GoTenna Provides Cell Network for Off-Grid Travelers

pre-order-mobIt’s nice to unplug once in a while. No service means no one to bother you for a while–no emails, no texts, no calls. Just peace and quiet on a mountain hiking trail. This is all fine until you’ve walked about six miles and forget the way back to your campsite. Everything’s peachy until you take a tumble and sprain your ankle. Going off the grid anytime soon? You might want a backup plan. This is where goTenna comes in.

GoTenna, a Brooklyn-based hardware startup company, offers a low-cost solution for smartphone users that, since it’s app-based, does not require a satellite connection. The small, two-ounce wand connects to a smartphone app using Bluetooth low energy (LE). User-friendly, the wand needs only for the user to slide out the antenna and power it on. The user can then send messages or GPS coordinates to others connected to a goTenna. When sending a message, it will first be transmitted from the smartphone to goTenna. Then, using low-frequency radio waves, the device will send the message to the intended receiver.

The network does have limits depending on the environment. In an urban area, the expected range is only around one mile. In natural environments with few to no buildings, the network range increases to nine miles. As elevation increases, so does the network range. At higher elevations, goTenna can create a network with a 50-mile range.

There are several features unique to this device. Delivery confirmation seems like such a simple feature, but it’s so important to goTenna’s intention. “Unlike walkie-talkies where you send something out into the void,” said goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo, “there’s no guess work here.” You know for sure whether or not your message was sent. The Shout function broadcasts to any goTenna users in range. GoTenna’s app also features end-to-end encryption (RSA 1024) and a self-destruct setting for messages. GoTenna really stays true to their tagline: “No service? No problem.”

GoTenna’s pre-order launch is today, and early buyers can get a pair of goTennas at $149.99, half the retail price that the product will be sold when goTenna starts shipping. Shipment begins in late Fall 2014, so order while that 50% discount is still available!