Did you ever go on a big family road trip where there were two or more cars in the caravan, and you brought along walkie-talkies so you could communicate on the drive? Now, of course, nearly everyone has cell phones to accomplish the same thing more easily, but there’s a problem: When you don’t have service, you’re hosed. And of course, it’s not just on long drives where a lack of service can be problematic. If you don’t have an international plan when in another country, or you’re in the woods, or wherever, you may find yourself with a need to connect with others without a means to do so.
Anyone who sends texts (so, that’s pretty much everyone) knows that sending messages in big crowds or remote places is often a lot easier said than done. A new startup aims to fix this problem with goTenna, a device that will allow people to send text messages without a Wi-Fi or cell signal. The device relies on low-energy Bluetooth signals and a companion app to relay messages between people who have a goTenna paired to their smartphones. It will allow users, who would be otherwise unable to communicate via phone, to send and receive messages from friends from up to 50 miles away. Daniela Perdomo, CEO of the Brooklyn-based goTenna, says the idea for the device came during Hurricane Sandy, when downed cell towers hampered communication. But she says goTenna has applications well beyond disasters and emergencies, such as traveling abroad or trying to text friends during musical festivals. “There’s a lot of different use cases for off-grid communication,” Perdomo told Mashable. “This is all very directed … It can be as configurable as all the smartphone messaging apps that you’re used to. We’re leveraging the phone you already have on you, the behavior you already use for everything else but giving you the ability communicate when you otherwise can’t.”