A newly published Microsoft patent suggests that it's considering its own, innovative cryptocurrency that could compete with Facebook's Libra. Titled ‘Cryptocurrency system using body activity data', it has a very interesting approach to the mining process.
The patent's abstract describes a system where a sensor connected to the user will collect their body activity data, verify that it meets a service provider or advert's conditions, and reward currency if those are met. Some examples given are brain waves or body heat.
“For example, a brain wave or body heat emitted from the user when the user performs the task provided by an information or service provider, such as viewing an advertisement or using certain internet services, can be used in the mining process,” the patent explains. “Instead of massive computation work required by some conventional cryptocurrency systems, data generated based on the body activity of the user can be a proof-of-work, and therefore, a user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously.”
For the unfamiliar, ‘mining' in cryptocurrency networks refers to the process of verifying whether transactions are cryptographically valid. Typically, this task is performed using the graphics cards of volunteers, who receive a small amount of currency in return for their services.
Microsoft's proposal sounds quite a bit more intrusive, but it's worth noting that this is just a patent, not a proof-of-concept or announced product. It's simply an idea that the company thinks could have merit and therefore wants to protect.
The patent was first filed on September 21, 2018, but was published for the first time yesterday. We haven't heard any rumors that Microsoft is working on something like this, but should it make it to market, it would at least provide a more energy-efficient solution to current methods.