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What is the Mozilla Ignite Challenge?

Mozilla Ignite Challenge 2012 from Graham Wheeler on Vimeo.

Mozilla Ignite is an open innovation challenge hosted by Mozilla and the National Science Foundation as part of the US Ignite initiative. The goal: imagine and build apps that show the full potential of next-generation networks, in areas that matter -- like healthcare, education, energy, manufacturing and public safety.

Show us what’s next. Imagine the limitations of today’s internet no longer apply. What becomes possible at 1 gigabit per second? How would you take advantage of deeply programmable, sliceable networks? How would you leverage speeds up to 250 times faster than today's?

The best ideas are getting funding and support, and will help shape the Internet's future.

22 winning projects have been announced

See our winners & get involved with any you find exciting.

How does the challenge work?

Now it's time to build. 22 Mozilla Ignite teams have received nearly $500,000 in funding and other support to build amazing public benefit apps & services. See the winners and browse the other projects that were proposed.

The Development phase just finished but the work has just begun. Teams are trying to push their prototypes out into the wild in 'minimum viable pilots'. Get involved & help bring them to your community by reaching out to us.

Combining smart networks, civic innovation and the open web

As networks become faster and more programmable, we’re looking for innovative civic uses of new potential like:

  • Speed. How can developers take advantage of gigabit-per-second connections?
  • Video. What can we do with zero-latency, high definition video?
  • Big Data. How can we leverage complex calculations at super high-speed?
  • Programmable networks. What can we do with unique routing, slicing and more?
Fig. Two

The Sweet Spot

A diagram showing how we believe Ignite will be the perfect mix of smart networks, HTML5 and civic innovators

Designing for an internet without limits

Imagine a digital world where:

  • There are no limits on how fast information can travel.
  • Processor speed is never a bottleneck.
  • Your network adapts to your app, instead of the other way around.
  • You can place processing and data transport wherever you want on the network.
  • You can dynamically provision and program routers along the way, as if the network itself were one giant LAN.

What would you build?

How does the Brainstorming Round work?

What is the Brainstorming Round?

The Brainstorming Round is an opportunity for everyone interested in the potential of next-generation application to participate.

We are seeking your creative ideas, sketches and blue sky proposals. The best ideas will get attention, funding and support to hopefully become reality. All are welcome. You don't have to be a developer or technologist -- you just need a Big Idea.

The best ideas will win prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Why a Brainstorming Round?

The Brainstorming Round will help to:

  • define what's possible. This is a new space, so open ideation is important.
  • identify potential collaborators. Find others working in similar spaces, to promote collaboration.
  • refine your idea. Get early feedback and refine your application for the Development Phase.

Who should participate? App developers, university researchers, industry experts, start-ups. We're hoping to connect participants with diverse background and wide-ranging expertise.

What do I need to submit?

Ideas will make use of gigabit-per-second networks to create broad public benefit in one of these areas:

  • healthcare technologies
  • education and workforce technologies
  • clean energy & transportation
  • advanced manufacturing
  • emergency preparedness and public safety

The Brainstorming round wrapped on August 23rd. Check out the ideas that were shared.

How do the Development Rounds work?

Win funding

To help make your app ideas a reality, we’re offering a total of $500K in awards, spread over three Development Rounds. You can compete in a single round, or in all three.

At the end of each round, participants will pitch their app in public sessions to a panel of expert judges. Judges and observers will be free to ask questions, with judges using the criteria in this judging scorecard to decide the winners.

Get support

This is not a traditional “competition.” The goal is to create an open and collaborative community of practice.

Participants will get access to expert mentors, build in the open, and receive feedback and help from the Ignite community.

How to apply

The Development phase of the Challenge is finished and 22 Mozilla Ignite teams are trying to push their prototypes out into the wild in 'minimum viable pilots'. Get involved & help bring them to your community by reaching out to us.

Successful applicants will be greenlit and given access to GENI, an ultra-fast next-generation network for you to develop and test your apps.

How do I get started?

The gigabit space is uncharted and presents many avenues of possibility. To help developers get into the groove, Mozilla Ignite is building a community of practice to share resources, code, and learnings:

  • a slate of free online learning labs, where we'll go over the latest open web technologies and how they can be leveraged in gigabit apps—as well as on-ramping materials for networking engineering sandboxes like GENI.
  • a weekly conference call where developers and institutions can coordinate around specific projects and meet like-minded collaborators.
  • a community discussion list, where practitioners can come together to solve problems and tackle technical questions.
  • a list of institutions in each Gigabit city that are ready to work with developers to address specific needs. In some cities, special test environments will be provisioned so you can install and test your app with real-world users.

Whether you want to build a traditional, client-server application that uses ultra-high bandwidth, or an experimental application that uses special technologies like OpenFlow, you'll find a community of designers, developers and civic innovators who are imagining and building the next generation of apps.

Working together, we can accelerate development of these apps and model the future of public benefit internet applications.

How can gigabit apps change the world?

In the next 10 years, what might gigabit apps make possible? Here's some food for thought. What are your ideas?

in Public Safety?

First-responders could access secure communication channels, without fear of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. Dispatchers could use a slice of the network to create a private VLAN, with all responders communicating through this secure direct link.

  • Early detection. Widespread sensor networks and real-time analysis might enable earlier detection of emergencies, from severe weather and natural disasters to national security threats.
  • Preparation and training. Advanced simulations and predictive modelling allow first responders and the public to prepare and train for emergencies before they happen.
  • Co-ordination. Two-way flows of real-time data from diverse sources (cell phones, GPS, sensors) might combine with computational models for greater situational awareness and coordination.

in Education and Training?

Students could produce hybrid video essays, running apps that search every digitized book andTV newscast in history. They could query any term and instantly download datasets, collaborating with remote partners through HD, zero-latency video.

  • Telepresence can take students around the world to experience archeological dig sites, distant classrooms, or foreign cultures.
  • Virtual surgery. Medical students and surgical residents might sharpen their skills with advanced virtual surgeries. Practice on image-based models with life-like tissue movement and haptic feedback, simulating the nuances of real life surgery.
  • 21st century skills. Workers will access professional development courses and workforce training in areas like advanced manufacturing and product development. Use modelling, simulation and data analysis tools that 21st century workers need.

in Healthcare?

Expert physicians could instantly video conference about their most difficult cases, sharing 3D medical files in high definition with colleagues across the country in real time.

  • Telemedicine might enable easier, more efficient communication between patients and caregivers and increase access to health information.
  • Privacy and security. Sliceable, programmable networks could provide unprecedented levels of privacy and security for health data.
  • Collaboration. Rapid exchange of medical data with high-resolution collaboration tools between medical experts on the care team.
  • Big data. Aggregate huge amounts of health data from diverse sources for customized, real-time decision support.

in Clean Energy and Transportation?

  • Sustainable living. From smart grids with high temporal and spatial control of energy to intelligent homes, buildings and transportation systems.
  • Smarter control systems for advanced batteries and other new energy creation and storage systems.
  • Security. Future network technologies like isolated network slices could help safeguard power grids.

in Advanced Manufacturing?

  • Economic competitiveness. Computational design processes and more effective sharing of data, knowledge, tools, and expertise.
  • Rapid innovation. Computational modelling and detailed simulation. Distributed access to supercomputing resources.

Got an app idea that doesn’t fit these categories?

No problem. Just pick the area that best describes the public benefit you want to create. We’re open to all ideas -- as long as they create public benefit in some way.

What is the GENI network?

Fig. Three

The GENI Network

Diagram explaining how Geni provides their network either by direct contact to one of their racks or point to point via their backbone and commodity internet

Welcome to one of the most advanced networks on the planet.

The Global Environment for Network Innovation is a National Science Foundation-funded research project. Its goal: provide a national testbed for exploring the networks of the future.

GENI connects campuses and advanced infrastructure across the U.S., allowing next- generation applications like yours to be designed, tested and demonstrated. In short: it’s a pretty fun place for radical innovators to play.

Successful Mozilla Ignite participants will get access to GENI to develop and test their apps.

What’s cool about GENI?

  • Speed -- 100 Mbps+ and low latency. Enough for multiple bi-directional streams of uncompressed video.
  • Programmability – software-defined networks (e.g., OpenFlow) with dramatically improved control over network routing and optimization.
  • Slice-based experimentation – remotely discover, reserve, configure, program, debug, operate, manage, and teardown distributed systems across the GENI suite. Match slices to your application requirements, and distribute programmable resources throughout the network.
  • Integrated wireless networks – for sensor networks and continuous remote monitoring.
  • And much more...

What technologies should I use?

On the network side:

You can prototype your app however you'd like, but we strongly recommend using GENI—a fast, programmable, sliceable network sandbox. GENI will provide plenty of flexibility and opportunities to test your gigabit app, both in the lab and in the field.

You can build the old fashioned way, using TCP/IP and a client-server model. Or you can experiment with custom protocols, OpenFlow routing, or other future networking technologies.

On the client side:

You’re free to use any technologies you want, but we ask that you favour open source and open standards. And we strongly prefer non-proprietary runtimes—e.g., no Flash or iOS apps.

Browser technologies

Where possible, your apps should run in a browser. We encourage you to explore edge web technologies like HTML5, WebRTC, WebGL, WebCL, Websockets and more.

What do you mean by "apps?"

We mean "apps and services," in the broadest possible sense. We’re looking for applications and services that show off what next-generation networks like GENI can do that other networks -- like today's Internet -- can't.

What is Mozilla’s vision for apps?

When most people say "app," they're referring to a single-purpose binary that runs on a specific hardware platform. Colloquially: "an Android app" or "an iPhone app." By contrast, Mozilla has a vision for apps that run cross-device, in any context. We call it the "web runtime," and it includes things like HTML5, WebGL, WebCL, and other technologies that bring the web to parity with native development.

We want to establish the open web as a viable, common development platform, and help overcome the proprietary technologies and walled gardens that characterize most app development.

What does that have to do with this challenge?

While we’re encouraging the use of these edge web technologies, we’re not insisting on them. Their use is encouraged, but not absolutely required.

This is partly because much of the innovation we’re seeking won’t yet work in a browser. It’s difficult to do zero latency 3D telepresence, for instance, because browsers don't yet have the right APIs, codecs, and optimizations for this. And many of these apps won't yet work outside of the laboratory. It’s not just about speed: it's also about network programmability.

So please consider how your idea can help push the web forward as an app development platform -- but don’t feel restricted by it. We’re open.

The Web as Platform

We believe that our connected future requires a common, freely implementable, consensus-based development platform. Mozilla believes the web is that platform. As the role of the browser changes, and the distinction between local and remote code begins to blur, we believe the open web will continue to provide the best and most universal platform to build the next-generation apps of the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is US Ignite?

    US Ignite is working to create a national network of communities with ultra-fast broadband services. Its goal is to foster the creation of novel applications and digital experiences that have the potential to transform national priority areas like healthcare, education and training, public safety, energy, and advanced manufacturing. Read more at the US Ignite website.

  • Where are the official rules?

    You can check out the official rules right here.

  • Why are you running three rounds of development?

    Rather than a winner-takes-all approach, the Mozilla Ignite apps challenge uses an "iterative funding" process. Over three rounds, the challenge jury will meet and award teams for the progress and promise they show. This way, teams with crazy ambitious ideas can compete side-by-side with smaller experiments.

  • Do I get to keep my intellectual property?

    Absolutely. Our hope is that many of the apps developed in this challenge will become commercially viable, and we want to encourage entrepreneurial innovation at the edges of the network. Whatever you develop in this challenge is yours to go monetize, or not.

    At the same time, building an open development community around GENI, the open web, and other open technologies is another key objective of the challenge, so we strongly urge all competing apps to publish some or all of their code under a suitably open license. The judges may weigh an app's contribution to open source in the prize deliberations. Check the complete official rules for more.

  • Who should enter?

    Web developers, university researchers, network engineers, start-ups, civic innovators, and anyone interested in high-speed networks. Participation is open to all.

    However, as this is a federally-funded initiative by the U.S. government, each team must designate a fiscal agent who will accept awards on the team's behalf. Only U.S.-incorporated organizations and citizens or those legally allowed to work or receive compensation in the United States can accept awards. See the contest rules for more details. Practically, this means that teams can have members from all over the world—but must also have at least one team member, or a host, in the United States.

  • How much funding am I eligible to receive?

    The awards recognize your progress and achievements, and are meant to provide a launching pad for your work. The amount of funding available will increase in each of the three Development Rounds. The first round will be awarding $85,000 in awards to teams as judges see fit. The second round will award $150,000 and the third round will award $250,000.

  • Why is Mozilla doing this?

    Mozilla is a global non-profit with a mission is to shape the future of internet as a public resource— offering choice, transparency, and control to developers and users. By working with researchers, developers, civic planners and businesspeople, we can drive innovation that benefits people in their everyday lives, build a better web, and keep the internet open.