Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Bluetooth-Enabled Device Can Get You On the Grid From Anywhere

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A new device that's set to hit the market later this year allows you to use your cell phone to communicate even if you have absolutely no signal. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

In a cruel twist, when we perhaps need our mobile phones most is when they often don’t work - widespread emergency situations.

"During Hurricane Sandy the combination of towers going down and power going out which means you don’t have WiFi means that these phones that we have on us all the time actually don’t enable communication," says Daniela Perdomo of goTenna.

So because of Hurricane Sandy, Perdomo and her brother decided to give our mobile phones another way to reach out to others. Their solution was the goTenna, a device that links via Bluetooth to your phone, turning it into a kind of walkie-talkie for texting even if your phone is in airplane mode.

"It’s sort of a feat of RF engineering. RF is radio frequency engineering so our team of electrical engineers have invented this device that emits a unique signal that does not require central connectivity," explains Perdomo.

So whether you’re at a crowded concert where bandwidth is being hogged or stuck hiking in the wilderness where there’s no signal of any sort, you can still text and send your location to others also using a goTenna. You can send text messages to one person, a group, send a shout to all goTenna users near you or send an emergency message to all goTennas in range.

And as for its range, anywhere from one to 50 miles, it really just all depends on where you’re using it.

"In an urban setting because there’s a bunch of concrete and steel you don’t get to propagate as easily. On average you get somewhere between half a mile and a mile which is actually very useful in New York if you think about it Manhattan is only two miles wide. On a mountain you can get up to 50 miles so for the outdoor use-cases: Hiking, skiing or whatnot you get a lot more range," says Perdomo.

GoTennas, which developers say can be used anywhere in the world, are available for pre-order now. They cost $150 for a pair and will ship in November.

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