Blockchains aren’t just for currency speculators. Here at CES, we got a first look at the Pundi X XPhone, an Android-based phone that uses a blockchain technology to make encrypted phone calls and send texts.
CES 2019 Bug ArtThe device we saw was a prototype, and Pundi X wouldn’t talk much about the specs. It was big, but handsome, with unusual square corners. The phone won’t come out until the third quarter of the year, and the hardware specs could still be updated, said Marcus Leblanc, acting manager of global support at Pundi X.
The point here is the software. The phone can operate in normal Android mode, but swipe to the side and you’re in “Blockchain mode,” which uses Pundi X’s distributed ledger to make end-to-end encrypted calls and texts to other XPhones. The devices’ individual blockchains don’t hold the entire ledger; rather, the phones act as nodes on the network and request other information from other trusted nodes.
Pundi X’s blockchain-based network creates an encrypted mini-internet within the internet, Leblanc explained; the phones find each other using addresses stored in their blockchains. Then, you can make voice-over-IP calls or access public content stored on other Xphone devices using a proprietary fxtp:// protocol.
“Everyone has their own unique handle on the chain,” Leblanc said.
It’s all very, very arcane. One of the goals here seems to be as a proof of concept, of how the very buzzy “blockchain” can be used in ways other than currency speculation, which has given the idea a bit of a bad name.
Beyond that, the XPhone is trying to show how to operate a mobile communications network without having to rely on a central switching system for addressing and routing—a truly encrypted, peer-to-peer network that liberates communicators from having to go through carriers’ centralized switching systems.
“The ROM that we have available can be dropped on any Android device, and that’s our aim,” Leblanc said. “We’re hoping that larger manufacturers will pick it up.”
Pundi X has more details on their phone in this Medium post.