At Opera, we don’t just stop at giving people across the globe fast access to the internet with our different products and services, we also help in effecting change around the world through various projects.

This year, for example, we reached over 5 million readers in a project with Worldreader where people get access to a digital library of free e-books on their phone.

Another big project for us this year is to raise awareness on ocean pollution. Our Chief Technology Officer, Håkon Wium Lie, is joining an expedition to map the Southern Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Southern Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered only few years ago. Unlike the ones in the central North Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, the Peruvian Current has never been mapped for plastic and molecular pollution. Since the patch is not visible from satellite photography, nor is it necessarily detectable to casual boaters or divers in the area, a group of researchers will be on the balsa-wood rafts, taking samples and measuring plastic concentration level around the pacific garbage patch to help determine how this is currently affecting the ocean.

Photo credit to NOAA Marine Debris Program

Photo credit to NOAA Marine Debris Program

The inspiration: Kon-Tiki

The rafts for the project, named Kon-Tiki2 will be 55 feet long by 22 feet wide, equipped with solar panels to power communications gear, sonar and a refrigerator for specimens.

All data will be uploaded continually to those at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and to universities in Norway, where analysts can slog through the data, and the crew onboard collect and draw conclusions.

This journey was inspired by Thor Heyerdahl’s first Kon-Tiki expedition. Sixty-eight years ago, five Norwegians and a Swede started a journey by raft across the Pacific Ocean, from South America to the Polynesian islands, to prove that the people from South America could have settled in Polynesia long ago.

They built a raft with only the materials and technology available at that time. After 101 days at sea, the crew made it to one of the Polynesian islands. Now, the Kon-Tiki raft, housed in a specially-built museum for it in Oslo, symbolizes the spirit of “anything can be possible” for many Norwegians, as well as Oslo’s many tourists each year who visit the museum.

Today, we are very much excited to be part of the Kon-Tiki 2 expedition.
roadtokontiki 1200

Coastal clean-up in Hawaii

Last week in Hawaii, to raise awareness in this Road-to-Kon-Tiki adventure, Håkon joined with the eco-adventurer Alison Teal and V-bloggers- Charles Trippy, Jackson Teeney, Matt Alford, Stevie Boebi, Justin Stuart, Ally Hills and Danny Duncan to create individual films demonstrating how plastic pollution has become the scourge of the Pacific, while cleaning up a remote Hawaiian beach. The one who gets the most votes for his or her video will win a trip to Peru and the chance to document the kick-off of the Kon-Tiki2 voyage.

Follow this journey

Håkon will be constantly connected online during the Kon-TikiI2 voyage. He will experiment with how to survive digitally over very thin communication lines.

“Bandwidth will be very limited aboard the raft, as data is such a scarce resource during the trip. Economizing usage will be the key to maintain connectivity,” he says. “With Opera’s compression technology, we hope we will be able to share and receive more data within our limited range.”

We will be updating this blog about the activity onboard the Kon-Tiki2. If you are interested in hearing more about this journey, you can also follow Hakon’s Twitter feed for his live tweets during the voyage or listen to the audio interview updates.

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