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A Decentralized Wireless Network for the Internet of Things.
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Helium is a peer-to-peer wireless network that aims to provide a secure and cost-effective way for low-power Internet of Things (IoT) devices to interact with the internet.
Using Hotspots and other devices for sending and receiving data transmitted from sensors and IoT devices, miners can earn Helium tokens (HNT) by proving they are creating wireless networks in Proof of Coverage Challenges.
Proof of Coverage is a type of Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm that uses radio waves to validate that Hotspots are providing legitimate wireless coverage.
HNT tokens are consumed for the generation of Data Credits, which are used for data transmission and token transaction fees.
The Helium network runs on a blockchain infrastructure with a consensus protocol based on the HoneyBadgerBFT.
1. What is Helium (HNT)?
Helium is a peer-to-peer wireless network that aims to provide a secure and cost-effective way for low-power IoT devices to interact with the internet. The Helium network runs on a blockchain infrastructure with a consensus protocol built based on the HoneyBadgerBFT, and has the following features:
Helium Hotspot: A low-cost hardware device that serves both as a miner and a wireless access point for the Helium blockchain.
Proof of Coverage: A mining mechanism that uses radio waves to verify network coverage.
LongFi: Combines the Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) wireless protocol with Helium blockchain so any LoRaWAN device can transfer data over the network.
Built and distributed by Helium, the Helium Hotspot is a LoRaWAN wireless router. Similar to other LoRaWAN-compatible devices in the network, the Helium Hotspot creates a long-range wireless network for routing packets to and from Helium-enabled devices and performs ongoing mining duties to secure the Helium Network. A map of all existing Helium Hotspots can be found here.
2.2 Helium Console
The Helium Console is a web-based device management tool that allows developers to register, authenticate, and manage their devices on the Helium network. In addition to device management, the Helium Console provides prebuilt connections to route device data via HTTPs or MQTT.
Device management features of the Helium Console includes:
Organization structuring with labels and user-level permissions.
Device ID registration, secure onboarding and authentication.
Utilization of Data Credits in the Helium network.
LongFi combines the LoRaWAN wireless protocol with the Helium blockchain so any LoRaWAN device can transfer data in the Helium Network. LongFi has the following features:
Easy device onboarding: LongFi allows a company to onboard as many devices as needed without additional configurations or third-party assistance.
Device roaming: Onboarded devices are mapped with IDs which are stored on the blockchain, and can send data in the network via any Hotspot.
Earning HNT tokens: LongFi allows device owners to earn HNT tokens when their devices transfer data through the network.
LoRaWAN support: Any LoRaWAN device or sensor can transfer data in the Helium network with minimal configuration required.
2.4 Helium Tabs
Helium Tabs are location trackers connected to the Helium network. Helium Tabs can track things like dogs, luggage, keys, and other assets within the coverage of the Helium network.
3. Technical infrastructure
3.1 Proof of Coverage
Proof of Coverage (PoC) is a type of Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm that uses radio waves to validate that the Hotspots are providing usable wireless coverage.
Helium Hotspots on the Network are constantly being tested by the PoC Challenge, which requires routers to prove the quality of their wireless coverage by decrypting and transmitting LongFi packets over the Helium network.
As Helium Hotspots participate in PoC Challenges, they earn HNT for submitting valid coverage proofs, as well as witnessing other Challenges as they happen.
3.2 The Helium Consensus Protocol
A new Consensus Group (CG) consisting of 16 members is elected once per epoch. All active Helium Hotspots in the Helium network are eligible to be elected to a CG. A Hotspot is more likely to be elected if it performs well in the PoC Challenge.
In each election, 4 new CG members will be elected. The other 12 members are from the previous CG election.
Once elected, a Hotspot can participate in up to 4 consecutive CGs.
Poorly performing CG members are likely to be removed from the CG before the 4 epoch limit is reached.
Following the election of a new CG, a Threshold Encryption Key (TPKE) is generated. The TPKE allows any Hotspot in the network to encrypt transactions to a master Public Key (PK) such that the CG must work together to decrypt it. The TPKE is used to make the network censorship-resistent, as it becomes difficult for members of the CG to arbitrarily ignore or delay certain transactions.
Mining rewards are distributed at the end of each epoch. Current network setting regarding reward distribution can be found here.
4. Token sales and economics
4.1 HNT token supply distribution (%)
The HNT token is generated from mining rewards of Helium's network consensus mechanism. Approximately 5,000,000 new HNT is generated per month, with no cap on the maximum supply of HNT. The mining rewards in HNT are distributed as follows:
4.2 Token sale info
There was no token sale conducted for the HNT token. However, Helium Security Tokens (HST) have been sold to investors from 2014 to 2020, from which the Helium team raised a total of 55.00MM USD. Holders of HST are eligible to receive 34.00% of all mining rewards (Helium Inc. investors receive 21.50% of all mining rewards, with the rest distributed to the project team).
4.3 HNT token overview and use cases
The HNT token has the following use cases:
Mining rewards: Hotspots earn HNT for building and securing network infrastructure and transferring device data.
Payment for network services: The HNT token can be consumed to generate Data Credits, which are responsible for paying network services.
Before Data Credits were officially launched in August 2020, the Helium Hotspots did not charge fees for network services.
5. Project team
Below shows a list of Helium's executive team members:
CEO & Co-Founder
Former CEO at Diversion, Director at Global Gaming League, Lead Game Designer at EA Digital Illusions.
Founder of Imajine, former Senior Principal Engineer at Yahoo!, Senior Director at Product Tech at Qualcomm.
Advisor at HackerOne, former Senior Product VP at Palo Alto Networks, VP and General Partner at HP Security.
According to the Helium management team, the launch of Helium Hotspot pre-orders was delayed due to difficulty in hardware manufacturing.
6.2 Updated roadmap
Release of Miner Pro to allow any LoRaWAN gateway to participate in the Helium network.
Release of Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure integration.
Release of libp2p implementation improvements including switching to the Kademlia Distributed Hash Table.
Release of updates to the Proof of Coverage algorithm, including level based staking for consensus.
Integration with other wireless technologies including WiFi 6 and LTE/5G.
6.3 Commercial partnerships and business development progress
Nestle ReadyRefresh: ReadyRefresh by Nestle is a customizable beverage delivery service, and was one of the first customers to test the Helium network for water tracking in Connecticut.
Agulus: Agulus provides tools for automated agriculture. Agulus uses Helium’s network to automate water distribution based on wireless sensors connecting to the Helium Hotspots.
Lime: Lime offers bike and scooter sharing services across the globe. Lime uses the Helium network to find lost bikes and scooters.
Conserv: Conserv offers wireless monitoring for art collections in private and public museums; Conserv technology connects to the Helium network to provide information about artwork.
Careband: Careband offers consumers wireless wristbands to monitor location and temperature of individuals working in hospital or office environments to help tracking contacts releted to COVID-19. Careband is using the Helium network for tracking the locations of wristbands.
BCycle: BCycle offers bike sharing services in the USA. BCycle is using the Helium network for bike tracking.
7. Helium's activity and community overview
7.1 Social activity
The Helium team currently focuses its community development strategy in North America, Europe, and China, and will expand to other regions as the project grows.
Current community growth strategies of Helium include:
Conducting the Helium Patron program to reward community members who deploy more than 15 Hotspots.
Conducting the Helium Developer Insider program to educate IoT developers in using the Helium platform.
Hosting Helium Hacks, a weekly community video chat session.
Conducting online and local meetups.
Constantly engaging with the public on social media channels.
Future community growth strategies of Helium include:
Providing blockchain and IoT focused podcasts, videos, and blogs with industry experts and thought leaders.
Supporting the community with sponsorships, grants, and partnerships for building applications on the Helium network.
Community and social channels (data as of September 24th 2020)