Fiber OpticsOne of the reasons gigabit networks have caught on as they have is that people have begun to figure out what to do with them – thanks in part to hackathons and other initiatives focused on identifying gigabit apps. The latest gigabit hackathon aims to be the first to involve multiple cities, all interconnected via broadband links of at least 1 Gbps, said David Martin, principle for Orange GigaStudio, in an interview.

The event, dubbed GigHacks and planned for the weekend of May 1-3 is being spearheaded by several organizations, many of which may already be familiar names for those who have been following gigabit app development. Organizers include:

Cities to be interconnected include San Francisco; Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Chattanooga and Burlington, Vt.

GigHacks Plans
Specific plans for GigHacks vary from one city to another, Martin said, but he offered up plans for San Francisco as an example of what’s in store.

Organizers in San Francisco have been drumming up interest in advance by, for example, conducting “ideation” workshops at four local universities. “We walked students through a process,” said Martin. “The initial idea was to get people thinking about gigabit in human terms.”

Also discussed were four key features of fiber open for further exploration, including low latency, symmetrical connectivity, high data rates and high reliability.

San Francisco GigHacks participants will work in one of three types of teams, including corporate teams, student teams and teams consisting of students and corporate participants. Each team will have a specific project to work on. For example, he said one of the corporate teams will experiment with increasing the frame rate or resolution of video chat technology.

Participation is free and San Francisco organizers were able to accommodate everyone who wanted to be involved. There are no monetary prizes, but nominal awards will be made for the best app in each of several categories, such as “best consumer app” or “best entertainment app.”

Martin noted that there will be some commonalities from one city to another. For example, each location will have video portals that will enable participants to interact with counterparts in other locations. He cited the example of a WebRTC expert who might be on hand to offer advice to participants seeking it.

“We will use Kubi robots,” added Martin, in a reference to a new type of telepresence system that lets users easily change their view within a room.

To enhance the shared experience, participants in different cities will have the opportunity to consume the same food items as one another. On the menu will be Moon Pies from Chattanooga and barbecue from Kansas City, Martin said.