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Chainlink Acquires Town Crier, a Hardware-Based Oracle


Chainlink, a leading oracle network, announced yesterday that it has acquired a hardware-based oracle called Town Crier. This tool was developed by Cornell Tech and the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts (IC3), and now it is being implemented on a wider scale. Chainlink’s newly acquired tool promises to bring major improvements to oracles and smart contracts.

What Are Oracles?

Both Chainlink and Town Crier provide oracles, which are tools that retrieve and convert external data into a format appropriate for smart contracts. Since smart contracts automatically perform actions and transactions, data that can be handled automatically is an important resource.

Chainlink serves as a decentralized network that provides smart contracts with access to a variety of data feeds, web APIs, and bank data. Most notably, Chainlink has contributed oracles to the widely-used SWIFT payment protocol.

Many of Chainlink’s oracles are software-based and do not rely on hardware. Since software oracles can be unreliable and may depend on untrusted sources, hardware-based oracles can be much more secure.

Town Crier is one of those hardware-based oracles. This means that the tool relies on trusted hardware and trusted execution environments (TEEs). Although Town Crier ultimately scrapes web data, just as many other oracles do, its reliance on trusted hardware allows it to authenticate data sources and keep requests confidential.

Suggested Reading Learn about another platform that relies on oracles, Aeternity.

Use Cases

Town Crier is designed to be used on the Ethereum blockchain, and the Cornell development team has produced several applications for the tool.

For example, Town Crier allows flight insurance to be paid out if a flight is cancelled without actually requiring travelers to disclose their travel plans publicly on the blockchain. Town Crier can scrape flight schedules and compare that information against a traveler’s data without compromising their privacy.

Other applications (such as stock tickers, Steam transactions, and UPS tracking) are detailed on the project’s dev page.

Integration with Chainlink

Yesterday’s announcement means that Chainlink will mainly be responsible for developing Town Crier in the future. Because Town Crier was previously developed by an academic team with limited visibility, Chainlink will be instrumental in bringing the project to a wider audience. This will add Town Crier to Chainlink’s already vast array of other offerings.

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