Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund its Dispatch broadband aggregation software, Connectify is returning to the crowd-funding site for the next iteration of its product. This time around, the Philadelphia startup is developing a cloud-based packet parsing and channel bonding service called Switchboard designed to speed up video and other high-bandwidth content to your Mac or PC.
According to Connectify, Dispatch — which went live in December — has some inherent limitations. While it was able to aggregate multiple wireline and wireless connections into a single fat pipe, allowing your Windows-based PC to take advantage of every available internet link, Dispatch could only ship certain types of content over one of those connections at any given time, Connectify President Bhana Grover said in an email.
“This worked fantastically with multi-threaded applications like web browsing and Bittorrent,” Grover said. “But the feedback we got from our backers and customers was that they wanted a more robust connection aggregation technology: one that could speed up video streaming, uploads, and VPNs… and was Mac-compatible, too.”
Switchboard basically works like a virtual private network (VPN). All of your internet connections — whether Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G — link to Connectify’s servers in the cloud. Those servers then go about dismantling content or files into their component packets and routing them over those different connections. Over Dispatch, a Netflix movie would stream over the highest-bandwidth connection available to the PC. If you were on public hotspot or cellular network that connection might be fairly slow. With Switchboard that single Netflix stream is split between multiple connections, resulting in faster buffering and better resolution.
Connectify has developed a prototype for Switchboard on both the PC and Mac, but it wants to raise $100,000 in funds on Kickstarter over the next month to complete its user interface, develop customer management software and deploy its first cloud-based servers. As with Dispatch, Connectify plans to sell Switchboard on a subscription basis, but due to its software-as-a-service element Switchboard is setting capacity limits as well. That means the more data you consume via Switchboard, the more you pay. Backers of the project, however, will get early discounted access to the service this fall.