Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and USDT stablecoin issuer Tether have teamed up with the Hypercore open-source protocol team to launch a new peer-to-peer (P2P) communications application, Keet.
Keet enables a certain group of parties to exchange direct video, message and file communication in a true P2P way.
The approach improves on popular end-to-end encrypted but centralized offerings like Zoom and WhatsApp, as the data being shared is not forwarded to a central server at any point; instead, the connection is purely established between the users participating in the chat, reducing latency and increasing reliability.
Keet is launching its alpha version today and users can download the application from its website. The mobile version of the app is expected to launch in November 2022.
Hole punch: the technique behind Keet
Keet serves as a demo application of what the underlying technology that the three teams have been working on over the past three years, Holepunch, can achieve.
Holepunch, which uses BitTorrent-like computer network infrastructure, will be fully launched to the public in December 2022 as an open-source software development kit (SDK). straight away connect to another – the backboning infrastructure is intended to make it easier for developers to develop true P2P apps with the Hypercore stack.
Hypercore is a peer-to-peer data network built on append-only signed logs. These logs work in the same way as a blockchain, but without the consensus algorithm and thus without the need for all nodes to maintain a global ledger status.
Hole punch makes Hypercore more accessible by abstracting technical details of the protocol at a low level. It takes Hypercore one step further by simplifying the architecture and allowing more people to build apps with it — allowing a single frontend developer to build Keet in less than four months, Holepunch chief strategy officer and CTO of Bitfinex told IPS. Tether, Paolo Ardoino, Bitcoin magazine.
“Holepunch provides a set of easy-to-use, collaborative P2P data structures that allow developers to focus primarily on building great apps rather than having to be networks or P2P experts,” said Ardoino and Holepunch CEO Mathias Buus in a joint statement. sent to Bitcoin magazine. “After building Keet on top of Holepunch, we know firsthand how powerful the platform is, and we can’t wait to see what other developers will build.”
All communication on Keet is encrypted by default, because the app uses asymmetric cryptography. The application generates ED25519 private and public key pairs locally on first launch.
“Keys are generated on the device, all locally, and we are working on adding support for several hardware-secured modules (HSMs), such as Ledger, to give users more flexibility,” Ardoino and Buus explain. “This means that in the future, users will be able to keep their keys not only on their local device, but also on remote hardware or their phones.”
Public keys are announced on Holepunch’s distributed hash table (DHT), an open network of computers that peers can use to discover and connect with each other.
“Our DHT is used to both discover peers (ie assign a public key to a peer), and to facilitate ‘punching’,” Ardoino and Buus said. “In traditional systems, such as WebRTC and others, this is done through a centralized server, which leaks a lot of metadata. At Keet, this is done using multiple DHT nodes, each of which only has partial information, so that much less metadata is lost.”
Holepunch forgoes the use of a blockchain and a native token, allowing the creation of distributed apps for scalability with minimal resources.
“Instead of relying on a shared blockchain between all users of the app, each user builds many small data structures” that are used to store the user’s own data and that of theirs in the same call, Ardoino and Buus explain. .
“When using blockchains, all this data needs to be stored in one big chain, strictly ordered and replicated across all users worldwide, which makes sense for financial systems like Bitcoin,” they continued. “However, for normal apps, it’s often much more efficient to use some smaller data structures, storing only local data.”
Speaking of Bitcoin, Ardoino told Bitcoin Magazine that the team is working on integrating the ability to send Lightning payments into the SDK. Possibilities for bitcoin in Holepunch apps include allowing users to stream BTC to content creators, make regular P2P payments, and give tips. The SDK also supports USDT from Tether.
Bitcoin and Tether payments are add-on features to provide payment rails/options to people who use applications built on top of Holepunch or plan to build/provide services over the Holepunch network. Ardoino and Buus.
Holepunch will provide primitives to support the digital P2P payment options in a non-custodial form.
“Different from other projects [like] Impenetrable AI… Holepunch uses pure P2P communication techniques (DHT, distributed perforations, swarming)… that are decoupled from the payment system to achieve the highest level of freedom in achieving the scalability requirements of a mass communication system,” she added.
Holepunch’s team re-implemented low-level network protocols to independently select the best technology for highly scalable data flows.
“This approach resulted in a truly flexible solution, expanding from the Merkle log data structures used in Hypercore (which inherently provide data authentication and integrity) to a platoon of small libraries and modules that can be linked together to create mesh networks with build high availability. said the executives.
Ardoino told Bitcoin Magazine that options currently being considered by the Holepunch team regarding Lightning integration include integration services such as Blockstream’s Greenlight, which offer low-cost, on-demand but non-custodial Lightning node management. The team is also exploring enabling full integration of Lightning nodes, Ardoino said.
Payment is a facet of communication, emphasized Buus and Ardoino, which can be offered as an optional service to users starting out with P2P, unstoppable video, audio or text chats.
“Keet is a good example to explain all of the above. Keet’s goal is to become the most unstoppable communication application, offering a great user experience, with maximum privacy and security,” they said. “This has nothing to do with payments, as video/audio/text chats are pure data streams. Payments under Keet are optional and can be used for tipping, paying for live streams, sending money to friends and family, etc.”
In addition to better performance and easier scalability, users also get lower latency and more privacy when using distributed apps like Keet that don’t use inherently inefficient blockchains, the two executives said.
“Users need to replicate very little data to participate in a conversation – in fact, we use a range of advanced indexing techniques to ensure that only a subset of data in these small data structures needs to be replicated,” she added.
“In Keet you can see this in action, for example if you share a large file in the chat. If you do, you will notice that it will immediately appear to other users, and only when users download the file will the missing parts begin to replicate. Once you have the data, you can share it again with other users, making it highly scalable.”
Bitcoin Magazine tested Keet prior to its launch by participating in a conversation with three people. In a test run, a 3 gigabyte video file was shared by one of the participants, which the other two users were able to play in less than a minute.
Keet’s data sharing mechanism uses concepts popularized by BitTorrent – users download and seed packets of data collectively to each other in a way that removes the need for the original source to keep providing information for each new user.
This, a feature of Holepunch itself as mentioned before, could, for example, make it possible to build P2P, censorship-resistant streaming applications with the SDK – which the streamer could host with simple single-board computers like a Raspberry Pi. As users join, they start feeding each other with the streaming data, relieving the host of sharing its data packets with all viewers – a reality of streaming services like Twitch and YouTube that necessarily rely on centralized servers to mediate.
Keet abstracts away most of the user’s work into a simple yet functional and intuitive user interface. It requires access to a microphone and camera, and while privacy-conscious people can turn the camera off during the call, the app won’t work without accessing it first.
The Web3 Contradictory Trend
While the Web3 hype that has gained momentum in recent years has hit the drum to tokenize all things and put everything on a blockchain as the best alternative to decentralize the internet, a countertrend has recently emerged.
The creation and development of P2P infrastructure that, despite the Web3 commotion, does not use blockchain technology at all is on the rise.
An example of this is Web5, an ironic response to Web3 and “crypto” by their perhaps most prominent critic, Jack Dorsey. The Block CEO and co-founder and ex-CEO of Twitter has spoken out about the pitfalls of Web3 — which he claims asymmetrically favors venture capitalists at the expense of private investors and the public for whom the technology was allegedly intended.
Web5 was announced in June. The initiative, being worked on by Block subsidiary TBD, uses Bitcoin and a plethora of sound computer science technologies to create an ecosystem of decentralized identities, data storage, and applications in which the users are in control of their personal information.
Ardoino and Buus state that their solution, Holepunch, is more flexible than Web5.
“Web5, from what we’ve seen so far, has a more complex and predetermined structure than Holepunch,” the duo told Bitcoin Magazine. “Holepunch provides a set of primitives and the scaffolding to build applications without trying to force specific patterns.”
Another opportunity to create a token-free decentralized web was announced in November by Synonym, a company owned by Tether. Despite it being seemingly contradictory for Tether to have two companies on the same subject, Ardoino and Buus explained that the offering can be complementary.
“Synonymous could use Holepunch SDK to build some of their services into the roadmap,” they said. “Synonym and Holepunch are not competitors, but complementary in terms of vision and products they intend to build.”
Which decentralized version of the web will be the winner in the future remains to be seen, but the one that offers the most value to the end user, not to venture capitalists, will undoubtedly be more successful.