Helium Network: Powering the People’s Wireless Economy

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By Nathan Frankovitz & Zachary Profeta

Without a doubt, the internet has made the world a better place. By distributing near-instant access to information across the globe, virtually all industries have become more efficient. Moreover, the standard of living around the world has climbed rapidly as humans have gained access to internet-based devices with an ever growing set of applications. Now, the Internet of Things (IOT) is enabling devices themselves to communicate with one another in unprecedented ways, making it possible for new synergies to be discovered. Through decentralization, crypto assets are helping to scale these in-demand networks. By offering public access to wide ranging coverage at low energy costs, Helium Network Token (HNT) has become the leading crypto network for the rapidly growing IoT space.

Air quality monitors, GPS asset trackers, and temperature sensors are just a few examples of devices that can make use of the Helium Network to collect and relay information. As the number of such devices grows, the network will afford users unparalleled access to robust real-time, real-world data. The value potential of this next chapter in the age of information is incalculable. Accordingly, demand for IoT connected devices is projected to rise exponentially in the coming years.

Traditionally, costly infrastructural barriers to entry limit competition and network scalability, enabling private internet service providers to siphon wealth that is created by the public’s growing interconnectivity. However, because Helium’s network grows organically through its decentralized community of investors, it is capable of providing unlimited data usage with no need for the sim cards and fees associated with traditional private networks like AT&T or Verizon. Helium’s disruptive token economy is simultaneously a threat to private networks and an opportunity to forward-thinking investors. 

By rewarding Hotspot providers with Helium Network Token (HNT), the Helium Network incentivizes individuals to invest in “Proof-of-Coverage” miners that provide miles of coverage for surrounding IoT devices. Using radio frequencies, Helium LongFi transfers data and credits using only 5W of energy per Hotspot, which is less than most light bulbs. Though tech enthusiasts are capable of building their own miners, commercial third-party manufacturers sell Helium Community approved HNT miners starting at approximately $426 USD. Depending on demand and location, many of these miners earn upwards of 100 HNT per month. As HNT is valued at $16.61 per token on the day of writing, these sold out miners frequently resell for multiples of their retail price on secondary markets.

Above: Helium Hotspot in Manhattan and surrounding network participants. Source: explorer.helium.com

Because the Helium Network is able to pool data from a virtually unlimited number of devices, it is especially useful for scientific endeavors that require extensive monitoring such as agriculture, weather forecasting, and environmental biology. Of note, a joint study titled “Advances in Smart Environment Monitoring Systems Using IoT and Sensors” between the Italian University of Sannio and the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology (MIIT) cites air, water, and radioactive pollution as “major factors that pose genuine challenges in the environment”. With better data, researchers can make better decisions to overcome these challenges. The study also reviews research trends wherein emerging IoT technology can be used to enrich other environmental factors.

Helium also finds adoption in asset tracking. As PR Newswire explains, “Preventing asset loss and theft, followed by enhancing operational efficiency are the two highest drivers of [IoT] adoption.” According to Helium’s Head of IoT Product Dal Gemmell, “Based on inbound demand and outbound efforts, asset tracking demand remains high, and yet legacy connectivity technologies continue to be costly and complex.”

Similarly, IoT networks like Helium can monitor movement of vulnerable people such as patients with dementia, who are increasingly treated in outpatient settings, making the monitoring of these people vital to ensure their safety and well being. Using the Helium network, Careband monitors movement and wearable device data of cognitively disabled patients to alert caretakers of irregularities in the patients daily routine. The same technology is being incorporated in proximity and contact tracing in COVID-19 outbreaks. Regarding integrating Helium, Careband’s CEO Adam Sobol stated, “So much of what we are doing today is possible because of them [Helium] and The People’s Network. Together, we are giving employers, administrators, and caregivers the much-needed tools they need to help protect their teams, students, and loved ones.”

Helium’s integration with Airly is another example of how decentralized IoT networks can further public health objectives. According to the UN, worldwide air pollution causes some 7 million deaths and $5 trillion in costs annually. Airly Sensors, air quality maps, and API tools help both individuals and institutional researchers stay informed with hyper-local real time air quality data. With obvious congruence between Airly’s emphasis on sustainability and recent heightened public discourse on crypto’s environmental and social impacts, we anticipate future integrations between crypto networks to produce even more efficient, net-positive changes for the globe.

In essence, the Internet of Things empowers humanity by delivering rich, timely, and actionable data. If air sensors and asset trackers are like nerve endings on the human body, then the Helium network is much like the nerves running to the brain. Combined, these tools enable us to make informed decisions on how to respond to the unpredictable world we live in. As we increasingly sense, respond to, and learn from such powerfully precise data, we will be capable of building a more beautiful future for all.