Foam protocol is a consensus-driven map and open protocol for decentralized geospatial data markets. The main goal of the project is to provide the infrastructure that is an alternative for GPS and Google maps. They distinguish the following problems: lack of location encoding standards; censorship and centralization of location service providers; privacy and accuracy issues. They are trying to solve them providing spatial protocols, standards, and applications that offer a higher level of security and resiliency than conventional geospatial technologies and location-based services.
The obvious question appears: does the common end-user face such kind of problems? Does he feel a mistrust for GPS and Google maps. The idea of the project is awesome, but very global and long-term, and needs to be widely spreaded for being successful
The description of the project and technology is informative. They have both common and technical WPs that describe its native consensus mechanism — proof of location. The project has 3 main components: (1) Crypto-Spatial Coordinates (CSC), (2) the Spatial Index and Visualizer (SIV), and (3) Proof of Location.
Crypto-Spatial Coordinates (CSC)
The main idea of this technology to create shared location standart that would be trustless and securely resistant. According to this, each physical address in the environment has corresponding smart contract address on the Ethereum blockchain and is accessible for decentralized applications. The approximate resolution of a CSC is one square meter. This resolution allows for a maximum of approximately 500 trillion unique locations.
A CSC is a combination of a geohash and Ethereum address. The geohash is simply an encoded version of latitude/longitude coordinates.
The Spatial Index and Visualizer (SIV)
By its nature, that is a front-end user interface that displays smart-contracts on the map, visualize CSC and acts as a browser for dApps. It’s possible to interact with dApps through Metamask. Also, through an open API for other applications seeking access, could utilize the geospatial data
Proof of location
That is the core of the system, that aims to provide location verification services for the objects. They do so by utilizing 3 main features:
1) Token Curated Registries (TCR)
3) Dynamic Proof of Location
TCR is a model when for each Point of Interest (cafe, restaurant, hotel) the list of its features (working time, location, menu etc) is created. And users must deposit tokens (they become Cartographers) and verify the content. For this action they are rewarded in tokens. Also, there is a rating system of Cartographers
Signaling is a mechanism to incentivize the growth and geographic coverage of the FOAM network. To Signal, a Cartographer stakes FOAM Tokens to a Signaling smart contract by reference to a particular area where location services are needed.
Dynamic Proof of Location
This technology proves location status through a time synchronization protocol intended to ensure continuity of a distributed BFT clock, whereby specialized hardware can synchronize nodes’ clocks over radio to provide location services in a given area. This area is called Zone.
The main participants of dynamic PoL:
- Zone operators are established and form a network to synchronize their internal clocks and can arrive at consensus on whether something is located at a certain point in time and space based on these radio beacons. A Zone Authority is a gateway device and requires an internet connection. Zone Anchors can be simple devices that consist of a cpu (for the clock), a battery, and a radio transceiver.
- Verifiers are computers that check Zones for fraud and compute location algorithms from the time data.
Proof of Location can therefore provide consensus on whether an event or agent is verifiably at a certain point in time and space producing a digital authentication certificate that is fraud proof, called a Presence Claim.
Proof of Location protocol is hardware agnostic and uses radio technology called Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). But, Low-Power Wide-Area Networks are very new radio technology and have not been incorporated into smartphones yet. Until then, they incorporate «softer» Presence Claims using Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth networks for cellular devices. There are also accessory/dongle devices that can allow smart phones to communicate with LPWANs.
FOAM tokens are used for reaching Proof of Location consensus.
The main functions:
- Cartographers stake tokens curate, map and verify the locations of static objects
- Cartographers stake tokens in the Signaling process when in a particular area the location services are needed.
- Zone Anchor and Zone Authority stake tokens for begin offering location-based services
- Verifiers stakes to offer computing power
For all them to stake tokens is required and they are rewarded from commission fees
- User must pay a fee to the network providing the location verification services
About 1/3 of the total supply is reserved for rewards.
Supply chain management (adding verifiable and accurate product tracking), autonomous vehicle and ride sharing, gaming, and the Internet of Things (Secure location verification and localization), Insurance (automated conflict resolution and contract enforcement) may benefit from verified location data that can be used to prevent fraud.
Ryan John King, Co-founder, CEO
Entrepreneur with a background in urban economic development, architecture and blockchain technology.
He worked as a researcher at University of Massachusetts Amherst
Worked as a Private Consultant on urban development and blockchain technology.
Education: holds a bachelor degree in arts at University of Massachusetts Amherst
Kristoffer Josefsson, Co-founder, CTO
Senior full-stack blockchain and smart contract developer. Early member of Consensys. Founding Member of BlockApps (Blockchain as a Service company with customers ranging from startups to Fortune 500 organizations)
Education: University of Gothenburg
Katya Zavyalova, Co-founder, CCO
Worked as a product/manager for Gage Clemenceau Architects and CDR Studio
Education: Moscow Architectural Institute; The Southern California Institute of Architecture
Presumably, operations for such global project must lead more experienced COO
Martin Allen, Senior Blockchain Engineer
Functional programming specialist, author of purescript-web3. Formerly a senior engineer at BlockApps. Background in algebraic geometry.
Arthur Röing Baer, Creative Marketing Director
Designer and researcher. Previously worked on blockchain-enabled infrastructure decentralization in logistics and mobility.
Ilya Ostrovskiy, Protocol Engineer
Polyglot programmer and DevOps plumber. Former VM lead at BlockApps.
Additionally, they have 5 engineers as outsourced workers
Alyssa Wright, OpenStreetMap Consultant and Advisor
Geospatial technologist, strategist & entrepreneur focused on the intersection of open innovation, community, and collaboration. Started at beginning of OpenStreetMap, OpenGeo, Open Transport Partnership and Mapzen.
Matt Liston, Special Advisor
Founding member and ambassador of Gnosis, Augur cofounder.
1. Ethereum Enterprise Alliance
- Trusted IoT Alliance — open source software foundation to support the creation of a secure, scalable, interoperable, and trusted IoT ecosystem (blockchain members: Consensys, Ledger, Vechain, Iota and many others; enterprises: Cisco, Bosch, UBS and many others)
- OGC is an international not for profit organization committed to making quality open standards for the global geospatial community (a lot of companies are members http://www.opengeospatial.org/ogc/members )
- Perkins Coie — law firm
- New Lan — NYC startup accelerator
- Navel, TF, Mobi
Summary & investment opportunity
The idea of the project is cool, but in the same time is too global and long-term. To build decentralized and trusted map, without relying on third-party like GPS, is very responsible step in navigation and location-based services development. The technology is described informative with the precise understanding how network participants are operating. Proof of location, its native consensus mechanism, described in detail in both common and technical WPs.
But there is the question about necessity and mass adoption of such project. They are trying to rebuild Google Maps and GPS they thus in WP, but in telegram group they said the were not trying to compete with GPS as a real-time location service.
The team is sufficiently strong, has experience in blockchain development and at geospatial markets. Also, they have very strong partnerships including blockchain, IoT, geospatial, software development and law companies.
They are open-sourced and have active github. Also, they have beta of their SIV, that enables to explore smart contracts on a map. The token sale is scheduled on Q2. There is no information about token sale structure and distribution.
Projects with such properties have a good market performance in a short-term, probably it is worth to invest, but before it’s necessary to analyze the token metrics which are absent.
For middle- and long-term investment it is very doubtful, because token mostly increases in value if its project develops internal blockchain infrastructure. Projects that are targeting on real business and common not crypto users are not so relevant as the projects mentioned above. Anyway, it’s necessary to wait token metrics info to make a final decision.