Because most cities in our country are so connected and able to access the internet at whim, we often take for granted that this is a rarity in the world. In many other places, easy internet access is either unheard of or comes at an insane price and isn’t at all reliable. Our ability to stay connected all-day everyday has lead to a false sense of security and the belief that no matter what, we’ll always be able to hop on our smartphones, PCs, mobile devices, and the like for entertainment, information, work, and to run our daily lives.
However, as anyone who has even thought of moving off grid, vacationed in a remote and rural area, or who has been through a severe natural disaster can tell you, all of that can be gone in mere seconds. So, how can people stay connected when power goes out or they go off-grid for any reason? One way is through a device called goTenna Mesh. The tech gadget not only makes it possible to stay connected anywhere you happen to be, it’s the world’s first mobile, long range mesh network that’s totally off-grid.
How goTenna Mesh Works
One look at the small device, and you’ll probably wonder how it can ever do all that its creators say it can. The key is that goTenna Mesh doesn’t rely on traditional networks for connectivity. It uses its own unique networking protocols to allow private communication between users. Anytime that you’re in a place or venue where Wifi and mobile service are unavailable, spotty, or simply doesn’t exist, that’s where the power of the device comes in.
Using Bluetooth technology, goTenna Mesha pairs with your smartphone and runs its protocols so you can send messages, have access to offline maps, and reach others in situations when it’s not possible to do so any other way. Of course, you could also put the device to work even if there are other means of staying connected around you just for the privacy and convenience.
Rather than rely on satellites, routers, and towers, goTenna Mesh sends messages on a 1 watt UHF radio transmitter via the publicly available spectrum. It’s basically an ad hoc means of mobile networking that gets stronger and more reliable as more people use it. There’s no need for you to hassle with setting anything up, and you don’t have to be a tech whiz to use the device — goTenna Mesh automatically takes care of that and intelligently selects the best frequencies in your location.
Interestingly, the mesh protocol that the device uses was named Aspen Grove by its creators. Just as the aspen tree grows from bottom to top and is able to become stronger and grows best in large numbers, the same is true of the goTenna Mesh network.
goTenna Mesh would be great to have in an emergency, blackout, natural disaster, or anytime that connectivity and internet access are suddenly lost. However, it’s also handy is you’re in crowded places, which tend to overload cell towers and create poor service that’s slow. With this gadget, you could still communicate with others regardless what was going on with the cell towers in the area. Travelers could find that goTenna Mesh is a great companion, as you’d be able to avoid the hassle of getting an international SIM card or paying roaming fees to your service provider.
You can also use the device to broadcast to other goTenna Mesh users, have private one on one or group chats, share offline maps, and send text messages. It’s even possible to have your phone in Airplane Mode and the gadget will still work as it should.
Its size and portability are additional advantages. Instead of having to lug around several pieces of equipment or worry about tethering to get a signal and find some sort of connectivity, you can stash goTenna Mesh just about anywhere with ease. Its battery has a 24 hour life when put on standby, and the flash memory allows you to send and save hundreds of messages. In addition, the ability to use goTenna Mesh with Android and iOS mobile devices makes it even more versatile.
The incredible thing is that this gadget lets you communicate and stay connected even if you have no mobile phone service, no router, and the towers around you are down or nonexistent. That’s what makes the concept work so well, and it’s what has people excited about the possibilities that development of goTenna Mesh has opened up.
The product was developed by a Brooklyn based company named goTenna, which was founded in 2012 by brother and sister duo J and Daniela Perdomo. The inspiration behind the gadget was an experience that members of the goTenna staff had during Hurricane Sandy in New York. When the power went out and the connectivity that millions relied on was suddenly gone, the product’s creators knew there had to be a way to prevent such a thing from happening going forward. What’s more, they believed that if they could successfully create a product that would solve the problem of being able to communicate off-grid, it would be very useful in countries without widespread communications systems.
The Successful Campaign
To help fund the development of goTenna Mesh and get it out to consumers, the team behind the product decided to try crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The campaign was highly successful, and the company has surpassed its initial goal of raising $150,000.
As of October 6, 2016 and with 22 days left in the campaign, the goTenna has raised $285,895 from 1,586 backers. The big draw for backing the campaign is the chance to receive goTenna Mesh devices at a discounted rate. There were also funding opportunities that granted promotional merchandise and gear.
How to Get goTenna Mesh
If you haven’t contributed to the goTenna Kickstarter fund, there’s still time to do so and secure your own goTenna Mesh. The pledge level starts at $149 and includes the receipt of two devices for a discounted price. Those who have gotten their goTenna Mesh via Kickstarter contributions will receive their products in December of 2016. Everyone else can expect the product to be available through retail channels in 2017.