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Monero’s hardware wallet project is entering the next phase

The hardware project Monero completed the first phase with the development of the internals and boards at the end of April. The next step is to develop a suitable case, perform injection molding and other fine-tuning; around 25 percent of the project’s funding target has already been achieved. BTCManager spoke to Michael Schloh von Bennewitz, Monero’s hardware team leader, to find out more.

BTCManager dealt with the Monero hardware wallet project for the first time in September 2017. After the board was finished and ready to be encased, a new funding proposal was submitted to the Forum Funding System (FFS) on May 2nd for the creation and distribution of hardware Wallets compatible with Monero, another goal is to force the hands of other hardware wallet manufacturers to add the altcoin that has not yet been realized.

The work that the team did over six months between September 2017 and April 2018 was on time and on budget, so the next stage is likely to be delivered on time and with the proposed resources. The target funding for this tier is 498 XMR, and machine builders will be working on the case and doing their own 3D printing, which is made from a magnesium alloy and takes up about a quarter of the funding.

The board for the hardware wallet is ready; The next step is to develop cases with the design shown above. Image: Taiga

In mid-May, Bennewitz travels to China to present the hardware wallet technology at the country’s DefCon. There will be a board and case demonstration later in August when DefCon takes place in the US.

While some things went smoothly, other aspects were challenging. For example, the manufacturers who make chips, active components, microcontrollers, etc. are improving their inventories and creating new products so that the Monero hardware team never knows when it will receive its order. In these cases, workarounds and backup plans were put in place to stay on schedule.

Von Bennewitz, on the other hand, says the firmware progress has been more than satisfactory, with a team of three to five people working on putting the firmware together. Budgeting for the previous cycle also worked well, according to von Bennewitz. As last time, a 20 percent buffer is being set up in funding to mitigate failures. Nevertheless, as a demonstration of the project’s success to date, a test version will be shown at DefCon in Las Vegas in August 2018.

NFC radio test version will be demonstrated at DefCon

The trial version of the Monero Hardware Wallet is a wirelessly connected device that stores any data, such as a secret issuing key or a public address. The prototype is an NFC badge that can transfer the stored data to a smartphone. There are some protective features that prevent the badge from being used as soon as it comes into contact with NFC-enabled devices; Most importantly, you have to push a button for the device to transfer data.

The badge consists of two halves, two separate devices on a circuit board. First, there is a radio circuit that does not require a battery. Second, there is a battery and 16 LED lights in a matrix to give the device a certain aesthetic and to flash the color orange.

This is what the NFC radio test device looks like. Image: screenshot

Hundreds of these test devices could be ready by DefCon, but for now, von Bennewitz says the NFC radio trial is guaranteed to be only available to VIPs, as they have decided how quickly the devices can be available if demand increases unknown at this time.

A break to the end product

The test device is a “break” between the final hardware wallet and cheap enough to give away. In fact, von Bennewitz said in his conversation with BTCManager that this is one of the reasons he’s visiting China in May and taking three or four devices to test and see how they work. In terms of manufacturing, von Bennewitz says it is sold worldwide, with operations in China, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United States, and the enclosures are made in Belgium.

If all goes well with the plants, “the next step would be to attract even more investors in order to set up a real company independent of the FFS.” But that would bring its own problems. For example, involvement of investors may force the project to raise the price, which runs counter to goals, as BTCManager previously reported that the team wanted to make the device inexpensively and at a cost of $ 20.

A look under the hood of the developer and consumer editions

We also learned about the differences between the Developer and Consumer Editions. The Developer Edition has twice as much circuit and has not yet been sent to testers. The developer version is used to introduce features and experiment with before adding them to the consumer edition, which acts as a merge point.

The circuit is displayed for the consumer edition. Image: screenshot

A feature highlighted by Bennewitz, for example, was an ambient light sensor for exceeding limits, which can detect when the wallet housing is removed. In order to add many more functions, BTCManager was told that it was rather “time consuming” to find extra space on the board to add more functions.

The board of the Developer Edition is more heavily populated compared to the Consumer Edition. Image: screenshot

Feedback from the Monero community has also been positive as many individuals requested more products from the hardware team, such as a bearer bond similar to Opendime’s. Unfortunately, von Bennewitz said: “We couldn’t follow up. There is overload; We can’t have six projects in parallel. ”More feasible, he says, are two or three in parallel, including the developer and consumer editions of the hardware wallet, the NFC wireless test device and a steel crypto storage product that can store your private keys .

In the future, if all goes according to plan, we should see a demonstration video of a closed device running an immutable bootloader by the end of September 2018.

Purism collaboration

It also appears that the hardware wallet project is paving a way for others to follow suit. Von Bennewitz told BTCManager that Purism would like to develop a smartphone that would function as a hardware wallet – a versatile dedicated secure element that can be used to sign transactions. The Monero hardware team leader also said he looks forward to speaking with the Purism team.

In terms of progress, von Bennewitz says that Purism is “a little bit further behind us” and the tech company is the perfect partner for the Monero hardware team. He believes this will become a symbiotic relationship and hopes that they will work together as if they were a team.

Purism announced in October 2017 that it would partner with the Monero project and deliver a smartphone with pre-installed Monero wallets. While the Monero hardware project is on friendly terms with all of the hardware wallet companies like Ledger and Trezor, Purism are “a kind of the same people” as those in the Monero project, and von Bennewitz suggested they may even be team members in the future .

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