AR.IO: An emerging DePIN

One of the most promising crypto narratives of the current cycle is DePIN – Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks. At their core, DePINs are community powered infrastructure that leverage the power of the crowd to improve upon centralized digital services.

With this in mind, AR.IO is positioned to become an important part of the DePIN landscape as a data access protocol. But let’s zoom out a bit first.

The DePIN Landscape

Since the early days of Helium, DePIN projects have exploded in use cases from mapping roads (Hivemapper), to scraping datasets for AI (Grass), urban noise monitoring (Silencio), flight tracking (Wingbits), even space weather analysis (GEODNET). DePINs are poised to advance into new frontiers and unseat dozens of established tech companies along the way.

Arweave is considered one of the leading DePIN data storage networks, as can be seen in this recent chart from Messari: 

So where does AR.IO fit in?

AR.IO seeks to decentralize, incentivize, and sustain access to the growing amount of permanent data stored on Arweave. As such, it offers an essential service within Arweave, removing a key bottleneck in the ecosystem by ensuring users have permissionless and globally distributed access to permanent data.

Just as Arweave is a DePIN storage protocol, AR.IO is a DePIN data access protocol.  

Here’s how AR.IO fulfills the definition of a DePIN:

  • Decentralized – hundreds of AR.IO gateways are already in testnet and with many more to come as Arweave gains momentum with its hyper parallel AO computer

  • Physical Infrastructure – data can’t be seen, but the hardware that runs gateways occupies physical space. You can run an AR.IO gateway on a humble Raspberry Pi, your home computer, or a server in a Tier 5 data center.

    Open Elephant Pi PS2200.jpgCustom Elephant Pi cases for Raspberry Pi 5

  • Network AR.IO is a network whose gateways adhere to a common protocol and are incentivized by IO token rewards. Observer nodes watch the network to ensure that gateways remain available and accessible.

AR.IO is currently in testnet, you can explore the participating gateway nodes on Viewblock or the gateway explorer app. Additional dashboard metrics about AR.IO gateways are in the works.

How easy is it to get started?

DePIN projects have varied complexity, from the push-button simplicity of UpRock to the complexity of running a full Arweave node with a 158 TB backup of the permaweb. Setting up an gateway is somewhere in the middle, closer to the easy side.

Running an AR.IO gateway currently requires:

  • Your own machine (even if it’s a $100 Raspberry Pi 5) 

  • 10,000 test IO tokens (see below)

  • A basic knowledge of coding

To help you get started, AR.IO offers:

New and even easier ways to setup your gateway are in the works.

How is the AR.IO DePIN incentivized?

AR.IO takes the approach of rewarding operators for positive performance rather than focusing on slashing bad actors. Accordingly, here are a couple specific ways that the network is incentivized:

  • Run a node - AR.IO gateways and observer nodes currently receive tIO (testnet IO token) rewards for their work ensuring the health of the network. These tokens can be restaked in their gateway or used to purchase ArNS names in testnet. Joining the network requires 10,000 tIO, which are available to successful applicants to the testnet.

  • Delegated staking allows gateway operators to proxy their stake to gateways, and thereby leverage a larger stake than they would have on their own. Delegated staking allows everyone the opportunity to participate and be rewarded in the AR.IO Network for a minimum of 100 tIO tokens. Operators control the percentage of rewards that are sent to delegated stakers. Rewards are auto-staked and can be withdrawn at any time, subject to withdrawal delays. Learn more in section 6.2.2 of the white paper.

It’s great to be early

AR.IO is still in testnet, so it’s a good time to jump in.

Start up a gateway in as little as 15-30 minutes and advance the decentralization of the Arweave ecosystem. Advanced users will be able to tune their gateway to their own application, but novice users can achieve a basic setup.

Join the testnet