We’ve all been there…
One minute you’re yapping away on your mobile phone, or sending a text message when…
You hit a dead spot.
Or maybe you’re in a rural area where cell reception is patchy and/or non-existent.
The usual solution is to curse and wait until you’re within a cell tower’s range again.
But a New York team aims to end this mobile frustration with its new device…
Back to the Future
Jorge Perdomo and Daniela Perdomo are the brother-and-sister innovators behind goTenna – a gadget that rewinds today’s modern cellphones back to a bygone era.
An era that didn’t rely on cellphone towers, but instead on radio waves.
The goTenna device essentially creates its own “network” that works on low-frequency radio waves and transforms regular mobile phones into new-age walkie-talkies – in the same way as law enforcement agencies communicate. This allows users to send text messages over the air, as opposed to over a network.
Jorge Perdomo puts it simply: “We didn’t want to reinvent what chat is, we just wanted to enable it in places where it wasn’t possible before.”
One place where it definitely wasn’t possible was in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.
An Idea Hatched in a Devastating Storm
When the monster storm swept through the New York area, it destroyed around 25% of all the cell towers in New York.
As a result, millions of residents had no cellphone or wifi service.
The Perdomo siblings lived through the experience – and it gave them the idea to create goTenna.
The device is a pocket-sized transmitter, able to fit in a user’s pocket and equipped with a two-watt radio and antenna. Using low-frequency radio, it’s then able to communicate with another goTenna. How?
A Modern-Day Walkie-Talkie
Users simply open the goTenna app on their phone and type a message in it. Then, using Bluetooth, the message is sent to the goTenna device, where it’s translated to a radio transmission, and is fired off to a fellow goTenna owner.
It’s essentially like swapping your high-tech cellphone that can’t get reception for a modern-day walkie-talkie that doesn’t depend on that technology.
goTenna’s Daniela Perdomo explains that it works using your phone’s regular mapping features: “We leverage the GPS on your phone or iPad – and GPS on your phone always works, even if you don’t have service. However, if you don’t have service all, it’s a blue dot on a blank screen. What goTenna does is enable you to contextualize the blue dot on an offline map, which you can then share with anyone else who has goTenna.”
Check it out…
You can see how crucial this could be – not just during pesky short-term spells of patchy service… but during emergencies where there’s a major, prolonged outage.
Depending on where users are, the range varies from up to a mile in urban areas to 50 miles in the countryside.
goTenna hits the market in November (just in time for holiday season), with two devices priced at $150.
Right now, the device is an accessory to your regular smartphone. But if it proves successful and popular, it may eventually become a customary, built-in part of future smartphones.