Micha Benoliel is a serial entrepreneur with a dream to connect the planet in the aim of making knowledge accessible to all humanity. He joins us in this week’s episode of Popping the Bubbl to discuss his entrepreneurial journey and how connecting humans to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing, has always been at the center of what does.
Micha began his entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 8 when he first became enamored by computers and building games. He started coding and soon began to dream of the possibilities of connecting the planet. With freedom of access, specifically access to knowledge, Micha felt anything could be possible. It is with that spirit that he has built businesses all focused on fostering exchange and communications for millions of users.
He started Open Garden with a vision of building a network made up of smartphones leveraging mesh network technologies to connect them and sharing bandwidth capacity amongst participants. After winning Techcrunch Disrupt’s Most Innovative Startup prize in 2012, and closing an initial round of seed funding, he realized people wanted to leverage the technology for communications, the Firechat messaging app was born. His first success at scale came from unleashing the app at Burning Man, the annual desert festival that attracts over 70 thousand “burners” minus cell connectivity which makes finding friends extra challenging. With Firechat, Micha brought connectivity to Burning Man and the app has since been used around the world and in many cases helping connect people during political movements such as the umbrella revolution in Hong Kong as well as in disaster recovery situations and many other events where cell service is compromised.
At the core of Micha’s work is enablement of free speech and communications. Micha is also involved in the field of AI, where he has acted as an advisor to Replika AI, an AI that gets to know you and can become your best friend. He’s also an advisor to Piperchain which is a decentralized twitter meets instagram that leverages the same mesh technology and was recently acquired by Rightmesh.
In addition to his advisory roles, he’s also at the helm of Nodle.io which leverages smart phones for swarm tech to create a network that provides connectivity to things, like smart devices. Working with smart device manufacturers, that install the Nodle SDK means that devices are embedded with a networking library that creates additional capacity, the most common use case being tracking devices like a tile or even tracking chip for a pet. Nodle.io creates a citizen network that is available to device manufacturers and adds another layer of connectivity that can act as a failsafe when people don’t have the app installed or other issues that may be due to device battery life because it can magnify the amount of people that track the device through its citizen network. Other use cases include bike tracking or advancing sensors that measure city pollution.
The key to the technology is low energy bluetooth and an optimization of the IOT device for one way communications which enables the information exchange with smartphones without complex pairing and which acts as a signal or beacon broadcast.
What does Blockchain have to do with it?
Micha sees blockchain as viable solution for processing of micro-payments which will eventually be part of IOT communications, imagine your car’s connectivity module being able to pull up to a smart parking meter without having to dig around for change?
The issue with blockchain today, is one of scalability... with upwards of 30 billion IOT events generated daily, current blockchain technologies are not able to deal with the sheer quantity without facing extreme bottlenecks, as happened last year with the surprise runaway hit Cryptokitties.
Micha sees blockchain as a fascinating technology that can enable so many things, but there is still a big difference today with where we are vs where we would like to be. Always at the forefront, Micha sees the future where a token could enable billions of micro-transactions of IOT, but before then, the very real challenges of scalability and price fluctuation need to be resolved.
If you like to have your mind expanded with the potential of future technologies coming at us, you’ll give this interview a listen. here Also be sure to follow Micha on Medium where he is a prolific author on all things blockchain, crypto and IOT.