I sat down with Justin Caswell, CEO of RevoFi, to walk through what RevoFi is, what it aims to do, and how it’s different than anything else out there. Including, yes, Helium.
In brief, RevoFi sells a physical device that offers 4 ways to earn blockchain tokens called Revos:
- WiFi 6 Mesh Coverage
- Edge Compute
- Decentralized App Hosting
- Decentralized Storage
What does that mean? Let’s dig in.
I wanted to start with the first and most obvious question coming from the world of Helium; how is this any different?
While there’s future overlap in the area of WiFi coverage, I think there’s a reasonable chance for excellent coexistence. The two projects have different missions.
How? RevoFi’s products offer 4 ways of earning tokens for providing a service. The first service is the one that gets most often confused with Helium.
That first service is wireless coverage, though in an arena that Helium isn’t currently in; WiFi 6 Mesh. WiFi 6 Mesh will probably eventually be contested space, although when I talked to both Justin at RevoFi and Frank Mong over at Helium, they were cordial and mutually supportive, so I won’t be surprised if we see some kind of collaboration there in the future.
Ok, so WiFi 6 Mesh is just the first of the services. What are the other three, and who the heck is this Justin guy anyway?
I’ll start with Justin. He’s pretty much the nicest damn CEO I’ve met. Both gracious and grateful, he’s got an earnest energy about him that makes you want to support his project. Energy, really? What are you, Nik, some kind of hippy? Yup. You can read more about that in another blog, but for now, let’s stay focused on Justin.
Justin’s Mom was in the wireless industry; he grew up in the business. He climbed his first tower at 6 or 7 years old. In fact, while I was busy splashing in the mud at my grandfather’s charcoal burning business and trying to get past level 3 on Metroid, he was erasing EPROMs, soldering, and writing programs while hanging out in Mom’s data room.
He cut his teeth working for Motorola and helped put up some of the original trunking and 2G cellular systems which are still operating today. He’s worked with the Department of Defense and NORAD, so the security side of code and wireless is not new to him at all.
It’s no surprise that he’s built tons of industrial automation systems, communications platforms systems, and the kinds of things the rest of us rely on without even knowing they exist.
He started on the RevoFi idea as an asset management platform in 2000. It took a long time to come to fruition; and it wasn’t until 2014 that he began pursuing a patent around the idea. Eventually, the idea crystallized as creating a “thing” that allowed you (the user) to provide different services, from the first one I covered earlier, WiFi 6 Mesh, to the three other commodities currently available.
The goal of Revos [the token used on the RevoFi platform] is to intelligently tokenize commodities.
That brings us to the second thing RevoFi does, which is decentralized “compute” power. Very simply, each device has a fast brain that you can rent as part of a network. The individual brain is nothing compared to a giant server room, but giant server rooms aren’t decentralized. Up until RevoFi, you rented space on something like AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Google’s Cloud. They’re useful, and easy, but not necessarily cheap, and they certainly don’t put ownership power in your hands. If AWS doesn’t like what you were doing, they could just…turn you off. With decentralized compute, you can’t be turned off.
So that’s compute, which is related the next thing: Decentralized apps.
Let’s say you want to run a decentralized app, like Arweave, or Aave, or Filecoin, or even Uniswap; where do you host all the “thinking” that app does?
Unlike Uber, or Twitter, or Google, which run on their own internal distributed system (and are super fast and relatively stable and…totally controlled by Uber, Twitter, and Google), decentralization is an amorphous blob; it’s next door in India and Tasmania and Turkey and Timbuctou. Smash the node in Thessalonia and the copies from Tenerife to Thibodeax pick up the slack. Ok, ok, ok, you’ve heard all that before; that’s the core promise of decentralization. So what’s special about RevoFi?
The RevoFi owner (you) gets to own the device providing the service, and you get to profit off of providing that service. Not AWS, not Google. You.
If you’re decentralizing apps, then your apps are everywhere. If you’re an app developer, being everywhere is super useful. You can see where your app is being used and not used, and you can build your app to serve certain, sometimes very specific, locations.
Being everywhere is also useful, because it’s fast. If you can put your app anywhere on the network, you can run it right at the “far edge”, which is where it’s actually being used. That makes the in-app experience WAY faster than running it in some data center in Iceland and then bouncing that feedback loop through San Francisco and into Marin.
That brings us to the fourth service a RevoFi device offers, which is decentralized storage.
Not only do these things pay you for your device to think (compute) and provide connectivity (WiFi 6 Mesh), and host someone elses’ app, they also let you rent out your storage space. Whether Aunt Martha wants to store pictures of her 900 cats or you want to keep all those old GoPro videos of your very first SCUBA diving trip, you can do that on the decentralized network of RevoFi devices.
RevoFi is the physical infrastructure that’s going to support the future of dapps.
Ok, so that’s what RevoFi does. What are the obstacles?
The first, and most glaring, is that you have to be part of the system to use the system. You can’t just put a RevoFi device into your local coffee shop and earn from all the WiFi traffic passing through your device. Users have to pay with Revos tokens, and in order to do that, they have to have the RevoFi app. Maybe the coffee shop owner buys tokens and pays for their use, but the individual user still has to have the RevoFi app on their phone.
The second is the usual obstacle in the current state of computer-land; there’s a chip shortage, and there’s no real getting around that. Justin seems confident they’ll make and keep tight shipping promises, but it may be out of their control.
Third, it’s possible this is too soon. I don’t think that’s likely, as the world is rapidly changing and starting to desparately need this kind of edge power in the compute/storage/host realm. I think there’s a good chance RevoFi will nail it. That is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, investment advice.
Why RevoFi Might Succeed Mightily
RevoFi is a fundamental shift in how a regular person can be compensated for storing, transferring, and using data. Through this particular aspect of “blockchain meets meatspace”, you, as a user and provider, can start to dip into the financial rewards that come from the ubiquitous dataflow around us.
Just by participating, we are starting to claim our share of the data we create, the data we process, and the data we store. That is pretty cool.
As for me and mine, I bought 2 of the Link Pro devices, a RevoFi NFT in one of their auctions and I bought more than a coffee cup’s worth of Revos tokens in their initial sale. I’ll keep ya posted as to how it goes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I just buy the token? Yep, use this link to get a little extra. Yes, if you use that link, I’ll get some extra too. Winning together, yo.
RevoFi, Revos; what’s the difference? RevoFi is the network and the devices, Revos is the token. I mixed them up a bunch in the video, sorry. 🙂
Can you just deploy these and let them mine? Yes, but I’d expect (just like every other initial run of the blockchain + meatspace projects) a few hiccups.
Does the RevoFi Link Pro replace my router? Yes, but…you’ll need to run everything in your house through the RevoFi app.
How do I get Revos? Token sale, mining, through the mobile app.
Did Justin talk about a decentralized payment platform running on RevoFi/Revos? Yes. I’ma follow up on that one. 😉
What are RevoFi devices the absolute best for right now? Gaming. With directly connections to NVIDIA, RevoFi is heavily focused on funneling gaming data flow through their devices.
Does this compete with Helium? Not right now, but Helium will eventually move into the WiFi space, and at that point there will be overlap. As I’ve said before, my guess is that the two companies will figure out how to work together and either mutually support or one will swallow the other. That’s just my guess.
Can they ship on time every time? Justin seems to think so and is promising that once inventory is in stock they’ll be shipping within 48 hours.
What’s the big deal with decentralization? Don’t we already have D-App projects that are running just fine? It’s really a question of authority and independence. Right now, decentralized apps are “sort of” running on distributed systems, though many are still running in the cloud. What we’ll see with the whole tokenization of commodities is a rush for control over information, and decentralization is a major component of keeping that control in the right hands; yours.
What about traditional apps vs decentralized app? Can you give me examples? Sure. Uber is a centralized app. You download the app on your phone, and some information is stored and used on your phone, but all your information flows through Uber’s servers.
What is cloud gaming? No console needed. You can get your games, that you purchased, accessed on the fly and they’re mobile.
What is WiFi Offload? When large telcos use WiFi for cellular traffic, usually in a large building like an airport or hotel. It’s a win for everyone except you. Telcos get to charge you cellular rates while using WiFi (which is way cheaper, and the building owner is paid by the telcos. You, of course, just “get” to have your connectivity.
What was the name of that super geeky radio guy with the Portapack? Michael Ossmann. You’re welcome, enjoy that rabbithole!
What about that Gumdrop Candy Machine thing? What’s that? It’s an NFT marketplace built on Solana specifically for RevoFi NFTs. If you’re buying the Founder’s Edition versions of the RevoFi devices, each one includes an NFT. The Candy Machine Gumdrop is another way to mint one of the Cipher Army (the related NFT project) NFTs. The intent is to give everyone a fair opportunity to mint an NFT, paying with SOL.