Ontology Network held their official launch yesterday at One Chase Manhattan Plaza in a beautiful room overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Joining them were NEO, along with AlphaCat, TheKey, Qlink, DeepBrain, PeerAtlas and NEX. Both the afternoon and evening sessions drew large crowds as developers and investors alike gathered to learn about the Ontology project and the NEO ecosystem.

Chief Architect of Onchain, Jun Li, kicked off proceedings in the afternoon session by introducing the Ontology Network. Li spoke at length about the different kinds of trust and identity, and explained that Ontology utilizes a ‘network of blockchains’ in order to support a multitude of scenarios. Some of the scenarios to which Ontology could be applied are identity for people, objects, data, collaboration, delegation, community, content, reputation and financial services. Li noted that there are many more scenarios to which Ontology could be applied, and the potential of this technology could change the way business is done for many industries. For this reason, the Ontology documentation will never be finalised, and Onchain will continue to add to it as new scenarios are realised.

Li described how companies with sensitive data, such as a bank, could not store user information on a public chain. Ontology offers a solution by creating an ‘index’ of data. In this way, Ontology is a lot like search engine results. Search engine results don’t store any website data, but rather point to a location, and Ontology works in the same way. For example, a bank could leave user information stored in their existing databases, and an application would be able to verify that data through an Ontology chain. This is an important point, because it means that Ontology won’t only be used to connect blockchains, but can be used to connect traditional IT systems. This opens the door to many use cases, and could allow applications to verify data and establish trust based on various sources.

The first version of the public testnet should be available in Q1 of 2018, after which the Ontology team can focus on building chains for different scenarios.

Next to speak was NEO founder, Da Hongfei. Hongfei gave a history of the NEO project, all the way back to a speech he gave titled “A DAO for crowdfunding” at China’s first ever blockchain conference in 2014. The audience was guided through the different crowdfunding phases, from the initial seed funding of USD$90,000, though to ICO1, ICO2, and the token give back plan announced earlier this month.

Hongfei then spoke about the current state of NEO, including market cap, social followings, GitHub contributions, governance and development contributions from the community. He also mentioned projects building on NEO, as well as those who will integrate with NEO on some level, such as Elastos, HPB, Bancor and Loopring.

After this, Hongfei made a point of stressing NEO’s commitment to building the smart economy. He addressed common questions on how NEO compares to Ethereum and explained the differences in design philosophy. NEO has the dBFT consensus algorithm, which leads to better performance and scalability. Hongfei noted that the byzantine fault tolerance concept was actually just an academic theory for a long time and is now used to secure missile control. NEO was one of the first projects to adopt it on blockchain, allowing for over 1000 transactions per second and making the platform suitable for financial transactions.

Another difference between Ethereum and NEO outlined by Hongfei is the economic model. NEO has a dual token system that creates a more intelligible economic and governance model than other platforms. NEO is the governance token which gives a user voting rights on the platform, whilst GAS is the utility token that can be used to pay for transactions and the deployment of smart contracts. Hongfei noted that tokens that function as both a share in the network and utility token can be problematic. The more you use the network and pay for transactions, the less stake you have in the network.

Whilst on the topic of tokens, Hongfei mentioned that NEO is funding various initiatives in the NEO ecosystem and are hoping to fund some partnerships with universities in 2018 to create research labs.

In the second portion of Hongfei’s talk, he spoke about Onchain and Ontology and a few private chains that Onchain have already completed such as Identity Check, China Clearing, Everbrite Security and Law Chain. He explained that NEO’s vision of the future has always been one of a network of blockchains, with consortium chains connected to NEO through NeoX cross chain protocol. Hongfei compared this to the the beginning of the internet where we only had LAN networks. After TCP/IP was invented, we could connect all the local area networks together and create the internet as we know it today. NEO hopes that that NeoX will be the TCP/IP of blockchain.

Finally, Hongfei described the relationship between Ontology and NEO. He reiterated that it is very difficult for organizations to put sensitive information on the blockchain, and in fact there are many regulations in place that would prevent them from doing so. Ontology will be the bridge between existing services and public chains and will use NeoContract, so it is also part of the NEO ecosystem.

Next, founder of City of Zion and Neon Exchange, Fabio Canesin, presented on the NEX platform. He began by describing the convoluted process one needs to go through in order to purchase NEO, from purchasing BTC or ETH with fiat, to sending to an exchange, to making a trade. NEX is looking to solve the technical problems associated with this user journey, but in fact, the issue they will be solving is more of a social problem.

The solution is an application that NEX are calling a ‘Smart Wallet’, where the user is able to make trades directly from their wallet. This will be made possible by using an off chain matching engine and by using smart contracts as a custodian of tokens.

In addition, Fabio described a payment service platform that would allow applications to use the NEX API to send and request funds to and from a user account, similar to the way that a credit card transaction would move a representation of money from one database to another.

Finally, Fabio outlined a decentralized banking solution that would allow users much more control over their funds. One example that Fabio gave was the ability to set a daily withdrawal limit on a wallet, so if the users private key is compromised, the total funds could not be withdrawn by an attacker. NEX will also allow integrators to use an API to onboard fiat using a NEP-5 anchor token. Features like this will help to fix the social issues with cryptocurrency Fabio mentioned at the beginning of his talk.

Next up was AlphaCat, with Dr. Li Bin along with JC Xu and Kenneth Hsia. Dr Li stated that AlphaCat’s mission was to “make investing as easy as buying a bottle of coke.” AlphaCat is building a platform that will enable robot traders to manage cryptocurrency markets. The user would have the ability to review the performance record of a robot, select an exchange and market, push a button, and let the robot manage the asset for them.

Kenneth explained that AlphaCat believes that research driven investment thesis tends to perform better than crowdsourced predicted markets such as Augur and Gnosis. The main issue is that most of these tools are locked behind banks or large corporations who can afford them, whilst the researchers themselves do not have a platform to share their work with general investors.

Thus there will be three main types of users on the AlphaCat platform. The first are the ‘Architects’, who will create an investment thesis, the second are the ‘Engineers’ who will develop these theses into algorithms, and the third will be the ‘Surveyors’ or users, who can use these algorithms to trade markets. Users will need to stake AlphaCat tokens to gain access to these algorithms, and Architects and Engineers will receive tokens as a rewards based on the success of their robot.

Dr King from TheKey was next to speak. He emphasised that he agrees with NEO in that there can be no smart economy without ID and went on to describe TheKey’s second generation identification solution.

TheKey use six elements to create an undeniable identity which can then be used to authenticate a person across all types of applications. These six elements are biometric data, government validation, comprehensive information, cross checking, ensuring the most recent data available is used and auditing.

Dr King provided some examples of how they are already using their first generation DMI in the real world. TheKey already have commercial contracts signed with reputable companies around the globe, solutions deployed in pilot cities, and have authenticated data on 210 million people in 66 cities.

With this foundation, Dr King noted that they are “only one inch away from success”, implying that the integration with blockchain is the final piece of TheKey’s puzzle.

Qlink then presented their decentralized mobile network solution, which leverages blockchain to allow users to register and share telecom assets with other members of the network. Co-founder and COO Susan Zhou outlined the experience the team has in the mobile network industry through Youyou Mobile and described the basic network architecture. Qlink will adopt a dual chain architecture, utilizing the NEO blockchain for the registration of digital assets, and the Qlink Chain for registering content and billing information, whilst network coverage will be provided by custom basestations that can be deployed by users.

This was expanded upon by Dean Patrick who detailed some of the applications this technology would enable. One example was a Wi-Fi sharing platform that improves upon the current methods of Wi-Fi password distribution used today. By registering a Wi-Fi hotspot as a digital asset, Qlink can use smart contracts to authorise the P2P transmission of the Wi-Fi password direct from a router to the user’s device. Another application was the ability to bundle content with data. This would allow content providers such as Netflix to package data in with their subscriptions, enabling users to stream content without needing to use their own monthly data.

DeepBrain CEO He Yong then took the stage to share details on their artificial intelligence computing platform. He Yong shared some of DeepBrain’s previous achievements in the AI field, including the development of the first Chinese voice assistant in 2011, which has more than 17 million users to date, and pre-dates Apple’s Chinese Siri.

He Yong explained that DeepBrain is aiming to provide a decentralized artificial intelligence network that will be low cost and protect privacy. DeepBrain can reduce the cost of AI computing to less than 30% of the user’s current neural network server cost, and reward users with the DeepBrain Coin for contributing computing power to the network. Using smart contracts, they can also separate the data provider from the data training party, enabling better protection of data privacy.

Finally, PeerAtlas took the stage to describe their vision for a world where medical information is free, rather than hidden behind a paywall. Colin Closser took the afternoon session, whilst Brad Mattson delivered the presentation in the evening.

Both Colin and Brad are physicians who are frustrated by the fact that high quality medical knowledge, that is crucial to saving lives, is not freely accessible to the public. PeerAtlas is on a mission to build an open online medical encyclopedia through which contributors will be incentivized to provide content by being rewarded with the ATLAS token and the ability to reward those tokens for Continuing Medical Education credits (CME). CME credits are required by doctors to keep their medical license current, and the industry grosses over $2.5 billion each year.

Beyond creating a comprehensive encyclopedia, PeerAtlas also wants to integrate the platform in with existing medical records, allowing doctors to view the information as they enter patient data into their systems. This would also enable PeerAtlas to deliver individual treatment recommendations for patients.

The ‘holy grail’ for PeerAtlas is to integrate AI so that anonymous medical records can be used to launch live world wide clinical trials by recommending treatments and recording outcomes.

Every project delivered fascinating presentations. Developers, blockchain enthusiasts and potential investors in attendance all had the opportunity to meet the teams and ask thoughtful questions. Many interesting ideas were exchanged and overall the event was a success.

If you would like any more information on any of the projects listed above, you can find their website details below.

Ontology – ont.io
NEO – neo.org
Neon Exchange – neonexchange.org
AlphaCat – alphacat.io
TheKey – thekey.vip
Qlink – qlink.mobi
DeepBrain – deepbrainchain.org
PeerAtlas – peeratlas.com