Small team aims high

$7 million sought by crowdfunding campaign for native JVM in browsers

Elliot Bentley
upliink-native-java-browser1

Client-side implementation is highest stretch goal in ambitious project to create new, free internet.

A
crowdfunded project is promising to build a native JVM in the
browser for $7 million. It is the highest stretch goal in an
ambitious project to create a new, decentralized internet, where
every household’s router acts as an Internet Service Provider.

Upliink, the group behind the
project, say its ultimate goal is to “make internet acquisition a
one-time hardware cost for end users in medium and high population
density urban areas”.

If the
Indiegogo
project reaches a minimum of $500,000 in pledges,
they plan to produce a hardware device called the Upliink Aero.
This is a wireless router that can daisy-chain with nearby devices
to create a new, free internet where every device acts as an ISP.
It’s also able to connect to regular pay-for internet, should no
Aero boxes be nearby.

The project’s ultimate aim is to provide cost-free internet
access to the developing world, and a text-heavy ‘about’ page
is decorated with images of a futuristic society and a generic
smiling child.

In addition to two hardware devices (the Aero and Aero Mini),
Upliink are promising an iOS browser, with an Android
implementation already submitted to Google Play for approval.

If they raise over $2m, the team promise to update the Aero with
“the next gen geo routing protocol that we have been working on”,
while at $5m they will “publish an implementation of open
cryptographic protocols so that anyone can participate in an
anonymous and auditable market for computation”.

With $7m – the highest stretch goal – Upliink will fork Chromium
to add a native, client-side JVM. “Developers will be able to make
web apps so fast and responsive, they will be nearly
indistinguishable from native apps,” reads the promo text,
promising that any code produced will be released under an
unspecified open source license so it can be adopted by any
browser.

Specific details of how this will be achieved, however, are thin
on the ground. The team claim that an initial
implementation with the Netscape Plugin Application Programming
Interface (NPAPI) has already been worked on. Unfortunately, NPAPI
will be removed
from Chrome in January 2014
, with other browsers following
shortly. Alternatives being considered include a port to (P)NaCL, a
direct contribution to the Chromium project or a fork of Chromium
itself.

At the time of writing – 24 hours into the 52-day campaign – the
Upliink Aero has raised a total of $36 from three individual
backers. Considering that only one Indiegogo project has ever
raised over $2m (the Ubuntu
Edge
), it seems likely that native Java in the browser will
remain a pipe dream.

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