Blockchain technology remains at the forefront of technological innovation, profoundly impacting enterprises large and small. It’s an exciting technology that’s revolutionizing how people interact and do business, with implications in industries ranging from finance and healthcare to logistics and gaming, to name just a few.
Each year we see dozens of new blockchain startups launch with innovative new ideas that have distributed ledger technology at their heart. This year is no different, with hundreds of exciting projects emerging in the past few months that promise to bring about blockchain-based change.
The opportunities for crypto, Web3 and the metaverse are almost limitless, and the following companies represent some of the most exciting bets to watch out for in 2022:
The Dust Project is a unique NFT-based project that aims to build up an archive of household dust samples taken from all over the world, put them all into a ‘time capsule”, and then blast it into space where they can be retrieved in the future as an archaeological artefact.
Household dust can be surprisingly insightful because it’s comprised of all manner of DNA particles, chemicals, fibres, crumbs, bacteria and fungus that provides detailed information about how people live, including their family structure, the animals they keep, the clothes they wear, the food they eat and much more besides.
The Dust Project’s backers say dust found in the home represents a microcosm of life that takes place inside a specific household, telling the story of its occupants’ habits, diets and general lifestyles. Once they have collected 30,000 dust samples from homes all over the world, they will be placed inside a “Dust Ark” arranged according to their geographic location.
This Ark is intended to function as a time capsule. It will be launched into space and orbit the Earth, with the intention being that it’s one day rediscovered far into the future – perhaps at a time when it has long been forgotten, or maybe when someone remembers it and believes it could hold vital answers to the most pressing problems of that future day. The idea is that the Dust Ark will provide unique insights into human life and behaviour during the 21st century.
To decide who gets to provide dust samples, the project is using NFTs. The 30,000-strong NFT collection functions as a kind of “ticket”, with each one representing one dust sample that’s placed aboard the Dust Ark. Each NFT holder will be sent a sample box plus a “ticket” that allows their sample to be placed aboard the Ark on its journey into orbit.
The objective of Trust Machines, which announced itself to the world last February, is to create an entire ecosystem of Bitcoin-based DeFi applications to expand Bitcoin’s functionality beyond that of a cryptocurrency and a store of value.
Co-founded by Princeton computer scientists Dr Muneeb Ali and Professor J.P. Singh, Trust Machines announced it has raised a hefty $150 million in venture capital funding from the likes of Breyer Capital, Digital Currency Group, GoldenTree, Hivemind and Union Square Ventures.
Trust Machines intends to leverage the unique capabilities of the Stacks blockchain, which was built by Ali and serves as a kind of programming layer for Bitcoin. With Stacks, it’s possible to bring smart contract functionality to Bitcoin via its unique Proof-of-Transfer consensus mechanism, which links it with the Bitcoin blockchain. In other words, Stacks makes it possible to build applications atop Bitcoin. This way, Bitcoin can work in DeFi protocols such as permissionless lending and borrowing.
Trust Machines aims to leverage Stacks to make Bitcoin more dynamic and useful beyond its primary function as a store of value.
The project has been tight-lipped about the exact nature of its plans, but Ali has previously spoken about an idea he terms “decentralization of trust”. He argues that Bitcoin has been pivotal in decentralizing trust by giving people full control of their finances. Once you own Bitcoin, nobody can take it away from you, not any bank or government agency. No one. Trust is decentralized, there’s no more reliance on intermediaries. This is key because trust forms the basis of virtually all human actions, such as financial transactions, governance, identity, arbitration, etc. Whereas centralized entities have always underpinned this trust, Bitcoin changes this. With Bitcoin, trust becomes automated without the need for any intermediary. As a result, Bitcoin-based applications have the potential to be more trustworthy, transparent and efficient than any other.
Trust Machines hasn’t said a lot about the applications it has been building. Still, it recently announced hiring an all-star advisory team that includes Dan Held, the growth marketing director at Kraken and the product director at Blockkchain.com. Trust Machines’ hires also include Asiff Hirji, the president of Fugue, Rena Shah, who is Binance’s Head of Strategy, Manas Mohapatra, who previously worked for Twitter and BNY Mellon; and Aubrey Strobel, a social media wizard and communications consultant who war formerly head of communications at Lolli.
With its noble goal of attempting to reduce carbon emissions, JustCarbon is getting a lot of attention. The project is a blockchain-powered carbon marketplace where companies can mitigate their carbon emissions by purchasing JustCarbon Removal tokens. One JCR token equates to one verified ton of carbon that will be removed from the atmosphere. Companies can retire, sell or purchase JCRs and use them to offset their future or prior carbon impact.
The idea with JustCarbon is to support a “just transition” to an economy where carbon emissions are a thing of the past, and clean technology and energy are the norm. It has established a transparent, nature-based carbon sequestration marketplace to facilitate this transition.
Through the JCR tokens, JustCarbon provides a way for companies, developers and individuals to monetize their carbon removal efforts. Essentially, anyone who is able to take steps that remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere, and verify this through nature-based projects like Verra (VCS) or Gold Standard, can mint JCR tokens that can be sold on the marketplace. VCS credits must also provide an add-on certification such as a Climate, Community and Biodiversity Accreditation. This ensures that each JCR token represents valid climate change action that’s been independently certified according to international standards.
Governing everything is the JustCarbon DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization where voting power is granted to holders of the JustCarbon Governance Token (JCG). Through this DAO governance model, JustCarbon aims to democratize the carbon market and ensure that no single entity can assume control over the project and manipulate things.
JustCarbon is primarily targeting conscientious businesses and organizations that want to find a way to reduce their carbon footprints to help tackle climate change. Once JustCarbon begins calculating the amount of carbon removed by linked projects, it will begin issuing JCR tokens and offer them for sale.
Fashion League has burst onto the blockchain as the industry’s very first play-to-earn mobile fashion design game, in which gamers get to own their very own fashion shop. There, they can meet with other players, crypto fans, fashion lovers and brands and cooperate on designing new outfits and growing their virtual, metaverse-based fashion stores.
One of the central aspects of the game is that players have the freedom to express their creative side by designing and showcasing their own outfits. As they progress, budding metaverse fashion designers can increase their reputations and earn prizes while doing so.
Not surprisingly, Fashion League is targeting a female audience. It’s an idea that has big potential. After all, Fashion League’s creator is a woman gamer herself, and she notes that there are currently very few female-focused blockchain games in Web3. That’s a shame because females are, in general, much more likely to play games on mobile devices than men are. Moreover, they often spend more on games than their male counterparts do.
With Fashion League, new outfits can be designed and represented as NFTs. The gameplay is centered on building out and slowly expanding a fashion store, designing various clothes and accessories, participating in contests, earning rewards, and building up a reputation. Players can even sell their NFT-based designs in their stores to willing buyers, who can add them to their avatars to create a distinct appearance.
What’s more, Fashion League believes it’s an idea that will appeal to established clothing and apparel brands. They, too, can build their own digital stores within its metaverse and showcase new items. Then, players can model those outfits virtually and use design tools to change the look of those products. In addition, brands will receive detailed analytics on users’ tastes and preferences, enabling them to perfect the look of their latest collections.
Another environmentally-friendly blockchain project is Minima, which is also aiming to be the most decentralized protocol of all through its mobile-first nature.
Minima is an ultra-lightweight blockchain protocol that can run on low-powered devices such as smartphones and “Internet of Things” sensors. The idea is that many thousands of users will be able to run a full validating node, building a highly scalable and inclusive network that grows to be incredibly resilient.
To date, Minima already has more than 32,000 nodes up and running in 128 countries worldwide, and it has ambitions to grow this to more than one million by the end of the year.
Because it’s so decentralized, Minima has some unique benefits, the most important being its highly resistant to censorship. In addition, with so many thousands of nodes, no single entity will be able to take over control of the network, meaning it is an ecosystem that is fully autonomous and accountable. This ensures that it will be able to maximize the benefits blockchain offers while eliminating any vulnerabilities that occur due to centralization.
Minima says its protocol is also incredibly resilient, with no single point of failure. In addition, all participants in the network are equals, meaning there’s no need for on-chain governance or mining rewards to secure the blockchain.