DIMO is a relatively new entrant into what I call the wireless mining space. They’re building an open IoT platform with a focus on cars and trucks.
In the words of the DIMO team:
“DIMO is a user-owned IoT platform that allows drivers to collect and share their vehicle data. Drivers get insights about their vehicles, contribute data to the open ecosystem where it can be used to build new technology and applications, and earn DIMO tokens for participating.”– dimo.zone
Another way of putting it: DIMO is a way to mine cryptocurrency with your car by sharing the wealth of data that’s generated by your car’s onboard computer while driving. That data could eventually be used to talk to other (driverless) cars or power insurance applications.
Drivers can install a DIMO device, called an AutoPi miner, which uses cellular networks to transmit data from your car. In exchange for sharing vehicle data with the network while driving, drivers are rewarded with $DIMO tokens.
There are still a lot of open questions with DIMO as they’re in the very early stages of building the network. The AutoPi devices have not yet shipped and tokens are not yet being distributed.
Nevertheless, DIMO is a really interesting entrant into the wireless mining space and worth checking out, especially because it provides a way to potentially earn money while doing something you would be doing anyway — driving around town.
What problem does it solve?
The specific applications are still a bit murky, but let’s be honest, you’re not buying hardware from blockchain startups because you have a concrete use case that needs solving ASAP.
Here’s what DIMO has to say about why they’re building the platform:
The walled gardens of the Web 2.0 era have been reproduced in the physical world through IoT networks like Google Home, Facebook Portal, and Alexa. Vehicles are the next and largest category of devices to be connected. Automakers have created companies like Otonomo and Wejo to replicate the Web2 model of reselling user data, while Amazon, Google, and Apple are doing everything they can to embed their software into vehicles.
This model has proven it delivers value to corporations first and users second (if at all). Instead of a rich ecosystem of transparent and composable applications, we have silos that can’t interact without brittle, rent-seeking intermediaries. Violations of privacy, security, and interoperability guarantees show that incentives are not aligned between equipment manufacturers (OEMs), regulators, and the public.— Why we’re building it – DIMO Overview
I think the best way to summarize this would be to say that as cars get smarter and we move into an epoch of driverless vehicles, web2-style companies are going to pop up with their extractive business models, walled gardens, and penchant for selling your data. DIMO is aiming to cut them off at the pass and provide web3 solutions to IoT, similar to Helium (and as we’ll see below, they have plans to compete directly with Helium).
What kind of apps could I expect? What can I do with the data?
I don’t have clear answers to these questions, even in a hypothetical sense. It’s easy for me to envision what web3 can do for e.g. social media or finance, but less clear when it comes to cars and trucks — it’s not like I’m currently doing anything with my car’s data, apart from getting phone notifications when my tire pressure is low or whatever.
But maybe there’s a lot of stuff going on that I’m not aware of. I’m pretty ignorant about all of this but here we are, trying to figure it out.
DIMO does give us a hint at where they plan to go.
The early phase consists of:
Ranked by priority, our focus during the bootstrapping phase will be: Build vehicle supply through $DIMO token issuance to early data providers.Incentivize OEMs to make it easy for users to share data from their devices with developers. Build tooling that makes device data more accessible to developers so they can create new user experiences using the open & neutral DIMO platform and economy.— via How DIMO scales – DIMO Overview
In other words, we’re in the bootstrapping the network phase. Here’s where we might head after that:
It’s interesting to see that they plan to go beyond vehicles into the broader IoT ecosystem in Phase 3 (2025-2030). It looks like cars are the beachhead from which they plan to expand and compete with more comprehensive IoT blockchain networks like Helium.1
Who is the team behind it?
It’s a little tricky to find on their website, but the do have a Team page and the FAQ says:
The full-time core team is made up of 8 engineers with deep mobility, web3 and IoT experience as well as 3 non-technical contributors that split responsibilities associated with go-to-market, organizational design, finance, strategy, marketing, governance, and partnerships.— FAQ » [DIMO]
What can you do now to start earning?
There are two ways to get started.
The first is by ordering an AutoPi, DIMO’s data mining device. They currently sell for $345. To order an AutoPi, you have to first sign up for an account and register your car.
Unfortunately, they’re sold out right now for US customers but orders for European and UK customers will open in March 2022.
I pre-ordered an AutoPi a few months ago but haven’t received it yet. It should arrive at some point in summer 2022.
The other way to connect your car:
If you have a connected car subscription with your auto OEM (e.g., Ford, Tesla, Toyota), you can connect to DIMO using that username and password. To power this, we use Smartcar, which is like Plaid (how most websites will integrate with your bank) but for your car.
It’s a great option because if your car is supported, you can connect it immediately instead of waiting for hardware or physically installing a device. The tradeoff is that you’ll see less data about your car and earn lower rewards. There are also privacy implications that vary based on vehicle OEM (GM, Ford, Toyota, Tesla etc) of using your existing connected vehicle service. We’ll detail these in a later post.— How A Car Connects To DIMO. DIMO is a user-owned IoT platform that… | by Andy C | DIMO Network | Medium
What cars are supported?
All cars built in 2012 or later should work, except for Teslas, which do not require a device to work with the DIMO network. Tesla owners should not buy an AutoPi because a dedicated Tesla integration is coming and they’re exploring Tesla-specific hardware.
How does the AutoPi device work?
It plugs into your car’s OBD2 port, which is a data port available on most vehicles (it’s usually somewhere under the driver console, near the pedals).
I’ll see how it works when mine arrives, but for now I believe you just plug it in and connect to the network to start earning.
What blockchain does it run on?
Eventually AutoPi devices will connect to Helium. But the v1 device that’s being sold now won’t use Helium. Instead, it will use existing cell networks, with a plan for v2 to use Helium 5G networks next year.
What about privacy?
It’s clear that the DIMO team is concerned about privacy and that it’s one of the raisons d’être for the project. That being said, I haven’t been able to find any information about how this will be achieved or how exactly data from your car will be handled.
That leaves us with a lot of questions: How will vehicle data be transferred? Who gets to see it? What protections will be in place?
And like, where exactly does this data go once I plug in an AutoPi and start driving?
I’m looking forward to getting answers to these questions over the next few months.
The $DIMO token
The $DIMO token is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. The contract is already live: 0x5fab9761d60419C9eeEbe3915A8FA1ed7e8d2E1B.
$DIMO tokens will be used to reward drivers for connecting their vehicles and streaming data to the protocol.
It’s also a governance token.
And there will be staking, but instead of being used to validate transactions, staking will serve as a way to insure against data consumers/developers misusing your data:
When data consumers and app developers agree to DIMO’s terms of service, they’ll put up a deposit (their stake) of $DIMO that can be taken away (slashed) if they misuse user data. This keeps dispute resolution simple, transparent, and out of the courts. The more data they consume, the more $DIMO they’ll need to stake. This has the added benefit of aligning them with DIMO as they’ll need to own more $DIMO tokens to get access to additional data, and users stand to be compensated more if their privacy is compromised.— What is $DIMO – DIMO Overview
How do you earn $DIMO tokens?
Initially, you will be able to earn simply by connecting to the DIMO network and sharing your car’s data while you drive.
The exact rewards will depend on how long you’ve been connected, what type of car you drive, the types of data you provide.
The goal is to incentivize drivers to connect cars with valuable data, thus using token distrubtuions to bootstrap the network.
The total token supply is 1 billion.
45% of the total supply will be allocated to funding the demand rewards over the next 40 years, with issuance decreasing by 15% each year.
Issuance will be weekly to smooth out the irregularities in driving behavior during the day (e.g. to avoid under-compensating drivers during rush hour and over-compensating drivers in the middle of the night).
Here’s a sample calculation of how points will be calculated and distributed for an individual vehicle:
There will also be a separate Green rewards pool for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, which will earn more for being green.
As the network grows and there is more demand for car data, in addition to incentivized rewards, drivers will be rewarded based on what third parties are willing to pay for their data. The, as in most of these bootstrapped web3 networks (even Bitcoin) is to eventually replace mined rewards with earnings based on actual data use and transfer.
This is all still a bit hypothetical as no rewards are being distributed, and probably won’t be until some time in the summer of 2022.
And at the moment, there’s another way to earn $DIMO tokens: by referring other users to the network (feel free to use my referral link).
And you can earn tokens for contributing to the DAO.
How much can you earn?
There’s no way to know now how profitable an AutoPi miner will be as the token hasn’t been listed yet and doesn’t make a market value and we only have a vague idea of how much an individual device will earn (that hasn’t stopped me from pre-ordering an AutoPi, but hey, I love to play around with this stuff before it’s ready).
What can you do to get started?
First, you need to create an account and register your car.
Once you’ve created an account, you can pre-order or purchase an AutoPi device, although if they’re sold out you will have to sign up for their email newsletter or join the Discord to get notified of when sales open again.
Or you can connect your car via the SmartCar integration.
It looks like a similar playbook as Pollen, which is skipping IoT altogether and landing their beachhead with mobile data hauling to compete with Helium. Hey, with all these protocols competing, it could be a really golden age for wireless miners 🙂 ↩