What's the inspiration behind the name Native Digital?
We are researchers and Native Digital is the short form of Natively Digital Physical Assets (NDPA). It comes from the idea of having a piece of metaverse into the physical world, a bifrost bridge between digital and physical.
What is Native Digital & the Smart Dust?
We have been doing research and development for the last 25 years across many different sectors, from military, to industrial to medical applications of smart sensors, RFID, 3D scanning technology and artificial intelligence.
In the last 7 years we developed a system for the electronic traceability in super cold applications. We are talking about the supply chain of cryogenic capillary containers. These straws of less than 2 mm of inner diameter are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks at -200°C. Long story short, we made it and today we have a ceramic tag of 1 mm square, super robust, with an ultra wide pressure and temperature range.
These tags are the grains that compose our “Smart Dust”, a random distribution of these tiny electronic identificators.
How does the Smart Dust work?
Every grain of the Smart Dust is a passive transponder that works at a frequency near to 1 GHz. Passive means that it has no battery, so until an antenna calls it at the right frequency it remains off, and it is nothing more than a little stone made of ceramic and sand. It has its own unique ID and some additional memory.
To explain how the Smart Dust works, let’s take an example in the art sector: an artist wants to use the Smart Dust inside his new creation. So he takes a vial of dust, disperse it in the colors and paints his artwork (we call this phase “dustization”). Once it is ready, it has to be scanned with a special radiofrequency device to read each grain's unique ID, to calculate the topological relations among all the grains of dust, to calculate what we call the “digital DNA” of the artwork, to burn it back into the Smart Dust distributed memory (this the “burning” phase) and to mint an NFT of this artwork (the tokenization phase).
During tokenization, the digital DNA of the Smart Dust is used to calculate the hash code of the artwork to be written in the NFT metadata. This is very important.
What are we really solving?
We are not the first to use RFIDs and NFTs. There are several companies that already use traditional transponders, for example NFC, to tag paintings, claiming to guarantee in this way the artwork itself and to enable its tokenization. Typically they calculate the hash code of the NFT from the digitized version of the painting. This poses many problems that non-technical people are unaware of:
A single transponder is much better than a barcode or a QR code, but it is not an anti-counterfeiting system per se. Its radio frequency signal can be decoded, processed and reproduced.
How to make sure that the transponder cannot be removed from the work.
If that single transponder fails for any reason there is no backup.
By using the digitized version of the painting to calculate the hash code to be engraved in the heart of the NFT in blockchain, this represents no more than the ownership of the digital version of the artwork. If the artwork is born digital, everything is fine, as for classic NFTs. In the case of a physical painting, for example, the colors interact with oxygen and light and change a little. If after some years the artwork is sold and the buyer wants to scan it again to check if the hash code corresponds to the original registered in the NFT, it is almost certain that this comparison will fail.
The Smart Dust solves all of these problems at once, because:
It is composed of many randomly dispersed nano tags, which store topological relationships with the others in an encrypted way. Eventually they can also store other information, such as color data corresponding to their position, or even the artist's DNA. Such a complicated scheme is practically impossible to reproduce.
The small size of its grains allow its dispersion in the colors, inside the canvas or paper, inside the rubber fusion of the sole of a sneaker, in the fusible interlinings used in the fashion industry, almost in every product. This dispersion cannot be removed unless the product is destroyed. It is its DNA.
The characteristics of the digital DNA code make Smart Dust fault tolerant. Up to 25% of the grains can break without affecting the consistency of the digital DNA.
The hash code written in the NFT is not derived from the characteristics of the artwork, such as its colors or its shape, but from its digital DNA written in the Smart Dust integrated within it. It does not change over time, it cannot be separated from the artwork, it is easily verifiable with a reader and it is resistant to errors. Anyone at any time can verify that the NFT corresponds to physical work and vice versa. Smart Dust is the natural extension of the blockchain into the physical world.
How did the founders meet?
I got the idea for the Smart Dust in May of this year, filed the patent and started talking about it with some friends. The reactions I got were opposite: indifference in front of a too complex theme or, for those who connected all the dots, the most overwhelming enthusiasm for the vision of a world in which any product has its own embedded digital DNA, where its history is recorded, securely connected to the metaverse. These people even before we had the money to pay salaries and expenses, they believed and worked on it with extraordinary enthusiasm. This is the Native Digital team, a team of visionaries with an exceptional professional track record.
Where do you see the future of Native Digital?
I see the Native Digital Smart Dust almost everywhere, inside my sneakers, my t-shirt, my watch, inside my dentures, in the blister of my medicines, inside the different parts of my car, inside the concrete of my house. Any product of our daily life needs its own digital DNA, in which its history is written, which makes it impossible to counterfeit.
I wish I no longer heard on the news that a building collapsed because of too much sand in the cement mix. The World Health Organization says one in ten drugs sold worldwide is a fake. In some countries, this figure can be as high as seven out of ten drugs, particularly in Africa, where 100,000 people die each year from the use of counterfeit drugs.
This solution makes it possible to make any serial product unique, prevents its counterfeiting, prevents its alteration and therefore introduces a level of guarantee that is unprecedented in human history.