Helium. New Wave of the Internet of Things
Personal desktop computers and laptops were the first appliances that used the internet. Then, with the popularization of mobile devices, mobility became available for anyone and everywhere.
Since the 2010s, we have been witnessing the next revolution of connectivity called the Internet of Things (IoT). Many electronic devices, household items, and appliances can now be connected to the internet. Furthermore, IoT gadgets can be monitored, turned on and off, and configured from miles away by using smartphone applications.
Thanks to the Helium network, people from all over the world can become part of and profit from the biggest decentralized wireless network we know today. So let’s see how exactly that works and how IoT makes our lives easier and better.
What Is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things allows common electronic devices to connect to the internet to upload and share their data. It will enable people to understand how these gadgets work and how they perform their everyday tasks.
It’s a giant network of connected appliances like your air conditioning unit. Instead of keeping it turned on for the entire day or starting the cooldown process when you are back home from work, IoT allows you to access it remotely. You can turn it on from your phone whenever you need to. You save your electricity but still walk into a cooled living room thanks to the Internet of Things.
When you are in traffic, your car can monitor the conditions of the road, recommend the shortest route, and inform you about traffic jams upfront. On top of that, other sensors are keeping an eye on the engine and its performance. During all that time, your smartwatch is monitoring your health. It can alert you in case of any phone calls or imported messages and tell you when your next business meeting is scheduled to start.
How Do Smart Devices Communicate?
Thanks to IoT, smart devices can examine and study their surroundings. They can collaborate and share data. But how is this communication possible?
There are two types of IoT devices:
- General devices
- Sensing devices
The general devices are all your home appliances and smart gadgets connected to the internet wirelessly or through cable. The various sensors installed on these units are the sensing devices that can measure almost anything: temperature, light intensity, humidity, pressure, time, etc.
The sensors emit data supplied by the general devices. This information is collected, processed, and uploaded to cloud storage. Deep analytics is then performed on the data to extract useful information that is shared through smartphone applications with the owners.
Here is a simple example of how IoT can improve your experience with an air conditioner unit. Sensors installed in these devices measure their health and performance in real-time. This data is shared with and analyzed by the companies producing and servicing the units. That allows them to contact you if repairs need to be done even before you notice that something is wrong.
As you can see, the Internet of Things can offer a helping hand in everyday life so that you can focus on the things that really matter. In 2018, it was estimated that there were 23 billion IoT-connected devices globally. This number is expected to rise to 50 billion by the end of 2021 and to over 80 billion by 2025.
Introducing The Helium Network
Helium is a decentralized peer-to-peer 5G network introduced back in 2013. Its trio of creators consists of Shawn Fanning, Amir Haleem, and Sean Carey. The idea was to create a wireless P2P network of interconnected devices for the telecommunications market. But after IoT started making headlines, their attention shifted to this new technology.
It wasn’t until 2017 when the team decided to create their own cryptocurrency as an incentive model for the Helium network. As a result, the HNT token and the platform’s mainnet were launched in 2019, shortly after the first hotspot was developed and offered for sale.
What Makes Helium Unique?
The Helium ecosystem is made of three things:
- Helium hotspots
- The Helium console
- The Helium blockchain
Hotspots are physical, electronic gadgets that resemble home routers. The difference is that they emit a LongFi signal, not a WIFI transmit like your standard internet routers. These signals have a reach of up to 100 km and are suitable for the transmission of small-size data between IoT devices in the range.
The entire package is open-source. Hotspots can be created from scratch and submitted to Helium for community approval by any developer who knows how to work with code. As of November 2021, there are 14 different brands available for sale.
Valuable data can be uploaded but also obtained from these transmitters and used for different purposes. All packets are stored in the Helium console, which is compatible with services such as Google Drive.
Working with data from the console costs money. All operations are paid in the network’s native HNT token via the Helium blockchain. Helium is based on a new Honey Badger consensus algorithm that has been called Proof-of-Coverage.
Can I Make Money with Helium, And How?
You can earn HNT tokens by running Helium hotspots. The Proof-of-Coverage incentive model rewards users for checking whether other hotspots are online and broadcasting a LongFi signal. This is a random check performed by another operator in your range. It’s more rewarding to run a hotspot that isn’t inaccessible to other devices to increase your earning potential as much as possible.
If the test proves that you are online, you will earn part of the block rewards, and so will the hotspot that performed the check. In addition to that, a 3rd party hotspot that is close by to report that the challenge took place is called a witness, and they earn a certain percentage as well. There are over 270.000 hotspot devices located worldwide, mainly in the United States and western Europe.
If you don’t feel like setting up your own hardware, you can earn rewards by becoming a validator. To do that, exactly 10.000 HNT tokens need to be staked. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stake any other amounts, and the Helium network doesn’t support delegation.
The APR depends on the total number of validators and can be as high as 360% per year. As of November 2021, there are over 2.700 validators on the Helium network. Suppose you want to become a part of this group. In that case, you need to be online as much as possible because you will be penalized with fewer block rewards by going offline.
The current reward structure foresees that 65% of all mining rewards are distributed to hotpot operators and validators. In comparison, the remaining 35% goes to the company Helium Inc. and their investors. This allocation will change with time. The company and early investors will earn less and greater shares will be allocated to those involved with all network data transfers and validations.
What is HNT?
HNT is the native asset of the Helium blockchain. It’s got a maximum supply of 223 million units and is deflationary in nature. Similarly to Bitcoin, Helium undergoes pre-determined halving events once every two years. After each halving, the emission will be cut in half until all tokens have been minted.
Interestingly, HNT is not the only native asset available in the Helium ecosystem. Transaction fees are paid in Data Credits (DC). This also includes obtaining data from the Helium console. DC is created by burning HNT tokens by network participants. Data Credits can’t be swapped with other cryptocurrencies, and they can’t be exchanged back to HNT. However, a community proposal has recently passed that involves converting small percentages of DC back to HNT when there is enough demand.
Helium is a working product with over 250.000 hotspot units emitting their signals from all over the world. However, they are primarily centered in the United States and Western Europe. An entire market in Asia, Australia, and Africa is still waiting to be covered by LongFi signals.
On 1st August 2021, HNT underwent its first scheduled halving event. From that point on, the Helium token more than doubled in value as it rose from the $13 mark to its current all-time high of $32 on 30th October 2021. This is a positive signal to existing and new investors that shows that the project has plenty of potentials.
With a constantly growing trend and adoption of IoT technology, projects such as Helium have already taken a decent share of the market. The Internet of Things simplifies our lives, makes our decision-making process more natural, and has taken a significant role in all industries across the globe. Thanks to Helium, everyone can be part of the new revolution.