No network? No problem. GoTenna lets you message your buddies without cell service

gotenna screen shot 2014 07 18 at 4 21 35 pm

Now that most of us have become accustomed to ubiquitous cellphone networks, losing service is a terribly frustrating experience. Being stuck in an area without service definitely isn’t the worst thing in the world, but depending on the situation, it can be anything from a minor inconvenience to weekend-ruining experience as your plans fall apart.

But not to worry; thanks to a nifty innovation from the folks at goTenna, you might never have to suffer through dead zones and spotty service ever again. The company has developed a clever technological workaround that allows you to send messages without a connection to your cell phone provider’s network. It doesn’t use cell towers or Wi-Fi at all, so it’ll work even if all other forms of communication are unavailable.

goTenna app screenshot
goTenna app screenshot

Their product, which bears the same name as the company itself, is basically a low-power radio transceiver that makes your phone function like a CB radio. To use it, you start by pairing your smartphone to goTenna wirelessly, using Bluetooth-LE. One you’re connected, you simply fire up the accompanying smartphone app and type out a text message like you would in any other situation. When you hit send, your smartphone will beam the message to goTenna, which will then shoot it out via long-range radio waves (151-154 MHz) to the intended recipient (who must also have a goTenna). At the other end, the exact same thing happens, but in reverse: the recipient goTenna sends your message over Bluetooth-LE to the smartphone app it’s paired with. It’s basically like turning your phone into a long-range walkie talkie.

In optimal conditions, the device is reportedly able to send messages to other goTennas up to 50 miles away — but that number can vary greatly depending on the elevation and environment you happen to be in.

Daniela Perdomo, CEO of the company, says the idea for the device came during Hurricane Sandy, when downed cell towers hampered communication. But she says goTenna has applications well beyond disasters and emergencies, such as traveling abroad or trying to text friends during musical festivals. It’d also be ideal for backpacking and hiking trips, as it would allow trekkers to communicate with each other despite being nowhere near a cellphone tower. 

Currently, the GoTenna is being offered for pre-order at a cost of $150 per pair, but once enough units are sold to fund the initial production run, the price will double. So, if you dig the idea of communicating on an alternative, low-bandwidth network, we highly recommend jumping on that fast.


Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.

You can now get Google Fi SIM cards straight from Best Buy

Google's wireless service known as Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi. The company also announced the service is now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about…

5G will undoubtedly be faster than LTE, but here’s how else it will be different

Making sense of the latest developments in mobile network technology is a challenge. If you're looking for a quick explanation of what 5G is and how it compares to LTE, then we've got it for you right here.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Emerging Tech

Atomo’s ‘molecular coffee’ is brewed without needing to harvest coffee beans

Coffee beans, huh? Who needs ‘em? Apparently not the folks behind Seattle-based startup Atomo, who claim to have created a cup of "molecular coffee" that requires no beans to be harvested.
Emerging Tech

Forget police helicopters, California cops are using drones to spot suspects

Police drones deployed by California’s Chula Vista Police Department helped lead to the arrest of 20 suspects over a three-month study. It's a glimpse of the future of drones in law enforcement.
Smart Home

Ford’s ingenious bed for couples keeps mattress hogs in their own half

Drawing on its driverless-car technology, Ford has created a smart bed for couples that uses sensors and a conveyor belt to prevent either occupant from straying onto the other half of the mattress while they doze.
Emerging Tech

Own a drone? New rule means you have to change the way IDs are displayed

Registered drone owners will need to put their machine's ID number on the outside of the aircraft from February 23 in accordance with a new FAA rule. It means the ID can no longer be placed inside the drone's battery compartment.
Emerging Tech

After Kepler kicks the bucket, NASA releases its final image

The final images from the Kepler Space Telescope have arrived. After nearly a decade of operation, NASA’s groundbreaking telescope ran out of fuel last year and was placed into permanent sleep mode on October 30, 2018.
Emerging Tech

Caltech’s bird-inspired robot uses thrusters to help stay on its feet

Researchers from Caltech have developed a new bird-inspired robot that uses thrusters on its torso to help it to walk with more stability. Here's why that challenge is so important.

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

Groundbreaking new technique can turn plastic waste into energy-dense fuel

The world has a waste plastic problem. Chemists from Purdue University have a potentially game changing solution: They want to turn it into a gasoline or diesel-like fuel. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

NASA has officially called it quits on its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, eight months after last hearing from the lander. The Rover landed on the Red Planet in early 2004.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.