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What is the LabExchange?


The lab-exchange is a marketplace protocol allowing members within the LabDAO community to exchange services with each other. While we focus on computational services in the beginning, the lab-exchange is a peer-to-peer marketplace protocol designed to handle all forms of off-chain work.

What are the key steps of the lab-exchange?

The lab-exchange can be divided into three elements, a data exchange layer, an instruction exchange layer and a value exchange layer. Consumers (Users) and Providers (also reffered to as Service Providers) communicate with each other using all three layers.

opening a transaction

Clients use the openlab command-line-interface or the openlab website to define their requested laboratory service using a standard form defined by the community and served through a REST API. The job instructions are sent to a LabDAO-hosted index service which relays the request to a series of gateways, run by trusted providers within the community. In the future, multiple permissionless index services will be available.

As a part of submitting their job instructions via the REST API, the client also posts the request as a JSON object to IPFS. The pinned JSON object is now globally visible. In case the job includes input data, these data are also exposed on IPFS using the same mechanism. Data is pinned using estuary. Future versions of lab-exchange will support threshold encryption of uploaded data.

Finally, the client deposits a previously communicated amount of tokens into the lab-exchange escrow contract and thereby opens a transaction on the ethereum virtual machine. To open the a transaction, the client references the JSON object with the job instructions that was previously exposed on IPFS.

closing a transaction

All providers of a particular service within the community receive the job instructions sent by the client (in the alpha version of the protocol clients need to specify their providers). If the provider has capacity to process a service, it checks that the client has made a deposit of the agreed upon number of tokens into the escrow contract. If the job instructions pass all checks and funds are available in the contract, a provider can claim the transaction. Transactions are claimed on a first-come first-served basis.

Once a transaction is claimed by a provider, it begins to process the requested job. The processing of jobs, just like the instruction templates, is standardized by LabDAO. In case of computational services, LabDAO develops standardized containers or adopts widely-accepted standards, such as nf-core. After processing the job, all output data is pinned to IPFS. The provider now mints a non-fungible token (NFT) referencing the generated data and the initial instructions.

Finally, after generating the NFT, the token is transferred to the client on-chain and funds are claimed from the escrow. A fixed fee of the released funds flows into the LabDAO community treasury to support further development of this open source project.

Value exchange using the lab-exchange contracts

The lab-exchange contracts are transferring value on-chain and create a shared truth about the state of submitted jobs. There are three core functions within the first version of lab-exchange:

  • submitJob - this function is used by the client. It requires a client address, a provider address, the amount and kind of ERC20 tokens to be paid as well as the jobURI. The jobURI is the IPFS URI of the JSON object containing the job instruction.
  • acceptJob - this function is used by the provider to accept a submitted job.
  • closeJob - this function is used by the provider. It requires a tokenURI, the IPFS URI pointing to an NFT containing all data and metadata generated during the job. In the process of calling closeJob, the NFT is minted, transferred to the client and payments are released from escrow with a fee flowing into the community treasury.

The state of a job can be changed with these and other functions as illustrated below.


Data exchange using decentralized storage and NFTs

Data is uploaded and downloaded from IPFS easiest using the openlab command-line-interface.

Please note that all files managed using the lab-exchange protocol are currently not encrypted and visible around the globe

The key functions include:

openlab file push example_upload.csv
openlab file pull example_download.csv

Before starting a new transaction, clients need to make sure to have all the required data pinned to IPFS for decentralized processing.

Instruction exchange using the openlab REST API standard

Every transaction is initiated with a job instruction being broadcasted to all provider gateways. Before a job instruction is submitted, clients can list all available services on the lab-exchage, pull example forms for their service of interest and retrieve information about potential providers.

The key functions include:

openlab app list 
openlab job submit
openlab job status

Can I try it?