What Is Orbs?
Tech Deep Dives

What Is Orbs?

Orbs works by combining a proof-of-stake model with virtual chain infrastructure.

What Is Orbs?

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Billed a hybrid decentralized blockchain, Orbs combines the efficiency of proof-of-stake (POS) with a unique virtual chain infrastructure to power the next generation of decentralized applications. 
The platform is designed to provide an attractive solution to individuals, businesses and enterprises looking to deploy highly secure, efficient and cost-effective decentralized applications and smart contracts. To this end, Orbs provides both client and smart contract software development kits (SDKs) to help make building and deploying on the platform as simple as possible.
Orbs claims to stand apart from other smart contract platforms in that it isolates individual virtual chains to help maximize throughput and reduce latency by ensuring that congestion on one chain does not affect applications running on others. It is hoped that this will help position its solution as an attractive alternative to platforms like Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain — which have suffered from congestion issues in the past. 

The Orbs network is powered by the ORBS token, which is used to settle application execution fees. The ORBS token is also used to elect a public network of permissionless validators (who are referred to as “Guardians”) in a secure and decentralized manner.

Orbs was founded in 2017 by Tal Kol, Daniel Peled, Netta Korin and Uriel Peled. Tal Kol is an experienced engineer and multiple-time entrepreneur and Orbs’ technology, engineering, and product strategy lead. Daniel Peled is Orbs' president and a law, technology and economics specialist with prior experience founding a popular mobile banking solutions firm known as PayKey. Netta Korin has over 15 years serving on various boards throughout the U.S. and Israel, and has previously advised on special projects for the Ministry of Defense. Lastly, Uriel Peled is Orbs' head of strategic partnerships, and also CEO of a cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund known as Moment Capital.

Beyond this, Orbs is being developed by a dedicated team of more than 30 people out of its global offices.  

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How Does Orbs Work?

Orbs Network’s main product is a decentralized serverless cloud that can be used to provide an ideal experience for blockchain developers by solving some of the issues that impacted the effectiveness of other blockchains — such as high fees, congestion and a lack of cross-chain support. 

Both the security of the network and the business case of the project are built around the Orbs proof-of-stake (PoS) “Universe” — that is, the token holders that participate in its POS system. In the current version of Orbs’ POS model (V2.5), known as “Orbs Universe V2.5: The Age of Guardians”, there are two key stakeholders — Guardians and Delegators. Their roles are as follows: 

Delegators: These are token holders who assign their voting weight (stake) to Guardians, helping them to maintain security and uphold the long-term vision of the Orbs ecosystem. With the launch of V2.5, Orbs introduced a variety of changes — improving the assignment of staking rewards, distribution architecture and virtual chain deployment. Overall, this helped to reduce operating costs for Guardians while making deployment easier for developers. 
Guardians: These operate the Orbs network by running validator nodes and processing transactions in a manner that maintains the security of the network. They align with the interests of the network by ensuring honest cooperation and participate in elections that act to remove Guardians who fail to follow the rules of the protocol or perform their duties. The voting power of each Guardian is determined by their own stake and the amount of stake that has been delegated to them by Delegators. 
The Orbs Network marshals the combined efforts of the Orbs Guardians to provide computing under consensus (i.e. the execution of “smart contracts”) as well as storage under consensus for developers. 
This consensus layer can be useful for DeFi applications since developers working on EVM-based layer-1 blockchains like Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain can use Orbs to enrich their DeFi smart contracts. For example, they could create an application that uses Orbs Guardians as a decentralized oracle to make external decisions that are impossible to implement within the smart contract itself. 

In addition, Orbs uses several key solutions and innovations to provide a highly efficient environment for smart contracts, these include:

  • Independent app governance: Orbs allows each app to govern itself thanks to isolation between virtual chains. This means applications can avoid the forks and potential roll-backs associated with failures/disagreements faced by other apps.
  • Unlimited scalability: More resources are automatically deployed with every new virtual chain — this ensures Orbs can scale horizontally as demand increases without suffering any slowdown.
  • Code in any language: Orbs is one of the few platforms to support any major programming language. By deploying smart contracts on-chain as source code, it helps eliminate the need to code in a specific language like Solidity. 

What Makes Orbs Unique?

Orbs offers an unusual take on public blockchain infrastructure, given that it is powered by a proof-of-stake token, and it can be used as a stand-alone platform and an accessory platform to help run mass usage applications. 

The platform uses a unique hybrid architecture to allow for closer integration with EVM-based Layer 1’s, such as Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain, than other infrastructure platforms. It achieves this while remaining open and permissionless — unlike other blockchains designed for mass use and enterprise applications, such as Quorum and Hyperledger Fabric. 

The platform distinguishes itself from competing blockchains by combining a mix of high performance, security and ease of use, with low transaction fees to provide a suitable platform launching DApps on. With complete isolation between virtual chains, an online IDE, extensive developer resources and support for smart contracts written in multiple familiar languages, it also provides a suitable developer experience. 

The Orbs team developed this full blockchain stack from scratch without forking any existing solution. The project is fully committed to being open source and has made around 150 repositories publicly available on Github. These depositories provide developers with everything they need to develop blockchain applications, including a consensus algorithm, smart and client SDKs, a local development server and a block explorer (known as Prism). 

In addition to making its code open source, Orbs has been active in advancing the field from a research and academic perspective. Orbs’ innovation includes developing a variety of unique theoretical concepts to support its vision, including those pertaining to virtual chains, POS over Ethereum, cross-chain interoperability, non-deterministic execution and web oracles
For more on Orbs’ technical innovations, see the Orbs Technology Overview

Orbs’ DeFi Initiatives

For the last year, Orbs has been heavily focused on DeFi. The core team believes that DeFi is the most successful use-cases for decentralized infrastructure and is likely to remain that way for the near future. 
Want to get up to speed on DeFi? Check out our full overview on the topic. 
With this view in mind, the Orbs team has been focused on leveraging Orbs’ architecture and ecosystem to overcome the current limits of layer-1 EVM-based platforms. This has resulted in a great deal of success with integrating Orbs with other EVM-compatible chains, including Ethereum, BSC and Polygon — which combined are responsible for the great majority of DeFi-associated transactions and liquidity. 

See below for a full breakdown of Orbs co-founder Tal Kol’s perspective on the project’s role in the DeFi ecosystem: 

Beyond this, Orbs has been making a positive impact in the DeFi space by teaming up with Binance and Moonstake to sponsor the DeFi.org accelerator — which helps new projects building much-needed DeFi solutions. Through the accelerator (and Orbs’ own grant program), the Orbs team is looking to fund and create innovations that will use the Orbs Network in the DeFi space.

As of writing, there are three projects currently accepted to the accelerator program: Benchmark, Peanut and Tozex. 

After laying this initial groundwork, Orbs began executing on its potential by expanding to the BSC ecosystem. First, a bridge between Ethereum and BSC was introduced via AnySwap, in tandem with the launch of a liquidity pool on PancakeSwap. After this, Orbs and the PancakeSwap team collaborated on an Orbs Syrup pool, before Orbs further expanded to second-layer farms at Alpaca Finance, Beefy Finance and WowSwap. 

The next frontier for Orbs is the Polygon blockchain. In line with this, the ORBs token was recently integrated with the Polygon cross-chain bridge — allowing users to migrate their ERC-20 ORBS tokens to the Polygon chain and back. The team at Orbs expects this to be the first step in a more extensive integration with the Polygon ecosystem. 
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