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Published on -
April 21st, 2023
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ETHGlobal Tokyo Recap

A breakdown of the projects, vibes, and ideas at ETHGlobal Tokyo 2023 and what comes next.

We had a great time sponsoring and attending ETHGlobal Tokyo last week, and wanted to give a recap of what we saw at the event!

From Japan to the World

At its core, ETHGlobal brought the Web3 world to Japan, and Japan to the Web3 world. This was the first time since Devcon V Osaka in 2019 that we had had a global Ethereum community event in Japan. 40% of the hackers at the event were Japanese, and there was a massive presence of hackers originating from Asia. We saw tons of familiar faces, some people we hadn’t seen in years - and met even more new friends. 35% of the attendees at the event were new to Web3!

Thanks to the incredible effort from the ETHGlobal team and Japanese efficiency, this event was one of the most organized, smooth, and professional hackathons any of us have attended. The food was a particular delight, with fully stocked ice cream freezers and the taiyaki ice cream bars being a surprise hit. Everyone we spoke with was pumped to be in Japan and in Tokyo, and us locals were thrilled to host in our hometown. There were many visitors: ETHGlobal Tokyo had over 1500 attendees who submitted 311 projects. These projects won prizes totalling $375,000 USD! While brief, we hope the event sparked some long-term global interest in the Japanese Web3 space.

Project Themes and Ideas

We saw a wide range of project ideas at the event, but the hot topics were quite clearly Account Abstraction, zero-knowledge proofs, decentralized social networking, “soulbound” identity, and of course AI + Blockchain. In the sponsors hall, the Lens Protocol table was always buzzing, and not just because they had great merch. Worldcoin made an impact, as they had their iris-scanning orbs out and were taking signups for their WorldID network. In general, the theme of identity as WorldCoin provides (one human, one account) was spoken about frequently, as well as anonymous identities and how they operate at face-to-face events.

On the hacker side, we saw 11 winning finalists as decided by ETHGlobal and their team of judges. The winning projects were diverse, as you can see from our brief outline below:

  • POMPoarding: A typeform to create niche web3 community groups. 
  • ZKVoiceKey: Private key recovery using voice biometric information. 
  • BAILOUT: Smart contract wallet with EOA signing and Google sign-in, made for secure transfers to cold storage. 
  • AokiApp NFT: NFT collection with image data stored fully on-chain. 
  • Octoplorer: Blockchain explorer powered by AI to query data using natural language.
  • Myna: Crypto wallet that uses a Japanese government ID as an NFC hardware signing device. 
  • Permissionless advertising protocol for censorship resistance. 
  • AbswapX: Modular DeFi smart contract to enable limit orders between EVM-compatible tokens.  
  • Tanuki: Wallet-scoring protocol. Analogous to a credit, social, or insurance rating for an individual. 
  • YORU: Private payment dApp using account abstraction, stealth addresses, and the Ethereum Naming System.
  • SuperPlay: dApp for gamers to try web3 games without setting up wallets and buying crypto themselves. 

Check out the tweet thread from ETHGlobal for more information and to get connected with the hackers behind these projects.

Curvegrid’s Participation

Although we have participated in past ETHGlobal hackathons as hackers, mentors, speakers, and judges, ETHGlobal Tokyo was the first where we participated as an  sponsor, and we had a great time speaking with attendees at our booth and around the venue. Because we were local in Tokyo, we were able to bring almost the entire team together to network, talk about the company, and help hackers with their projects. We were pretty easy to spot thanks to our custom red coveralls - they were a big enough hit that we ran a giveaway to get some in the hands of a few lucky event attendees.

As sponsors of the event, we funded a prize for hackers who used MultiBaas or NFTeapot as part of their projects. We awarded 3 prizes, totalling $2,000 USD:

  1. FluidFunding: a prediction-based Quadratic Funding Protocol for public good projects.
  2. Kizuna Protocol: a lending platform that uses proof of humanity based on WorldID.
  3. Metascope: a dApp that analyzes and displays the metadata of Data NFTs.

Beyond our participation as sponsors, events like this one are motivating and productive for the team. Jeff, our co-founder, is a big fan of face-to-face hacking events. I think he captures the sentiment of all of us at Curvegrid when he says: 

“To speak with hackers and sit with them to help work through their technical challenges, catch up at 2 AM eating ice cream with other web3 startup founders, and talk about places to eat, travel, and sightsee in Japan, and just have everyone here together; it’s electrifying."

Future Expectations and Predictions

What do we expect to see next? Where is the Web3 startup space headed? This was the first ETHGlobal hackathon where the judges and hackers had to deal with ChatGPT and widely available AI tools. The guidance from the organizers was that AI could be embraced as a resource to build creatively and in code, as long as the product was not only created by AI. Many interesting AI+web3 mashup projects ensued, and we only expect to see more. 

We will likely see an evolution of the seeds that we saw at this event: more development around identity and using blockchains as a trustworthy way to prove you, as a person, are making an action. We can imagine more connections between people through social networks, and leaps forward in usability and onboarding through account abstraction. 

No matter what comes next, we are pretty excited about it! We can’t wait to see what is built at the next ETHGlobal events in Lisbon, Portugal; and Waterloo, Canada.