The Stack Archive

The ‘Bitcoin Light Bulb’ – it’s the gift that keeps on giving

Tue 2 Jun 2015


Christmas 2015 may find you with a money-making light-bulb stuffed into your stocking, if ASIC manufacturers BitFury have their way.

The news of a light bulb that can mine Bitcoin when plugged in made significant waves on Reddit four days ago when pictures began to emerge depicting the BitFury-branded device (it’s hard to know what else to call it), from the Blockchain Summit – a gathering of Bitcoin visionaries and shakers on Necker Island, owned by Richard Branson.

For BitFury the project is evangelical rather than visionary. BitFury CEO Valery Vavilov says of the initiative “We believe that the project’s focus should not be on making money from Bitcoin mining, but on creating innovative solutions with main purpose to use this product for educational purposes and fun,”

BITFURY_LIGHTBULB[1]Bitcoin’s cryptocurrency system relies on an ecostructure of donation of CPU cycles and bandwidth to maintain and update the blockchain transaction ledger underpinning the system. Contributors are rewarded in bitcoins, 25 per ‘hash’. ASIC manufacturers create hardware specially designed to handle Bitcoin data, and BitFury provide a range of machines and chips, all rather drier in ambit than the user-friendly light bulb, to handle the exigencies of Bitcoin hashing.

The light bulb has no commercial price tag estimated yet, but is said to be released with a accompanying wallet for social transactions. It was conceived over a year ago by BF board member Bill Tai and the company’s head of product Niko Punin, with a functional prototype created earlier this year. The version revealed at the Blockchain Summit is the latest in a series of prototypes, and is increasing awareness of the capacity of modest devices to contribute to the Bitcoin network – and be rewarded.

The company has announced various possibilities for the development of the light bulb project, including the possibility of open-sourcing the hardware itself and releasing an SDK to inspire ‘social applications’ of the project, all aimed at the kind of hobbyist enthusiasts likely to tinker with a Raspberry Pi or strip down a popular new hardware release.

The announcement of the BitFury light bulb follows a recent trend towards using the potential ubiquity of the Bitcoin network to overlay potential new strata of social networks, with details of 21 Inc’s own Bitcoin-based socially networked devices having recently leaked on to the net.


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