Dust is a technology company, and we value collaborative innovation as a way to engage both our internal team and external stakeholders. Our philosophy is to allow exploration and experimentation by our product and technical teams, and to look outside to external developer communities for ideas, input and concept validation.
Some of the best features in Dust have come from our developer initiatives, and as a company we are proud of the community we have built. Please read more about our developer initiatives below:
Mercury Protocol is a suite of smart contracts and software services that enables a trustworthy, meaningful, and providerless communication layer for consumer app developers. It enables a global network of real people to share information via blockchain, free from constraints and walled gardens such as Facebook, Facetime, and Google’s Allo.
Objective: To create a proof-of-concept for using blockchain technology to disrupt the social media ecosystem.
Status: Active, in development
The Mercury Protocol is a developer initiative that started in early 2017 as a technical exploration of emerging blockchain technology. Our development team had expressed interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency applications, and through informal discussions a thesis was developed. The thesis was to investigate blockchain technology and find a use case within the Dust app to provide a test bed for the emerging technology.
In June 2017, the team began authoring a White Paper for the Mercury Protocol that defined use cases, applications and a technical roadmap. As blockchain technology was at a relatively early state, the team understood there would be unforeseen challenges with the proof of concept, but the learnings would be instructive and the project would provide benefits for the company and broader developer community.
As the project gained momentum through the summer of 2017, the team selected the Ethereum blockchain as the backbone for the project and created an ERC20 compliant utility token called the Global Messaging Token, or GMT for short. In an effort to increase the size of the developer community and provide additional revenue funding for the project, a token sale was undertaken in October/November of 2017.
During the token sale period, the team successfully integrated GMT into the Dust mobile app. To our team’s knowledge, this was the first successful integration of a blockchain-based utility token into an existing mobile app with a large, existing user base. From the technical side, this was a very involved process that required significant engineering design, planning and implementation. Due to the nascent state of the underlying blockchain technology, the team had to develop layers of technology below the app level that are typically provided by modern cloud service providers.
For example ETH (the cryptocurrency) is required as an input to process transactions on Ethereum, but the average app user does not own ETH nor has a digital wallet. Our team designed, built and implemented a “gas management” system that abstracted away the need for ETH by the average user in order to write transactions created by the Dust features to the blockchain.
The team ultimately published their findings as a library in Github available for any developer to download, use and expand upon. The implementation of GMT in Dust continued through 2018 and provided a test bed for analyzing user behavior for the loyalty-reward mechanic that was implemented in Dust, whereby users would receive GMT for loyalty (i.e. logging in each day for one week) and could spend GMT on in-app features such as increasing the reach of their blasts to other Dust users.
The team maintains a blog with current progress for the Mercury Protocol initiative which is ongoing and continues to work in concert with our Dust product team to find innovative applications for blockchain and GMT within the Dust app ecosystem. GMT holders should reference the blog for updates related to the use of the utility token.
Objective: To create a proof-of-concept for using loyalty points to retain mobile app users with redemption options including electronic gift cards.
Status: Active, in development
An outcome of the Mercury Protocol project was the learning that adding incentives for app users in the form of utility tokens led to increased retention and engagement. The Perxy project aims to take this a step further by creating an over-the-top (OTT) loyalty system for apps that offers real-world rewards for users, similar to credit card loyalty programs.
Given we are the developer of Dust which itself has a significant user base, we have an ideal testbed for experimentation. The core components of Perxy are an SDK for installation into mobile apps, a website (www.perxy.com) for program management and reward redemption, and a cloud-based app that powers the loyalty program across disparate apps.
Perxy was soft-launched in early 2019 as part of the migration process from the previous version of Dust to the new version that launched January 23, 2019. We anticipate Perxy becoming fully active in 2019 after testing the mobile components in the Dust app and with select partners.
Objective: To create a proof-of-concept for using mobile live streaming as a medium for broadcasting topical content to “followers.”
Status: Inactive, no longer in development
Broadcast was a 2017-2018 initiative to pilot a mobile live streaming experience, with the intention of leveraging a success-case into the Dust app. A proof-of-concept app was developed and launched in an alpha form.
The team successfully built and launched the product, but ultimately the project was shuttered as the economics of live streaming were unfavorable. The amount of bandwidth and server time required for a one-to-many streaming experience with high quality was simply too great without significant ad load or direct/paid monetization.