Ledger launches the hardware portfolio for the era of the smart contract
Ledger launches the hardware portfolio for the era of the smart contract

Ledger Blue Demo
Ledger, the French company known for its range of bitcoin hardware wallets, has launched a new extension of its product line: Ledger Blue.

Presented as “the most advanced hardware portfolio on the market today”, Ledger Blue represents a significant departure from the “thumbdrive” style of previous Ledger products. With a 320 x 480 pixel screen (along with the BlueTooth and near-field (NFC) communication capabilities), it is a portable touchscreen device capable of performing many different applications.

In a video call, Ledger’s CEO, Eric Larchevêque, spoke to CoinDesk about the evolution of the product, the design philosophy and the reference market.

Support for smart contracts
Ledger launched its first product, the Ledger Nano, in December 2014, marketed at the time as a small, safe and low-cost hardware portfolio.

Then, earlier this year, the Nano S was released, a line extension that included both a small LED screen and support for other cryptocurrencies such as ethereum and litecoin. (Ultimately, it was hailed as a cheaper competitor for the popular Trezor portfolio).

Blue’s launch now comes in response to the increasingly complex needs of an ecosystem that now includes smart contracts, token exchanges and other types of asset trading – creating a situation in which transactions and contracts can involve multiple parts and variables, each of which that the petitioner must verify.

“Suppose you want to develop smart contracts on ethereum, at the moment it’s hard to validate everything on a small screen,” Larchevêque said. “But Ledger Blue allows you to create your own application to validate a specific smart contract.”

The amount of screen space means that an application can present multiple data fields for inspection before final confirmation, an essential step in which a contract will automatically be executed by itself.

“With the blockchain, much of the security is based on the endpoint – that’s why it’s really important to know that what you see is what you sign,” Larchevêque said.

Blue also includes support for a series of cryptocurrencies: the technical specifications of the device currently include bitcoin, ethereum, Zcash, Dash and Monero, along with the possibility of integrating with other wallet suppliers such as Electrum and Mycelium.

Based on the Ledger description of its custom Blockchain Open Ledger operating system, these different currency management applications run separately and can not access the memory or storage used by another, which means cryptographic secrets should remain secure even if an application is compromised.

Focused on technology
Ledger Blue is also built taking into account the principles of open source for both software and hardware design.

While most smart devices come with fully sealed enclosures, the Blue case is held magnetically and can be detached.

In a video demonstration, Larchevêque showed the case by quickly separating and re-attaching to reveal the components inside, a design choice that reflects the assumption that it is a product geared towards technically qualified end users.

“We already know that crypto asset enthusiasts want to have a powerful and best-in-class hardware portfolio, but the new customers we want to reach with this product are corporate customers … who are already starting to build blockchain solutions using our products, “said Larchevêque.

Some already registered enterprise clients include Monax and Stratumn, two business blockchain platforms that will use Blue as their hardware endpoint for their services.

With the company SDK included in the product, Ledger also hopes to attract developers to the platform.

The product, with a price of € 229 excluding VAT, is definitely high-end, but seems to offer a very different user experience to any product currently on the market. Once the first units reach consumers, we will certainly hear a series of feedback on how they compare.

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