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Interview with Nino Ulrich and iampass team

What guys at iampass are trying to achieve might seem futuristic as we speak but it could well end up being the solution for a lot of instances in which we today require different methods to prove who we are. Just think about it for a second: credit cards, IDs, gym pass, passport, driver’s licence, keys and lots of physical supported instances just to carry information abour who you are and what belongs to you. The simple fact of having to use a piece of plastic with a magnetic strip or a chip is crazy: we have an higienic and higly secure way to prove our identity using biometrics and, therefore, access all the benefits we have assosiated to it.

Let’s get to meet a bit more about iampass approach to biometrics and how this concept would interact with DLTs.

Daniel De Michele (Carpincho Dem)
Director,
 IOTA Hispano
IOTA Evangelist Network member 


Leer versión en Español

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Could you briefly explain the main aspects of iampass for the people that still do not know about the project?

iampass challenges the status quo of identity. The modern, digital world we live in constantly requires another identity card, new app or additional password and there is always the trade-off between convenience vs. data security. At the same time there are approx. 15% of the current world population without any ID, which excludes them from education, health care, voting rights, land ownership, etc. iampass is combining the best of biometrics, encryption and Distributed Ledger Technologies to enable people (without any technical background) to become their own identity = ”I am pass” (more info: https://iampass.io)

When did you have your first contact with IOTA? Do you remember what your first impressions were regarding this technology?

Sure, I was at an Ethereum Meetup in January 2017 and a friend told me about IOTA, “Machine to Machine Economy” and a DLT without mining and fees, but scalability by design. Like other DLTs that I was experimenting with (Ethereum, NXT, Waves, …) I needed to have a few coins and see which functions the network already offered. I sold 2 BTC to buy my first MIOTAs on the YDX Slack Channel and learned about sending free transactions/ (JSON) messages to the Tangle.

Iampass deals with sensitive data. Immutability and cryptographic protection are essential. We know you guys did some experiments with other DLTs such as Ethereum. Why did the project end up choosing IOTA over other possible solutions?

Personal data is indeed a very sensitive and serious domain that most people try to stay away from or avoid whenever possible. We took the challenge to look at “identity”, personal data, raw vs. encrypted data in a very fresh and diverse view. Without going to much into the technical detail level here, it is absolutely clear, that it would be careless to simply store personal raw data on any DLT, instead sophisticated end-to-end concepts are mandatory. Further on, any identity related system requires scalability and affordable zero value transactions, which have been the bottlenecks for all blockchain based technologies so far. IOTA based on the DAG structure, designed to handle millions and billions of IoT devices
and transactions, is currently the best technical fit for our goals, not to mention MAM (Masked Authenticated Messaging and future Qubic features…).

What kind of devices are you guys using to gather palm biometrics data? Do you conceive a scenario in which iampass could end up manufacturing its own hardware, ready-to-go in the Tangle?

We did a lot of research on current identification and authorisation methods. Technically we could adopt any method or technology to our modular iampass hardware and software concept, but biometrics, especially palm vein biometrics is the most secure method, measured by the lowest %FAR (False Acceptance Rate) and %FFR (False Rejection Rate). We are using the core hardware of the current global market leader in that section. Looking at the trinary concept of IOTA and JINN (trinary hardware) it is not on in the current scope, but definitely possible that we will expand to produce iampass dedicated hardware that can be used as a plug and play solution.

Could you explain a bit what Zero-Knowledge-Proof is and how this could be used by iampass?

Zero-Knowledge-Proof is a concept of proving something to someone else, without actually giving away any personal/ raw information about yourself. Looking at a simple example: Alice goes to a bar and wants a drink. Bob needs to prove that she is over the age of 18 years. As of today Alice would show here passport to Bob, revealing a lot of personal data that has nothing to do with her being eligible to get a drink, like “First Name”, “Last Name”, “Address”, “Date of Birth” and more data. Even the complete DoB is too much information as it is irrelevant if Alice is 17, 18, 19 or 60 years old. We only require a boolean function (result can only be Yes or No) that calculates and only returns the result itself to Bob: TODAY – DoB >= 18 years boolean // Result “Yes” or “No” This concept is part of our ongoing R&D work for iampass to verify and proof identities and authentication, without actually knowing, transferring or storing personal, raw data on IOTA or any other DLT, but only hash values and results of functions.

We understand the project is going to have a non-public token sale. Will you guys be using an ERC20 based token to launch TOQEN? If so, could this be reviewed once Qubic provides Smart Contracts and the ability to generate colored coins (tokens)?

We have put a lot of thought into this. After long pro and contra discussions we are very excited for the development and release of Qubic and already talked to @micro_hash about
testing our Token on QubicLite. In order to keep the momentum of our project going we creating our ERC20 based Token now and and switch to an IOTA Qubic based one (similar to the approach EOS took). Actually it is our goal to take iampass as a role model project with a real product and appliance to be the first IOTA based colored Token and therefore named it TOQEN (Further Qubic features, such as IAM (Indexed Authenticated Messaging as a MAM evolution,Smart Contracts and more could enable even further features of iampass…)

Although this will change, as we do this interview IOTA has no solution to persist data in the long run because of the snapshots and lack of open source code to mount a Permanode. What’s iampass approach to this issue?

This is another current challenge we are aware of. We are running and testing our own full nodes (and permanent nodes since the snapshot on 29th April 2018), exploring hybrid solutions, permanent offline storage as well as automated re-attaching procedures. We don’t have a final solution yet, but keep working on it as part of our development cycles.

Regarding your team … Wow! You have a bunch of talented people involved on this project! Would you walk us through a day of work at iampass?

Busy and not boring for a single day. In the spirit of distributed networks our team, advisors and partners are based in Singapore, Eastern Europe, Germany and a few other places. We are doing weekly development sprints, that means setting goals on Mondays, communicating via Skype, Telegram, Hangouts, Discord and partially even working together in coworking spaces. The Devs are working on code, interfaces, UML diagrams. Marketing tries not to get distracted by the daily crypto madness and focus on the communication of our shared vision to build a tangible product. Researchers, Advisors and Tech Partners are providing a lot of input for questions to be clarified that often times, when answered, produce two new questions. There is a lot coffee involved. Some of us eat, sleep and live iampass and IOTA even dreaming about the Tangle sometimes… At the end of each week we make a reality check and see how ambitious our goals actually were and then we repeat the same process over again.

How do you imagine a futuristic world with massive iampass adoption?

Actually we are trying not to live in the too distant future, but to bring a tangible change to people who don’t even know about blockchain. Our first public prototype demonstration will be next month and we will have a video team onsite to document and share this real life
experience with the rest of the world. Our Roadmap is set out to have a productive system and first business client by the summer of 2019. After that we can’t even start to imagine. Looking back 20 years to the late 90s, it would have been impossible to predict the technology and things we already take for granted today…

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