such as hacking. The information is also sold, as a product, to brands in order to allow them to target the users for ads and services.

Blockchain Could Power a Decentralized Internet

A blockchain network may also have a native coin or token that helps to verify transactions and affords voting or governance rights to network participants. Each device connected to the blockchain would contribute to the distributed storage network system without any centralized servers. Indeed, it would have no centre(s) at all.

Decentralizing the internet with blockchain technology is appealing because it could lead to a more secure and fair internet than the one we know today. There would be no central points to hack and no way for a few powerful actors to take control of the information.

The Interoperability Challenge

The nature of the design of blockchains means they can only communicate with themselves and not with other blockchains. They are not inherently interoperable. They start out isolated from one another. No information can be directly transferred between them.

As a result, blockchain-based applications can only deliver services within the confines of the limited customer base on a particular blockchain. If a blockchain service wants a wider user base it must sacrifice the unique properties of blockchains by delivering the services via a centralized platform.

Various solutions have been suggested to achieve this. Some projects are pursuing the idea of hybrid blockchains, for instance, which are chains unto themselves that can interact with other blockchains.

Internet of Blockchains

XRouter

XRouter functions are akin to the TCP/IP level that the internet is founded on and is compatible with any blockchain network, including all DLTs (such as IOTA and Hashgraph) and private chains (such as Hyperledger and R3). It allows interactions between any smart contract platform and any other blockchain, even those that do not have smart contract capabilities.

This type of technology would let developers create lightweight microservice architectures that use contracts, protocols, and services from various blockchains. Developers could mix and match smart contracts from different chains without rewriting them from scratch, saving both time and money.

The way XRouter works is by using the Blocknet service node network of approximately 500 nodes to direct service requests directly to the respective blockchains. Packet routing happens on the networking layer. For example, creating a dApp on Ethereum may require storage functionality, which Ethereum doesn’t intrinsically handle very efficiently. XRouter makes it possible to interact with blockchains such as Storj, Filecoin, Sia, or Swarm to use their storage services.

XRouter would also be beneficial for the pharmaceutical industry as manufacturers are strictly regulated and need to provide information and assurances to sell their products. Accessing batch information about temperature and humidity during transportation and the final destination is important. A smart contract could use XRouter to gather this information from each respective chain and write it to the pharmaceutical company’s blockchain along with the batch code (APIs can be viewed here).

XCloud

XBridge

How is Blocknet a Decentralized Internet of Blockchains?

A version of this article was originally published in Hacker Noon.

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Writer interested in blockchain projects that will add to the social good