Our modern society often thinks about getting off the grid. Some even venture beyond cell networks where they cannot be connected to others. It is not safe though to trek miles without having any connectivity with friends and family and this happens in most places where urbanization is still off course. Hence people do rely on satellite phones when venturing in unknown destinations.
GoTenna, a hardware startup, has introduced a modified, smartphone app-based approach for being connected especially when the cell service is shaky with no satellite coverage whatsoever. The device is a thin wand that can be strapped to your adventure kit, and connected to smartphone app through BLE technology. With the antenna and power on the GoTenna device, one can send messages and GPS coordinates to other smartphones connected to the same device. One can download offline maps for location data reference too.
GoTenna – Defining Connectivity Standards
GoTenna does not offer LTE-style data, and hence no social media channels can be connected but it does create a low-frequency radio wave network for the app across a 1 mile in urban areas, and nearly 9 miles in outdoor situations. In open areas with higher elevation, it can send radio signals from 9 miles to 50 miles.
It is 5.8 inches in length and 2 ounces in weight. The antenna can be extended by 2.2 inches whenever required. Using the science of radio waves, the makers want to continue text messaging between off-the-grid participants and those connected to cell service networks in emergency situations. One can use the Shout function too to send information to other GoTenna devices in range. The messages are encrypted at both ends and not stored at all. They can be on self-destruct mode when the messages are read at the other end too.
A Good Device to Remain Connected
The antenna is a plastic stick that slides out and gets locked with a click. And the make is robust enough to keep using it roughly especially during hikes and camping.
Also it can be part of a rugged survival gear, and there is no single mechanical point of failure with the device. The goTenna is turned on when the antenna is pulled out. One has to be careful in taking care of the antenna here. Materials are top notch and the overall construction of the device is weatherproof, water resistant, dust resistant, and even to a certain extent, impact resistant as well.
Brooklyn-Based Inventors and Brilliance
The makers of GoTenna have evolved from product inception to a company without any financial backers. The company was self-funded for nearly a year after which it got a much-needed funding round from firms Andreessen Horowitz and Bloomberg Beta. The invention was envisaged by Perdomo, a former journalist and her brother, Jorge Perdomo who thought about the device after connectivity nightmares after Hurricane Sandy and Katrina. Contact with families was a major problem after the natural calamity which got both the makers thinking about a solution.
The innovators are also targeting their device for traveling abroad without dedicated SIM card, and for situations when going to concerts wherein the cell service is crippled and cannot be relied upon.
A Cross between Cellphones and Messaging Services
A GoTenna can survive till a year and a half with a single charge in its off condition while the lithium-ion battery can survive for 72 hours when used occasionally.
For $149, one can get a pair of GoTenna devices. But after subsequent sales to the tune of around $50,000, the company plans to hike the price to nearly $299 per pair. A lot of the wider goals rely on mass adoption but it is certainly a cool tool that works for smaller groups for private communication and without any charges.