US Government Endorses Blockchain With $800,000 Award To Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Researchers

  • Researcher and software architect Subhashini Sivagnanam has received over $800,000 from the US government-backed National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • The funds will be used to help develop the Open Science Chain (OSC) project, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) based system for efficienctly managing data from scientific experiments. 

Subhashini Sivagnanam, a software architect and developer of the Neuroscience Gateway (NSG), has reportedly received $818,433 from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), in order to help fund the development of the Open Science Chain (OSC) project.

According to the award letter, the research funding will start on September 1st, 2018 and will continue until August 31st, 2021.

The NSF website noted that the OSC will be implemented using distributed ledger technology (DLT) and will allow researchers to work efficiently with data obtained from various scientific experiments and lab studies.

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) For Scientific Data

Public records state that the OSC project will aim to create 

"a web-based cyberinfrastructure platform built using distributed ledger technologies that allows researchers to provide metadata and verification information about their scientific datasets and update this information as the datasets change and evolve over time in an auditable manner."

National Science Foundation

Notably, the NSF is one of the world’s leading scientific research centers and has helped launch several US government-backed projects and studies. In July 2017, a researcher at Princeton University received over $400,000 from the US government to help fund his study on the application of mechanism incentives to blockchain-based digital currencies.

Improving Cyber-Infrastrucure

Earlier in January, 2017, the NSF announced its plans to help fund projects related to exploring the use of blockchain technology in improving cyber-infrastructure. The foundation had been looking to fund up to nine different projects, with each project receiving approximately $1 million from the federal government.

In its March, 2017 program solicitation called Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure, the NSF noted,

"With the growing amount of remote instruments and the increasing amount of data being collected from multiple, often remote, wireless and mobile sensors, science is increasingly distributed and virtual. Solutions such as the introduction of blockchain technology are needed to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data as it traverses multiple environments such as mobile, cloud, campus, and Internet networks."

National Science Foundation

In 2015, the research foundation had awarded about $3 million in funding for a cryptocurrency-related research study carried out by a group of scientists from University of California Berkeley, Cornell University and the University of Maryland.

HTC Says Its Latest Cryptophone Puts 'A Metaphorical Swiss Bank in Your Pocket'

On Saturday (October 19), Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC launched the Exodus 1s, which it says is "the first ever mobile device with Bitcoin Full Node support."

A Brief History of HTC's Experience With Building Crypto-Friendly Phones

On 15 May 2018, at the Consensus 2018 blockchain summit in New York City, Phil Chen, the "Decentralized Chief Officer" (DCO) for HTC announced the firm's plan to create HTC Exodus, "the world's first native blockchain phone."

The first Exodus model to launch was the Exodus 1, which went on sale in Europe and the U.S. late last year. It initially cost 0.15 BTC (though later, it became possible to buy it for $699). HTC's reason for calling this a "blockchain phone" was that it came with a built-in hardware wallet and a pre-installed Decentralized Apps (DApps) browser that was integrated with this hardware.

HTC says that its wallet app, Zion Vault, "uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to protect your private keys and sensitive data," and that it supports storing, sending, and receiving organize over 100 types of cryptocurrencies."

The HTC Exodus 1 is a dual-sim Android-powered phone with the following specs:

  • 6.0” Quad HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 processor
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android Oreo (i.e. Android version 8.x)
  • 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM

What happened next is that HTC used its experience with the Exodus 1 and feedback from developers and the market to build a more budget-friendly device: the Exodus 1s. This is the device that HTC introduced yesterday at the two-day Lightning Conference in Berlin. In fact, HTC started selling some of the first production units at this event, and was even accepting payments via Bitcoin's Lightning Network. Other cryptocurrencies that HTC accepts as means of payment are Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB), and Bitcoin Cash.

The HTC Exodus 1s

So now know that HTC has two crypto-friendly phones, the Exodus 1 and the Exodus 1s. These days, HTC has a new term to describe its crypto-friendly Exodus phones; on the Exodus website, it says  "SMARTPHONE + HARDWARE WALLET = CRYPTOPHONE". This means that HTC is currently selling two cryptophones.

What is special about the HTC Exodus 1 is not just its lower price (EUR 210, which is approximately USD 235), but the fact that, according to HTC, it is the first mobile phone that supports running a Bitcoin full node (with the blockchain data to be stored on a 400GB microSD card that needs to be purchased separately).

HTC says that running a Bitcoin full node on your phone "not only grows the Bitcoin network, but also help secure it." HTC also believes that it is better not to "wait for others to verify your transactions", and that with this phone, you can "verify yourself, anytime, anywhere."

Here is Chen (HTC's DCO) explaining to Forbes the significance of running your Bitcoin full node:

It plays a really important role in the whole bitcoin ecosystem. It allows you to relay transactions, confirm transactions, validate transactions, and it’s basically one of the best ways for anybody to contribute to the whole security of the network.

According to Techcrunch, Chen believes that with the Exodus 1s, you can essentially have a "a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket":

We gave users the ability to own their own keys, and now we’ve gone one step further to allow users to run their own full Bitcoin node. We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.

Chen also told Forbes that HTC is considering adding support for other major blockchains:

We’ll certainly learn a lot of how people will interact with bitcoin, what they do with a full node, and we want to apply those learnings to future other public blockchains.

 These are the specs for the HTC Exodus 1s:

  • 5.7” HD+ 18:9 display
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 435 processor
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM

The HTC Exodus 1s will be initially available in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (but HTC plans to offer the phone at some future date in other countries).

In case you are wondering why HTC is so interested in crypto, this is what Chen told CNBC:

Initially considered a gimmick by some, crypto technology is the next frontier of smartphone innovation. For the smartphone category to grow again, we need more adoption of cryptophones.

HTC's CEO said in an interview with Techcrunch that although we don't yet have mainstream adoption of cryptophones, the Exodus 1s gives consumers "an inexpensive way to see what the technology provides today."

 

Featured Image Courtesy of HTC