Horizon offers an open alternative designed to foster innovation and multi-vendor ecosystems. By using peer-to-peer technologies (including Blockchain, BitTorrent, and Whisper), Horizon has no single source of truth, authority, or control.
Of course, it is also possible to build a centrally-controlled, proprietary, closed ecosystem on top of the Horizon. In fact, most of the "experimental" Horizon Insights developed to showcase Horizon are centralized, sending data to centralized cloud endpoints.
Horizon facilitates the creation of fully automated machine-to-machine relationships between unknown and untrusted parties. On Horizon, owners specify policies (constraints) for their participating devices, then self-executing Smart Contracts govern their actions. Using Horizon, unknown participants can discover each other, negotiate mutually satisfying contracts and exchange data and/or services with untrusted parties in a manner that protects and secures both participants.
Typical "Things" today sample their analog sensors at reduced digital resolution and then they transmit this data to the cloud relatively infrequently. In contrast, Horizon enables orders of magnitude greater access to the data on edge devices by securely delivering workloads directly to edge devices. Those workloads are run in restricted sandboxes on the edge devices, enabling them to access the full resolution of any local sensors sampled at line rate (many orders of magnitude faster than the remote cloud could consume). Horizon devices can therefore analyze much greater volumes of data, and then send only refined and relevant data upstream to the cloud for further analytics. Performing analytics on much more input data, and sending only higher value data upstream to the cloud -- this is Horizon.
Horizon comprises the open source, decentralized, autonomous, edge compute system which establishes a fabric for data sensing and running compute workloads at the edge. "Blue" comprises the applications running atop Horizon: the compute workloads themselves and the data ingest services built in cloud to stream, store, and display the data. "Blue" workloads (Netspeed, Weather, PurpleAir, Citygram, etc) are not open-source, although some are in the process of being open-sourced as examples. Blue Horizon workloads are seeded by torrent after agreement negotiation, run in docker containers, and stream data off the device via MQTT, which ends up in cloud VM's (using MQTT Verne), and is shown on Blue Horizon's public map and webpages. For more information, see the Blue Horizon FAQ.