For several years I’ve carried a MiFi device when traveling. Too many times I’d been at a conference or event, stuck on slow wi-fi connections. That never did much for me, though, when cell towers were down, which brings even communicating with others to a halt.
This device pairs with smartphones to communicate sans cell towers or wi-fi. Since it uses Bluetooth-LE, it even works when devices are in airplane mode.
Here’s how it works:
The goTenna needs to be within 20 feet of your smartphone, so if you’re walking about you can just clip it on a belt loop. You type messages via an app that sends a signal to goTenna, which then sends the message to intended recipients (which also are using goTenna).
According to the manufacturer, the range depends on terrain and elevation. Theoretically goTenna can reach up to 3.6 miles, but typically you can expect .5 to 1 mile in the city, going to up 4 to 6 miles across water.
With the app (currently available for iOS and Android) you can send and receive text messages, share your location (with detailed maps), and send broadcasts to anyone within range (so long as they also use goTenna – it doesn’t not communicate with devices not connected to their own goTenna unit). It also features end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.
The goTenna devices features an antenna, 2-watt radio, and a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The specs tout flash memory that’s good for thousands of messages.
The preorder price of goTenna is $149 for two units. That makes it an affordable solution for anyone who needs to be able to communicate with others in a short proximity, including outdoor enthusiasts and event goers. Need to locate friends at the next Burning Man? It looks like goTenna is going to do the trick.
If the goTenna does what it claims to do, it’s a brilliant product. Equally brilliant is goTenna’s marketing. Check out the product video, which targets a wide audience:
You can learn more about goTenna, which is scheduled for release either later this year or early 2015, at goTenna.com.