November 18, 2020
Use Cases for an Ethereum Execution Layer (Part 2 of 2) Collectibles / Content Streaming / Data Custody
This post continues the set of use cases that was first outlined in Part 1 of this two-part series. The combined set highlights a number of interesting projects that we believe are likely to have immediate benefits and gain wide mainstream visibility.
The SKALE Network in combination with the Ethereum mainnet will usher in much greater throughput, faster commit times, and lower gas fees while still maintaining the security provisions and assurances found in the Ethereum mainnet.
Use Case #4 - Collectible Games
Collectible card games are a natural use case for blockchain technology. In the physical world, Collectible cards have value because of their limited supply in the gamespace. Moving cards into a digital form and tokenizing them a public mainnet not only preserves (and offers validation of) this scarcity, the digitization and tokenization also allows for accumulation of new powers and new capabilities. Tokenized cards are also more visible and tradable given their existence in a readily searchable decentralized ledger. These attributes all make blockchain-based card games extremely attractive.
We find that the games that approach us and see immediate value are those trying to tokenize gaming assets or working on innovative collectible gaming card concepts. They see the advantages of universal token standards and transparent smart contracts within Ethereum along with the benefits of a scalable Ethereum-based execution layer.
– Christine Perry, VP, Global Solutions Engineering, SKALE Labs
One developer using the SKALE Network is building an Ethereum-based angel battle game. In their game, cards are able to gain new attributes such as adding new armor, gaining new offensive capabilities, or obtaining new strategic powers. These added strengths make the card more valuable to others and are reflected and maintained via the token.
Tokenization has its downsides, though, in that if every transaction has to hit the mainnet, long commit times and a continual stream of transaction fees will bring the game play to a crawl and make the game uneconomical to operate. The use of a scalable execution layer, however, reduces both transaction latency and gas fees. By using the SKALE Network, Dapps can get to sub-second transaction times and seamless game play all the while maintaining the security and transparency along with the other advantages that an EVM-compatible ledger can provide.
As with other use cases, SKALE’s interchain messaging factors in here as well because it allows for safe and secure transfer of the cards from the mainnet to the SKALE Network. By locking the tokens on the Ethereum mainnet and creating clones within the SKALE Network, token owners can put their cards into battle, trade then, gift them, sell them, and perform any other permitted game operation without losing custody. These actions are able to move much faster, and cost far less on SKALE, than if they were done on the Ethereum mainnet.
At any point in the game play, users can decide to update the state of their tokens on the Ethereum mainnet. Examples of events that might warrant leaving Layer 2 include an asset being traded to another owner, posting the results of game outcomes, people winning battles or adding an accessory or capability to a card. Still other mainnet-worthy events might include new card creation – by automated action or a community vote – or the breeding of new cards. Note that the SKALE Network has a build-in capability that necessitates that token owners approve any actions that cause a token to exit the network. This guard on finality prevents transactions from being spoofed or fabricated.
Requirements List: Games
Use Case #5 - Content Streaming
Streaming media is another great blockchain use case and one that readily shows why blockchain matters. The reason it fits so well has to do with the growing loss in faith in centralized solutions for current audio and video streaming networks. This distrust can be traced to favoritism and payout manipulation on the part of the streaming providers along with increasing examples of censorship by countries, institutions, and the providers alike.
A decentralized solution eliminates many of these issues in that smart contracts serve as transparent mechanisms for recording playback events and making payouts. The fact that no one entity owns the protocol only adds to censorship resistance. A decentralized solution also removes the streaming provider from the transaction, translating into lower subscription fees and greater payouts to content owners.
The use of an Ethereum-based execution layer can make a big difference in the performance of a decentralized streaming app. Because of the potential user growth in this space, streaming apps pretty much need to be built to scale right from the start. Up to one thousand transactions per second and sub-second commit times on a single SKALE chain fortunately addresses a number of these throughput concerns.
– Christine Perry, VP, Global Solutions Engineering, SKALE Labs
One of the teams building on the SKALE Network is making music accessible on a global scale, taking advantage of the censorship-resistant nature of blockchain to circumvent restrictions on certain genres or styles. Just as with a centralized solution, listeners can play songs, add them to playlists, share them, like them, follow artists, and more. Artists are able to create their own pages, upload their music, and get paid directly from the people that play their music – all managed on the Ethereum Network and within elastic SKALE chains.
While the actions and events of this app might appear to be relatively straight-forward – choose a song, play the music, pay the artist – they make for quite a complex architecture. The use of multiple sidechains can address these issues by helping to separate the logical functions of the application. The main playback service can be separated from the streaming payout calculations which can be separated from the social interaction components – all by using separate chains.
Each chain can be tailored with the right size, storage, and performance characteristics to meet the needs of that particular microservice. Media playback can be handled by a certain chain configuration, while social events can be addressed via another type of config. Some features may need faster or more secure validation; other events might be less critical and so transaction finalization times can be longer. Storage is also a consideration and one that can be optimized within each chain to meet the needs of that particular function.
Another advantage of using multiple sidechains is the improvement in development agility. By modularizing efforts into subteams working on separate sidechains, teams can largely work independent of each other. In situations where workflows overlap, SKALE’s interchain messaging can be used to seamlessly move events across chains and to and from the Ethereum mainnet. The development of this type of app in this manner begins to look like a set of microservices although in this case, it is done using a decentralized security and execution layer.
Requirements List: Streaming Media
Use Case #6 - Data Custody and Privacy
Data custody and privacy is not necessarily an application by itself but more a fundamental service for use by decentralized apps. Decentralized/trustless processing along with decentralized data custody are key differentiators from centralized computing. One of the common reframes from blockchain critics is that blockchains are just glorified databases. While the data that is resident on L1 chains themselves might be limited and unexceptional, the process to get there and the features offered in pursuit of the stored results are much more complex and necessitates added measures in order to protect data security and data privacy.
Trustless computing translates into much higher fidelity of computing results (regardless of where the end results are stored) along with much higher censorship resistance. The example above with streaming media should make the benefits clear. A trustless streaming media service reduces claims of favoritism and heavy-handedness in recording plays and calculating royalty payouts. A similar epiphany is available when one looks at how Web3 can address data custody and privacy.
The movement towards self-sovereign identity and data ownership should not be surprising to anyone in the digital identity or data protection space. GDPR has done much to shift the way companies and people look at personal data along with derivatives of that data. These derivatives can include attention data, interests, habits, preferences, recommendations, and other higher order data that is derived from people’s actions within a digital world.
One of the companies working on the SKALE Network is building a protocol for trustless data custody and privacy. This protocol features two microservices, one for decentralized session and data transport management and other for access rights management. They are taking full advantage of the SKALE Network features to allow for a fast, secure, and economically viable protocol. Without high throughput, quick finality, and zero gas fees, this type of infrastructure protocol is impractical. Using SKALE as their execution layer, this protocol can easily be layered into applications and be used by other protocols to build in decentralized network security and data management capabilities.
Another feature they are making full use of is low latency digital key generation capability that is native to the network. The network’s use of trusted execution environment, powered via Intel SGX enclaves, is fundamental to providing fast and secure digital key operations, which are essential to the protocol. The fast port time to SKALE (with little to no smart contract changes) is also, in their eyes, a key attribute of the network.
While it is still early in the evolution of this protocol, the benefits that a highly performant and secure execution layer provides cannot be discounted. Without an execution layer such as the SKALE Network, this protocol would have had to remain in the lab. With SKALE, it can be built into every dapp in Web3 – and even in every app in Web2.
Requirements List: Data Protection and Privacy
The use cases in this post and in Part 1 are examples of what is possible when developers have access to an EVM-compatible execution layer that is tightly connected to the Ethereum mainnet. High throughput, sub-second commit times, and zero gas fees are game changers when it comes to decentralized computing.
These benefits along with many others make Ethereum mainnet plus the SKALE Network a compelling choice for developers and a combination that will surface new applications, protocols, and services that will help realize the vision so many people have for Web3 and the future of digital interactions.
This post is the second of a two-part series that highlights a number of interesting projects that we believe are likely to have immediate benefits and gain wide mainstream visibility in Web3. Part 1 of this series can be found here.