This project was born out of a desire to combine two of my favorite things: space and blockchain technologies. After arriving to the hackathon without a project or a team I spoke with someone from the Celo Foundation who convinced me that not only was my idea for a Satellite Oracle Network not far fetched but the perfect way to issue they had foreseen with the Celo Reserve. More specifically, the Celo Reserve currently has 0.17% of their $556 Million treasury, in Carbon Backed Assets with the aim to increase said figure to a whopping 40%. The problem lies in the fact that there doesn't exist a very decentralized way of validating any type of carbon credit let alone a tokenized version. With Iris, you could measure the vegetation present in a plot of land and use the decentralized oracle network to decide how many carbon assets to issue based on the networks findings.
What it does
The Iris Orbital Oracle Network is a set of smart contracts, satellite based oracle nodes and tamper-resistant database that allows DApp builders to collect data from space to use in any number of financial applications.
The smart contract portion of the network interacts with other smart contracts by accepting queries. The queries are comprised of: coordinates for the area to be scanned by a satellite, how long the satellite will check that spot on a daily basis and the radius of the land to be surveyed. We are assuming the area to be checked is radial for the purposes of the demo contract.
There currently exist several commercial services provided by governmental organizations (like NASA and ESA) as well as private entities such as Planet Labs that provide high-resolution satellite imagery. For the purposes of the hackathon and the demo we would use these services to act as the orbiting oracles and query them ourselves on behalf of the dApp interfacing with our smart contract. Ideally however the actual oracle nodes would have a way of cryptographically verifying the data they're sending back to us, and therefore the dApp, would be valid. This would further improve the decentralization and resilience of the network.
On a daily basis, the satellites would send back imagery on the plot of land specified by the interfacing dApp to an admittedly centralized database. The database would serve as a place to receive the raw imagery data as well as a place for said data to be hashed. From there the hash would be sent back to an Iris smart contract and be published to the chain. Again, for the purposes of this demo the server is run by us and therefore centralized but we would ideally have the storage of the raw data to be done off-chain in a decentralized database and the computation of the hash be done in a cryptographically verifiable way to prove the data hasn't been tampered with on any part of the pipeline.
How we built it
For the hackathon I put together a simple set of smart contracts that mimic an application that would use the Iris Oracle Network.
Challenges we ran into
At first I didn't think I could do anything with this idea of mine for a hackathon since the scope of it was so large but after talking to some people (shoutout to Alex Witt) they convinced me to put my idea forward. Another challenge I faced was not having a team of people to flesh out more of the technical side of things. It would have been nice to have team of fellow hackathon attendees to put together
Accomplishments that we're proud of
I am proud that I was able to quickly research most aspects of my idea to realize that it is entirely feasible to build a centralized version of Iris but that is more decentralized than the solutions that exist today.
What we learned
I learned that this technology is easily within reach and the process of moving towards a more decentralized way of providing real-world data to smart contracts using satellites. I also learned a lot about Celo as a project and as a protocol. The Celo reserve carbon-credit dilemma serves as a good test use cases for using orbiting oracle data and has allowed me to think about how Iris might help projects like it in a more concrete way.
What's next for Iris: Orbital Oracle Network
The largest obvious step is to flesh out more of the intricite details of the more centralized version of Iris that I illustrated for the purposes of this hackathon. Given that the technology exists, it is entirely feasible to build a rudimentary implementation of Iris using commercial satellite services. From there the next steps would be further decentralize the different components of the network as I outlined above. A community would also be required to build applications that would make the data useful since Iris is just an oracle network. I hope that Iris can act as the data/oracle backbone of a new generations of DeFi applications that bring new financial services to people without access to traditional ones and eventually replace said traditional ones in order to create a more open financial space for all.
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