Please tell us about yourself and how you got involved in the Hackathon
I’m currently in my final year at university. I’ve been building apps for the past two years and have recently been learning about cryptography, but I hadn’t previously built anything with Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs).
I heard about DIF through an email from Devpost with information about the Hackathon. I started reading recent DIF announcements and looking into the specifications.
A lot of the concepts were new to me. It made me rethink how the internet can be delivered!
What motivated you to build something in the area of personal health data?
Another team member, who has health problems in her family, came up with the idea for HealthX Protocol. Her family has to take a big bunch of files with them to every medical appointment. There’s no way for healthcare providers to filter or compute on the data. Everything is manual and takes a lot of time and resources to manage.
Privacy is obviously really important when it comes to personal health data, but it’s not enough. Given the current state of cyber attacks, you have no idea who has your data, whether it’s in the cloud or whatever. So, the ability to own your health data was a critical requirement for us.
The other part is, you don’t only need to store the data, you also need to be able to share it with those who need it.
What did you learn during the hackathon, and how did you use it to meet these needs?
The hackathon introduced me to DWNs and Web5. Before, I was into other stacks and protocols: Ethereum, zero knowledge and DeFi (Decentralized Finance). I wasn’t actively building identity into my applications.
These past two months, I’ve been fully immersed in decentralized identity.
With Decentralized Web Nodes (DWNs), owning your data is simple. You spin up a basic server, which can be in the cloud, on your smartphone, even in your browser. You can store the data there and send it to another DID, which can see or edit the full data, or a certain portion of it.
You encrypt your data with your DID. It’s not like Google has the keys. Even if it’s in the cloud, it’s yours.
Somehow everything fell into place. I thought “this can be a great use case”.
How have decentralized identity and Web5 changed how you think about app development?
The most important thing is being able to store, own and share data. You have self-custody with web3, but it’s just the private key. This enables decentralized money, but what if I need to build an application that generates a large amount of data? I can’t put the file on Ethereum. Even with systems like Filecoin and IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), ownership is still a big issue.
Something that connects your identifier to your storage and enables you to give access to other identifiers opens the door to a lot of new applications. Ownership of data is lacking in web3, and web5 fills the gap.
Another consideration is that in web3, identity is anonymous. To build identity into an app, you need to write a smart contract. Proving your identity becomes really easy when you’re using DIDs and Verifiable Credentials (VCs). You can choose what information to share using Selective Disclosure. It’s all there out of the box.
VCs can also be used for access control to a DWN. For example, if you have a conference, anyone with a pass can get access to the materials. The old way of access control is using a username and password. The new way is you can give access to anyone with a VC.
What next for HealthX Protocol?
The application is currently just a prototype. We want to build something much more polished.
At this point, generating the DIDs is a little difficult. To address that, I’m planning to integrate a digital identity wallet, perhaps even build one. Then we can do a production application.
I’d also like to build other applications and get more involved in the decentralized identity community.
I have a lot of ideas and I’m just getting started in this space!