We have ceded control of our location data. While the fight for data ownership is familiar and pressing across industries, discourse on geolocation is stalemated by a fundamental problem. For the consumer to access their data, it must be collected by a satellite; a deeply centralized, surveilled, and fallible system without which location services cannot exist.
FOAM is the first step in creating a secure GPS alternative for tracking goods, services, and objects that places control firmly in the hands of the consumer. Right now, a new generation of makers, DIY'ers, and digital pioneers are installing FOAM Mesh Network Anchors on rooftops across the country. These early adopters are connecting the anchors to stress-test the FOAM Incentivized Location Testnet; the first version of a democratized location service that rewards consumers for their participation and allows use without ceding ownership.
We designed the FOAM rooftop Anchor in a way that transforms commonplace weatherproofing into an icon that inspires adoption and interaction from expert users and passersby alike. Those on the ground see the bright copper beacon from afar, inspiring curiosity and providing real-time feedback on community participation. Users benefit from flexible mounting systems, intuitive component access, and rugged weatherproofing - seamlessly incorporated into the Anchor's unmistakable copper exterior.
The Anchor's distinct visual, we hope, will become a common sight on rooftops around the world; a shining icon that heralds a shift in thinking and creates new opportunities for nascent tracking technologies.
The Global Navigation Satellite System [GNSS] consists of 31 satellites launched by the U.S. Military accessible for use by civilian, commercial, and military purposes. These systems rarely fail and have proven historically reliable enough that our society has come to depend on the functionality of these geopositioning systems.
However, GPS has a multitude of concerning vulnerabilities and limitations. Civil GPS is entirely unencrypted and, due to the nature of the authentication system, is quite susceptible to fraud, spoofing, jamming, and cyberattacks. Although concerns regarding potential attacks have been raised consistently by preeminent parties since 2012, few protection measures have been implemented. Next-generation satellite systems like OCX [Operational Control System] designed to combat cyber threats have been continuously delayed and fail to address other vulnerabilities, like proof-of-origin and authentication.
Additionally, the limitations of GNSS are becoming increasingly visible. GPS systems require four satellite signals to triangulate geolocation, making indoor localization nearly impossible, especially in dense urban areas where multi-path signals are easily obstructed. Further, acquiring accurate coordinates is a power drain for devices and remains a hurdle for IOT [Internet of Things] devices.
The FOAM Location network consists of remotely-connected radio nodes, or Zone Anchors [ZA], coordinated to receive LoRa packets and transfer data to a remote blockchain data store. To function, at least four Zone Anchors are mounted on rooftops and connected to form a Trust Zone.
Each connected Anchor in the network shares the FOAM localization protocol, an Ethereum smart contract that enables secure, reliable geolocation free of the vulnerabilities of traditional GPS systems.
The rooftop-mounted Zone Anchor consists of the PCB stack, battery, LTE Modem, and two antennas. A new generation of radio network technology, LPWAN, reduces power demands from connected devices and transmits further to create more effective and reliable Trust Zones.
Trust Zones are only as reliable as the Anchors that form them. As they are exposed to weather and the elements, we designed the Anchors carefully to withstand and stay operational during the worst conditions. The enclosure has to dissipate heat in the hot summer months and resist freezing during winter, leading our engineers to develop a two-part housing with temperature transfer fins, IP68 waterproofing, and a reflective finish.
FOAM Zone Anchors are optimized for multivariate assembly and connection. During installation, users must ensure a visual line-of-sight between at least 3 Zone anchors, usually requiring trial and error. Because of this, we designed the housing for easy mounting and dismounting on tripods, walls, and poles. Additionally, a clever lip mount enables users to instantly disconnect the enclosure in case of an on-site adjustment of interior components.
We designed the enclosure to inspire and attract early adopters. The front housing uses the heat-dissipation fins as a design element that, along with the copper finish, represents the immutability of the blockchain and stands out on rooftops as a signal of participation. The emblem on the front of the housing complements this intention by symbolically representing the connection of Zone Anchors within each Trust Zone.