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.

Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Music

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.