Identity Blockchain Proof of Concept

#cambridge, #blockchain, #identity

As we approach the holiday stretch getting to see family and friends is always great to catch up. Often conversations lead to a project worked on towards the end of the year at Cambridge Blockchain and when the details are revealed I see the light in their eyes keep on shining. Everyone is intrigued by online identity, they flood the conversation with facts stating how safe and secure transacting online is flawed, or how the currencies are changing rapidly and discuss trends about the latest tech gear they’re buying for their loved ones. Now seems like a perfect time to elaborate on what’s been going on in late 2015 and where we hope to sprint to in 2016.

Without further ado, here is what the future could look like for your online life.


Figure 1- Wire frame design for prototype

Let’s quickly explain what we’re looking at. To get the ball rolling, we’re assuming you have received a brand new smartwatch along with a home TV that is permanent to your residence. These two new devices, along with your smartphone allow you to secure everything about your identity: medical records, employment information, banking, financing, you name it, it’s all stored securely with your Personal Data Service (PDS). How do we ensure no one else can control your data? We will use emerging technologies like heart rate frequency spectrum analysis, near field communication (NFC) and GPS to uniquely identify you. One plus here is that the technology is not tied to one service provider or device manufacturer, but of course we are planning to integrate with all the big players.

Rumors are popping up that there is growth of new technology taking place on the Charles side of Cambridge. A new biological proof of identity may become as reliable as DNA and we want to integrate it into your smartwatch to ensure security of your PDS. Projects like this and ID3 at MIT prove to be huge resources to make this all possible. Personal Data Services aren't a new concept, and luckily the team at MIT led by John Clippinger has made valuable progress towards its conception. The open mustard seed project is an amazing effort aiming to adapt to the vulnerabilities of the current online age. You can see more about the MIT project here ID3.

Okay, you’re probably asking where the blockchain comes into play with all of this? The blockchain is the foundation, it wouldn’t make sense to build any of this on top of a system that was vulnerable to attacks. We are taking an unconventional approach here; the blockchain is cryptographically proven via mining, transactions are trusted through a network consensus. It serves a major purpose regarding the PDS and it’s to prove your identity once and for all. A governing authority and the identity owner will transact and this transaction is stored in the blockchain, serving as proof to others. Here’s a sketch of how an in-person ID-Proof with your bank might work on the back-end.


Figure 2- The secure data transfer protocol. #idbc represents a hashing mechanism developed by Alex Oberhauser.

Once the initial identity proof is accepted, your data is available to you and only you through your PDS. Now the identity blockchain is likely to not be the only blockchain you will be transacting with in the future. The recent strides in blockchain technology from companies such as Ethereum and Ripple are expected to grow and spread across the online marketplace. What it means is life just became a whole lot easier; transactions become friction-less, identity proofing becomes seamless and you find yourself with more time on your hands. A marketplace for pre-approved smart contracts is one goal and among many others we hope to see emerge in the new year.

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