Originally published January 6 2015
This handy device will let you send text messages even after the grid crashes
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) If and when the power grid goes down -- along with the cell towers that depend on it -- we will all undoubtedly be asking ourselves the same question: "How the heck will I be able to order a pizza?"
All kidding aside, there is a nifty device now available which will allow you to send a text message over your smartphone -- even when there are no working cell towers available.
This new gadget -- called "goTenna" -- could prove to be extremely useful in a number of scenarios, including disasters and quite a few other not-so-extreme situations, also.
So, what is goTenna and how does it work?
The goTenna website describes their product as a device which "pairs wirelessly with your smartphone, enabling you to text and share your location with anyone who has the device even if you don't have service. No towers, routers or satellites required!"
It's a relatively simple application of existing Bluetooth-LE technology. It requires a goTenna device at both the user's and recipient's end, and even though it has a limited range, it should prove to be an essential component of anyone's bug-out bag and a potentially handy companion for those who spend any amount of time in the wilderness.
The device works as both a transmitter and an antenna/receiver. You can think of it as a digital age walkie-talkie since -- like a traditional walkie-talkie -- it has a limited range and requires the user at both ends to have the same device. It also requires the use of a smartphone app which is included when you purchase the device.
goTenna sends the entered text message from your phone to the device via Bluetooth and then transmits it to the goTenna at the other end, which also uses Bluetooth to send the received message to the recipient's cellphone.
It works using long-range radio waves in the 151-154 MHz range to transmit the signal.
The transmission only takes a few milliseconds and it costs nothing to send a message, since it doesn't require any central third-party connectivity.
The makers of the device say they were inspired to develop it in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and that's just the type of scenario where the device could prove to be extremely useful.
But it's also potentially useful in areas where cell towers are out of range or where service is inconsistent. goTenna could also prove to be valuable for hikers or campers, in the case of an emergency or in the event of becoming lost.
One of the device's cool and useful features is its ability to send a "shout" broadcast to anyone in range who also has the device -- it can be used for individual and group messaging as well. This could prove to be a lifesaver in certain situations.
The only real drawback is the device's limited range. Although its makers claim that in optimal conditions goTenna has a range of up to 50 miles, in most situations the range would be more like 5 miles.
Even though goTenna doesn't rely on line-of-sight transmission, the signal is hampered by buildings and other obstacles. Its makers freely admit that the device's range will vary in different circumstances, and the website does feature an interactive graph that allows you to estimate its actual range in a variety of situations.
Limitations aside, goTenna is a very clever and useful product that will almost certainly prove to be a success in the marketplace. It's currently priced at around $150 for two units, making it a reasonably inexpensive investment, especially considering its potential usefulness in a number of situations.
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