Top 4 DePIN Projects

Exploring what makes them DePIN

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Top 4 DePIN Projects

We explored the State of DePIN in 2024 in our comprehensive report, found here. As part of that analysis, we explore some of the top DePIN projects, examining their core features and emphasizing the key characteristics that classify them as “DePIN”. Additionally, we will analyze the degree to which the protocols reach different types of decentralization - architectural, logical, and political.


Founded in 2013, Helium is a blockchain-based network for IoT (Internet of Things) devices which is powered by wireless units that can communicate with each other and send data across the node network. Nodes, or hotspots have a twofold purpose of acting as a wireless gateway and a blockchain mining device. Helium allows users to own devices which power the network and they are rewarded with HNT tokens in exchange.

Solely by its nature and the features mentioned above Helium is classified as a DePIN protocol allowing any person to become a participant in the network and introducing a crypto economic reward system. However, its level of centralization is not the highest, as explained further below; Helium doesn’t comply with the concept of architectural and political decentralization.

Being one of the oldest DePIN projects in the industry, Helium has built an immense wireless network of units that power their IoT device network, boasting significant traction within the DePIN landscape. Helium has a robust network infrastructure that spans across several regions around the world and this success is also reflected in their market capitalization of +$1B.

Helium’s approach of a wireless network powered by blockchain has produced substantial annualized revenue of $3.45M which is made up of network fees [4]. Representing another revenue stream of which official numbers have not been publicly disclosed is Helium’s launch of their decentralized 5G mobile network, “Helium Mobile”, which passed the 30,000 customer mark in early 2024 [5].

Symbolizing another one of Helium’s revenue streams is the sale of their proprietary devices. As of April of 2024 there are 394,174 active hotspots in the network. While Helium has not shared official data about revenue from the sale of devices, we can estimate it with the price of their devices. As of 2024, the top 5 recommended miners for Helium [6] average a unitary cost of $571, meaning that with that price, Helium’s cumulative sales have generated around $225.3M, contributing significantly to the project’s overall revenue over the last years.

Overall, Helium’s impressive growth and support is further proven by their total funding amount of $364M [7], showcasing the support that the DePIN narrative is getting.


Filecoin is a decentralized storage network founded in 2014 with the vision of “storing humanity’s most valuable information”. It is a peer-to-peer network that stores files for users on devices of other users.

In terms of decentralization, Filecoin is more decentralized than other protocols as users don’t need to buy specific storage centers and then rent them out. Instead, users rent out their excess storage space.

Since its inception, Filecoin has amassed substantial traction within the DePIN landscape. As of April of2024, Filecoin’s market capitalization stands at $11.8B, reflecting the level of backers’ confidence in this project. Filecoin’s revenue streams, driven by annualized fees from their storage network, have shown strong growth, surpassing $26.01M [8].

Also notably, Filecoin has successfully raised $258M [9], highlighting its attractiveness to investors seeking opportunities in the decentralized infrastructure market.


They leverage blockchain to create a decentralized and constantly updated global map that is built collaboratively by its users. The concept behind is to create a DePIN network that democratizes geographic data, but also guarantees that maps remain up-to-date and accurate. Participants are able to upload video footage that is captured from dash cams, which is then processed and integrated into a detailed, dynamic map.

Hivemapper is an example of a distinctive utility in the DePIN landscape. The crypto economic incentives are given to users to ensure the continuous expansion and refinement of their maps.

In terms of decentralization, Hivemapper’s architecture is highly centralized as users on the network are required to use proprietary devices called Hivemapper Dashcam for the collection of map data while they drive. The device is not only expensive at €570 per unit, and technically inferior to other devices (recording at 30fps on 720p), but it also represents fundamental architectural centralization on a hardware and data processing level.


It was initially envisioned as a Polkadot parachain [10] but then pivoted to have their own purpose- oriented blockchain to create a network of machine learning nodes to tackle the two main challenges that hinder AI: computation bottlenecks and inefficiencies in algorithmic innovation [11].

As a DePIN network, Bittensor rewards contributors based on the value that their AI models contribute to the ecosystem.

Bittensor’s core vision is to leverage blockchain technology to accelerate the advancement of AI technologies while ensuring fair distribution of the economic benefits that AI models generate.

Its architecture is divided into different layers and mechanisms, each responsible for different tasks within the decentralized AI network. The main layer of the network is the Node Layer. It is supported by nodes (miners) which are able to support the execution of AI models. Each miner node runs Bittensor’s client software to interact with other nodes in the network.

Logical decentralization is a measure of how capable the network is of functioning as a single unit or as the conjunction of independent entities. By analyzing how Bittensor’s main layer works, we can notice that in the end, the network is centralized at a level.

Bittensor doesn’t comply with the logical decentralization as the network and its purpose relies heavily on nodes interacting with each other for communication between different subnets and for enhancing the network’s capabilities. Additionally, nodes on Bittensor are assigned into a subnet which specializes them into a specific domain or topic which, despite outputting better results, is a good example of logical centralization.

Nevertheless, Bittensor is an innovative, somewhat architecturally decentralized, alternative to democratize access and training of AI. This approach comes at a vital time as the leading company developing AI, OpenAI, is going against the initial principles of openness that they were founded upon.

The centralization of a company as OpenAI is dangerous as the development of the AI’s algorithms is controlled by a single entity which could lead to lack of transparency, and potential misuse of AI capabilities. In comparison to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Bittensor’s approach is a step forward for the fair and open development of AI.


While the protocols mentioned above exemplify the innovative approaches to decentralizing physical infrastructure, their approach is better assessed when cross-references against other similar systems. This comparison will not only give a richer understanding of decentralization in DePIN, but will also open the discussion for potential recommendations, benefits, and drawbacks of the industry.


  1. Token Terminal. (n.d.). Helium Project Metrics. Token Terminal. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  2. Dano, M. (2024, January 4). Helium Mobile passes 30,000 customer mark. Light Reading. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  3. Software Testing Help. (2024, March 7). 9 Best Helium Miners to Earn HNT: 2024 Top Rated List. Software Testing Help. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  4. Crunchbase. (n.d.). Helium. Crunchbase. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  5. Token Terminal. (n.d.). Filecoin Project Metrics. Token Terminal. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  6. Crunchbase. (n.d.). Filecoin. Crunchbase. Retrieved April 14, 2024.

  7. Greythorn Asset Management. (2024, February 19). Bittensor: The Rise of Decentralized AI. LinkedIn. Retrieved April 13, 2024.

  8. Bittensor. (n.d.). Main Site. TAO Bittensor: Decentralized Machine Learning 2024. Retrieved April 14, 2024.