Initially coming into this hackathon, we were a group of curious-minded high school students, wanting to learn new concepts on blockchain and cryptocurrency. We researched impactful and practical applications of blockchain for solving real-world problems. It turns out that messaging applications, which are daily-used novelties, face major privacy issues. Think of messaging platforms like Facebook. Their centralized systems face criticism for their data mining processes. Therefore, corporations with this much power will lose trust and a decentralized system is much more secure. This led to the birth of Blocktalk.
What it does
Blocktalk is a web messaging application that encrypts messages using IPFS and stores their hashes on the blockchain. The message later becomes decrypted when it gets received and this information is shared to the frontend through JSON. You sign in to the application with a Fortmatic account and are able to message other Fortmatic account users.
How we built it
As mentioned above, we used Fortmatic to implement a login system for our application, which creates an email for the user to receive messages from and send to other Fortmatic accounts. Our frontend is made with React and requests are sent to the frontend through JSON files.
Challenges we ran into
Our lack of experience with smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain in general was our largest problem. We had to quickly learn the basics of these concepts before commencing our project. Additionally, we took a long time to understand the documentation of various Ethereum-related APIs. During our hacking period, we had to scrap the usage of some APIs, such as NuCypher, due to time constraints.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our biggest accomplishment is how much we learned about Ethereum and Solidity in such a short time span. Specifically, we learned how to use smart contracts, interact with smart contracts using Web3.js, and the other concepts/functions behind Ethereum, such as the Fortmatic API that we included in our project.
What we learned
Similarly to our accomplishments, we learned the value and applications of Ethereum. Blockchain is a great way to create secure and practical applications and can be applied to numerous problems. Finally, we have learned that the sheer potential of Ethereum and blockchain has only begun, and we are likely experiencing the beginning of the next major step of the Internet’s development.
What's next for Blocktalk
For future development of Blocktalk, we would like to make our project available as a mobile app, since online communication is mainly done through phones. In addition, we would like to improve our app’s functionality by turning it into a social media platform - you would be able to also send encrypted images to others.