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smart city feature cell phone towers and an energy grid with solar panels depicting DePINs.

DePINs Unveiled: Exploring Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks Across Four Key Categories

As Web3 continues integrating into our daily lives, it requires robust physical infrastructure. DeFi, crypto, and NFTs are essential to the Web3 economy, but they need real-world platforms to operate on. This is where Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs) come into play, merging crypto, blockchain technology, and physical infrastructure. As the decentralized economy expands, the role of physical infrastructure will evolve significantly. 

In some of our previous articles, we delved deeper into an introduction to DePINs and related DePINs topics, but today’s article will focus on the four categories of DePINs. Let’s explore each category and how they contribute to reshaping our interaction with the physical and digital world.

Wireless Networks

Wireless networks within the DePINs framework provide essential connectivity services through various protocols like 5G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. These networks enable decentralized access to communication technologies, empowering communities to build and manage their wireless infrastructure.

Here is one of the DePINs project examples that fall under the wireless network category:

Helium Network

Helium stands as a leading protocol in the DePINs space, focusing on connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Initially aimed at decentralizing IoT connectivity, Helium introduced Helium Hotspots in 2019, establishing a community-powered wireless network. By installing a Helium device in your home or office, you can provide wireless connectivity in your area and earn $HNT, the network’s native token. This innovative approach not only decentralizes wireless networking but also incentivizes participation through token rewards.

Sensor Networks

Sensor networks collect and process data from various sources, including traffic conditions, weather, and images of local streets. These networks rely on nodes equipped with devices capable of gathering and transmitting data, contributing to real-time monitoring and decision-making processes.

Here is one of the DePINs project examples that fall under the wireless network category:

MapMetrics

MapMetrics is an example of a DePIN network that falls under the sensor network category. MapMetrics has developed a decentralized navigation app that integrates blockchain technology and incentivizes user engagement through its innovative “drive-to-earn” system. At the core of this ecosystem is the Special Position Tracker (SPT), available in versions tailored for cars, motorbikes, and bicycles, which seamlessly interacts with the MapMetrics smartphone application. Through Bluetooth connectivity, the SPT collects comprehensive data while users travel, leveraging GPS and other sensors to capture detailed information such as location, speed, and potential direction.

Once gathered, all data undergoes encryption within the MapMetrics app before being securely transmitted to the MapMetrics blockchain. This encryption process ensures the anonymity of personal information, safeguarding user privacy throughout the data-sharing process. Contributions of travel data not only enhance the accuracy and utility of MapMetrics’ navigation services but also earn users MMAPS tokens, the cryptocurrency of the MapMetrics ecosystem. The system rewards based on travel time, with a daily earning cap to prevent abuse.

To maintain data quality and prevent fraudulent activities, MapMetrics implements different SPT versions for various vehicles, ensuring that data collection is accurate and specific to each mode of transport. The system also incorporates checks to detect and prevent fraudulent behaviors, such as double-earning attempts from nearby devices. These measures uphold the integrity of the “drive-to-earn” system, fostering trust among users and optimizing the overall functionality of the MapMetrics platform.

Energy Networks

Energy DePINs aim to decentralize energy production, traditionally dominated by a few large players and reliant on centralized power plants. These networks promote the generation of renewable energy and facilitate direct transactions between producers and consumers through smart contracts, fostering energy independence and sustainability.

Here is an example of DePIN projects that fall under the energy network category:

Arkreen Network

Arkreen Network represents a revolutionary digital infrastructure powered by Web3, designed to facilitate the global connection and monetization of renewable energy resources. This network is dedicated to enhancing carbon reduction efforts through innovative applications.

At its core, Arkreen Network starts with a grassroots approach, encouraging consumers and energy producers alike to adopt renewable energy solutions. Whether it’s solar panels on rooftops, energy-efficient appliances in homes, or electric vehicles on the roads, every contribution plays a vital role in this decentralized ecosystem.

More than just connecting energy assets, Arkreen Network leverages the flexibility and responsiveness of these technologies. Picture your home’s air conditioning adjusting its usage during peak times or your electric vehicle charging when energy demands are low. Arkreen incentivizes these actions, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between users and the environment.

Energy Web

Energy Web is another example of DePINs within the energy sector. It focuses on decentralizing the energy sector by creating an ecosystem where individuals and small-scale producers can contribute to the energy grid. The network’s governance is managed by smart contracts, eliminating intermediaries and linking producers directly with consumers. This model not only promotes the use of renewable energy but also increases the resilience of the energy grid by distributing production across numerous smaller sources.

A highly clean, photorealistic depiction of a smart city featuring cell phone towers and an energy grid with solar panels, representing Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks -DePINs.

Server Networks

Decentralized physical infrastructure networks for servers consist of networks of nodes where operators contribute computing resources like storage capacity or processing power and receive compensation for their services.

Here is an example of a DePINs project that falls under the server network category:

Filecoin

Filecoin is an example of a DePIN network in the server category. Filecoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer file storage network that allows users to rent out their unused storage space and earn $FIL. The network’s decentralized nature ensures that storage service prices are determined by market dynamics rather than a central authority. Filecoin supports various data formats, making it versatile for different use cases. Notably, the Internet Archive uses Filecoin for data backup, and other Web3 protocols like Audius and Huddle01 leverage it for music streaming and video conferencing data storage.

Conclusion

Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs) represent a transformative shift in how we manage and utilize physical assets. By decentralizing control and leveraging blockchain technology, DePINs enhance efficiency, transparency, security, and democratization across various sectors. DePINs are poised to revolutionize traditional infrastructure. As we continue to explore and develop these networks, their potential to drive innovation and resilience in our physical infrastructure is immense.

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