Polkadot is an open-source interoperability and security focused blockchain founded in 2017 by the Web3 Foundation, which counts former Ethereum Chief Technical Officer Gavin Wood as its president.
As a promising next generation platform, Polkadot is attempting to build the foundations of “Web 3.0”, a term used to describe the next version of the internet that is truly decentralized and gives users control over their data and identity. Polkadot attempts to do this by creating a secure umbrella network under which individual network economies can function autonomously.
The Polkadot relay chain is the fundamental layer upon which independent blockchains can communicate. Individual blockchains exchange data across this layer, making cross chain registries and computation possible. This works for both permissioned and permissionless blockchains. As an example of the usefulness of this feature, the team describes how a school’s private academic records can be used with a public degree or credential verification blockchain.
The two other major technical elements of the Polkadot platform are parachains and bridge chains, the former being chains designed specifically for applications and the latter being chains that connect Polkadot to external blockchains.
Several other projects are also being built on top of the Polkadot network, such as ChainLink, iExec and Aragon. The team also says that many development teams are building applications on Polkadot, including file storage, financial, oracle, identity and payment chains.
Currently, the team is working on a series of Proof-of-Concepts for new features, such as interchain computation. A full release is expected in late 2019.