Learn about new ways of storing documents, multimedia, sensor telemetry (all kinds of data) on the internet to never lose it again and new ways of sharing it through real-world objects as digital twins online (mirrored NFT tokens with attached data).
Dr. Eric Falk, Co-Founder of Filedgr, talks all about this Digital Twin Datahub
Lauren Weymouth (00:07):
Hi, I'm Lauren Weymouth, your host of All About Blockchain. We're excited to be back after summer break. For new listeners, we talk about blockchain use cases, what's possible with this technology and where it's gonna take us in the next five to 10 years. We interview academics from the University Blockchain Research Initiative that was launched by Ripple in 2018. This is our fourth year of research and development. I just spent some time touring our European partners, diving deep into their applied research, and it was awesome to be back on campus after two years without visits.
We also talk with partner incubator and accelerator startups and alumni entrepreneurs, and today we're gonna discuss digital twin data hub. And here to unpack that with us is Dr. Eric Falk, co-founder of Filedgr. I got to meet with Eric in Luxembourg, when visiting his alma mater, University of Luxembourg, where he completed his computer science PhD. We worked closely with the Interdisciplinary Center for Security, Reliability and Trust. They're producing some really interesting blockchain research, and deep talent is coming out of that program. Eric, welcome to All About Blockchain.
Eric Falk (01:07):
Thank you, Lauren. I'm happy and excited to be here.
Lauren Weymouth (01:11):
So Eric, when did you first get turned on to blockchain?
Eric Falk (01:13):
It was during my PhD so in 2015 to 2017 where we started with the first project at Interdisciplinary Center, in Luxembourg.
Lauren Weymouth (01:25):
And what are your go-to resources to keep up on the industry and learn new trends?
Eric Falk (01:30):
I browse a lot on the internet so I'm, uh, connected to a lot of Medium posts and also, academic research.
Lauren Weymouth (01:38):
So you read the white papers but also Medium is a go-to for easy reading on, uh-
Eric Falk (01:43):
Lauren Weymouth (01:44):
... what's new on blockchain. Cool. All right. So you're a data expert. What is the problem that you were solving for?
Eric Falk (01:49):
The problem that we solve is that for now, we cannot have authentic or truthful data attached to, uh, real world objects. That is what we are addressing with our digital twin platform.
Lauren Weymouth (02:02):
So give us an example. What do you want a real world mirror for?
Eric Falk (02:06):
For all sorts of things. So it can be my clothing. I would like to- to understand what fabric is in there or my house, I would like to know what materials have been used to build it. those are just two examples but, uh, basically, every real world object can have a digital twin. and I would like to know the life cycle of an object.
Lauren Weymouth (02:28):
Okay. So we're unpacking what a digital twin or digital twin technology is and it's a replica that holds all the information of what goes inside of something. So a digital twin of your t-shirt would be all the fibers that it's made up of, where they came from. Kind of a- a complete record.
Eric Falk (02:44):
Lauren Weymouth (02:44):
And what is that good for? Like, is there a personal share you can tell us that inspired this idea?
Eric Falk (02:50):
yes, indeed. what inspired this, idea is that we were in a construction process of our house and the floor tiles came broken. and on top of that, it were the wrong tiles so we tried to bring them back. but they wouldn't be taken back because they're broken. So we couldn't find out were they broken by the transport? Were they broken by the construction workers? but end of the story, we have the wrong tiles in our- (laughs) in our floor and that was what inspired it.
Lauren Weymouth (03:19):
Your company is called Filedgr. How does it work?
Eric Falk (03:22):
With Filedgr, we build the representation of digital twins as NFTs on XRPL. We represent life cycle of real world objects by attaching meaningful and authentic data to the digital twin's NFTs to create a bond between the owners and their belongings for people to understand that the smallest object are built of raw materials. Certainly, from finite resources and that they involve a lot of work.
Lauren Weymouth (03:54):
So I can kind of start to wrap my head around this and think about all that's possible if you have detailed information about everything you purchase or everything you own. I can kinda see where things are sourced, what they're made of. It creates more responsibility around production. What else is possible? What- what am I not thinking of? What excites you? What else is possible from this?
Eric Falk (04:15):
A lot of other things are possible if we think of the financial models as well. If I take back an example of housing, at least in Europe or in Germany, when you purchase a house, you get a yearly accounting of your loan. But your property might have increased in value but banks don't have visibility on that. With a good digital twin, that represents all that has been done with your house or with your apartment, banks could not only give you an overview on your loan but on your actual net value because they can include the value increase of the house, for example.
Lauren Weymouth (04:53):
That's amazing. I find that really useful because then all the work, the time, the effort, the money that you put into your home, actually, you get credit for it and you possibly can get reimbursed on the sale or if you're remortgaging or what have you. That's great. I feel like so often, the work we do doesn't get counted.
Eric Falk (05:13):
Lauren Weymouth (05:14):
Okay. So it's about minting NFTs on the XRP ledger blockchain. How does the network provide proof of transfer or the digital illustration authentic documents?
Eric Falk (05:24):
Everything that has been recorded or notarized, time stamped by the ledger, and is the source of truth, from that moment on in time, we have the possibility to record life cycle events. For example, if I take the use case of a house, we painted a room in a certain color. We can, for example, record the serial number of that color on the XRPL ledger as well.
Lauren Weymouth (05:51):
So it sounds like it gives you extreme details in data and then we can hear how it can be effective in construction building - why else should enterprise architects care?
Eric Falk (06:04):
Enterprise architects should care because it gives them means to have simple audits because everything is recorded in authentic, in a truthful way. It's notarized by a blockchain where I cannot manipulate things and basically, all the data is there at their reach.
Lauren Weymouth (06:23):
So authenticity. I saw that on your website. Authenticity, accountability, availability. And I was laughing because triple A usually means batteries for my six year old's latest toy but here, you were guaranteeing these three As in a new way. Can you say more about that?
Eric Falk (06:39):
Why do we want to guarantee those things? So with our product, we want to foster two things. We want to create the attitude that we- humans are more uses of resources rather than owners. So right now, we purchase things and then we dispose of them without really knowing how they're disposed and those resources are lost forever. We want to address that by understanding what is a digital twin, made of? So what is in there and how can I dispose of it and how can I put it into a recycling process to use it again. So this is one attitude we want to foster. And we think it's only possible by providing transparency and accountability. But we need it three As so that's why (laughs) we- we selected those three words.
Lauren Weymouth (07:31):
Well, it's great because you're not only enabling deeper data and information and background on products but you're also creating- this- this system sounds like it creates a more responsible way of, as you said, recycling or disposing of processing garbage, which clearly, our planet needs. so Filedgr, your example is construction. But what other industries will benefit most from this?
Eric Falk (07:57):
So definitely construction is one of the biggest industries who can profit for this because, in construction, a lot of materials, a lot of resources are used that are finite. So if I think of stones, if I think of sand, that's an important industry. Yes. But second industry that can also profit a lot from this is the fashion industry, because here also, we dispose of clothing that could as well just be recycled.
Lauren Weymouth (08:25):
So Eric, can you tell us about any one of your clients or special use cases that Filedgr's working on right now?
Eric Falk (08:32):
Yes, sure. I think a very special use case that we are working on is in partnership with a company working on the recycling of precious metals. So, imagine you inherited some jewelry from one of your ancestors. And I think many times, you keep it in a drawer. You never wear it yourself. but in the same time, you're reluctant to have it recycled because after all, it's a piece of inheritance. You're emotionally attached to it. So, what we can do with Filedgr is build a second life of that object by creating a digital train representation as an NFT of the XRPL ledger. So you would carry it around with you all the time in a digital form, but you can still recycle it and bring the resources and the materials back into the life cycle.
Lauren Weymouth (09:23):
Wait, this is kind of blowing my mind, 'cause I completely relate. All right. So, I do have jewelry from my grandmother in a drawer that doesn't represent who I am in the sense it's not my style. So, you're right. I don't wear it, but, uh, I would never get rid of it because I'm nostalgic and it means something to me. It's from my family. So you're saying that it can be replicated digitally so that I could carry it around on my cell phone, on my iPhone? But then the actual jewelry itself, I can melt down and sell or pass along so that it could be used again by someone else in another form, quote unquote, "second life"?
Eric Falk (09:54):
That's absolutely correct. You would carry around that representation of the jewelry in your wallet. but, the actual object has been recycled, and is again used for new jewelry, which is also relieving the resources of our planet because, I mean gold mining or precious metal mining is really heavy on our environment.
Lauren Weymouth (10:16):
Wow. So not only does this clean out my house, but it also gives back to us not using as many resources from the planet. but what does it look like in my wallet? can I show it to people? What does it look like?
Eric Falk (10:28):
it looks like a high definition 3D scan and you can indeed show it to people.
Lauren Weymouth (10:34):
High definition 3D scan, so it's a picture.
Eric Falk (10:37):
yes it can be a 3D scan, it can be pictures. So the NFTs that we build on top of Filedgr can be all sorts of data being major files, but also text data or even censor data if you want.
Lauren Weymouth (10:52):
Wow. So we're almost talking about virtual reality here.
Eric Falk (10:55):
it's a first step. We could say that your jewelry would be metaverse ready. I mean, since it is already a 3D representation, from there, it's only a small step to take it any virtual world that you would like to.
Lauren Weymouth (11:08):
(laughs) So Lauren doesn't want to wear the earrings, uh, around San Francisco, but my avatar in the metaverse is rocking them. Okay, very cool.
Eric Falk (11:17):
Lauren Weymouth (11:18):
This sounds like a really awesome partner to be working on, and I'm excited to see the updates on that. Thanks for sharing. (laughs).
"Eric, it's a great idea to have a digital twin as an NFT. Assuming the user modifies the documents stored on the Filedgr, would you issue a new NFT corresponding to the new truth of the document? Or does the existing NFT change, In which case, is the digital twin an SFT? A semi-fungible token instead."
Eric Falk (11:45):
So we would never change any documents that have been posted. We would issue a new NFT but, you know, linking back to the old one so that we keep this transparency throughout the life cycle of the object. So errors can be human so we want to propose something that can be corrected but not changed.
Lauren Weymouth (12:07):
Okay you co-founded Filedgr. who did you make this company for? Is it a B- business to business play?
Eric Falk (12:15):
So our sales cycle for the time being is business to business. We address companies for now that sell very high valued products because, what we use it mostly for is the certificate of originality that, for now, is paper based. If I think of luxury watches or if I think of jewelry, those certificates can easily be forged but, that's not a story with a digital certificate. Now, our vision is definitely to bring this to every sort of product that you can imagine. to electronics to cars, to all sorts of products so that we really understand the life cycle of our belongings.
Lauren Weymouth (12:59):
Okay. So there's many industries that can take advantage of this. This is an expansive market for you. Now, there's other current decentralized storage projects going on. Right? Like, File Coin and Arweave-
Eric Falk (13:09):
Lauren Weymouth (13:10):
... BitTorrent Storage. In a couple words, what is the value proposition of Filedgr compared to existing similar blockchain projects?
Eric Falk (13:17):
Right. So we are not trying to rent out storage or to make an incentive model based on the storage that we rent out. We really want to provide value in notarizing data and giving people access to a new way of interacting with their belongings. So our business model is absolutely not to rent out storage but to- to add value on top kind of by giving away a digital twin to real world objects.
Lauren Weymouth (13:45):
So it's really providing the information.
Eric Falk (13:47):
Lauren Weymouth (13:49):
So we're currently in what could be categorized as a bare crypto market with retail investors showing less interest in new projects. You launched Filedgr in 2019. How has it come along in the last three years, given the current market?
Eric Falk (14:03):
The arrival of NFTs has really helped us to gear up our business because thanks to the concept of NFTs, they understand that, blockchains, they can be used for more than just bare crypto, as you said. That we can represent certificates or originality or authenticity, also using blockchains. that blockchains are a tool not only for crypto trading.
Lauren Weymouth (14:28):
So would you launch a utility Filedgr token to support the ecosystem?
Eric Falk (14:32):
For now, we haven't thought about a utility Filedgr token to interact with our network. But what we are thinking of are other concept like, turning Filedgr into a DAO and see if we can build a larger community by doing so.
Lauren Weymouth (14:49):
That's awesome. Now, we actually haven't talked about DAOs on the show yet. Could you give a brief explanation of what a DAO is?
Eric Falk (14:55):
So the DAO stands for decentralized organization and that if we turn Filedgr into a DAO, it would help us to build a larger community and in having people participating in decisions of the company, actually, of our organization.
Lauren Weymouth (15:13):
That allows you to focus on the tech. How would you incentivize users?
Eric Falk (15:18):
We want to incentivize people through purpose. So our purpose is to bring transparency and authenticity, accountability all those things and we believe that now is the time for that. This is something that, people want and want to be part of.
Lauren Weymouth (15:34):
Got it. Thank you.
I found a book called Innovative Technologies for Market Leadership. It's textbook that you have a chapter in titled, AI to Solve the Data Deluge: AI Based Data Compression. But now you're focused on using cloud services and blockchain for data. How did you migrate or is this all connected?
Eric Falk (15:52):
It is all connected because if we think of the data that we want to share over blockchain or over our networks, for that matter we better have good data compression to- to save bandwidth. If you think of the amount of devices that get connected to the internet and we have more and more devices. We think of connecting IOT to blockchain and all those kind of things. So in my mind, all of this is connected.
Lauren Weymouth (16:19):
That makes sense.
Where are you located? Where did you base your company?
Eric Falk (16:24):
Our company is based in Luxembourg.
Lauren Weymouth (16:27):
What's the blockchain cryptocurrency kinda vibe going on in Luxembourg today?
Eric Falk (16:32):
The cryptocurrency vibe in Luxembourg is pulsing. So there are a lot of projects going on and we get a lot of support also from nonprofit organizations that really try to teach blockchain for managers and stakeholders to understand what the technology can do beyond crypto trading.
Lauren Weymouth (16:52):
Very cool. So it's kind of a hot bed and a place for entrepreneurs and startups to develop and there's support around that. A couple times you mentioned that you work on the XRP ledger blockchain. Why did you choose that blockchain and what is it like working with it?
Eric Falk (17:07):
So I chose this blockchain because of several aspects. One of which is definitely the sustainability aspect where, I understand that XRPL is one of the less energy intense networks that we can find. but also, I think, the philosophy behind it is pretty much in line with what we want to build. So it's not a ledger that incentivizes people to validate or mine rewards to earn their money but it's more about the network stability and it's more about a purpose than really, trying to get rich by running a validator.
Lauren Weymouth (17:46):
It sounds like you've just had a dinner conversation with our CTO, David Schwartz, the architect of the XRP ledger. He talks about that the XRP ledger, the validator nodes that are forming consensus. It's altruistic and it's not about-
Eric Falk (17:57):
Lauren Weymouth (17:58):
... the reward. it's about creating the sustainable and supportive network on its own. And yeah, we call XRP the green blockchain. it's green XRP ledger because its energy costs are negligible. They're very low compared to other blockchains out there. So I'm so glad that actually was something that you cared about and motivated you. all right. Big 30,000 foot high question. where do you see blockchain taking us in 10 years from now?
Eric Falk (18:21):
I see blockchain really building a- a backbone, of our society on many levels because as a I said earlier, I feel like the newer generations, they are looking for purpose and, in the same time, I think that, well, we stopped believing in certificates or, rewards that can mean all sort of things. We are after the proof and I believe that blockchain will really provide this proof in many areas of our life.
Lauren Weymouth (18:51):
I could not agree with you more. Is there anything we haven't discussed today that you really wanted our listeners to know about?
Eric Falk (18:57):
Actually, no, Lauren. (laughs)
Lauren Weymouth 18:59):
We hit it all? That's great, Eric.
Eric Falk (19:01):
(laughs) Yeah. No, I think you- you gave me a lot of- a lot of good questions and so I couldn't think of something,
Lauren Weymouth (19:09):
Where can our listeners learn more about your projects?
Eric Falk (19:12):
We are currently updating our website because Filedgr was funded in 2019 so the offering has changed quite a lot, throughout this time but now, I think we really found something that we believe in and find strength in. So definitely our website. But we also have plans to become more action, on Medium, with articles but also in the open source community on GitHub where we're going to publish libraries, frameworks that we believe could be useful for the community.
Lauren Weymouth (19:44):
What is the website?
Eric Falk (19:45):
Our website is filedgr.com.
Lauren Weymouth 19:48):
All right. So what'd we learn today? Digital twin technology empowers data driven decisions. The digital representation provides both the elements and the dynamics of how internet or things, devices operate and lives through a life cycle, which gives us options for mitigating future conditions, costs, pricing to make better choices, more efficient choices.
What Dr. Falk is working on is so cutting edge and we're excited to hear it here first on All About Blockchain. Eric, thanks for taking the time out of your day to share your work and your passion.
Eric Falk (20:20):
Thank you very much, Lauren, for giving us his opportunity because it is our passion, like you said, and we always like to talk about our passion and our work and, are very excited to be part of your podcast.
Lauren Weymouth (20:33):
Listeners, we appreciate your ears along this journey of discovery with us. I always welcome your comments on my LinkedIn and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time.