One of the most anticipated blockchain related events of the year, ÐΞVCON1 has lived up to expectations. The Ethereum Foundation and ΞTHÐΞV made sure that each day of the conference was live streamed, over the course of five days packed with discussions, technical talks and related events. The Gibson Hall, located in the hearth of the “City” of London, was perfect for hosting the number of speakers and the many attendees.
The conference showcased the latest Ethereum developments, focusing on the applications that developers have been able to build using the platform so far, as well as industry and social implications. The event featured more than 60 talks, with over 400 in attendance, and 15,000+ watching the livestream.
The event was an “absolutely fabulous” success, stated ConsenSys Strategic Architect Vinay Gupta. “I don’t think a single person I talked to was unhappy in any way, not about the length, not about the catering, not about the coffee. Well, maybe the coffee – there is always room for improvement.”
“ÐΞVCON1 could have been significantly bigger and still fully utilized, both in terms of talks (there were many other possible speakers) and attendees. Next year: to the moon, or at least a very much larger event.”
— – Vinay Gupta, ConsenSys Strategic Architect
Over the next two years, the Ethereum roadmap will include three further phases: Homestead, Metropolis, and Serenity. These will include more advanced features related to its special browser client, Proof-of-Stake (PoS), scalability and more advanced development features.
The Ethereum Foundation’s mission helps understand just how far reaching they hope Ethereum will be. The group aims to “promote and support research, development and education to bring decentralized protocols and tools to the world that empower developers to produce next generation decentralized applications (DApps) and together build a more globally accessible, more free and more trustworthy Internet.”
“ÐΞVCON1 was absolutely phenomenal – especially in terms of the quality of the people. We’ve come a very long way since ÐΞVCON0, in terms of our knowledge, software, and community. I’m glad that there seems to be a consensus forming that we need to think about the future of governance and funding of the parts of the project that can be considered public goods.”
— – Vlad Zamfir, Ethereum Researcher
There was some big news preceding ÐΞVCON1, as Microsoft and ConsenSys are partnering to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure, so Enterprise clients and developers can have a single click cloud based blockchain developer environment. The initial offering contains two tools that allow for rapid development of Smart Contract based applications:
Strato from BlockApps is a full-stack solution for creating your own private or consortium (semi-private) blockchains based on Ethereum standards. Build blockchain applications that can be accessed from any internet-connected device using a RESTful API.
Ether.Camp is a blockchain explorer and a web-based IDE. It allows for look up and navigation of transactions on the Ethereum blockchain and collaborative coding in a web-based editor, all wrapped in an execution sandbox.
"I think our partnership with Microsoft is a major endorsement for Ethereum and BlockApps. This shows that the blockchain is ready for business, and enterprises are definitely taking this seriously.”
— – Victor Wong, BlockApps CEO & Founder
There were a number of interesting speakers during the five day long event, with a few that are currently experimenting or partnering with Ethereum, including Dr. Lee Braine of Barclays Bank, Ian Cusden and Stephan Karpischek of UBS, Matthew Spoke and Henry Chan of Deloitte, Nick Szabo the inventor of smart contracts, Marley Gray of Microsoft and Henning Diedrich of IBM MTN Project.
Imogen Heap, the well known English singer-songwriter and composer, also made a surprise appearance right at the end of the conference discussing the future of music distribution.
UBS, the Swiss banking giant, presented a Smart Bonds platform based on Ethereum, their first blockchain-based prototype. The UBS Crypto 2.0 Lab is researching blockchain technology to see how it can be best applied to finance. The demo was based on a bond issuer offer and a bond buyer interested in trading. Using a UBS issued token held in escrow for the exchange and built-in smart contracts, both on Ethereum, the proof of concept successfully traded a newly created bond between two parties.
Matthew Spoke, the Project Leader on the Rubix initiative at Deloitte’s Toronto office, also presented at ÐΞVCON1. Together with his team, they are testing groundbreaking smart contract and blockchain solutions for enterprise.
“Rubix is building blockchain capabilities across a number of technologies, but we’re particularly focused on the capabilities of Ethereum as a protocol to allow for the trusted computation, regardless of use case or industry. Rubix was proud to represent Deloitte at ÐΞVCON1. We see tremendous value in the work being done by this community, and we hope we can play an important role in pushing adoption and experimentation among large enterprise.”
— – Matthew Spoke, Rubix by Deloitte Strategy & Execution
IBM presented their MTN project (Multiplying Things Needlessly) described as autonomous processing, communication, and coordination between the edge and the cloud. IBM has built an IoT proof of concept using Ethereum smart contracts coupled with Raspberry Pis and radios, to capture interesting data using radio frequencies. They are preparing themselves for when “smart devices” will need to interact autonomously with each other, with a focus on automatic payments, market dynamics, and scalability.
“Why do we need blockchain for IoT? The main aspect is really the negotiation. To negotiate between devices and n points in an untrusted environment, that is what we are using Ethereum for… The whole point of the experiment is to see whether that, in a fashion that scales sufficiently, it can actually be done using Ethereum. And at this point I would say, it is a success.”
— – Henning Diedrich, IBM Systems Blockchain Group Senior Programmer
Nick Szabo hosted a talk titled “History of the Blockchain,” looking back at the history of property, contracts, money, smart contracts, as well as touching on other blockchain and cryptocurrency ideas. The speech concluded on philosophy and the application of smart contracts.
Juan Benet presented IPFS (Inter-Planetary File System) a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. IPFS improves the web itself, it makes it faster, safer, distributed, permanent, and even work offline. When asked how is the collaboration with Ethereum of benefit Benet replied, "It’s great! Lots of Ethereum applications are using IPFS already, and more are being developed now. We’re very excited about the things that people are building on IPFS and Ethereum.”
Jack Peterson presented Augur, and demoed the platform to the public at the conference while revealing some updates. "Augur’s sprinting ahead on the technical front,” he said. “We’re aiming to be feature-complete by Christmas. There will be a few months of security audits and formal code verification after that, followed by our real-money launch. We’re planning to be fully operational for the 2016 Presidential election!"
There were numerous DApps showcased during ÐΞVCON1, a fraction of the ones that are currently in development. A partial list of over 110 known DApps being developed on Ethereum can be seen at dapps.ethercasts.com. Below are some of the highlights from the conference.
Strato, BlockApps’s flagship enterprise product, is a full-stack technology solution that allows building industry specific Blockchain applications on top of your own customized permissioned private, consortium (semi-private) ledgers, public Blockchain ledgers, or on the permission-less public Ethereum platform.
“Our main interest in Ethereum is not as a cryptocurrency, but as an application platform. Our goal is to help developers use smart contracts to create the new wave of hyper-efficient businesses."
— – Victor Wong, BlockApps CEO & Founder
Slock.it makes it possible to bridge the digital and physical worlds by making smart contracts physically enforceable. With a Slock.it lock, you can rent your apartment without incurring the middleman costs. The unused bicycle in your shed gets a new lease of life by becoming available for rental. The local hackspace becomes on-demand, and full automated. Apartment buildings that make white goods available to their tenants can now distribute the cost fairly.
“We made the conscious decision to start Slock.it with realistic targets and the simplest of all use cases: the humble lock, or ‘slock’. Slocks can be used with an Ethereum contract to open anything, and because of their very nature take very little processing power available to today’s SoCs (System on Chip). This spare power is going to enable us to explore more advanced features, including the creation of fully autonomous devices operating as part of an optimal ‘economy of things’.”
— – Stephan Tual, Slock.it Founder
Ujo Music is shared infrastructure for the creative industries built on the blockchain. It has two main parts: a decentralised rights database and an automated smart contract-based licensing system. By making licensing more transparent, more efficient and more accessible a greater share of value can return to creators and their customers. This could facilitate a new era of innovation that drives new revenue opportunities and business models for creative content.
“Having been working away on an Ethereum-based project for the last several months, it was great to finally meet all the other people who are working with the technology and to see all the great ideas that are being developed. It is inspiring to see just how far Ethereum has come in the last year.”
— – Phil Barry, UJO Music Founder
The FreeMyVunk Movement provides a platform for gamers who believe that “vunk” (aka virtual junk) should be theirs both inside and outside games. With a blockchain to “tokenize” virtual assets, game developers have easy to use tools to issue them. They also provide in-game digital wallets so that gamers can hold and control them. It will feature a marketplace where all vunk can be traded without barriers between gaming platforms. Spells of Genesis will be the first blockchain-based game to join the movement.
“The FreeMyVunk Movement is honored to be part of ÐΞVCON1. This conference has been an all star cast of presentations with some of the most innovative projects happening anywhere. We have been treated to seeing a glimpse of the enormous potential and power of the Ethereum platform and we are eager to carrying this forward with FreeMyVunk.”
— – R. Tyler Smith, FreeMyVunk Founder
BoardRoom is a governance utility built on smart-contracts. Essentially, BoardRoom puts the boardroom on the blockchain. Think of assembling a Board with various membership and voting systems, than using a single interface to table proposals, vote and execute tasks. It’s collaborative decision-making that can change the way an organization can make decisions, while also giving those decisions the power to have a real-world effect.
“ÐΞVCON1 was incredible. I finally got to meet all these people I’ve been working with for months both within ConsenSys and the Ethereum community. There was a flood of ideas for both projects. I think everyone can expect some very new and exciting designs (both technical and visual in nature) for the WeiFund and BoardRoom projects. We definitely need to have more of these conferences. A lot more. The energy in the room was unreal. I think everyone benefited in a tremendous way.”
— – Nick Dodson, ConsenSys Consultant & Software Engineer
Provenance – A real-time data platform that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency by tracing the origins and histories of products. Easily gather and verify stories, keep them connected to physical things and embed them anywhere online.
Other notable mentions are Backfeed, Maker, Inflekt, Balanc3, WeiFund and Gnosis. You can find out more about all of the DApps presented by watching the conference live streams on YouTube. Ian Meikle and Alessandro Panto from the ΞTHÐΞV team have confirmed with Brave New Coin that separate videos of each event will be released soon.
“I think that the conference was a watershed moment for the Ethereum ecosystem, and has showed quite well just how far Ethereum has come in the last three months alone. At the start of the year, I was not imagining that we would see this amount of adoption so soon, and yet it’s here, and Microsoft, UBS, Deloitte and IBM are all on it. I am very much looking forward to seeing all of these developments play out in the next few months.”
— – Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum Co-creator and Original Inventor