Gartner technology research firm recently released a report detailing the blockchain firms they believe are coolest. Entitled “Cool Vendors in Blockchain 2017”, and written by analysts Rajesh Kandaswamy, Fabio Chesini and Ray Valdes, the report details some projects that have graced headlines, and some that have not.
“Blockchain technology, with a radically different way to manage trust, retain data and execute processes, serves as a foundation for transformational business applications,” states a summary of the report on Gartner’s website. “We profile five blockchain pioneers for CIOs looking for bold ideas for their digital business.” Well-known projects appear on the list, such as Factom, Gnosis and OpenBazaar.
Factom has sought out to handle real estate dealings on a blockchain. Currently at $28.22 at time of writing, according to Coin Market Cap, the blockchain startup made much noise when it appeared close to a deal with Honduran authorities to put their land title management system on a blockchain.
OpenBazaar, a peer-to-peer marketplace where goods are bought and sold for bitcoin, is a server-side client much like BitTorrent. But, instead of files for sharing, users can shop the many stores and purchase goods for bitcoin.
Gnosis, too, has received ample press. Gnosis is a prediction market based on the blockchain. Decentralized, the project seeks to use “crowdsourced wisdom” from global users based on Ethereum technology. Here’s a look at two of the lesser known projects featured in the Gartner’s report:
SmartContract.com takes a unique – and minimalist – approach to smart contracts. The website allows users to log-in and then construct their own smart contracts. The solution depends on ‘oracles’.
“Oracles simplify your connection to a smart contract from the off-chain world, providing the data needed by the smart contract to prove performance and make fiat payments,” SmartContract.com elaborates on its website.
The website adds: “’Oracles” are known in computer science for their ability to provide information from outside a system which that system itself cannot acquire. When applied to smart contract networks, oracles act as programmable agents that provide a smart contract with the data it requires (inbound oracles) and act on its behalf by releasing payment or informing your internal systems what a smart contract has concluded (outbound oracles).”
SmartContract.com feels to this user almost like a primer to get the public used to the idea of a smart contract. I could see such a website used in a classroom setting.
Many blockchain purists might criticize this model. The problem of ‘oracles’ in blockchains, and software generally, is well-known. Essentially, while SmartContract.com might enable users to write contracts to a blockchain, the website itself and the APIs it uses as oracles represent central points of failure. A potential no-no for the pro-decentralization types.
Synereo brands itself as “An Attention Economy Layer for the Internet”. The project started by designing a social media platform to empower individual users and undermine mainstream social networks, which were abusing their positions, according to Synereo designers Dor Konforty, Anderson McCutcheon, Yuval Adam and Greg Meredith. Synereo was first announced at the Israel Bitcoin Conference.
Synereo, which is currently trading for approximately 54 cents according to CoinMarketCap, saw 45 million AMPs sold in its crowdsale. 320 million unsold AMPs were burned. The company burned AMPs in other events, like in September 2016 when 50% of all AMPs were burnt.
Synereo partnered in May 2015 with LivelyGig, a distributed employment market. NFX Guild incorporated Synereo’s tech-stack to identify exemplary blockchain projects. Synereo’s technology does not involve mining or server farms like bitcoin. Rather, this is spread out among ordinary users on the network, who are compensated for contributions of storage and computational abilities. Accordingly, once implemented, the Synereo platform would represent a “giant, global computer” created by numerous personal devices to maintain the network and execute decentralized applications and host data.
Rchain’s a turing-complete blockchain with a proof-of-stake consensus model, is unique in that computation is concurrenct and sharded. In other words, the blockchain is implemented via different systems so it is not a unified single point of failure. Concurrency refers to how this subdivision allows different processes to run in parallel and not interfere with each other.
There you have it: Gartner’s lesser known cool vendors. One theme tying all of these projects together is their open-source nature. That is, they are public blockchains as opposed to ‘permissioned-blockchains’, those chains designed for enterprise.
Picture from Wikimedia Commons.