Manuel Aráoz discusses Streamium and Decentraland on 6/11
This interview with Manuel Aráoz was part of our Miami Bitcoin Meetup on June 11th. Manuel and I discussed his recent projects, his Bitpay departure, and all ...
What's up, party people? Chris Derose here. This video is for Blockchain Beach. This is the Miami/south Florida Bitcoin group. And today we have, Manuel Araoz, and he's here with us and for our group, talking about all things Bitcoin. And let's get started, welcome. Hey, Chris.
Thanks for having me. Yeah. I appreciate on short notice you came, and it was really great to see you make time for our group. So let's cut to it. I mean, I have a couple of questions for ya, but why don't you introduce yourself for those who don't know who you are, what your background is in Bitcoin, and how you got to be where you are right now? Sure, yeah, so my name is Manual Araoz. I've been working the Bitcoin space for three years.
And right now, I quit BitPay around three or four weeks ago. Oh, I didn't know that. Yeah, and we've been doing some projects with other developers here in Buenos Aires. One of which is Streamium, that is a video streaming, platform using Bitcoin payment centers. And another one is Decentraland, which is a non-Bitcoin related but it uses blockchain technology to simulate a virtual world. That's it.
Yeah, okay, so there's some new stuff for me in there. And I've actually used most of your software. I've used Proof of Existence before on a project. Great API, nice and easy. I've used Streamium recently, actually. That was kinda cool.
For those who don't know what Streamium is, I'm still not sure that I can clearly understand it. But it's certainly a gateway into another person's laptop that you pay for by the minute, basically, in Bitcoin. And, not their laptop itself obviously, but their camera. So I saw two girls who was on Reddit, and they weren't doing anything, I don't know, anything at all. They were just sitting there kind of like typing and talking to each other. It was kind of weird.
But it was very like chat roulette-esce, I think, and not in any porn sense or anything. It was just kinda neat. And then, I haven't...what else have I used? Oh, CoPay is an awesome product, as well.
I saw you used some robotic stuff. Is that just a hobby for you? What were you doing prior? Oh, I worked for a robotics company here in Argentina four, five years ago. And before that I was in college, so that's mostly all my experience in, yeah, provisionally. Yeah, but, yeah, I have experience in web development. And I did some work in robotics doing..
.well, not actually robotics, it's home automation, we had some small applications to control parts of your house. So that's mainly my experience prior to Bitcoin. I also did some training developments as an independent developer while I was doing freelance work too. I have lots of interests. I've been focusing in Bitcoin for a couple of years.
It's a fascinating place for a developer. There's lot of really interesting technical concepts to learn and to play with. Yeah, absolutely. Getting back to Bitcoin then. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about what you're working on currently? What is your main focus? Well I only left BitPay four, three or four weeks ago. So I decided to focus for sometime on personal projects.
That's why we launched Streamium and Decentraland in the past couple of weeks. And right now I'm sort of maintaining those two projects. Dividing my time between building...trying to build open-source communities around the internet which is mainly an open-source initiative.
I'd like for that to grow into a community, and for it to be an actual virtual reality world for me. Because right now, it's a really simple website. And we're also exploring the idea of turning Streamium into a company. So I'm dividing my time between those two projects. So let's talk about them one at a time. Streamium I've used before, as I mentioned.
Now what surprised me about Streamium is that you didn't actually establish a micro-payment channel. You prepaid for time, and then that time expired, and then you had to recharge your meter. Now I think the obvious reason for that is you don't see micro-payments supporting any of the wallets. Is it that simple? And what do you think that that's gonna head towards? That's the reason. Given that no one implemantion that at the time we started with Streamium, there wasn't..
.the only limitation of payments. First to use was Bitcoinj, but the implementation....
We added our own implementation, so that was good, using Bitcore. And at that time, we wanted to show Streamium what sort of a proof of concept to show that the use of payment channels. And we decided to directly do it with a prior payment, and then create the payment centers from the app. So that Streamium works this way, you fund an address and the very people that directly, load that in your browser. Oh. And then you create a payment center from your local browser to the streamer browser.
So it's a fully decentralized app, even video and other data within the streamer and the people connecting to them, goes through a protocol called, webrtc. Which also for peer-to-peer connections in the browser. And payment, of course, is done using Bitcoin which is decentralized. So it only has some small sensor going ...
. The server serving the HTML files. And some sign-on servers, which allows peers to connect with each other, but once the connections are established and the app has downloaded, it'll work in a fully decentralized way. This is currently the way it's working, or is this the planned way that it's working? Because I used it. I didn't realize that's what is going on. Is that.
.. That's how it worked from day one. That's really cool. Have you thought about offering that component itself as either a library or a service? Or is that something you're thinking about currently? So one other thing, right now, is the current solution would be interesting in the sense that it's open-source and decentralized has some scalability problems. And even that it's fully peer-to-peer, it's more like 10 people trying to connect to a stream.
Well it depends on the streamer's ... but it won't support 10,000, or even 100 clients connecting to a single streamer. So we're trying to think of ways of providing the service to the streamer where we offer bandwidth in exchange for some percentage of the payment center's revenue that they generate. How are you doing? Hey there.
I'm Angel. I work also with peer-to-peer technologies and when I saw Streamium, I of course saw this limitation. Because you have just one source bandwidth. Yeah. Is it possible with webrtc to have some of the viewers relay the video feed to the next viewers that may come? So if you do that, then you don't..
.of course your business is more or less is toast, but then you scale. Yeah. If you can imagine like a tree. That's all I wanted to ask. First of all, nice to meet you.
I think I know you from Peter. Yeah. Are you with them? Yeah. I don't know, okay. Yeah. I'm just meeting you in person for the first time.
I really like the work you do. Okay, and yeah, we are, I mean, not myself, but together with another Streamium developer, explored the ideal using the web color, the web color and library as a way of integrating...I mean, scaling this in a decentralized way. We also thought, so the basic idea is the streamer, those creating a chance of the video and uploading more torrents that other peers connecting to them can distribute to ease out the load of the stream provider.
He gave me a really simple proof of concept of that. And we are also exploring the idea of other peers rebroadcasting the stream to new clients in a sort of a tree structure. That wouldn't require the torrent protocol or anything special. Just sort of a tree like structure where a planned space. So we're not giving them the bandwidth. And I really think it could work.
We haven't made any actual experiments implementing that. And I'll say one thing, the open source and free solution is, we plan to keep it completely decentralized and free. And we want to explore it in this way. We want to make it scalable. But we also think there's value maybe using a centralized service that can simplify most use cases, and there may even be a business value there. But we are equally interested in the decentralized scalable .
... I would love to talk more with you about any ideas you have. Do we have any other questions on Streamium? Anybody? None? I had..
.I'm a little unclear on where the bottleneck is, exactly. Is the bottleneck in the actual streaming facility of the video? Or is the bottleneck in passing bonds around due to the micro transactions in some capacity? Yeah, so, no, it's the video streaming. Okay. Because as it's peer-to-peer, the streamer needs to send the same video to all the clients on it. So it's really not scalable to share media with so many connections at the same time.
So, now let's talk Decentraland, because that I'm a lot less clear on. I haven't actually used, that's the one piece of software you've produced so far that I haven't had some experience with. Tell us a little bit about what the goals are there, and how you are managing that project. Yeah, so, first of all I need to make a disclaimer. It's just really an experimental project with no actual use cases or value, but a couple of friends..
.I mean, even back when I was working at BitPay, we were in touch with some other different developers about the...if wouldn't it be interesting to use blockchain technology to synchronize in a trusted way other pieces of data. And one that interested me especially, was virtual reality, or a virtual world.
So the basic idea here is in Bitcoin, the blockchain is used as a digital structure, and other peers to be a protocol in Bitcoin, is used so that notes can check locally and for themselves without trusting any central authority or other peer that the torrent data of the network is what they think it is. So it basically means the note can check in a processed way the other ... or the ..
. at another point in time. The idea is to translate that into a more generic way where you can use the blockchain in a positive way, and the space of any other thing, or ... virtual world.
The vision for this project, Decentraland, is to create a full, immersive version of reality experience. ... world, you can work and notify. And to have blockchain that stores and sort of serves as a ledger of who owns which piece of land and what changes people have made to this land.
I mean, ... balance from another to another in Decentraland transaction, transform a piece of land in some way. So given that this vision is very far, we ..
. of proof of concept, which is a model of the world that is super, super simple. So we are sort of, what's the easiest thing we can do to show, or to test if this is possible, and we say that we are going to model the world to the pixel bridge where each pixel can have a different color. So in this model of the world, each block, ...
that modify the color of pixels. And as a ... reward, instead of creating Bitcoins, in Decentraland we block, create a new pixel which is available for our users to change in color. So .
.. and ... our mind.
New pixels are added to the grid, and the ones...the ...
, the pixels have the ownership to change the color of all their pixels. I think ... has no use whatsoever. It's just a color grid, and in which people can change colors in this grid.
But it's a proof of concept that you can have other stuff, return on finances, and maintain the state of that in a decentralized protocol in a permanent way. Because what this means, going back to the vision, long-term vision, and I hope other people are interested in this vision so that we can form a community and move this project forward towards the vision. That virtual reality, right now, and most people will agree with me that it's a growing topic and technology, and we're seeing...today Oculus rift launched it's new device.
I don't know if you've seen that, but they announced a new device which is incredible. Who ...? Did you guys catch that? What device? What..
.who launched the device today? So Oculus Rift is the most popular .... Oh, yes, gotcha.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Today they announced a new piece of hardware, which is new headset and something for the hands that you can...which you can interact with the virtual reality experience. But in any case, I was just saying that I see that virtual reality is growing as a technology.
And we thought that bringing decentralized protocol and the blockchain data structure to virtual realiyt to add value. Because it's two additional properties to virtual reality that centralized solutions don't have. One is that decentralized virtual reality has no owner, so no company can change the rules. And it gives sort of a stability to the world space and ...
. Another one is that things will be permanent. As with Bitcoin, when a transaction enters a block, once it's confirmed and you have a certain confidence that that block will remain in the blockchain, no one can come take that back. So we believe that having a decentralized and permanent world space can make users want to spend more time in this virtual environment given that when the do, it will be permanent and no one will be able to undo their world, or the effort they put into building this virtual reality spaces. ..
. And can you talk a little bit about how you chose to encode data on a blockchain? Did you use an existing meta protocol? Did you roll your own? And if you rolled your own, how did you write it? Okay, good question. So the Decentraland protocol is really similar to Bitcoin. While working at Bit Pay, this project was done by ...
.. data structures are in detail. So we kind of started with that and simplified it a lot, because then we were going to add complexity in the sense that instead of just carrying others with some numbers, or scripts and amounts, which is the case in Bitcoin. We would like to have to coordinate the colors ..
. but we sort of simplified the different needs. And then added the complexity of having ... the color pixel grid.
The protocol is really similar. In fact, the blocks and the blockchain are almost identical to how Bitcoin works. We added a few extra stuff that we know that would help Bitcoin a lot, but that is not what is happening because Bitcoin is really hard to change. For example, Decentraland blocks have the height in one of these ...
, which simplifies a lot of the ... to include the block height there. So did you fork the Bitcoin code itself? And then you're running your own blockchain? Or are you..
. No, no, sorry. Yeah, I was not clear about that. But we used the BitCore library...
Yeah. And we forked that, and we modified that. We created a project, it's all open source, of course. You can look it up. It have ..
. Decentraland and there's a project called ..., which is sort of the BitCore for Decentraland. Which has the other protocol and the library code, that .
.. how ... my identity to just much simpler than .
.. script which have just a fixed signature and a problem key. So you cannot have scripting and ...
it's much simpler there. And for the... Who's mining it? Are you guys mining..
.are you guys mining on it yourself, or, what's the hash rate on that? Yeah, so an estimate for the client, we created a new app which is web design for Decentraland. And we implemented a minor, which works in the browser. And now there appears to be a ...
. And regarding who mined that, we're not. A week or a week and a half ago, many people connected their computers and formed notes. But then, we had many bugs in the protocol ...
. And we didn't expect that many, that amount of people connecting. We had one very serious issue with the protocol, which was a ... more than 50 blocks were not correctly handled.
So people went off in force, and we go the worst case scenario for a decentralized protocol, which was that everyone was on their own fork. So we did ... warning message now that it's..
.we're in very alpha stage, we're fixing all the bugs in the protocol. We actually have most of the protocol bugs fixed by now. We have only some details to finish. And we're planning on launching it again. But as I was saying, this is just a proof of concept, people should expect to lose their land if we update the software.
It's just for fun. And hopefully people will get interested and start ... so that we can move from this to the pixel grid to the 3D world, and then a immersive ..
. world, or .... It sounds like a fun project.
It doesn't sound like you'd wanna store anything very secure in that blockchain, obviously. But, why would you go with your own blockchain as opposed to just putting the asset records into the Bitcoin blockchain? Mostly for fun? So that's a good question and it's not easy to answer. Firstly is that you can use the different blockchains in many ways. As a ...
mechanism to store data, or as a proof of communication. So when people, I mean, everyone knows that you can store data in the blockchain, that doesn't mean that's the most efficient or correct way to implement a protocol. Even though we could have used Bitcoin as a way to store this data, it would be very inefficient. The cost of storing data in a blockchain is pretty high. So using it as a data storage mechanism was..
.we crossed that out because of the cost. Then usually a timestamping mechanism could have worked, but the problem is that you don't get any security from timestamping blocks in the ....
You still have to have a consensus mechanism in your own protocol. So we just decided we didn't want ... with a Bitcoin blockchain. We also wanted to implement a full network protocol ourselves because we had never done that.
And we wanted take on that challenge. And to implement ... in the browser. That's what we thought when deciding to run our own blockchain and not used the different blockchain in any way.
That makes sense. I mean, it sounds like a fun project. I take on little projects sometimes myself that don't have any real...what's the word? Motivation other than learning.
It's a little bit different than that, but it seems like a lot of learning in there. So guys, does anybody else have questions about Decentraland? Josh? Nice to see you here. Dante. No? No? Should we move onto the next set of questions? I wanna open it up to the audience here in a little bit. But I guess the last thing I'd like to get from you here, is why don't you tell me what things are like right now in Buenos Aires? I was there, almost a year ago now, and at the time the currency crisis was a little bit more pronounced. The embassy was just getting started.
Diego was a very busy man, and it was a little bit of chaos. Are things settling down over there? Or what would you say? Well it's been getting a little bit better, because this year we had elections. And politicians are trying stabilize the circumstances, because ... for elections.
And the economy chaos ... here. I guess you came for the Latin American ..
. Conference? No, I just came because you guys were in the news a lot and I felt like checking out what was going on down there. Do you remember when that was? ... It's like October? Okay, okay, but this year has been a little bit more stable, economy wise.
And the price of the peso, our local currency, the Argentina peso, with regards to the dollar, was going pretty bad. It was dropping almost exponentially in 2014, and now it's sort of stabilized. So we're not that bad right now. But it's mainly a move from the government given that it is an election year. July? Was it July that I went? Yeah, so it was about a year ago. I was also talking to with some of the people, which shall go nameless, they were looking for developers, that they wanted to pay in Bitcoin.
Do you think there are a lot of developers there that are talented at matters Bitcoin that would contracting gigs from Americans? Is that something that you think is... Yeah. Yeah. .
.. there's a lot of ... here in Argentina working with Bitcoin.
And they definitely are looking to work for people outside of Argentina, because of the currency issues we have here, it's always better to get paid in dollars instead of pesos, so. Right. We're always looking for clients outside of the country if we can. And what's the embassy like these days? I ...
Is the embassy still a happening place? Are the office packed? Or are they still putting things together over there? I'm not a frequent visit of the .... I live in Palermo. This is sort of a neighborhood which is not very near where the embassy is.
And I live here and I work here. And I try to stay around this area because it's a really nice neighborhood. But I know that there's always events there, and many people are going. We have somebody that's there, ...
many Argentina .... I honestly haven't been there in probably four months, but..
. Okay. Yeah. So let's open it up I guess to general questions. Who wants to go first? Not all at once everyone. If you guys don't have questions, I'll ask some more questions.
Now's your chance. Anybody? Sean's got one. What do you got? Sean: Is he ... somewhere in Streamium? Or is that just kind of .
..? Good question. So the question was do you have plans to commercialize Streamium? And is that something you want to take in a commercial direction? Which he kind of missed the first part, but I should revisit that. Do you have a plan and can you talk about it? Yeah, sure. So right now we, the Streamium team is evaluating the opportunity to turn this prototype project we did over a couple of a .
.. into a company. We think there's a business opportunity, but we are still evaluating the opportunity and seeing how we'll move forward. We think there maybe a business in operating a bandwidth service for streamers where when they want to ..
. and what their connections can support with a peer-to-peer .... And we maybe doing some sort of service where streamers can with direct part of their earnings from .
.. to a service we provide. So yeah, that's kind of ...
. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I'll throw it out there anyways. There's probably a lot of room for you to commercialize that offering by abstracting the payment channel out, offering it to cam girls. And then taking a percentage of it, and then giving the operators back USD. But you probably heard that before, so..
. Drew? Drew: So ... interesting projects currently, and I think ..
. free .... We did.
Drew: I guess ... projects in the space that he thinks ...
. So whatever... So the question was, what projects in this you..
.back it up. Your project has been called very interesting, and I agree. The Streamium is very cool. And what projects are you following that you think are cool precursors to meet projects in the space or viable companies, etc.? Yeah, good question.
So I know some projects, here in Argentina, which are really good. And a friend of mine is building a really interesting concept wallet. He's only downstairs right now. So he may come upstairs and tell you more about this. But he's building a really cool UI center ..
. wallet. I ... him that most wallets in the business space have really bad user experience.
Like if you compare them to what is where a year ago, or two years ago, they've improved a lot. But if you compare ... with other mainstream apps, the UI is really, really bad. And we have .
.. other ... wallets that do a really good job in user experience.
So he's kind of pushing a better user experience into a ... wallet. That's a really cool project because he's my friend and he was near us everyday. Apart from that, I'm super excited about what the Blockstream guys are doing with Sidechain.
They recently released their first element prototype, .... And I've been watching the videos and reading about it and very excited. But that's more on the .
... I was sort of expecting what his team came up with because they are very...
I think the Blockstream team is probably the most talented team in the space. And they are sort of ... in the different space. And they just come up with really interesting solutions and .
.. this announcement. I think it was two or three days ago they announced it. Yeah, it's a big announcement. And what else? Yeah, I guess those two are my .
... What other questions do we have, guys? What do you got? Can you ask...
You were first. Can you ask him about, I mean, he talked about timestamping versus .... Yeah.
So .... Wait, so what's the question? Say that again? It's starts on Sidechains, timestamping, versus ..
.. So there's are all huge issues. Let's pick one of them maybe, and then...
Do you wanna ask about Sidechains, and then I guess how timestamping, and storage... Ask about Sidechains and block cipher. Block cipher? Okay, can you share some thoughts about Sidechains, your feelings on them? And then after that, block cipher. Two questions in one there.
Let's start one or the other. Yeah, so Sidechains, I initially read about them when the Bitcoin developers were discussing how to do staging for Bitcoin. So as most of you may know, ... the main network for life net .
... We just got ...
and that means there are ... in the software engineering, which is to have a test environment where you put stuff out without risking losing anything because it's all fake. And ..
. environment where well it's the actual .... But there's also the concept of a staging environment, which is something which is identical to .
... But that you can use tests in the same environment. And in Bitcoin we don't have that because we don't have any ..
. that have value but in which you can test features in before actually rolling them out to .... And the Sidechains concept came from.
..well, a mixture ... developer were .
.. to sort of create a way to move coin between the different blockchain to separate different blockchain. But in a way that they are connected. So they are the same environment, but with new features. This idea then extended to what we know now as Sidechain.
And people realized it could be used not only for testing new features for Bitcoin, but to sort of fork and have many Sidechains in parallel. Where each Sidechain could have different features, and people could move their coins freely in the chain to ... certain specific features and use them temporarily. So I really like the concept of having the original .
.. blockchain, and then a different versions of ... where we can move .
.. our coins when we feel safe and comfortable with the new route. Because it's sort of like that. I mean, the whole nature of Bitcoin is voluntary and decentralized and we're seeing right now that maybe ..
. is really hard with .... And so the Sidechain technology is sort of the solution to not having to force people to upgrade software, but having people moving their value, .
.. to new features. Yeah, that's my thoughts on Sidechain. And I'm really excited about what they're doing, and the team is the best, so I hope they achieve great things. And the second question was about block cipher, right? Yes.
I'm not sure I remember what that it is. So give me a second. I'm actually...what is block cipher? I felt I wasn't .
.. I was...where do you see block cipher? So it's an API to address the infrastructure problems that are created in blockchain.
So basically use an API to create your own coin .... So it's similar to..
. Are you aware of block cipher then? Are you familiar with the project? No, sorry, I just Googled it and I've never .... Okay.
I don't have an expert opinion on that. Yeah, well I'll check it out later myself. Maybe ....
What do yu got, Doug? Doug: So what's his opinion on ...? And just how ...
? And what is ...? I figured that would come up. Okay, yeah, this is another two-part question. Part one is, one megabyte or 20? And why? And then the second question is, how do you feel about the way that the division has been here with those camps in the core team? The Mike Hern and Gavin versus Jeff and everybody else, basically.
Okay, so an engineer was hoping for the change. I mean, I was working to increase their block size. Basically because I think, I see too many positions in this debate which are Bitcoin should be...first of all, we have to make some .
... I don't know want to go into many details on this, but not increasing the block size will make this go up. And it will make processions more costly, because we are reaching the cap and if we don't increase the size of blocks, we will reach the maximum amount of transactions per 10 minutes with ..
.. So with this will necessarily go up as people to start outbidding themselves to being ....
That's on assumption I'm going, but I think most people will agree. So those two positions are basically saying, Bitcoin will be a really secure payment mechanism in which important transactions will be settled. And we can ... protocol do other and less important stuff.
I really like that idea. But the other position, which is that Bitcoin should ... to whatever use people want to give it. I think is more a .
.. not any person should decide how people should Bitcoin for. So I don't agree with anyone saying that, I don't know, subsidized transactions are spam. I think that the protocol should be really neutral and agnostic for you. We should not be trying to decentralize or .
... I think that beauty of open protocol is that people use them for use cases that were thought of at the start. But that's one of the things that make the internet so great, in my opinion. That they will keep .
.. and keeping doing things that nobody imagined before. But right now I'm sort of doubting my little position because I read a comment by Alan Bach. What he was saying, ..
. should never be done when in doubt. And the community is really discussing this a lot, and there's not a general consensus. So it makes no sense to actually implement the ...
when there's no consensus in the community. And I kind of agree. Even though it think we should change the block size to increase it, I see that there's no consensus in the community, and I need to ... to .
.. than it is to work with no previous consensus. So I really don't know how it will forward right now. I'm sort of changing my mind. I know the feeling.
All right, we've got time for about one more question here. Do we have one more question? Josh, what's your question? Josh: Since you've been dealing with consensus... You wanna come over here? Josh: Sure. Josh, you get to deal with the infamous Joshua Unseth.
Miami's own. Josh: Hello. Hey, Josh. Josh: So since you've been dealing with your own project regarding consensus, I thought it would be really interesting if you gave us some thoughts on the current state of Etherium. Considering they're having problems of a similar nature, so that..
. Yeah, I agree. Josh: So that, you can give us a programmer's perspective. Unfortunately, I'm not very informed in Etherium, so I don't have...
I can't answer .... Sorry. How about an easier.
.. I think it was a really good question hearing the reactions from the people there, but I focus mainly on Bitcoin with regard to ....
I...there's so much stuff happening between that, I don't have the time to look at ...
. Sounds like Etherium is just not that important to you. Imagine that. You've got one quick question, we're extending our time here. What do you got? Yeah, one quick question. Sure.
Oh, good one. .... You're gonna come down to Miami? What's your availability here? You wanna come down and visit one of these days? Or come up? .
.. I've been there twice in my life. Once as just starting on vacation. And once for the Miami ..
. Conference 2014, and I had a great time both times. So I would love to go back there and meet you up. That's awesome. All right, we'll let you get back to work. We really appreciate your time today, and maybe, I don't know, sometime from now in another year or so, we'll hit you back up again and do this again.
Thanks so much. Sure, yeah, I had a good time and thanks for having me. Great, great.