Incentives are everything.

In 2008, a man discovered he could use peanuts to create incentives for crows to bring him coins.

The blockchain has created new opportunities to incentivize human behavior. It is fairly simple to set up a smart contract that enables peer to peer interactions without a trusted authority.

We’re just beginning to witness how this creates new incentives for people.

The FOAM protocol allows for the creation of Crypto Spatial Coordinates. Crypto Spatial Coordinates (CSC) create new incentives by tying a location to a smart contract on the ethereum blockchain. CSCs could be viewed in a map application on a smart phone, or listed alongside a phone number and email address of a business.

One of the most interesting ways to discover a CSC will be through the rising Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

Fun Games, Real Problems

AR has been a hot trend in tech lately. My first experience with it was a simple RPG on Android that used my GPS coordinates to determine enemy spawns and loot. It was basic, but a forerunner of the mega hit Pokemon Go!

Pokemon Go gave the general population a peek into what AR can do to enhance our environment. The world became new again as familiar places were suddenly populated with rare, collectible Pokemon, and a lot of people made new friends and discovered the joy of walking and the outdoors.

While Pokemon Go has been a major hit, it’s not without its flaws: some of which bled over into other applications.

pokemon map.png
Pokemon Go spawn points as a layer in OSM
OpenSourceMaps (OSM), the crowdsourced application for mapping the world, was suspected by users of being the source of geo-spatial data for the Pokemon Go app. Water Pokemon such as Magikarp were found near lakes and rivers, and so on. Pokemon Go players soon realized that they could change spawns by changing OSM markers, causing chaos and consternation among OSM enthusiasts…including

CSCs could provide a crowdsourced OSM-like solution that incentivizes honest reporting and punishes dishonest reporters.[1]

AR is still in its infancy, but it will grow considerably as the technology catches up. Qualcomm is working on next gen chips that will support AR, Apple just released ARKit for iOS 11, and Google Glass has been developing use cases for technical workers[2].

Huxley, showing off their awesome AR interface for greenhouses
AR has even inspired urban farming focused startups such as Huxley. Huxley uses AR to grow better crops, and has just signed a partnership with FOAM to be their blockchain partner-details to follow in future articles.

CSCs and Augmented Reality

FOAM fits easily with AR, as CSCs can add their coordinates to OSM powered apps and alert users when one is nearby. A user can point their cell phone’s camera to view the CSC, which might include what tokens it holds, how to interact with it, etc. In fact, CSC enthusiasts could create some very good AR based tutorials on how to use a CSC in the same way YouTube videos help people learn about bitcoin or ethereum.

As more companies race to create a consumer grade AR glasses experience, users may wear a Google Glass type product that allows them to see the meta space layered over the physical world. The meta space could display icons representing smart contracts, hyperlinks to games, information, and more.

A CSC creates an additional requirement for a contract to execute: presence. Currently, ethereum contracts require a few things:

Internet Connection
Own tokens
A peer or counterparty with which to transact
CSC’s add another “AND” to this:

Physical presence
Physical presence is where so much of the power of FOAM lies, and AR is going to be one of the major ways to simplify interactions with a CSC and open their use to the broader, non crypto population.

Use Cases

The uses here range from novelty to philanthropic.

Games will likely be the first major industry to incorporate AR and physical locations, as we’ve seen with Pokemon Go!’s success. CSCs can be used to gamify space and create incentives for people to go certain places. One could organize a treasure hunt for real gold by creating CSCs with riddles built in that require a person to go from place to place and “check in” to receive the clue to the next CSC, with DGX gold tokens deposited from a CSC into the treasure hunter’s wallet at the end! This could be funded through advertising-using AR-by stores and local businesses to increase foot traffic.

Stores with owners trying to bring in new business might create a CSC that holds cryptocurrency, offering new patrons a minute amount for visiting. CSCs could be created that hold the Basic Attention Token (BAT), that pay pedestrians to watch a short advertisement embedded in the CSC. The advertisement would take place in the meta space, viewable only by those using AR.

Similarly, a store owner may know enough about AR and cryptocurrency that they want to create an engaging advertisement, but need outside help in designing it. A CSC could be created that requests design ideas that best integrate the physical space with the meta space, offering a prize (monetary or otherwise) for the best submitted design.

Farmers using Huxley’s AR tech may find ways to use a CSC to incentivize harvesting of crops by customers. Imagine walking through a greenhouse and pulling up your phone, pointing at an apple, and picking it, with your phone automatically charging you via the nearby CSC for your purchase.

How about an AR based art festival where each artist sets up their work in the meta space and a corresponding CSC. Festival goers could be given voting tokens to deposit into their favorite works. They could also bid on works using cryptocurrency, depositing their tokens into a CSC which would automatically return all but the winning bid. The voting could even be automated if it simply used data points reflecting where the most people stood the longest, or which displays were viewed the most.

Depending on the level of integration of AR in our lives, billboards could become a relic. Instead, CSCs could be set up along freeways with AR displays that might pay a small amount of BAT, or vend collectible tokens (“You’ve Unlocked Route 66” Achievement!) for children. There could also be educational CSCs that open short videos about the area. Imagine how much more fun a drive could be if there was AR pointing at various parts of the scenery and explaining the history behind it!

Augmented Reality can make the world a more magical place, with creatures to be found everywhere in the meta space…they just need to be created, as Apple’s ARKit now allows. CSCs can create incentives for artists to do this. Imagine I want my neighborhood park to be populated by unicorns for my daughter’s birthday. I set up a CSC in it requesting this, with a cash prize to the best design. After one week of submissions, I could call a function in the CSC sending money to the best designer. Because the smart contract is smart, it could also be set to automatically split up the prize money to every contestant if I forget, removing the risk of me taking the design without paying.[3]

It took something as simple as peanuts for a man to incentivize crows to bring him coins or clean up trash on a beach. How much more powerful will FOAM be?

What’s Next

If you haven’t already done so, head on over to the FOAM website and subscribe to their newsletter. You’ll be the first to hear about what is happening next, as well as important dates, when they are made public.

*This article is the third in a series of active collaboration between the team and me. My voice and opinions remain independent.

  1. See Augur’s Reputation tokens for more information on how Oracles can report real world events into the blockchain
  2. For a quick look at what you can do with your iOS 11 powered iPhone, check out this video. I’ll cover ARKit in greater detail in a future article.
  3. Some extra fun videos also using the ARKit can be found here on twitter.