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What is AION? A Review of the Futuristic Platform for developing dApps

Aion strives to bring about flawless interoperability across blockchains, interconnecting both public and private enterprise blockchains. It achieves the latter via a “token bridge” which enables tokens to move across chains.

As a 3rd generation blockchain platform, AION capacitates data and value transfers between whichever AION-compliant blockchain and Ethereum by means of network bridges. The platform leverages its high scalability attribute to ensure speedier processing time as well as higher data capacity as regards the underlying blockchains, including the capability to tailor or rather customize public and private blockchains.

As much as the extant blockchain platforms are able to render their own levels of transparency within every network, this level of transparency is no more a guarantee in the event you opt out of the network and move to such platforms as, among others, banks, governments, and (or) healthcare providers.

In an interview with Techcrunch, Matt Spoke, the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of AION had this to say:

 At its core, AION becomes the plumbing to move data around. Aion provides the middleware for blockchains to communicate with each other, and the ability to pass messages between them. Matt Spoke, CEO.

The Team behind the AION Project

Matt Spoke and the rest of the project’s co-founders, being inclusive of Jinius Tu, who is AION’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Kesem Frank, who is the organization’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), were employees at Deloitte serving as members of the company’s blockchain team.

While working at the organization, they began to fathom about the need for a public blockchain with the capacity to interconnect various private blockchains. What’s more, Jinius Tu also garnered noteworthy experience serving as a Senior Risk Engineer at Morgan Stanley. Not long ago, Ian Chain who was previously a global partner at Deloitte came aboard the AION Foundation where he serves as a Senior Executive.

Whilst the company was initially bore the name Nuco Global, in July of 2018, the name was changed and is now called AION Foundation. Most significantly, this change marked an official transition in which case the organization ceased to be a corporation and ended up a non-profit foundation.

AION Partnerships

AION has set up strategic collaborations with reputable organizations both in the blockchain as well as financial investment spaces.

Back in October of 2017, AION partnered with the renowned Moog Inc. Worth mentioning is that Moog Inc. is a Fortune 1000 company with a specialty in manufacturing parts for the aerospace and defense industries. This collaboration was aimed at building a blockchain solution with the capacity to propel the manufacturing industry into the blockchain age.

In the last quarter of 2017 AION joined forces with Blockchain Interoperability Alliance, ICON and Wanchain. The alliance was purposed to help foster interconnectivity between various individual blockchain networks.

In July of 2018, AION announced its alliance with Amberdata which is a data provider rendering operational intelligence for blockchain infrastructure, on-chain dApps, token implementation and transactions. Amberdata will provide AION with analytics for its mainnet to offer users a complete suite of tools that serve to monitor, search, and analyze the multi-tier blockchain for the AION network.

Most importantly, the organization (AION Foundation) has a significant number of various other alliances and looks forward to building more in the time to come.

AION Technical Overview – More than Just an Interoperability Project

Whilst, the AION project is largely renowned as a project specializing in interoperability, its team is as well working around the clock to make sure the AION root chain is leveraged.

Other than creating new blockchain platforms, monetizing inter-chain bridges, and running cross-chain dApps, the AION token additionally serves as the fuel that secures the entire network. It is believed that the market is discounting the potential usage the AION blockchain protocol will have to run dApps and execute smart contracts.

AION has contrived and abundance of tools for developers to develop on the AION blockchain. Following the conclusion of the token swap in November last year, developers are thus far in a position to deployed smart contracts or migrate decentralized applications from the Ethereum network to the AION root chain. Matthew Spoke, the Founder and CEO of AION Foundation, noted that it is a five-minute process to port extant Ethereum dApps to the AION root chain.

The AION FastVM is basically, a tweaked EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). The AIOV Virtual Machine (AVM), on the other hand, is a performant, lightweight, and stable virtual machine that leverages elemental attributes of the JVM (Java Virtual Machine). Applications written in the Solidity programming language will be supported, but there will as well be a new option for running applications written in Java.

The AION Network

The AION network is multi-tier, just like is the case with a basic computer network. Both logic and value are passed through various blockchains to come up with a value chain in which transactions in their entirety are carried out on an on-chain basis.

Based on the Equihash algorithm, the AION network is a PoW (Proof-of-Work) network.

  • Bridging:

Contrary to a smart contract, AION destroys tokens as they move. As such, there is only a single token at a given point in time. It achieves the latter via the AION Token Bridge which transfers the AION ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum making them native AION crypto coins. Bridges are bidirectional and implement the BFT-based algorithm to arrive at a consensus. Most noteworthy, transactions on the network will only be ratified in the event there exist more than 2/3 of votes on a transaction.

Elementally, bridges carry out two functions namely:

  • Signing and broadcasting interchain transactions the moment they have been sealed in the source blockchain and an interchain transaction forwarding fee has been paid.
  • It informs the connecting network of the merkle hash updates as regards the contributing network.
  • The AION Virtual Machine (AVM):

The AION Virtual Machine is a tailor-made, lightweight JVM implementation modeled to execute chain logic within distributed networks. It was built with an eye towards robustness and performance. It’s a 128-bit VM (Virtual Machine) based on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, but accents a more secure wallet address.

Overall, the AION Virtual Machine is a step towards more robust interchain apps.

  • API (Application Programming Interface):

AION supports web3 & Java Application Programming Interfaces. Its own Java API was developed implementing JDK 8 but as well supports JDK9 and JDK10 features. In addition to integration with BaaS (Blockchain as a Service), the API provides an interface for Java-based apps. The Web3 module works with any AION node to execute smart contracts.

Product & Traction

Owing to the fact that AION is an open-source project, the progress of its development can be kept track of on their GitHub page.

The token swap from an ERC-20 token to the indigenous AION mainnet is underway. The token bridge implemented in the swapping process serves as the foundation of the interoperability technology used for other tokens. It is believed that the advancements achieved thus far by AION in the interoperability front puts the project ahead in so far as competition is concerned.

AION as well espouses blockchain’s permissionless feature. As such, anyone is at a position to run a node on the AION blockchain protocol. Also worth noting is the fact that there are over 2,100 miners working around the clock to ensure the AION blockchain is secure.

The team behind the project is additionally encouraging further contribution from the community. Gitter, which is an application that enables developers on the platform to chat and share ideas regarding the project, is rather active. On the grounds that the AION project, as earlier mentioned, is open-source, anyone is in a position to make their contributions to the projects. In addition, developers are able to submit AIPs (AION Improve Proposals).

There are bounties & grants up for grab for any user on the platform. In this regard, here’s what the team had to say:

We believe the welcoming stance towards contributors is a key ingredient in building a vibrant community that ultimately helps in the adoption of the blockchain protocol.

AION Market and Competition

Multiple bridges may be generated in the event multiple groups of verifiers sign up for a similar blockchain network using dissimilar identifiers.

From the connecting network’s point of view, these bridges are distinct, even though the broadcast and receive messages towards the same network.

As such, it is the responsibility of the user to establish which bridge to use by particularizing the target network identification. In this regard, the intention entails driving an open market by incentivizing various bridging networks to compete in terms of pricing, stability, and reputation, with the goal of an optimal fee value driven by the demands of the market.

Economics

  • Fee Distribution:

Bridge verifiers are recompensed from interchain transaction fees and potentially a portion of block rewards. The aim of the fee distribution is to come up with a fair distribution policy. Internally, all fees that are allocated to a bridge are distributed to the validators of the bridge. This is achievable either proportionately to the stake each validator has put on the bridge or equally irrespective of staking.

Externally, bridges share interchain transaction fees on the routing path and with the connecting network validators.

In so far as external fees go, the distribution models could be classified into two, as discussed below:

  • The sender of an interchain transaction particularizes the manner in which the fees are to be distributed between bridges and the connecting network. The benefit that comes with this approach is that users are in a position to optimize the fees on the basis of the load of the bridge, as well as the minimum rates.

Be that as it may, this approach is flawed in the sense that users are required to have a fundamental understanding of the routing path and the fee requirements of each bridge prior to sending the transaction.

  • In the second model, the sender only particularizes the aggregate fee and the bridge, after which the connecting network shares this fee on the basis of agreements or hard-coded protocol. The advantage of this approach is that it is a lot more user-friendly. Nonetheless, this approach has its disadvantages including the fact that changing the ratio between the bridge and the connecting network is not only rather strenuous, by slow as well.
  • Incentives:

The proffered system is tailored to discourage bad actors or actions on the platform. Nevertheless, a number of events are bound to occur. In such events, the chain validator will be demoted or removed from the active set, averting contribution in consensus as well as any rewards for themselves and their backers.

To discourage malicious backers, repercussions are dealt with by their backing approach. The network-imposed repercussions are modeled to do away with reward opportunities, instead of punishment by deregistration or redistribution of stakes among other chain validators. On the whole, this approach gets rid of the zero-sum gain in which case, as the English phrase goes; “one man’s meat is another’s poison,” one’s loss is another’s gain. In lieu, it aligns motivations, and invigorates positive collective actions.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the blockchain ecosystem’s evolution is fast-paced. So as to clinch mainstream adoption, coming up with a more efficient solution to interoperability and eventually leading to the contrivance of inter-blockchain communication is an important step forward. AION’s federated blockchain network atop the hub-and-spoke architecture was, given the time, an unprecedented solution.

In this day and age, it is a vastly employed technique that deals with the issue of interoperability. It’s only fair to mention that the AION project has set up a whole new direction for the future of blockchain technology. Whether they can continue to be relevant with the advent of various other interoperability solutions remains to be seen.

Without doubt, interoperability will turn up, yet not necessarily under the guidance of one single project; there are chances it will be in the form of a world-wide and allied initiative whose aim is to provide a communication standard much the same as what TCP/IP was to the Internet. With the proviso that the latter is the case, it only implies that AION’s value proposition as an enabler of interoperability will be extraneous.

Aion Rating

Tech - 9.6
Economics - 8.4
Team - 9.7
Market Opportunities - 8.6
Product - 9.5

9.2

User Rating: 4.5 ( 4 votes)

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