Pocket-sized Antenna Connects Smartphones When Cell Services Are Down

July 24, 2014 | 20:40
Pocket-sized Antenna Connects Smartphones When Cell Services Are Down
Pocket-sized Antenna Connects Smartphones When Cell Services Are Down
The goTenna device connects smartphones over very high frequency (151-154 MHz) even if there is no Wi-Fi or cell reception. It communicates with your mobile phone over Bluetooth and sends end-to-end encrypted messages and geolocation covering a range of up to 50 miles.

After hurricane Sandy when people in the disaster areas did not have cell service for days, goTenna co-founder Daniela Perdonomo started looking for a way to make cell phones communicate without central connectivity.

GoTenna's 2-watt radio allows for a range of 50 miles under ideal circumstances. On terrain with many objects preventing line-of-sight range drops rapidly. In a city like New York you can connect to fellow users at a distance of between 0.5 and 3.5 miles. At the web site there's an interactive module to check range at different sorts of terrain and elevation.

It's a low bandwidth medium, goTenna's transmission rate goes up to 19,200 baud, so you can't go very much beyond messaging data-wise but for off-the-grid adventurers and people who can't or don't want to use commercial services or Wi-Fi that may be quite enough.

At least goTenna's frequency is not mainlined to the NSA and GCHQ's data collection centers. And even if law enforcement agency's or some other snooper would set up a listening device, messages are end-to-end encrypted with RSA-1024 public-private key ciphering. That, of course, does not make communications perfectly secure but it does up the ante.

For those who'd like to tinker with the goTenna a Software Development Kit will be made available soon.



Image: goTenna
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