Here’s What The Next Generation of The Internet Looks Like

3-D, haptic, interactive, location-aware–a 250-times-faster Internet will be more real than reality.

The Mozilla Ignite competition, cosponsored with the National Science Foundation, today announced the winners of its yearlong open innovation challenge. These applications are designed to take advantage of a “next generation Internet” currently being piloted in several cities, with speeds up to a gigabyte per second–that’s 70% of the speed of light. The directive was that the ideas had to be applied to the public good: no virtual car test drives or immersive real-time ads here. The applications span the realms of health care, disaster response, city planning, citizen science, and education.


Lots of bandwidth means not only a faster Internet, but a smarter Internet with lots of streaming video, 3-D telepresence using tools like Microsoft’s Kinect, and real-time analysis of big data.

For example, Real-Time Emergency Response (RtER) is designed to allow first responders to quickly integrate live streaming-video feeds, social media updates, and GPS information coming from the smartphones of multiple people on the ground in a crisis situation, both emergency personnel and members of the general public. Using a Web-based tool and mobile client, the people in the command center could analyze all the live and stored data to determine priorities of what to do next, and even direct individuals in the field as to where to aim their cameras next.

A project with the less-than-catchy title of Easy 3-D provides one of the headiest glimpses of what the ultrafast Internet might bring. The project is spearheaded by the creators of Lynx, an early-model, Kickstarter-funded handheld camera for 3-D motion capture. They plan to integrate with the Lynx to provide cloud processing, editing, content management, and publishing for 3-D content on the Web. The planned tool set will include 3-D printing of your 3-D image, animation, and sharing via social media. “As HD videos and photo rolls incentivized broadband, 3-D content absolutely requires Gigabit to be fully realized,” the project creators note.

Are you ready for a YouTube’s worth of consumer-created content in three dimensions? Get ready.

Here’s a full list of the Mozilla Ignite winners:

[Image: Flickr user David Pacey]

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.