Location data is a valuable piece of marketing information, so it is no wonder that this market segment has been growing strongly over the past five years. According to research firm BIA/Kelsey, U.S. marketers are poised to spend around $20.6 billion in 2018. Location-based advertising is the new way of advertising and can be expected to account for a growing proportion of marketing spending. The increasing number of connected devices lowers the entry barrier and makes the collection of location data easier. It’s therefore not unusual that more and more location-based data startups pop-up. Here’s an overview of blockchain-based location data startups, presented in a question-and-answer format.
Geon.network – Enabling Location-based Advertising
Geon Network is a location-based network designed on three pillars: Location, Augmented Reality, and Coins. The network triggers actions based on predefined business rules when a user enters or exits a geolocation. Virtual beacons are used to create a bridge between the digital and physical world.
Q1. What is a loyalty beacon and how does it become a trusted location?
A loyalty beacon in this context is a dispenser of loyalty tokens – the beacon (Geon) is created by a business owner and is loaded with loyalty tokens. Potential customers can geomine the tokens and then use them for discounts when buying merchandise from the business. The location of the beacon/Geon is chosen by the Geon creator and cannot be changed.
Q2. How is Proof of Location part of the blockchain solution?
The Proof of Location (PoL) is the main requirement for geomining, meaning any user that wants to geomine must provide the PoL first. The Geon App generates the PoL in real time, in the background, whenever a user wants to geomine a particular Geon, so no extra action is required from the user, apart from physical presence at the location.
The blockchain is used mainly to enforce the geomining rules (i.e. verification of PoL and other geomining conditions) without the need for a central authority (e.g. Geon Network or any other 3rd party). The blockchain is used to ensure all geomining conditions are met and the user can be rewarded with tokens.
Before we can start geomining, the user’s device needs to be able to prove its current geolocation, e.g. be within a 10-meter radius from the Geon. This is where the Geon Witness comes in handy, this Proof of Location platform enables the miner to create a digital certificate, which encodes its coordinates at a specific moment in time. The platform’s main goal is to make it extremely hard for attackers to spoof their location. The certificate is therefore used as a high-level confidence data point by the Geon Network during geomining.
Q3. What possibilities do shop owners have to customize the Geon?
The business owners will be able to use custom branding on a Geon: company logo on a Geon in simple view or in augmented reality (AR), custom Geon model/shape in AR. Branded Geon Coins can be minted with a customised name and design and retain the same value, functionality, and transactional value as all coins on the network.
Collectibles are hot, that’s why Geon Network offers business owners the possibility to create special coins that act as collectibles. Whenever a miner finds a collectible, he can exchange it for premium services or trade it with other users within the app.
Q4. How easy is it for business owners to create a Geon?
Very easy – you just need to download the app, register by providing your phone number and you are free to geomine or create Geons.
Only four steps are needed for creating a Geon:
- Choose location.
- Choose what to input to Geon: either coins or content (content is a new feature – you will be able to put for example discount codes, messages, etc).
- Choose conditions (for example confirm with password).
- Click confirm on the summary page and your Geon is ready to be used.
Q5. What can users do with the collected Geons?
Users can redeem their geomined coins with a merchant for his services or goods. In this scenario, the Geon network will burn the geomined coins upon successful checkout. The Geon Coin is an in-app stablecoin, pegged by USD (1:1 ratio). It’s important to note that the Geon Coin is uncapped. The Geon Token is, on the other hand, a utility token that can be bought in the ICO, 850 Million tokens will be distributed for use within the Geon app.
Platin – Secure Verification of Location Claims
Allon Mason, co-founder and CEO of Platin.io helped us understand how Platin achieves these secure and verifiable location claims. Allon likes to talk about the innovation which is part of Platin like the sensor fusion technology they are using to create indisputable location claims, unable to be spoofed.
Q1. Explain the importance of secure verification of location claims?
Location-based services and the geospatial market are projected to grow to half a trillion dollars by 2020, yet location claims by smartphones are extremely insecure, with fake GPS applications available freely. One online financial services provider reports an 80% registration abandonment rate when a proof of residence is requested. In addition, location is used to locate a Pokemon monster, or navigation to a local pub–but not to use augmented reality to reach out and pick up cryptocurrencies of high value. Secure location claims can change all that.
Q2. How is this secure verification accomplished?
Your smartphone, using augmented and/or mixed reality, combined with their secure protocol makes this possible. Platin harnesses traditional location protocols (GPS, fraud detection) along with incentivized distributed ledger technology (DLT) to prevent the spoofing that plagues Pokemon Go and other AR/MR applications. In addition, Platin does it within the standards-based approach of the World Wide Web, ensuring broad take-up of this protocol.
Q3. How is the Proof of Location protocol part of this secure verification of location claims?
Proof of location and secure verification are rarely separated. The proof of location protocol rests on three security pillars: sensor fusion, behavior over time, and peer to peer witnessing. The verification is secure due to the immutable cryptography applied to the claim.
Like the triangulation of a homing system, the three pillars of Platin’s protocol operate independently and collectively to secure the system, and they offer three independent spheres of validation.
The first is the fusion or joint inspection of multiple signals. The system can read GPS, but also WiFi, cell towers, Bluetooth, and even ultrasound to fuse multiple signals into a difficult-to-fake snapshot of the location in question. Both Android and iOS allow for these sensors to be combined in different ways and provide sufficient precision.
But they don’t stop there: Where was the mobile device an hour ago, or a day ago? Behavior over time can discover anomalies that detect spoofing. And finally, they add the crown jewel of distributed ledger technology: unpredictable peer witnesses. An attacker who is replaying sensor fusion, and even groomed a fake behavior over time log, cannot defend his system against witnesses.
Q4. What is a trusted anchor and how are they involved?
To prevent spoofed location claims, the system relies on location signals that are expensive or difficult to fake. One source of such signals is a trusted anchor. A witness signal from a node that has accumulated trust, either through time and/or through a large stake, is a true sign that the witnessed node is indeed at the location stated.
Q5. What is your strongest use case?
A typical KYC process, e.g. registering for a new bank account, includes the validation of your address. Normally, this process consists of uploading a utility bill that includes your address, however, these documents can be easily spoofed. Therefore, a bank can airdrop a PTN token at a physical location which the user has to claim within a certain window of time for secure verification of physical presence. The collection will be recorded, while no address information will be revealed on-chain. It’s an easy, cheap, and effective manner of verifying someone’s address.
FOAM – Crypto Spatial Coordinate Standard
Brandon Goblirsch, Community Manager at Foam.space, is a geographer with a passion for blockchain and decentralization. He expresses that Foam has been created because of the lack of reliable trusted location verification services, not because they completely distrust systems like GPS.
There is more: It’s not always that obvious to receive a stable GPS signal from where you are at. For example, in crowded cities like Shanghai or New York you are not always capable of receiving four beacon signals which is the minimum for acquiring a correct location. Urban density is a major problem, but also indoor localization is one of the major challenges Foam Protocol wants to solve. Ideally, it aims to build a consensus driven map of the world which is meant to be censorship resistant and based off of crypto-economic incentives and rewards.
Q1. How did Foam implement Proof of Location technology?
Foam created the Crypto Spatial Coordinate (CSC) Standard in order to embed physical locations in Ethereum smart contracts. The CSC standard consists of a human-readable geohash attached to an Ethereum address which is paired together on the chain. This way, it’s possible for other contracts to verify the CSC of a contract and its attached geohash. Besides that, Foam offers both static and dynamic Proof of Location.
Q2. What is static Proof of Location?
Static Proof of Location involves token curated registries to assist FOAM cartographers to generate reliable POI data. Token holders can append information to the list which they think is valuable for the POI, whereas other token holders can vote on this new addition of data.
Q3. What is dynamic Proof of Location?
Dynamic Proof of Location uses physical radio beacons integrated into a permissionless network to determine if a user has visited a particular location. This process is GDPR compliant and implements a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) protocol to stop cheaters.
Other Location Related Blockchain Projects
Naviaddress: Global addressing system
Naviaddress wants to provide a global addressing system using blockchain because – to our surprise – almost two-thirds of the global population does not own an address. They invented an alternative addressing system that for example includes a postal code and mobile land code. The big advantage of using Naviadress is that they provide 3D localization. You can add extra details to your blockchain registered address like a floor number or navigation guidelines. This is a great solution as a lot of money is lost in the delivery industry and many people do not have an official address.
Fysical: Data brokerage marketplace
Fysical offers a transition from user data collected in a digital world to the offline universe, tracking consumer behavior in real life. The ecosystem consists of three layers. The most important layer is the protocol layer which is responsible for a transparent and compliant exchange for location data like store visit information, commute routes, foot traffic, etc. The marketplace layer acts as a brokerage layer which passes data to the application layer. The application layer consists of different applications processing this data. It’s a great platform as data providers get paid for their valuable location data. On the other hand, businesses can find relevant data to further improve their processes via a pay-to-use license.
A lot of innovation can be found in the location data industry. Especially the advertising industry will benefit from location data and projects like Platin and Geon.Network. Also, a solution like Naviaddress can bring a big change to our current world. Blockchain might be ready to bring geospatial data to the next level.