A startup has launched a decentralized world map that runs on Ethereum, using a newly-developed proof of location system that will replace GPS with a decentralized network of radio beacons called zone anchors, which can be used to navigate.

Up until now the most popular mapping system available has been Google Maps, which has the weakness of being centralized. Google has the power to alter data on their maps, which can cause a detrimental divergence from reality. Additionally, GPS powers Google Maps and is very centralized since it is owned by the United States government and operated by the Air Force. Further, it is unencrypted so it is prone to hacking, and it takes a large amount of energy to operate a device since it needs to communicate with at least four satellites for triangulation purposes.

The startup, FOAM, has 1 billion ERC 20 FOAM tokens, and people who bought this token during the initial coin offering are required to use 25-50% of their tokens to develop the world map. Users stake a minimum of 50 FOAM to create a new point of interest (POI) on the map. This POI is pending for three days, during which it can be challenged by other users staking FOAM. A vote then occurs, and if the POI gets 60% of the vote it becomes verified. Alternatively, if no one challenges a POI, it automatically becomes verified. The fact that it costs money to create a POI helps ensure that they are real locations, and are already filling in the world map. POIs can include things like businesses, parks, and government facilities.

Further, 50 FOAM must be kept staked in a POI perpetually, although users can pull out the tokens, which would cause the POI to disappear.

FOAM users will deploy radio beacons, called zone anchors, that can be used to navigate. This is beneficial when compared to a GPS because it will be run by a decentralized network of people, and also the beacon network will require far less energy use, making it ideal for the internet of things (IoT). Zone anchors will require some staked FOAM.

This is where the proof of location (POL) protocol comes in, an innovative new way to generate cryptocurrency. Beacons placed in new locations will mine FOAM. This incentivizes the creation of a global radio beacon network that can be used instead of GPS, and this network could be considered better since it will be encrypted, unlike GPS which is unencrypted and prone to hacking.

If all goes to plan, FOAM will become a decentralized world map with a decentralized radio navigation system, ensuring that the world will always have a mapping and navigation system that has no single point of failure and cannot be manipulated in any way by a centralized organization.

It is the latest in a string of blockchain-based platforms seeking to decentralize the GPS industry via incentivization of location-based data. The Decentralized Autonomous Vehicle (DAV) Foundation uses beacon-based location data to build an “Internet of Transportation” while the XYO Network, operational since 2012, has already built 1 million beacons globally, attempting a “people-based location network” and claims the largest Bluetooth and GPS devices network in the world. Both also use tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.


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