(Page numbers refer to details in the 33-pager UVST Project Description)
What: A 6-12M€ R&D project to develop a ultra-private user-friendly mobile&desktop end-to-end communications service providing basic voice, email/text/chat and Web functionalities, at a cost of 1-200€/user/year, which includes dedicated server-side equipment and processes, and 3mm-thin dedicated portable end-user devices, interfaceable with commercial smartphones and desktop peripherals, that complements a user’s ordinary commercial computing devices. It will provide substantially more verifiable and significantly-higher levels of security, authenticity and especially privacy, at a fraction of the cost, than that provided by state-of-the-art highest-security dualOS smartphones, P2P cryptophones, and PCs, as well as provide substantial additional features and custom peripherals, targeted to specific client-type deployments, which enhance user adoption and radically drive down price per unit. (p-3-10)
Main Components: cheap and ultra-thin touch-screen devices (CivicPods) attachable via custom case to any smartphone; (optional) cheap bare-bone dedicated TV-connect devices (CivicDongles) with DVT-B, HTML5 and Tor capabilities, that are assembled, verified, flashed and transferred to their users in dedicated custom-built street-facing labs (CivicLab), that contains a server room where all accessible services are hosted (CivicRoom); that are managed, distributed and commercialized by any willing service provider (CivicProviders), whose service is regularly certified by a to-be-established dedicated certification organization/Committee (CivicAuthority) of leading global digital civil rights organizations, also responsible for the updating of the certification specifications.
CivicPod: It’s a 3mm-thin touch-screen handheld device, ⅔ the size of an average smartphone, that embeds encryption hardware, very minimal software, a power connector, and 1 micro-HDMI and 2 Bluetooth ports. It connects via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone as an hostile communication bridge via Bluetooth. It is typically attached to the back of it via a custom external case, for mobile use, or connected to any desktop monitor via a dedicated HDMI docking station and to a dedicated KeyboardPad via Bluetooth, for desktop use. Case will be mass produced for major models, or cheaply custom 3d-printed1 for uncommon ones or users that want a personalized version.
Partners to date: Fondazione Ugo Bordoni (The research arm of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development), ProNetics (Italy’s leading open source IT service provider), H3G Italia (leading global mobile operator, commercialization partner), Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights (The leading Italian digital human rights organization), Center for Cyber Intelligence and Information Security La Sapienza (The leading Italian academic security research center), Unidata (top 10 fixed-line ISP in Italy). The swiss Kolab Systems (regarded as one of the most secure email services in the world, lead by the founder of FSF Europe), and 3 world-class Brazilian partners: Kryptus (first maker of secure processor in southern hemisphere), USP CITI Center and LSI-TEC (creators of Brazilian PKI, only certificator of all PKI equipment in Brazil, coordinator of the FP7 EU-Brazil Global iTV project for the new global interactive TV standards), Cedeo/WimLabs (Dr. Chiariglione, founder of MPEG), and 8 others. Legal counsel is Avv. Guido Scorza. In talk with Telecom Italia, Almaviva, Reply, NTT Data, Deutsche, Lenovo, ZTE.
Targets Markets: Substantial market opportunities have been identified for the following deployments: (a) as white-label standard or custom deployments for banks and bank associations for their premium clients; (b) for internal use by large private and public organizations, including state security agencies; (c) as while-label, IaaS or PaaS server-side-only solutions in several markets; (d) as white-label standard or custom deployments for wide deployment by telco and/or broadcasters to ordinary consumers, including (optional) on-TV media fruition features, through a dedicated HDMI dongle/STB, the CivicDongle, (and compatible devices, such as possibly ChromeCast) controlled through the CivicPod in an extremely innovative interaction interface.
CivicDongle and Mass Consumer Deployment: In wide-market consumer deployment, the CivicPod can also remote control – in highly-innovative, ergonomic and immersive manner – an (OPTIONAL) companion TV-connected HDMI-Dongle, the CivicDongle/Box, that embeds an unsecured mid-level mobile-phone chipset running a mobile version of a Firefox Browser for Android and FirefoxOS, a free-to-air DVT-B(2) tuner, onion routing technology, Wi-fi, Bluetooth and multi-format Web video rendering capabilities, support for upcoming Global iTV2 standard. The CivicDongle may give preferential UI positioning and API access to content partners, in addition to unmodified and unrestrained mobile versions of Web content and app access.
Through 2d front-facing cameras with refractive lenses, the position of the user’s finger tips above the CivicPod screen are tracked and relayed wirelessly to such TV-connected device and made visible on the TV screen as halos of varying size. Finger tips positional information appear as a semi-transparent video-overlay stream on the TV screen that decrease in opacity and size as the finger tips gets closer to the CivicPod screen. Touch events are also relayed to the CivicDongle to trigger touch events on the CivicDongle UI, and therefore on the TV screen. Therefore, overall the user gets the experience of “touch controlling” their TV from the comfort of the Sofa, but while looking at all times to the TV screen instead of the CivicPod screen, including while typing on a virtual keyboard without having its finger hiding the key about to be pressed.
Broadcasters and/or mobile telco, as partners or clients, can offer to ordinary consumers a mobile and mobile-to-TV meta-platform fully interacts with and functionally extends any smartphone platform (Android, iOS, FirefoxOS, Ubuntu) to provide users with the following key competitive advantages respect to market leaders: (A) uniquely immersive, comfortable and effective mobile, desktop and TV interaction and user experience; (B) beyond-state-of-the-art privacy, security and authentication; (C) a very wide choice of global content unrestrained access to all and any mobile Web content, and a wider choice of Italian content expected due to the control of the platform by Italian consumers and content right holders; (D) uniquely extensive and privacy-respecting user-profiling for ads, both automated and user-driven, and immersive living room entertainment applications, that are made uniquely acceptable to consumers by unprecedented and guaranteed levels of user privacy, and by pseudonymity-based profiling.
The Need: (p.14-17) In a global market whereas all communications, business and personal, and all entertainment, rapidly converge into a few leading mobile Internet platforms, and when recent state surveillance revelations have enormously raised the bar for the security and privacy of communication of all citizens, businesses and organizations – a wide array of privacy-sensitive individuals and institutions feel an increasing need for user-friendly end-to-end voice and text communications that can offer levels of privacy and security that they can truly trust, that are widely-adopted or adoptable by their interlocutors, to complement their ordinary commercial devices. Until recently, such high level of trust was gained by security claims backed by brand name and track record. This is widely considered no longer sufficient. Highest level of trust, in this new global scenario, can be gained and maintained only if there is no-one to be trusted, as every single technical component and administrative process involved, including device manufacturing, is both openly verifiable and very extensively verified (paid and volunteer) by world’s top IT security experts.
Competitors: Secure and highest-security desktop, dualOS (hybrid) smartphones, cryptophones and server/cloud solutions, catering to high-end civilian and military sectors. It also partially competes and partially complements ChromeCast (and other Internet living room entertainment solutions) and the new Google Tango device platform.
Barriers to Entry: Need to achieve ultra-high and truly end-to-end, fully-verifiable and extensively verified levels of privacy, that can compete with trust levels based on claims based on brand names with track record. Also needs economies of scale, as users utility will grow substantially has a reasonable number of users with whom he wants to communicate ultra-privately own a CivicPod, or can be easily induced to do so (based on the low cost and/or mandatory use). The service must offer substantial features to justify the inconvenience of carrying additional mobile device.
Targets Markets: Substantial market opportunities have been identified for the following deployments: (a) as white-label standard or custom deployments for banks and bank associations for their premium clients; (b) for internal use by large private and public organizations, including state security agencies; (c) as while-label, IaaS or PaaS server-side-only solutions in several markets; (d) as white-label standard or custom deployments for telco and/or broadcasters, including extensive and innovative (though insecure) on-TV media fruition features through a dedicated HDMI dongle/STB (the CivicDongle).
Marketing Strategy: B2B solution for white-label and custom deployment to enable banks, banks associations, telco and/or other premium very high-worth individuals and institutional customers. As initial adoption drives cost per unit down, a consumer version – without dedicated business peripherals, but with CivicDongle and its entertainment features – would be released for mass-market adoption.
Financing Strategy: (p.26-28) Acquire 4-12M€ of R&D funds through Lazio Region and EU Horizon 2020 R&D co-funding Calls , by selling most of the economic exploitation rights to one or more Structural Partners, i.e. large and/or medium IT companies (and/or pre-seed funders), that are willing to contribute 25-35% of total R&D investments as required by such Calls.
Download here a 7 pages PDF User Verifiable Social Telematics Executive Summary.
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User Verifiable Social Telematics Project Description and Business Plan 33-pager full PDF
Rufo Guerreschi, Exec. Dir. Open Media Cluster
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