The biggest issue with going off the grid in 2016 (assuming there are still areas where you can do that)? No cell service.
But it appears we now have a solution, and it comes from one of the most on-the-grid places on the planet: Brooklyn.
Inspired by the trouble its designers had while trying to communicate after Hurricane Sandy disrupted cellphone service, the goTenna Mesh lets users send messages and share their locations without connecting to towers, routers or satellites.
A smaller version of the original goTenna, the Mesh’s app pairs with its owner’s smartphone via a Bluetooth connection and uses publicly available one-watt UHF radio frequencies to communicate for up to three miles in open areas and up to a mile over more congested terrain.
What makes this goTenna model different from its predecessor is that it includes networking protocols that allow messages to be securely relayed from one Mesh device to another, effectively meaning Mesh’s network has the potential to double or triple in size. Think of it like a giant game of telephone, except one where your message actually arrives at its destination in its original form — and without being read by anyone except the recipient.
“Mesh will automatically find the nearest goTenna device to relay your message to the recipient,” according to the company. “The person who is used as a relay will never see the message, and won’t even know his or her goTenna was used.” A pair of goTenna Mesh devices can be preordered for $129 on Kickstarter and, after the devices ship later this year, some of the profits will be donated to Telecom Without Borders.
Give yourself a gift that keeps on giving.