The Orcfax oracle’s architecture consists of a number of software nodes written predominantly as Python, Haskell, and Plutus v2 code. These Orcfax nodes publish datum about the real world (e.g. the price of ADA in USD) as CBOR-serialized reference inputs into Cardano transactions. These datum are read and used in business logic by smart contracts and scripts.
Real world events can include changes in currency price pairs, sporting event results, supply-chain activity, weather changes, and public speeches. Orcfax collects this data from a minimum of three independent sources via a decentralized pool of validator nodes. These are published to Cardano blockchain transactions in its Plutus V2 eUTXO format. This data is used as trustworthy Reference Inputs to trigger different kinds of business logic in Cardano smart contracts and dApps. Orcfax's data collection, validation, and publication workflows are captured as audit log packages on the decentralized Arweave.org network and can be easily browsed and searched via Orcfax's Fact Explorer.
Standards-compliant audit logs
Oracles are less trustworthy if they can't demonstrate how their source data was collected and validated.
To address this shortfall found in many other first-generation oracle services, Orcfax generates standards-compliant archival packages that are made available permissionlessly for auditing the flow of its data collection validation, and publication.
These archival packages are described using Schema.org, JSON-LD compliant taxonomies that are Linked Data and AI-training ready to serve as the source of a growing data lake of real world fact statements that will have many secondary reference uses beyond DeFi oracle publication.
Schema.org is the single most impactful markup language for making any type of metadata machine-readable. In Orcfax's case, that means metadata related to Claims made about events happening in the real world.
To demonstrate the auditing function and re-usability of its archival packages, the Orcfax project hosts a Fact Statement Explorer app.
Decentralizing data gathering
Most leading oracle platforms are beginning to implement some form of decentralized oracle pools as another technique to address the oracle problem. In its purest form, a decentralized oracle pool uses distributed networking and computation nodes to achieve consensus on the authenticity and accuracy of source data before it is published on-chain.
Unfortunately, most current implementations do not go this far. Instead they often receive data from a single, black box provider. They then use an oracle pool to arrive at a consensus about the uniformity of that data and not necessarily about its authenticity or accuracy.
To address this shortfall found in many other oracle services, Orcfax enforces a strict source-data triangulation policy for all its oracle feeds before that data is sent to a decenralized oracle pool for validation.
Cardano Open Oracle Protocol (COOP)
The Orcfax oracle service uses the Cardano Open Oracle Protocol (COOP) to publish and format its data feeds.
COOP is a set of technical guidelines that specifies a process and format for the publication and consumption of off-chain data by smart contracts on the Cardano blockchain.
COOP is free and open-source and can be implemented by other projects to architect their own Cardano oracle feeds.
The Orcfax team developed the Cardano Open Oracle Protocol as a Catalyst funded research project that maximizes the eUTXO model and design principles to demonstrate a cost-senstive, post-Vasil native method to publish secure, signed, datums on-chain for Reference Input consumption by Cardano dApps.
The first version was developed in collaboration with MLabs consultancy. The Orcfax team has since onboarded all its own Plutus development in-house and expanded on the beta-version of COOP to issue a version 1.0. This includes a full schema.org, JSON-LD compliant Cardano datum specification that anchors machine-readable fact-statements in the worlds' most decentralized and stable L1 blockchain network.
Levering eUTXO strengths
The Cardano open oracle protocol (COOP) was designed to take advantage of the Cardano CIP-31 reference inputs enhancements introduced in Cardano network's Vasil hard fork.
Reference inputs allow a data provider to publish a data point once and multiple consumers to use the data point in on-chain dApp scripts, without interfering with each other.
This enhancement allows a datum written to a single Cardano eUTXO to be read by multiple consumers without competing with each other for exclusive access to transaction output.
The main design goals for the Cardano Open Oracle Protocol (COOP) are to leverage CIP-31 to provide:
- Financial sustainability – minimize the cost and deposit needed to post, maintain, and use COOP datum in eUTXOs, providing opportunities to share costs amongst stakeholders.
- Data accessibility – minimize the probability of datum payloads not being available for reference by downstream dApp scripts.
- Security – minimize the risk of exposure for the cryptographic keys used in verifying the authenticity of COOP datums.
Orcfax beyond DeFi
The oracle problem is not just limited to providing data feeds for DeFi. Society at large is experiencing a "trust crisis" and needs better solutions for validating statements of fact about the real world. Orcfax is intentionally designed to leverage the distributed consensus breakthroughs achieved with blockchain technology to provide decentralized, "trustless" fact validation and reference services that will have many applications beyond DeFi applications. Orcfax is particulary interested in on-demand, real-world fact validation to counter the threat of AI-generated falsehoods.