To succeed in today's technology driven environment, businesses need to remain up-to-date with the latest technology. One such technology is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the latest revision of the Internet Protocol (IP). To prepare tomorrow's workforce for the future demand for IPv6 skills, local universities and polytechnics have been training and equipping their students with the necessary IPv6 skills.

These skills were put to the test in the first-ever "IPv6 Innovation Challenge", organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), held on 15 March. IPv6 is a new 128-bit protocol that can support a potentially unlimited number of Internet addresses. With the aim of fostering creativity and demonstrating possibilities for future Internet-based services, the competition attracted teams from Singapore tertiary institutions, who presented their ideas on how the latest version of IP can be leveraged for both businesses and day-to-day life.

The challenge received over 20 proposals and 11 teams were shortlisted to present during the finals. The winners were:

Champion: T-Swift from Temasek Polytechnic (Project: Switching to IPv6 with OpenFlow Technology (SWIFT))

Runner-up: The Socializers from Singapore Polytechnic (Project: Tander Bear)

Second runner-up: INE from Temasek Polytechnic (Project: iPolice)

Ipv6 innovation challenge

T-Swift, the team that clinched top spot, introduced SWIFT – a novel networking solution that uses OpenFlow (a protocol that configures network switches) technology to facilitate the migration of current IPv4 connections to IPv6 for small and medium enterprises. By integrating OpenFlow switches to existing networks, businesses can migrate to IPv6 with minimal disruption, reducing the cost and manpower demands of migration.

The second place winner, The Socialisers, introduced a social-networked teddy bear that enables its owners to communicate non-verbal affections at different locations. The bears communicate using the IPv6 protocol whenever the embedded sensors are activated, allowing the bear to interpret and react to emotions. The inspiration for this team started out with an aim to enable non-verbal communication over long distances.

INE, which came in third, developed a mobile application to help fight crime. The iPolice application leveraged on IPv6 capabilities such as larger address availability, direct peer-to-peer connectivity and IPv6 multicasting to assist the Singapore Police Force to respond more quickly to situations. iPolice can be used by citizens to alert police officers in the vicinity of a crime.

One of the judges said this event provided an opportunity for the students to learn and inspire local industry professionals. Mr Vincent Lim, Chairman of Telecommunications Standards Technical Committee, said, "We are searching for an impactful IPv6 driver to provide a common pull factor for all stakeholders, including content providers, hardware and software vendors and end users. This event provided a good platform to kick start the development of innovative applications, projects and ideas to showcase the merit of deploying IPv6 and discovering the driver."

This event was not only an opportunity for fresh minds to explore possibilities but also for the industry to tap into the new ideas from these young talents. Dr Latif Ladid, President of IPv6 Forum (Global), explained, "The Singapore IPv6 Innovation Challenge is oriented to the academic world, which is usually more willing to openly share their fresh perspectives on new applications and designs that go beyond the industry's short-term view."

Besides demonstrating IPv6 innovations, the event drew some approving nods from global bigwigs, such as Mr. Kelly Brazil, Palo Alto Networks' Director of System Engineering, APAC, who was also one of the judges. He conveyed his excitement at seeing "some terrific submissions that showed a true entrepreneurial appetite signalling a bright future for the participants."

Several teams got the chance to share the marketing plans for their applications with the industry, while the winning teams of the IPv6 Innovation Challenge took home cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.

 
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