Ripple is a new form of open source peer-to-peer payment system that plans to launch soon(?) that is based on trusted networks and relationships.  While resembling Bitcoin, there are some substantial differences between the two platforms – including the fact that Ripples (XRP) can be used to transport Bitcoins.  Expect more information about Ripple to be forthcoming soon but in the meantime, here is the Ripple wiki to outline some of the basics.