Talking tech since 2003

So you want to take a week long hike in the mountains, but don’t want to be stranded and then murdered by bears? Good news for you, there’s a new contraption that allows you to use your cellphone anywhere, even if it’s not global.

GoTenna is a small, two-ounce, wafer-like device that allows smartphones to communicate using good old fashion radio. It connects to a smartphone app via bluetooth and you need one on either end to send and receive. But after the baseline of two, you can have as many as you want. Talking and texting in the Alps with your iPhone is now possible. Both IOS and Android are supported, but LTE-style data is not allowed on either––so no Facebook, sadly.

The device reaches its limit in most hiking/general wilderness situations at 9 miles. In urban areas it will only work at a range of 1 mile, but there’s also service in a city. For climbing and general ascension, however, it will function at 50 miles.

Most walkie talkies work on a 900 MHz range, but the GoTenna uses 151-154 MHz, making it more reliable for areas with heavier terrane. It runs off a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which, turned off and unused, would last for a year and a half. With light to medium usage, there’s about 72 hours of juice. A little on the short side, but it’s rechargeable, of course.

The GoTenna can be pre-purchased at 50% off for a limited time, putting them at $149 per pair. But after $50,000 worth of sales have been made the price will be hiked back to $299. While that may seem a bit pricey, global cell phones can cost anywhere between $250-$1000 and look like the brick your mom had in the 80s.

Though innovative and clever in its application, the GoTenna is not particularly new. It’s the rehashing of an older technology, a step forward made by reaching backwards. But I like that. I think it’s a sustainable way of using amazing technology and making it more so. In fact, I want even more steps to be made. How about permanently installing radio technology in smartphones? There would be a lot of work to be done––particularly making it compact and affordable––but innovations like GoTenna are the types of forward movement that will get technology to the right point. James (the guy sitting next to me) thinks it would be good idea, so what are we waiting for?

Source: Cnet

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