Pied Piper’s decentralized internet is planned for Dubai, courtesy of startup Moeco

We’re slowly moving from the Big Data era to the “OMG HOW MUCH DATA?!,” to use the technical term. But, all joking aside, it’s getting bigger, or worse, depending on your point of view. By some estimates over 2.5 Quintillion (yes, that’s a thing) bytes of data are now generated by us daily and this is increasing exponentially monthly.

Of course, most of that data is sitting around unused because it’s hard to process all this stuff, let alone store it. The problem will get much worse as the Internet of Things really starts to motor. Which is why it’s no surprise the Crypto Kids are coming along to try and solve it all with — guess what — the Blockchain.

Recently the IOTA Foundation announced the launch of its data marketplace and that it has teamed up with multiple leading companies including Microsoft, Bosch, Daimler, Accenture, Samsung, Orange, and more, to demonstrate a so-called, tamper-proof data marketplace. That demo will begin the end of November. Meanwhile, they aren’t the only ones tacking this.

Now, Moeco.io (a Hong-kong based company with offices in Berlin and San Francisco) which describes itself as a “blockchain-based platform for crowdsourcing IoT connectivity” has come along with it’s ‘blockhain-meets-IoT’ play. Its idea is to create a viable connectivity option for various sensors and IoT devices by employing the integrated Bluetooth LE functionality inside smartphones.

Here’s the pitch: Remember that scene in the Silicon Valley HBO satire where they try to create a new Internet by connecting-up Smartphones using Bluetooth? Yes. I know. But these guys are actually doing it.

And the first place their’s going to try this out is in Dubai, which is rapidly positioning itself as ‘the city of the future’. They’ve now announced a regional partnership with Yzerchat, a voice and chat app with a built-in translator based in the United Arab Emirates. Stay with me here, but what that means is that when Yzerchat releases a version of the app containing the Moeco library, all Bluetooth LE-enabled devices with Yzerchat installed will become proximity-activated IoT hotspots. Yes. It’s like creating a new IoT internet with phones, strung together with a Bluetooth mesh network.

The data on Moeco’s blockchain-based network is encrypted end-to-end, while Bluetooth LE does not let the sensors collect any user data from the phones (at least, that’s what they claim). Effectively, Dubai just enabled a big IoT network just by using people’s phones.

It’s not just for fun. This, says Moeco, has the potential to reduce IoT costs by up to 30 times and lets businesses harvest more fine-grained sensor data in such markets as retail, transportation, smart city, infrastructure, and smart buildings.

The UAE has about 9mn broadband mobile network users, who represent 90% of the country’s population. If everyone uses Yzerchat (and plenty do) then the project could quite easily take off.

Moeco’s competitors include IoT-Narrowband, Sigfox, helium.com (they are working on the same issue, but the technology is not the same).

The startup says its solution will beat mobile operators at IoT because of this Bluetooth-Blockchain combination, while helium is currently aimed more at developers rather than end customers (and it’s also non-decentralized). Moeco recently raised $5m from the Bitfury Group.