Ontology was founded in Nov. 2017, and its mainnet officially launched in June 2018. Members of Onchain, a blockchain development company based in China, contributed to much of the early network developments as well as its launch process. Onchain has since stepped back to let the Ontology Foundation, and its community of open-source developers, oversee the future direction of the protocol.
The project has ties to the NEO blockchain, also the brainchild of the Onchain team, and is part of the smart economy vision set out by NEO. NEO and Ontology are both not-for-profit public blockchains and open source projects but focus on different sectors. NEO is a more generic smart contract platform that focuses on digital assets. Ontology focuses more on digital identity and the data linked to identities (think medical records, credit scores, copyrights, etc.). The two projects complement one another by facilitating positive interaction between their respective networks, as evidenced by Ontology's Open Cross-Chain Platform and other shared ecosystem projects.
Ontology is a high-performance public blockchain and distributed collaboration platform. It aims to provide customizable public blockchain services, with support for multiple-layers, sharding (for scalability), multiple Virtual Machines, and privacy. It also enables cross-chain communication. What it means is that Ontology can launch applications on the mainchain (such as NFT's or utility tokens) as well as set up side chains for private blockchain use cases (such supply chain, healthcare consortiums, etc.) while still linking them back to the mainchain.
Ontology identified several use cases for its network early on, including patient history in healthcare, distributed equity management, content generation, reputation systems, and financial services. The team also explored other sectors, such as gaming, DeFi, and the attention economy (content, short videos, and advertising trade). As of late, Ontology has turned its focus onto providing self-sovereign digital identity solutions (through its ONT ID application) and private data management, particularly within the Japanese, Korean, U.S., and European markets.
As an example, Ontology partnered with the South Korean-based Klaytn project, the public chain of Kakao. Ontology will have more technology, product integration, and interactions with Klaytn, including data privacy and the ONT ID application so that more Korean users can join the Ontology ecosystem, and more projects and enterprises can access the available markets.
The Ontology team plans an application framework model. This will enable third-party developers to build decentralized applications. The framework will include a data marketplace that will enable collaborative computations, safe exchange of data and data computing resources.
The Ontology network's primary technical features include:
Ontology Consensus Engine framework: supports various consensus protocols through modular encapsulation
Smart contract mechanism: supports multiple VM, including NeoVM and WASM VM
HydraDAO: HydraDAO is an off-chain scaling solution of Ontology’s distributed ledger, which achieves scalability of performance, function, and business, including Oracle access, Layer 2 scaling solution, and cross-system communication
Sharding: provides sharding on three dimensions: state sharding, transaction sharding, and network sharding
Cross-chain: provides standard protocols to execute transactions cross chain
Ontology also offers a suite of tools developed by the core Ontology team to aid in the creation of enterprise blockchain applications. The available tooling includes:
ONT ID: a decentralized identity solution framework that helps users control their data and identity. Opens the door to creating applications that require assigning identities to people or things (supply chain, medical records, credit scoring, financial services, copyrights, real estate)
ONTO: a non-custodial wallet that can connect users to the Ontology ecosystem, such as dApps, airdrops, ONT ID authentications, DEXes, ONT NFTs, etc. ONTO maps your digital identity and real-life identity.
DDXF: the data tokenization and resource exchange frameworks built by Ontology for blockchain applications. This is a new way of processing and managing application data. Through DDXF, application data is stored in a distributed way and data privacy is ensured. Essentially the achievement of self-sovereign data.