No Bars? No Problem!

signal-strength(1)Adventurer, journalist, undercover worker, or just your everyday assassin can now get peer-to-peer communication off the grid with a really cool device that communicates with any Smartphone.

goTenna, a Brooklyn-based start up, has a modified Smartphone app-based approach to staying in touch at a lower cost when cell service is sketchy, unwanted, or when satellite communication isn’t an option.

The goTenna device is thin and wand-like, weighing only ½ kg that can be strapped to a belt or a backpack, and connects to any Smartphone app via Bluetooth low energy (LE). The device has a slide out antenna for connection and can send text messages and GPS coordinates from your Smartphone to others also connected to a goTenna.

The service isn’t designed to offer Twitter scrolling or Facebook browsing – what it does is create a low-frequency radio wave network for its iOS and Android app that can last around 2 kilometers in high-density urban areas, but up to 15 kilometers in most outdoor environments.

The device comes along at just the right time for very different groups of people. Recent threats to privacy from tech companies, hackers and the government alike make the goTenna’s decentralised, encrypted and completely off-line communications appealing for any dealings that users want to keep secret. This is no accident; by goTenna’s own admission, “We set out to build a consumer-ready, completely decentralized, end-to-end innocent or nefarious communication technology, without a ‘back-door’ for anyone, because it didn’t exist yet, and we thought it should. We’ll leave it at that.”

The application possibilities of this device look really interesting across a number of sectors from civil emergency applications, secure business communication, private and protected journalism assignments or in adventure sports in remote locations.

From battleface’s perspective, the fact that any user can now decentralise their communication, and that every person with a connected device can be their own, autonomous node, creating a communications system an individual’s terms, and on specific needs as opposed to the standards we accept now from comms providers, is an exciting leap forward.