Meet DePIN Projects Building the Future of the Internet on Polygon Protocols

Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePIN) are rewiring the Web’s hardware and software stack in line with crypto’s decentralization ethos

Polygon Labs
January 22, 2024
Image source: Dribbble

The Internet we interact with daily is but a thin UI layer on a physical edifice that is so vast it boggles the mind: some 1.4 million kilometers of submarine cable lacing the seabed, hundreds of gigatons of concrete on the surface and over 8,000 active satellites circling in orbit.

Web3 blurs the line between the software layer and the infrastructure substrate in what is known as Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePIN). This new approach to hardware leverages blockchain incentives to democratize access to resources with far-reaching consequences for consumers and providers alike.

The Polygon ecosystem is home to DePIN efforts tackling everything from connected cars and mobile networks to data warehousing. Here are just some of the most interesting projects building the future of the Internet on Polygon protocols.

DIMO: An Open Connected Vehicle Network

Modern cars are veritable data centers on wheels, chock full of silicon that runs everything from engine telemetry and GPS logs to entertainment console preferences and driver-assist sensors. DIMO, which stands for Digital Infrastructure for Moving Objects, allows users and developers to tap into that rich stream of data.

DIMO offers a user-owned ecosystem that allows drivers to reap economic benefits from their data and makes possible applications like parametric insurance, peer-to-peer car sharing and vehicle marketplaces. The decentralized platform also gives developers the peace of mind, knowing their access to the data is not subject to the whims of a centralized gatekeeper.

A year after its mainnet release on Polygon PoS, DIMO connected over 36,000 cars and distributed more than 57 million $DIMO tokens to users. Drivers can start earning rewards by downloading DIMO’s app and connecting their cars.

GEODNET: Global Earth Observation Decentralized Network

When the U.S. military released the Geographic Positioning System to the public in 1983 in the wake of the Soviets shooting down a Korean passenger plane by mistake, it fuzzed the results to a 100-meter radius because precise location was considered to be strategically important. These days, knowing exactly where you are on the Earth’s surface is a must, especially if you are operating a vehicle, observation drone, agricultural equipment, or a delivery robot.

GEODNET improves GPS location accuracy at global scale by building the world's largest decentralized Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) network using DePIN principles. RTK uses ground-based reference stations to enable a 100x improvement in GPS accuracy and drift reduction.

GEODNET is improving GPS accuracy at scale and aims to transform the $200 billion GNSS industry with affordable mass-market access to centimeter-precise location. A combination of DIMO’s real-time vehicle data monitoring  and GEODNET’s trusted, precise location enables a new Web3 stack for lane-level navigation, fleet management, and automated driver assistance systems. Together, GEODNET and DIMO are also working on enhancing Web3 applications with cyber-secure, privacy-protecting proofs-of-location, motion, and physical event triggers.

XNET: Blockchain-Powered Mobile Carrier

The United Nations considers network connectivity a new human right, yet some 2.9 billion people worldwide remain offline. Even in developed countries like the U.S., many people still lack access that is affordable and reliable. XNET, a mobile network operator powered by blockchain technology, offers a possible solution.

Unlike traditional carriers, XNET doesn’t own a wireless spectrum and instead uses the bandwidth reserved for Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and carrier-grade W-Fi. It is a revenue share model, where XNET builds the network in partnership with a community of network operators that runs the nodes and act like a federation of networks coordinating through a common blockchain-based ledger. XNET resells the network to MNOs like AT&T, Dish and others, splitting the revenue with the operators. The $XNET powers the self-sustaining ecosystem by rewarding everyone involved in the deployment and operation of the network.

Fleek: Decentralized Edge Network

The modern Web has evolved from a centralized architecture toward a more distributed edge model that moves computation closer to the users that need it. The foundation of an edge network is high performance, low latency, and geographic work distribution -- all characteristics that decentralized networks struggle with.

Fleek, a company known for many years as a dev friendly platform to deploy sites on open storage layers like Filecoin, Arweave, and IPFS, is in the midst of a massive evolution towards becoming a full stack developer platform, powered by its own DePIN network.

Fleek Network is a highly-performant decentralized edge network, optimized to facilitate the deployment and running of geo-aware, low-latency, cost-competitive decentralized web and edge services: Edge Compute, CDN, SSR, Databases, and more. Protocols, Platforms, and Apps can leverage these decentralized services, or build their own on Fleek Network, to optimize performance and reduce their dependence on what has become the status quo– centralized cloud providers. Developers build faster and launch more open-web-aligned products by offloading parts of their stack to the Fleek Edge, allowing them to focus on their app’s core features.

Space and Time: Verifiable Compute Layer for Web3

Smart contracts can’t natively access historical data, or any data besides wallet balances and the current transaction being processed… even on their own chain. Space and Time is looking to solve that by building the verifiable compute layer for Web3. 

SxT scales zero-knowledge proofs on a decentralized data warehouse loaded with indexed data from major chains to deliver trustless data processing to smart contracts. With SxT, smart contracts can ask ZK-proven questions like “show me all liquidity pools with TVL over $1 million that were deployed in the past month” or “list all gamer wallets that have 2 hours or more of playtime, minted an NFT and have played using a  particular weapon.”

Lit: Storing Keys Securely and Efficiently

Lit Protocol is a key management network for decentralized signing and encryption that empowers devs to create apps and wallets that use secrets without single points of failure. Keys managed on Lit are distributed and fault tolerant, so no centralized authority can ever withhold access.

The Lit Protocol is powered by nodes which perform a process called Distributed Key Generation that creates a public/private keypair. Each node only has a private key share with which it can do everything one would with a normal private key, like signing and decrypting. The difference is that the user must collect these decryption or signature shares from the nodes to create the final decryption key or signature in what is known as Threshold Cryptography.

Lit protocol powers access control and blockchain based licensing for recently-unveiled Verify, an open source protocol meant to establish the history and origin of registered media launched by Fox Corp. on Polygon PoS. Lit enables publishers to encrypt their content and only allow decryption by parties that retain the necessary license for a given asset. 

WiFi Map: All Your Connectivity in One Place

WiFi Map’s motto is bringing Internet access and lifestyle services to everybody, everywhere in a single super-app. In other words, it saves you the indignity of desperately searching for a McDonald’s or Starbucks in a strange city just to mooch off their free WiFi. 

With over 170 million users, WiFi Map offers a suite of services that includes access to free WiFi spots in over 200 countries, eSIM packagers for more than 70 countries, offline maps and VPN protection. Last year, WiFi Map airdropped its $WIFI token to 225,000 of its most active contributors. Users can earn the tokens for helping to grow the ecosystem by adding hotspots, verifying networks and testing internet speeds. $WIFI can be used to buy eSIM packages, to gain access to premium service within the app and to tip other participants.

University of Pennsylvania professor Duncan J. Watts argues that the Internet isn't really a thing at all, but rather a shorthand for an entire period of history that encompasses the invention of the laser and packet switching networks, deployment of physical infrastructure and introduction of new business models and models of social interaction. DePIN is the latest chapter that brings the early Internet’s decentralized ethos to its hardware layer.  

To learn more, join the AMA discussing DePIN on Polygon protocols today at 10am PST / 1pm EST. Explore the world of DePIN projects, tune into the blog and our social channels to keep up with updates about the Polygon ecosystem.

Together, we can build an equitable future for all through the mass adoption of Web3.

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