21 Inc, the mysterious startup recently coming out of stealth mode to announce a record $116 million in funding, is reportedly planning on giving away free devices to stimulate the bitcoin mining economy.
Recall that in its earlier days, the company had in fact engaged in application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) manufacturing for bitcoin mining. Following the recent funding announcement, however, the impression was that the startup was looking to focus on blockchain applications for the evolving Internet of Things (IoT). At the same time, there was mention of driving mainstream adoption of Bitcoin.
The latest iteration appears to bring all of the above together. It has reportedly partnered with Qualcomm, one of its main investors, and Intel to develop chip technology for IoT-enabled devices. These can include gaming consoles, USB battery charges and even toasters. The devices would be given away for free to consumers and would naturally mine bitcoin in the course of their use. Consumers would recoup part of their electricity costs with a 25% share of mining revenue, the other 75% going to 21.
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The so-called Internet of Things envisions a world of smart, interconnected devices seamlessly exchanging data and optimizing their performance.
The ultimate hope is that Bitcoin will make its way into everyone’s home, eventually attaining the ubiquity envisioned by its strongest backers.
Observers may be curious as to the intended logistics for the vision. For example, how would the new economy react to the next halving in mining rewards- or the eventual disappearance of rewards altogether? On the other hand, if the devices can be structured such that their mining consumes a negligible quantity of incremental energy, the mining network can naturally operate as a result of people’s everyday activities, the non-existence of rewards rendered irrelevant.