FogNet Update # 1

The full article was originally published by Daniel De Michele on IOTA Hispano. Read the full article here.

Since we won the IOTA Flash Channel competition a couple of months ago, we have had many people who have asked us how to become involved or simply expressing their enthusiasm for the project. This feedback has really validated our belief that a decentralized alternative network is valuable to society. Yesterday we had a great time sharing our work in a Meetup here in Seattle. Here is an update of some things we have been working on:

Guiding principles 

There are a lot of options that one has to make in the design and architecture of any new system. We are designing Fognet from scratch following a set of principles that we believe will make Fognet relevant and usable technology for people around the world.

  • Light. Creating a system with low bandwidth and low power consumption is our main objective. Our vision of Fognet is to empower communities that do not yet have access to wireless infrastructure, such as rural villages or inner-city neighborhoods. To this end, our goal is to feed the Fognet routers from the battery or solar energy, preparing the system for deployment in low-resource environments.
  • Open source Fognet is based on a wide variety of open source technologies, from Arduino to React to our Bluetooth stack. We will also keep much of the open source Fognet stack. If you are a front-end developer that wants to start working with IOTA, check out our open source component react-iota.
  • Accessible. Fognet must be accessible by anyone, without the requirement of owning any special hardware. The IOTA micro transactions can help Fognet to be an open network that only requires a small number of IOTA tokens to start. In addition, our work on the Fognet application generator interface will help create a dynamic ecosystem of Fognet applications in which anyone can participate, without needing to know how to code.

New Page:

Fognet’s new homepage tells the history of technology and the principles behind it. This website is the first step in creating a community of mesh network developers, manufacturers, designers and enthusiasts to help Fognet be ready for production implementations. If you like to do things and are interested in getting involved with Fognet, do not hesitate to contact us through the form on the website!

Hardware development

After much experimentation with Bluetooth Mesh, we have realized that the technology is not scalable enough for Fognet. Under the hood, Bluetooth Mesh uses a “flood” protocol where messages are passed to all connected nodes, and ignored if they are not destined for any particular node. Routing is implemented as a second layer at the top of the central mesh. Although Bluetooth Mesh is 100% decentralized and very rugged, it simply requires too much bandwidth to be practical in a data transmission scenario.

We are committed to creating a light, low-energy system, so that nodes can operate on battery or solar power. To that end, we’ve been exploring another mesh network protocol called OpenThread, which was originally created by Nest Labs, and is now completely open source. OpenThread uses a lightweight implementation of IPv6, so routing is integrated into the protocol. The Thread specification also includes a well-defined role for “Border Routers”, which can serve as gateways to a local Fognet on the regular Internet.

We are still using Bluetooth Low Energy as a means to interact with Fognet from a client device. We are happy to see that our favorite Bluetooth chip manufacturer, Nordic Semiconductor, recently released an updated version of the chip we used in the first prototype of the Fognet router. The chip (nRF52840) can execute BLE and OpenThread simultaneously, which is perfect for our use case. Our current version of the Fognet router prototype is using this chip, along with the Tessel 2 development board (because we love Node.js).


The performance of protocol data such as Bluetooth and OpenThread is obviously much lower than WiFi. It is possible that Fognet will never be so efficient for certain use cases (such as Netflix), but our intention is not to replace the entire Internet infrastructure. As mentioned above, our main objective is to create a light network that can be implemented in low-resource areas. The most essential functions of the Internet, such as messaging, the publication of information and the discovery of educational resources, do not always take up much bandwidth. Most of the data recovered when loading a page (like Wikipedia, for example) is not the content of the actual page, but the HTML, CSS and Javascript that represents the page in your browser. Much of this code (such as frames, fonts, CSS libraries, etc.)

We plan to cut much of this use of bandwidth by creating a web development system where the code lives locally on the Fognet router, and is represented for your client device through a set of configuration instructions. These instructions will be generated by a Fognet application generator interface, where anyone can create a unique design, theme and style for their Fognet application. Fognet applications will have a wide variety of available components, including IOTA micro-payment wallets and windows, so that anyone can participate in the decentralized economy that Fognet will allow.


The biggest challenge facing Fognet is adoption. It does not make sense to configure a Fognet router if it is the only one in your neighborhood that does it. Our solution to this problem is to find a way to make Fognet applications interoperable with the Internet. We have been developing some concepts using the IOTA module of Masked Authenticated Messaging, which enables many of the same functions that Fognet will make possible. The data published in a flow of masked messages can be encrypted and shared only with the people you choose to give access to. This allows data privacy, secure permits and, of course, decentralized markets. The first iteration of the Fognet platform will be compatible with a Fognet mesh, where the content is served from local routers,

Although the main implementation of Fognet is our first priority, we will also work on applications that can work immediately in the entanglement, and that run one day in the Fognet. We are very excited about the use cases that allow anyone to sell their creative works online, be it music, writing, digital art or educational content. The dynamism and energy that already exists in creative communities around the world is not reflected in the current generation of applications and websites for creators, and we hope to build new ways to connect people with Fognet.


Read the full Article

The full article was originally published by Daniel De Michele on IOTA Hispano, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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