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Worldcoin, an iris biometric crypto project, is set to launch a new Orb that aims to offer a more user-friendly iris-scanning experience, said Alex Blania, CEO and co-founder of Tools for Humanity, the developer behind the project, in an exclusive interview with TechCrunch today.
“The next Orb will roll out in the first half of this year and will feature alternative colors and form factors in an effort to look ‘much more friendly,’” Blania explained. “Overall, it is going to look way more tuned down and similar to an Apple product.”
Blania acknowledges that the initial design of the Orb predated his time at the company. “The new orb is coming and the next iterations will look quite different,” he remarked during a fireside chat at a recent StrictlyVC event, signaling a departure from the current, more controversial design.
The goal of Worldcoin, as described by Blania, is to reach billions of users as fast as possible.
“The thesis is very simple. We race toward billions of users as fast as we possibly can,” said Blania.
Founded by Blania, Sam Altman, and Max Novendstern, Tools for Humanity has raised around $250 million from prominent investors like a16z and Bain Capital Crypto, among others. The project is famous for its unique Orb device designed to scan people’s irises and assign them a “World ID,” granting access to Worldcoin’s application and a digital passport. Worldcoin’s vision is to authenticate individual identities and prevent the creation of multiple accounts.
The current design of the Orb has been a topic of much debate due to its intimidating look, similar to a prop from a sci-fi movie, according to Blania. The company has also faced criticism for its beta testing approaches in developing economies and concerns over privacy and data security.
Despite some skepticism, the Orb has seen practical use. At the StrictlyVC event in downtown San Francisco, a Tools for Humanity employee reported that a “couple dozen” attendees scanned their iris to receive a World ID. There has also been “field testing” of the new Orb design.
Last year, Worldcoin launched World ID 2.0, featuring Apps, a new feature allowing users to verify their online accounts through integrations. The service has seen widespread adoption since the launch of World ID in early 2023, with over 3 million unique global users signing up for Worldcoin, according to data from the project.