What was among the many problems that the victims of the Hurricane Sandy faced back at the end of year 2012? The most horrific part was perhaps when you realize that cell towers across a 10 state area have been wiped out and there’s no way you can call anyone or ask for help. Also, what happens when the networks are over-loaded and you need to get through to someone? Isn’t it a pain in the head? This is where goTenna comes in with the aim of keeping people connected whether the network is available or not. It makes use of its own network that the users can use in order to send and receive messages.
Siblings and goTenna founders Daniela and Jorge Perdomo realized this important aspect being ignored in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and decided to do something to keep the communications alive even during the worst of emergencies or when the networks are over-loaded; e.g. during Christmas or a major sporting event. In words of Daniela Perdomo; ‘Our mission is twofold: to let people communicate whenever and wherever they want, on their own terms, and also to make sure that in times of a true emergency, people are able to reach others around them.’
Brooklyn Hackspace, NYC Resistor saw the making of the prototype devices and later on further development was carried out thanks to the seed funding that occurred later in 2013. The investors who decided this idea was worth investing in included Bloomberg Beta, Collaborative Fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and MentorTech Ventures.
The device can be best described as a 2 watt radio integrated with an antenna that gives it a range of 50 miles. The goTenna makes use of the radio waves, low frequency, and allows users to send/receive text messages and also share their GPS locations. The device makes use of a lithium ion battery that will retain its charge for 1.5 years if not used, 72 hours if used with breaks and 30 hours if used continuously.
The gadget will pair up with iOS or Android by making use of Bluetooth (low energy) and the app will continuously attempt to try and send the message until its efforts turn into success and the user will be notified then that the message has been sent. The app allows the user to send group messages, encrypted messages and even self destruct messages in order to uphold privacy and to shout broadcasts to anyone who might be within the range.
The gadget is quite portable with its dimensions clocking in at 147.3×25.4×12.7 mm and weighs about 2 oz. It has been designed in order to be rugged, dust proof and water proof. The gadget is priced at $149.99 per pair for pre-sale and shall cost you $299 once it retails.