SmartMesh Blockchain: A global network without the Internet – a discussion with the founder Henry Wang

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SmartMesh Blockchain

I visited SmartMesh Blockchain in Beijing to talk to the team team around internet protocol scientist Henry Wang, founder and CEO of SmartMesh foundation in December 2017. Henry has been working on offline communication technology since the year 2013. He launched the p2p social app YueNi (约你) an offline social networking app similar to Firechat. We (joint work with Julian Hoelz) wanted to learn from the team why they think that the internet needs to be augmented with a pure P2P, mesh-organized network.

Let’s start with the basics. Why do we need a new internet?

SmartMesh: We believe that if the internet was conceived today, it would have been a P2P network that connects smartphones and it would be much safer, cheaper, and faster compared to what we have today. With the current penetration of smartphones, i.e., 2.3 bn smartphone users as of today and a smartphone penetration rate of about 60% in 2022 [4], there is a real opportunity for a mesh network that transfers data and value from one phone to another – without relying on the internet as a central coordinating backbone. This is the type of network we are going to create with SmartMesh.

That is interesting can you tell us a bit about the underlying technology of the SmartMesh Blockchain?

SmartMesh: Sure. It all starts with the multi-year research from our Senior Research Scientist Paul on ad-hoc networks. Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen is a senior lecturer at Flinders university and worked on robust mesh networks to provide connectivity to people which are living in parts of the planet where there is no cellular coverage at all. Another use case are regions with frequent connectivity outages caused by a natural disaster, e.g. earthquakes. His papers give a good scientific introduction to the protocol, but one of the key design decisions was to build an own network layer and thus be independent of IPv4 or IPv6 used in the internet today. The developed mesh technology has already been deployed at Efate, a pacific island located east of Brisbane, Australia. In this case, the technology was able to provide connectivity to people that normally did not have access to a cellular network. Even if internet access is present, smart mesh technology offers a resilient, decentralized, and self-healing way to communicate with higher near-field communication speed and bandwidth than provided by the internet today.

Why is that important for the advancement of Blockchain technology?

SmartMesh: We believe that our technology is important as an underlying enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT), one of the major use cases for blockchain technology. Billions of things in the IoT will need to communicate in locations where access to the internet is not available or too costly to install a gateway. Also energy consumption is important for these kind of devices especially if they are deployed outdoor and rely on battery power. Together with our SmartMesh Blockchain token we are going to couple connectivity with a means to perform payments without the need for the internet to be present. The mesh network we envision is such that people that are willing to share their own mobile phone as nodes in the global mesh network are rewarded in crypto tokens. In order to make this P2P micro-payment possible we need to overcome the current limitations of blockchain technology. We are planning to build on concepts similar as the Lightning network and the Raiden Network. For example, someone with internet access can resell to others who need it.

Are there any other interesting projects that your team is working on we should know about?

SmartMesh: Yes actually there is. We have a new team that is backed by SmartMesh, called MeshBox that is working on a hardware device. MeshBox is not only a router where nodes can connect but also serves as a content server to store and transfer content. We are confident that MeshBox will support a superior access for nodes in the Smart Mesh.

Thank you so much for your time!

More information about SmartMesh Blockchain: More information about SmartMesh on their website: https://smartmesh.io, Code geeks can check out the source code at https://github.com/SmartMeshFoundation. For the scientists: The rationale behind the Serval network layer for resilient communications by Paul Gardner-Stephen, Andrew Bettison, Romana Challans and Jeremy Lakeman, Journal of computer science http://thescipub.com/PDF/jcssp.2013.1680.1685.pdf 

Image result for smartmesh henry wang

If you are interested to learn more about the Chinese Blockchain ecosystem, check out the report: State of the Chinese Blockchain Ecosystem 

About the Author

Dr. Thomas Reinbacher is a computer scientist and management consultant and works as independent adviser in Munich and Beijing. If you want to work with me please find me on http://dr-reinbacher.com/


Discussion led by Dr. Thomas Reinbacher and Julian Hoelz © Dr. Thomas Reinbacher. Disclaimer: All information presented herein is given strictly on a non-reliance basis and under the exclusion of any responsibility or liability, in particular with regard to loss or damages and/or administrative and regulatory sanctions